Vibratory Tumbler for Cleaning Parts

A few weeks ago, I bought a “vibratory tumbler” at Harbor Freight for $40. I’ve been wanting one for quite a while — it seems like a good way to de-paint Altoids tins / clean old car parts / faux age woodcarvings / whatever.

Vibratory tumbler from Harbor Freight

You fill it 2/3 of the way with grit, throw crud-covered stuff into it, run it for a few hours, and out comes a shiny new pony! Or so goes the theory.

I wasn’t sure whether the Harbor Freight package included the requisite grit, so I didn’t buy any. It wasn’t included, so today I experimented with common household materials.

Conclusion: Kitty litter, no matter how hard the little gravels may feel underfoot in the morning, is way too soft. Driveway sand is extremely dusty and too smooth and/or large. Real grit or polishing compound is in my future.

Even so, the results were promising. Trey in Chicago asked for a few SO-239 jacks from Slim’s distribution cabinet, and they were pretty oxidized and seemed like a good opportunity to try the tumbler.

Oxidized SO-239 jacks

After a few hours of polishing:

Cleaned SO-239 jacks

Not bad.

2 Responses to “Vibratory Tumbler for Cleaning Parts”

  1. jim says:

    I have one of these and I bought the walnut from harb frt. I didnt work.
    what did you use to get the results?

  2. Keith Neufeld says:

    Jim, I really haven’t got it to work well. I tried driveway sand and it worked a little but was incredibly dusty.

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