How to Build Your Own Rifle Brass Tumbler

3 5.56 - close side view image by Yanir Taflev from

If you are an active reloader, you will eventually need a vibratory case tumbler to clean the assorted bullet lube and other dirt off your brass prior to reloading. Upon recovering from the sticker shock that often results from shopping for such a tumbler, you may find yourself contemplating building your own tumbler. Fortunately, it is not only possible, but actually quite simple to build a vibratory tumbler at home with scrap materials.

The motor from this fan would be a good choice.
industrial fan image by timur1970 from

Fasten the wheel weight tightly to the shaft of the fan motor, using the hose clamp. This is to intentionally unbalance the motor so it will vibrate.

Turn the bucket upside down and place the fan motor on the bottom of the bucket in such a way that the motor shaft is able to spin freely.

Fasten the motor in position with three or more strips of the plumber's tape. Drill holes in the bottom of the bucket and bolt the ends of the plumber's tape through the holes by inserting the stove bolts through the holes from inside the bucket, using a flat washer on each end of the bolts and Nylock nuts on the outside.

Cover the bolt heads on the inside of the bucket with a layer of caulk, to protect your brass cases from scratches. Allow the caulk to cure completely according to the directions on the tube.

Attach the screw hook to the underside of your loading bench, in a place where the bucket may hang freely.

Hang the bucket from the hook, using the bungee cord between the hook and the bail of the bucket.

Pour walnut shell media in the bucket to a depth of about 6 inches, add the brass you wish to clean, and fasten the lid in place.

Plug in the motor and let it vibrate for about five hours, or however long it takes to clean your brass.

Things You'll Need

  • 5 gallon plastic bucket with lid
  • Old fan motor
  • Lead wheel weight
  • Hose clamp
  • 10 stove bolts, 1/4 inch
  • 10 Nylock nuts, 1/4 inch
  • 20 flat washers, 1/4 inch
  • Tube of silicone caulk
  • Electric drill with 1/4-inch bit
  • Roll of plumber's tape
  • Screw in hanging hook
  • Bungee cord
  • Walnut shell media
  • Loading bench


  • Almost any old electric motor will work for this project.


  • Do not leave unattended while running; an unbalanced motor creates more heat than normal and could catch fire.