by Fred Nelson Fabrication






High Capacity Bench Top Parts Tumbler assembly

parts tumbler from dxf file

parts tumbler layout

Use this page for reference if you are building a tumbler from our CNC files. If you have not yet purchased the file, you can do so here: dxf files for sale


Material required: 11 ga. steel 12 x 48 inches.

Scale: the large gear is 10.5 inches diameter



 DRILL: Black and Decker 1/2 inch High Torque Heavy Duty Electric Drill (Home Depot or Amazon)




Bucket (Home Depot)




Bucket lid (Home Depot)




Lid center cap is a plumbing 6 inch 'test cap' (Home depot). We used a small bungee cord to secure the cap.



Bucket lid (optional). You can also use this 'screw-off' lid in place of the common lid and 'test cap' (above)



Drive chain: Common 1/2 x 1/8 single speed bicycle chain (Walmart).




Wooden 'paddles' (bucket interior). 1 x 1 inch wood blocks and screws. Pre-drill the blocks and use a drop of wood glue to seal the screws.


10 inch gear axle assembly. Weld a 1/2 inch diameter x 2-1/4 inch long axle to center (1/2 inch bolt shank, buy a long 1/2 inch bolt and cut off the head and threads)



(4) 1 inch x 1/4 inch i.d. Nylon spacers (Home Depot) and (4) 2 x 1/4-20 carriage bolts, nuts and washers mount the large gear to the bucket. Center the gear carefully, use the gear holes to mark the bucket bottom for drilling the mounting holes.



(2) 1/2 inch "miniature side flange bearing" (VBXbearings  see: Use (4) #8 x 3/8 (or 1/2 long) bolts, nuts and washers to mount these bearings.


Bucket bearing mount (base section, rear)



(2) roller guide wheels and #6 mounting hardware

2 of Shepherd Hardware 9490 (or similar) 1-1/2-Inch Rubber Rigid Plate Caster, 40-lb Load Capacity   Sold by:, eBay, Home Depot


Wheel mount (base section, front)



3 inch gear axle shaft* assembly

Weld a 3 inch long x 1/2 inch diameter axle 1.125 inches from the end. *Use a 1/2 inch bolt shank, buy a long 1/2 inch bolt and cut off the head and threads.


Drive gear bearing mount. Use (2) 1/4-20 x 1 inch carriage bolts to mount this bracket.


Drill mounting bracket. Use (1) 1/4-20 x 1 inch carriage bolt to mount the trigger lock bracket and (2) 1/4-20 x 1 inch carriage bolts to mount the drill bracket.



Base. (2) 8 x 3/8 bolts, nuts or equivalent to connect the base halves together.

< See this drawing for a bending guide.



Drill handle clamp, requires (2) 2 inch x 1/4-20 carriage bolts, washers, nuts. I drilled a hole in the 'direction' switch and inserted a key ring so I could pull on this switch.


Drill trigger lock. Requires (1) 2 inch x 1/4-20 bolts (no shank), and nut



(2) 1/2 inch I.D. shaft collars with set screws (



Optional (improved) screw-off lid. Available at Home Depot



De-burring media. We have had good luck with media from Harbor Freight mixed 50/50 with 80 grit sand blasting sand (50% media mixed with 50% sand)

BACKGROUND: We plasma cut a lot of parts like steel tabs and large washers. The cheap vibrator type tumblers and roller driven tumblers were just not effective and could NOT handle the heavy steel parts so..... we designed our own heavy duty chain driven tumbler. This tumbler design was so effective that we decided to share it.  

Capacity is not officially rated, however, the tumbler is specifically designed for heavy loads. It can easily accommodate 50 large 3 inch x 3/16 steel parts (plus the de-burring media).

OVER HEATING: Running your tumbler too slow may also cause overheating. Drill motors have an internal fan that needs to turn at least fast enough to exhaust the hot air from inside the drill. Check your drill for overheating and adjust the load or speed if required. Point an external fan at the drill if needed on hot days to keep the motor cool and extend the life of the drill motor.  Keep the drill clean and blow it out routinely to remove any dust build-up. Run tumbler slowly, approx. 60 rpm.

REVERSE MECHANISM. The Black and Decker has a reverse switch. Be sure the switch is fully engaged.

CHAIN ALIGNMENT:  Be sure the chain engages the gears smoothly and adjust the drill mounting brackets as required to insure that the gears and chain are all properly aligned. A mis-aligned chain will tend to 'click' or even jump off the gears.

TUMBLING HEAVY LOADS: We have found that when the tumbler is first loaded with a extremely heavy load, the drill may turn slowly or unpredictably until the bucket has turned several revolutions and the load has been evenly distributed. THIS IS NORMAL. Once the load has been distributed evenly the speed will even out and may increase. Adjust speed downward as needed. If you run the tumbler too fast, you'll hear the parts bumping around (like tennis shoes in the clothes dryer). When you find the correct speed you'll hear more of a constant "whooshing" sound.

WARNING: Never leave machinery operating unattended. Keep clothing, long hair, fingers, and jewelry away from moving parts. Keep pets and children away from equipment when operating. Unplug from the power source when not in use.

 parts tumbler configuration  PARTS TUMBLER front view

Chain Alignment tips video

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 In this video, the tumbler is running at medium speed. We have found 60 rpm to be very effective for de-burring most steel parts.

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 Preparing the sprocket teeth

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 Preparing the drive sprocket axle with a simple jig

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Preparing the axle for welding with a simple jig

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Testing the tumbler.

Don't run the tumbler empty. If you do, hold your finger on it to create a little drag, otherwise it will run too fast. Still running a little fast in this video. Proper speed loaded will be about 60 RPM (once it's loaded you can adjust the speed to run it a little slower).

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Parts Shopping List:

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Fred Nelson Fabrication. Azusa, CA  1999-present  All Rights Reserved