Abrasive Parts Tumbler




Introduction: Abrasive Parts Tumbler

If you are like me you have rusty parts or tools that you cant read the numbers off of. Or a vast collection of nuts and bolts that would otherwise be taken to the scrap pile.  Well I do not like to throw away anything, so I have all of the above, and no time to take each piece to a wire wheel.  The solution a huge rock tumbler for these things!!  I also added a welding table to the top.

Note: This Ible was made after the fact and I apologize about using the same pictures over and over, I will be adding more but they will be of the finished product.  I also will be outlining the process that I used so that you can adapt this to what you have.

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Step 1: Parts List

Tools that you will need to complete this project:

Angle grinder
Tape measure
Straight edge ( T-square is recommended)
Welder (only if you want it to last a while)
2 part epoxy

I used what I had laying around for materials but this project is scalable to whatever size you need/ want/ or have room for.
List of materials:

A 45 gallon drum
              - i suggest a steel drum of whatever size you want
A Bodine gear motor
              - Was picked up some time ago for $10 and was doing nothing
A belt
             - belt length will depend on what size of drum you use
             - I attempted to use a bike inner tube but got frustrated and bought a belt... 
2"*4"*36"  8
2"*4"*72"  4
            - these will be the test stand

A selection of angle iron and re-bar the dimensions of which will come from the test stand.

2" long piece of square tubing
3" long piece of round tubing
A piece of tubing or round stock that is about 6" longer than your barrel.

A section of another barrel the about 1/2" larger than you want to loading door to be
A hinge
Some of the foam for sealing around doors

2*  break shoe springs
4" Long of 1/2" aluminum tubing

Various nuts and bolts from 7/16" to 9/16"

Step 2: The Test Bed

The test bed is built with the 2*4 wood pieces. This makes it easier to revise your design and get the offsets correct without a lot of mess with the grinder.  Also it makes it easier to see what will be needed for the final set up of the stand. Assembled sort of like a long saw horse with two sections at the end with the longer pieces connecting them. 

    __/ \__
   _ /__ \_
    /          \    

Connect the two sides with the four longer pieces of 2*4, The sides should be slanted slightly inward to brace it a little.

Note: this will come apart easily but don't skimp on the nails or screws (I used screws.)

Step 3: The Barrel

This is a little tricky, the barrel must be offset from center just slightly to ensure that the parts actually tumble when they are inside.  I did this by experimentation, and found that about 1" off of center on each side is just about right, that is so that one side has the offset say on the bottom and the other side it would be at the top (refer to the pictures).  Any more than that and it will rattle itself apart in a matter of minutes.  Use the T-square for this so that you can get the center then mark the offset.

After you find this You need to cut a hole and  install colletes and reinforcement bars in the sides.  With the angle grinder with a cutting blade and cut a cross at the off center. I attempted to use it without bracing and collets but it tore a large hole in one side.

Using one 2" long piece of square tubing and a 3" piece of round tubing that fits inside it.  The reinforcement bars are necessary to keep the ends from tearing out. It was easier for me to weld the bars to the edges of the square tubing and then inset the assembly into the hole.  Then weld the ends of the bars to the edges of the barrel. 

Next is the loading door, I took a section of another barrel to make this.  The size depends on preference, or the size of the pieces being put in the machine.  Mine is about 12" tall and 15" wide.  I had originally planned to add a plate lock to the door but it was not necessary. 

Cut your opening in the barrel then mock up all the parts.  Mark and drill your holes for the hinge(s) and latch bolt. 
Stick the sealer foam around the opening on the drum, I used epoxy for this but it does have a sticky side, make sure to have a good seal or the sand will come out.  Also seal any other holes that are around the door, water tight is great, then you can put liquid in it to help with the abrasion.

Step 4: Drive and Setup

This is the step where you figure out the exact measurements of your final stand.  Depending on the drum and stand that comes from this you will be able to build a strong steel stand and know exactly where your motor needs to be mounted so that it will no interfere with the operation of the machine.  

The motor needs to be mounted so that the belt contacts near the edge of the barrel.  I chose the top right as the mounting point for the test stand, hanging off the top cross member. You could spend a lot of time fiddling with the mounting points to get the correct tension on the belt, but I decided that for the final stand that a spring mounted tensioner would be easier. 

The tensioner was made by drilling a couple of holes in the ends of a aluminum tube and attaching some hook ended springs to the holes.  This was attached to the welding table section and adjusted for the best performance.

Step 5: Final Stand

The final stand is made from angle iron and welded together,  I took 2 sets of 2 pieces of re-bar for the legs and welded them to 2 pieces of 1" angle iron each, one on the top and one about a foot off the bottom. 

This makes the sides of the stand, then I welded 2 longer pieces of 2" angle iron to the bottom as cross members.  the top was a piece of scrap that I had laying around already assembled.  Its a rectangular frame of angle iron with a split mesh welded to the inside.  The table part eliminated the upper cross members for me. 

I then welded two crossing pieces of 1" angle iron to each side making a notch so that they would fit together nicely.  Then setting the shaft that I used on the crossing of each side I drilled and tapped holes on each side, and cut two pieces of flat stock scrap drilled matching holes for these to be bolted the shaft to the to hold the shaft stationary. 

Step 6: Mounting Everything Up

Next is placing the barrel on the shaft, this can be tricky for one person. I would suggest using something to hold the barrel at the right hight, do not forget to put the belt on before inserting the shaft. The shaft will be inserted at this point and then you bolt it to the frame.

Then mount the motor up to your selected mounting point, then attach the belt, and get it as tight as possible.  Then mount up your tensioner, mine is mounted to the underside of the table pulling to belt up to maintain contact on the drive pulley. 

Step 7: The Abrasive and Conclusion

For the Abrasive medium I used equal portions of sand, some 1/2" stone, and water.  You can use anything though, as long as its going to get your parts cleaned. 

At this point you should have a great way to recondition your tools and maybe keep some of those old nuts and bolts from going to a scrap dealer. 

As this was my first instructable I would appreciate any comments or suggestions.

Thank you,

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    5 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Nice build. I use a somewhat smaller but still large rock tumbler for cleaning parts too. It was built by my grandfather who actually polished rocks. For abrasive, I use a bunch of nails. it takes from 12 to 24 hours to clean rust paint etc off stuff. Perhaps I will do an ible on building one like it.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Under the welding bench!!!! Ah haaa that's where it'll go. Very nice ible. I with they had a section just for welding/ fabrication/ and general metal working... Thanks


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah but then where do I keep my welder?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    about the gear motor :
    what speed ?
    what voltage?
    what amps ?
    available torque?

    without this info the range of operation is way too wide