A Tumbler is use for cleaning or polishing small parts, coins or stones. I need one because Ive been doing a bit of relic hunting and Im finding lots of coins. Shop keepers will often refuse dirty coins and they are quite difficult to clean after they haven been in the ground for a few years.
This should only be used on modern coins or coins that have little value, as collectors of old coins will tell you they rather their coins dirty,  and is going to be worth a lot more to a collector as it is than if you clean it.
My advise is if you don't know the coins value leave it alone.
Shown in the photos are some before and after shots of coins Ive found, the 1 and 2 cent pieces are obsolete in Australia (from 1994) and are now starting to be collectable. They can be worth up to $3 each depending on condition and year, which is a 30,000% increase in value, sounds great but is still only 3 bucks.
Also shown is a pre-decimal  six pence which are 50% silver again worth about $3. The other coins are current and can be spent.

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jolshefsky made it!9 months ago

I found this Instructable first, but I figured I'd credit your original. I ended up taking a printer from the garbage and a powdered-creamer container from the garbage and making it into a parts tumbler.

I took all the guts out, taking a bit of extra care with the paper-feed motor and roller assembly. I got that out and took out all the plastic bits, leaving two rollers that ran the same way. I tried out the drive motor with a 9V battery and selected a run direction (which tends to run the drum into the back of the machine if it stalls rather than to dump it out the front) and added a 12V power adapter. I checked the current and when stalled it was around 250mA so I figured I would work fine a 1A power adapter. I also put on a couple wires to keep the barrel somewhat centered. I even used a piece of plastic as a cable strain-relief screwed into one of the holes.

I'm testing it now ... we'll see!

2014-11-02 14.12.35.jpg
liquidhandwash (author)  jolshefsky9 months ago

thanks for the photo. Mine still going strong. it great to see new life given to garbage!

HeatherW29 months ago

Lovely clear instructions... just what I need and probably can easily find the bits it will need... I want to tumble glass and broken china to soften the edges for mosaics so this will be perfect ...

liquidhandwash (author)  HeatherW29 months ago

thank you

th3_jungle_inv3ntor made it!11 months ago

Hey! Thanks for the idea! Great instructables and awesome idea!

I made it over a year ago, but never thought of publishing it - until I saw the Remix contest.

I hope you don't mind. :) It is right here:


Thanks again!


It great to see some one make the same project, it looks great.

Very cool hack, and great username! :)

thanks chikpeas

sgfidlin2 years ago
Would BBs work instead of stanless steel shot?
liquidhandwash (author)  sgfidlin2 years ago
hi sgfidlin
I tryed lead bits but it wasn't very successful, Steel bbs would probably work but they will go rusty. I found glass bead work well, and sand works well but very abrasive.
Okay thanks!
KT Gadget2 years ago
If there is enough room, you could take apart one of the coin organizers and mount it on one of the sides so that after cleaning, you can easily organize them in coin packages.
Jugfet2 years ago
A sixpenny coin in the UK was known as a Tanner or Sixpenny Bit.
A shilling was always referred to as a Bob, and in multiples two Bob three Bob Ten Bob but seemed to stop at 30 Bob, after that it was referred to in shillings - 40 shillings, 50 shillings and so on. The guinea (21 shillings) was only ever used by shops or dealers when quoting prices of (mostly luxury) goods, furniture being a prime example.
The Half Crown coin was often called Half a Dollar, The three penny coin was a 'Thrippenny Bit' which was also a term for breasts in Cockney rhyming slang. viz, He really gets on my thrippenys'
and of course a pound, once a note and now a coin, is still a Quid.
Funny old world we live in........!
liquidhandwash (author)  Jugfet2 years ago
that makes my head hurt!
chikid682 years ago
I have to make this for stones as I am an avid rockhound.
Great idea and ible
liquidhandwash (author)  chikid682 years ago
thanks let us know how you get on
lairdkeffer2 years ago
First off ....AAAAAggggghhhh !!!!! what are you doing to those coins sweet lord don't clean your coins your dropping there value like a rock !!!

Secondly .. that's really cool I may have to build me one of these for tumbling rocks
liquidhandwash (author)  lairdkeffer2 years ago
I cant spend dirty coins, as shop keeper wont take them and the copper coins are not worth anything. The six pence I might get $3 for it.
In the intro it explains not to clean valuable coins.
I wish I could sell my car to a coin collector its filthy, :-)
They wont take dirty coins ??? never heard of such a thing why wont they take dirty coins ? ...I'm a big time numismatist any cleaning of coins drives me bonkers it may not be worth much now but thirty years from now who knows
liquidhandwash (author)  lairdkeffer2 years ago
I don't know why, they don't like it but they have been in the ground for a long time, some of the coins are so dirty you cant even see what value it is.
So just a question If I find a rare coin in the ground that is so dirty that its unreadable, am i best off to sell it as is out of the ground, or clean it up a little with water and a tooth brush?
Im finding quite a few of the Australian 1 and 2 cent coins if you would like some PM me
mrmerino2 years ago
Your country minted six-cent coins?

I don't even know anymore...
Famous footnote from "Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

NOTE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE AND AMERICANS: One shilling = Five Pee. It helps to understand the antique finances of the Witchfinder Army if you know the original British monetary system:
Two farthings = One Ha'penny.
Two ha'pennies = One Penny.
Three pennies = A Thrupenny Bit.
Two Thrupences = A Sixpence.
Two Sixpences = One Shilling, or Bob.
Two Bob = A Florin.
One Florin and One Sixpence = Half a Crown.
Four Half Crowns = Ten Bob Note.
Two Ten Bob Notes = One Pound (or 240 pennies).
One Pound and One Shilling = One Guinea.
The British resisted decimalized currency for a long time because they thought it was too complicated.
LOL. thanks for this! Never seen it before.
liquidhandwash (author)  mrmerino2 years ago
pre decimal had some weird ideas there were 1/2 pennys, 3 pence 6 pence, shillings, crowns, 1/2 crowns, pounds, and more. I have no idea how they kept track of them, I asked an old guy one how many penny's to a pound he had no idea. google says 240
That's weird. I assumed there were 100 pennies in a pound, like 100 cents in a dollar.
liquidhandwash (author)  mrmerino2 years ago
i think there is 100 pennies to a pound now, but not before 1966
Australia converted in 1966. Great Britain converted in 1971.
liquidhandwash (author)  larwe2 years ago
thanks good to know
Oh, the pounds shilling pence system pre-decimalization was simple enough. Twenty shillings to the pound, twelve pennies per shilling, pennies subdivided into ha'pennies, farthings (half a ha'penny). It only gets complicated because there are a bunch of different denominations of coin, and with the British love of slang, each coin pretty much had its own non-intuitive name.

Australia (which is where I'm from) switched over on the 14th of February 1966, and though I wasn't born yet I know the advertising jingle that was on the radio to promote it because my parents used to sing it to me :D
liquidhandwash (author)  liquidhandwash2 years ago
have a look here its even more confusing
no, not six cents - sixpence or six pennies.
Oh, the pronunciation was different too: a half-penny was said ape-knee; three penny bit was thruppence. Australians would say seexpence for a sixpence and Kiwis would say suxpunce.
stealthop2 years ago
neat instructable , if you used a plastic container and different mediums, you could convert it into a rock tumbler.
ivezsY2 years ago
is it possible to use small steel screws nuts and bolts?
liquidhandwash (author)  ivezsY2 years ago
to clean coins, or clean nuts and bolts? problem is they will go rusty if left in the water.
10 parts water to 1 part of treacle or molasses.
submerge the ferrous item for 1 month or thereabouts.
brush and wipe off.
The process is chemical and the acid in the treacle dissolves the oxide without using up any of the metal.
Oh, before soaking, clean off any oil or grease - i first tried this process on an ancient cast iron push mower and it came up like new. Totally amazing and so simple requiring just time and patience, treacle and water, and a container to hold the liquid.
i also tried it on a very rusty cold chisel. After i lightly brushed it it looked just like a Aero chocolate bar with all the bubble holes left when the rust was dissolved.
Used it for lots of things since.

Remember, this is for FERROUS materials. :-)
liquidhandwash (author)  tashammer2 years ago
Thanks for the info, I found a big cast iron bracket while relic hunting to try it on.
predo2 years ago
my advice. Spare all the hard work and drop 'em in ketchup for cupple of hours. They will be bright and shiny as new. ;)
cifer predo2 years ago
You can also use hot sauce, but the thing that makes ketchup and hot sauce work, is that they contain vinegar and salt.
lookngo2 years ago
Lapidarys suggest not using glass jars for tumbling, the grit "eats" the glass. (Big dangerous mess results). I have never tried plastic; (i. e. peanut butter jars) If you try them watch closely. Most stones require about a week at each grit level, it is a (excuse the pun) long grind.
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