One could certainly remove any finish off of wood beads in a tumbler. DO NOT use any water in the tumbler, and use a very mild, medium grade abrasive. Don't use silicon carbide grit that one uses for rocks, as it would probably get into the pores of the wood and turn it gray. You might try some fine, filtered sand that one gets at a craft or pet store. I've seen bags of white or beige sand that is basically refined quartz beach sand. Sand from an actual beach has too much dirt and organic matter in it. It won't take very long, especially in a vibratory tumbler, maybe just an hour or two, so check it often. A vibratory tumbler needs to be full enough for the rotation or turning over to happen. Experiment on some wood beads that don't matter to you. You might have some issues with sand filling the drill holes in the beads, so you don't want tooo fine of an abrasive, but a bead reamer should be able to clean out any drill holes that get filled up or plugged. It's possible that steel shot used on metal could also remove the finish
on wood (it won't make it shiny, but it could leave a metal residue on
If the beads are round, another option would be to do it by hand. I would recommend one take a sheet of fine sandpaper used for wood, put it in bottom of a small cookie sheet or cake pan, put the beads on top of that, then put another sheet of sandpaper on top of them, and rub them around and around until you get the finish you like. the top sheet of sandpaper could be attached to a small block of wood or even a small hardcover book, to hold it flat.
Good luck and report back on your results!
Regards, David @ DVHdesigns
Ecclesiastes 3:5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
Thank you, David! These are 5mm beads and he wants a 30" necklace - I don't think my hands could take doing them individually. I will try to tumbler suggestion on a few I can afford to lose. And I will report back as soon as I know for sure what happens. I have the beads coming so will let you know. Judith
no problem. You might want to pick up some cheap wooden beads with a shiny finish on them at the Goodwill or a craft store to experiment on before using your good ones. The by hand suggestion would work for LOTS of beads at once as well, IF they are round. They'll roll across the sand paper and the slightest pressure would gently abrade them. One could put dozens of beads in a 9x9" cake pan that has a layer of fine sandpaper cut to fit the bottom, and then anything flat that was flat and smaller than 9x9" could be put on top of them and then just move that flat object around across them. It's the same premise that is used in bead mills to make round beads by the boatload, you would just be doing a batch for a short time, probably just a few minutes, to remove the finish.
Let's see a pic of the necklace when it's finished as well! I like my wood beads to be made out of jet, which is 60 million year old wood! Been cutting some new jet focal beads and cabs. These are made with jet, a gem grade lignite coal, from Tennessee. I leave one side with a polished natural face and the other side is polished smooth...
I know this is an old thread and I found it very interesting. I am just beginning and wondered what kind of tumbler you all are using? Thanks.
I use a small Lortone brand rotary tumbler. I learned a new tumbling trick from a polymer clay artist! I line my tumbler with a plastic soup container that actually fits in there just right. I cut up fine sandpaper and put my bowlerite in there dry and tumble it to remove scratches. I have separate containers that also contain cut up XF, and one with XXF, synthetic steel wool pads that I then use for finer finishing. Clean beads off well between tumbling and don't use water. The plastic lining prevents the black rubber barrel of the tumbler from marring the soft wood, bowlerite, or polymer beads.