Tumble polishing steel

Can anyone point me to easy-to-understand (i.e., non-technical) information about tumble polishing steel? All the tumbling links on
Google are about lapidary and jewelry applications. I'd like to try it on a knife blade or two. The price of wet & dry sandpaper has gone through the roof and I've just about run out of elbow grease to go with it.
I remember building my own rock tumbler when I was a boy. Used it for several years before I discovered girls. So I know a little about it. But I've never tried it on steel or other metal.
I have lots of questions. What media do I use? Can I expect high-quality results with a shop-built small batch machine.? Will tumbling destroy crisp lines on a knife blade (I'm aware that the edge will have to be retouched)? Tumbling times? Anything else to be aware of?
Steel under consideration includes heat-treated carbon and stainless steels, D-2, ATS-34, S30V, 5160, etc. Probably finished down to 220-grit or so before going into the tumbler.
Any info at all will be helpful in deciding whether or not I want to try this.
-Frank
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Frank, Tumblers work fine for all small parts in all sorts of material. They will soften all edges. However, they are noisy. You can also use vibrators. They are more quiet and very often more effective. This is especially true if the parts count is low. I do not recommend either for knife making. You should invest in polishing belt sanders. they do a better job faster. Patina type finishes are best acheived with bead blasting after sanding. Polishing should be done on proper buffing wheels with polishing cakes, using a different wheel for each grit. I guess it's like everything else, use the right equipment and tools for the job, this is no exception. No free lunch. Steve

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