Tumbling Tips for Apache Tears

 I have never tried tumble polishing Apache Tears as of yet.  I do understand why people have such a difficult time trying to polish them due to my own experiences with tumbling Snowflake Obsidian.  The tips provided are from the Tumbling Tears article in the Shop Talk section in the August, 2005 copy of Rock and Gem Magazine.  The author, William A. Kappele pulled the following tip from all over the Internet.  Good luck to you and your successes!


          Kappele states that the problem always seems to be in the polishing stage.  I could not agree more.  Here are his tips he has compiled :

1) Do not use cerium oxide or tin oxide since these are acidic and obsidian is alkaline.  do not use a vibratory tumbler, since it will cause the obsidian to spall badly.  Use walnut shells or rice hulls rather than plastic pellets.

2) Slow the tumbling action as much as possible.  Thicken the slurry with corn syrup or sugar in a ratio of two parts to one part pre-polish and polish.  Try polishing dry with cerium oxide and oatmeal.

3) Use tin oxide with a buffer of sawdust. sugar or soap.

4) Use crush walnut shells, like the kind sold for metal finishing or as bedding material for small animals.

5) Polish with tin oxide and a filler of plastic pellets or ceramic medium.  Burnish as a final step by running a thick mixture of water and Tide detergent.

6) Use cerium oxide and cornmeal.  Run dry for (3) days.

7) Use cerium oxide and oatmeal dry in a vibratory tumbler.  Run for several weeks.

8) For buffer, cut up plastic canvas sheets from a craft store.

9) Try a double handful of rubber bands for buffer.

10) Always use a vibratory tumbler for the polish stage.

11) Run your tumbler as slowly as possible.

12) Never tumble tears with any other stone.

13) Tumble mixed sizes together.

14) Don't tumble mixed sizes together.

15) Add white table sugar to the pre-polish and polish stages.  It is a mild abrasive and also thickens the slurry.

          As you can read, there is an awful lot of contradictory information such as use a vibratory tumble, don't use a vibratory tumbler and then the cerium oxide contradiction.  All I can say is give some of the tips a try and let us know what works and doesn't.  Then I'll post the results.  Again, good luck!

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