Wooden beads made on home-made tumbler.

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Project by Ryan Haasen posted 842 days ago 7922 views 27 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A few weeks ago my mom wanted some wooden beads to put in a vase. So with a little help from lumberjocks, I was ably to make a wood tumbler from my 5” disc sander. I made it so it can be taken off in a matter of seconds to use the sander. It turned out quite well I thought. And my mom was very pleased with them. The beads are made from scraps of zebrawood, wenge, purple heart, paduak, cherry, maple, and walnut. A great use of scraps. To polish them I took a worn out piece of hook & loop sand paper which was very smooth, then glued a piece of paper on to it, then attached it to the sander and gave them a final tumble. It gives them a great shine. Finished with wipe-on poly.

-- Ryan

17 comments so far

View CalgaryGeoff's profile


936 posts in 1078 days

#1 posted 842 days ago

Very very cool. How did you polish them?

-- If you believe you can or can not do a thing, you are correct.

View Ryan Haasen's profile

Ryan Haasen

362 posts in 998 days

#2 posted 842 days ago

Thanks. A while ago I figured out using my lathe that regular white paper does a great job polishing wood. So I used the same concept to polish these: I always keep my worn out hook & loop sanding disks for my 5” disk sander. I never knew why, but i figured they would be good to keep on hand. So I took one of those warn out disks and glued it to a piece of paper. Once dry I cut the extra paper off and put it on my sander/tumbler. To put the finish on I put all the beads in the tumbler and dipper a rag in poly and just put it in the tumbler for a couple of minutes.

-- Ryan

View dakremer's profile


2447 posts in 1688 days

#3 posted 842 days ago

that is crazy that paper will polish like that! Just computer paper? Did you use the rag dipped in poly at the same time you used the paper to polish them? Or did you polish them with the paper first, and THEN put the poly rag in it??

I’ve got a homemade tumbler myself, but havent made any beads to the point of polishing yet….will have to try that

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View Ryan Haasen's profile

Ryan Haasen

362 posts in 998 days

#4 posted 842 days ago

Yes, it is just computer paper, nothing special. I use it on all of my turnings, it works great and is cheap. I polished the beads with the paper first and then put the poly on. In the future I will make a video of my process.

-- Ryan

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


14587 posts in 2273 days

#5 posted 842 days ago

Nice work. What shape were they to start? Did you tumble them to round them off? What media to shape them?

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View GlennM's profile


26 posts in 874 days

#6 posted 841 days ago

I would love to see some pictures of you tumbler. Great idea.

-- Glenn, Nova Scotia

View hunter71's profile


1953 posts in 1783 days

#7 posted 841 days ago

Hand sanding vs tumbling, an easy choice when you can use it.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View Spoontaneous's profile


1286 posts in 1927 days

#8 posted 841 days ago

Looks like hard candy. I had thought one time to buy a rock tumbler to use for wood jewelry shapes. Love to see how you made up this one.

-- I just got done cutting three boards and all four of them were too short. (true story)

View Paul Stoops's profile

Paul Stoops

321 posts in 1158 days

#9 posted 841 days ago

Beautiful! Please document your process and show us how you did them. Also information on your tumbler. Sounds intriguing!!

-- Paul, Auburn, WA

View drbyte's profile


553 posts in 2659 days

#10 posted 841 days ago

Great beads! I’d like to see your tumbling process also! By the way, paper ‘grocery bag’ type paper really works well to buff and polish. It is comparable to really high grain (like 4000) or something. Works really great on lathe projects or as a pad on an orbital sander!

-- Dennis, WV

View marter1229's profile


337 posts in 2107 days

#11 posted 841 days ago

Great job with the beads!

-- It's all fun, Terry******N. Idaho

View jfk4032's profile


240 posts in 1123 days

#12 posted 841 days ago

Nice job. I plan on making some of these in the future!

-- ---Joel; Central MD...rookie empter nester and getting back into woodworking!

View DaddyZ's profile


2375 posts in 1637 days

#13 posted 841 days ago

Very Cool !!!

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View a1Jim's profile


111999 posts in 2174 days

#14 posted 841 days ago

WAAAAAAAY cool Ryan, great job.

-- Custom furniture

View Woodstock's profile


226 posts in 1885 days

#15 posted 841 days ago

For those who are not familiar with the process used by other lumber jocks to make beads from scraps by LJ’s Filinvested, see his bit for a way to do this. (It sounds like a variation from what Ryan did with his disk sander.) It works pretty darn good too. I didn’t want to burn up my expensive “main” work drill with long run times between grits so I spent $14 on a el-cheapo Harbor Freight hand drill dedicated for this use.

I added a Woodcraft vacuum port with a screen and a block of wood adapter to the side of the coffee can BELOW the disk, just to keep any “escapees” from getting sucked into the vacuum. Really helps with the dust control.

One word of warning: If you do this as shown in the link, be sure to do it OUTSIDE. It’s bloody loud and will drive you out of your house or shop while it is running in no time. (Sounds like “Nuclear Popcorn” popping?)


Blog on how it is done:


-- I'm not old. Just "well seasoned".

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