The delicate necklace shown here was so badly tarnished that I decided that the best way to restore its original luster and silver color would be to polish it in a Rotary Tumbler just like I did when I first made it. Tumbling in a rotary tumbler burnishes the metal’s surface and results in a brilliant luster.
Tumbling the necklace in a rotary tumbler filled with steel shot will not only polish the necklace, but also contribute to “work harden” the individual wire links that form the necklace. But to successfully polish a chain-link necklace in a rotary tumbler, precautions must be taken to prevent the necklace from becoming a tangled mess.
The following are my recommendations for successfully polishing wire link necklaces in a rotary tumbler:
1. Construct a hoop that is sized to fit into the tumbler using very heavy weed wacker nylon cord or similar material.
2. Flatten sections of the cord by tightly squeezing it with chain-link pliers, and drill a tiny hole through these flattened sections. The drilled holes become anchor points where the chain-link necklace can be fastened to the plastic hoop. I use lightweight fishing line to secure the necklace to the anchor points drilled into the plastic hoop.
This image shows a delicate necklace attached to an improvised plastic hoop fashioned from nylon weed wacker cord. This necklace is tied at three points. The tiny holes serve as anchor points, and tying the necklace to these points prevents movement and entanglements during the tumbling action.
A detailed view showing the tiny hole that I drilled into a flattened section of the nylon cord. The red arrow indicates where I drilled the hole.
To make the improvised plastic hoop fashioned from nylon weed wacker cord, I secured the ends of the nylon cord together with “cable ties” that I purchased at Home Depot. The insert shows a piece of blue wire passing through the tiny hole (“anchor point”) that is drilled into the cord.
- Overlap the nylon cord by at least 2″ then secure it tightly using 2 heavy duty “cable ties.”
- Trim off the excess plastic from the cable ties after it is pulled as tightly as possible to the nylon cord that forms the hoop.
The ends of the nylon cord held tightly in place with plastic cable ties.
To polish a wire link necklace, tumble it for approximately one hour.
A word of caution, the mechanical action of a rotary tumbler does remove a very small amount of the metal therefore I do not recommend frequent use of this method to polish wire link necklaces.
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