Best Rock Tumblers to Buy in 2020- Complete Guide
Introduction to Rock Tumbler and Lapidary Kits
The rock tumbler comes in many different types and brands, they are available in a variety of sizes (and to some extent shapes) and they are manufactured to meet the needs and expectations of the users whom they are aimed at on an individual basis. For example, if you need your rock tumbler for professional lapidary (perhaps for jewelry making and selling), then you will probably not be satisfied with either the capacity or final polish depth of finish and shine provided by the lower end of the market or the kind of tumbler which has been made for children as an introduction to the hobby. Naturally, this is a more extreme example and in essence compares the two ends of the scale of rock tumblers available – however there are variables all along the range which can be considered based on application and requirements that can influence the decision regarding which rock tumbler might be best suited to your requirements.
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Rock Tumbling Guide
There is definitely an art to getting a fantastic shine on the rocks you decide to put through a rock tumbler, and whichever device you choose or own already, the best results will always come with a combination of time and patience. This doesn’t apply to “waiting for it to finish” – that is a must, what we mean by time and patience is really more specific to how your skill will develop as you tumble more and more batches of rough rock to a standard you are satisfied with, and indeed, your standards will probably raise the more rocks you tumble.
So whilst it isn’t really possible to attain the art by reading guides alone, learning the basics from the very beginning will certainly get you on the road to success if the directions below are followed very carefully. Many people are turning their hand to lapidary and remember owning a rock tumbler when they were younger – if you fall into this category, we are certain that the sound of the barrel turning will bring back some long lost memories. Happy Tumbling!
Do you know you can make a rock tumbler at home ?. Checkout our latest post on how to make DIY Rock Tumbler at home.
Perhaps often overlooked are important factors when using a rock tumbler. Read this preparation page to ensure you are ready to leave an electronic device, powered up, alone and running for long periods of time in a safe environment.
Step 1 – Rough Rock to Shaped Rock – 80 Grit
The idea behind the first step is to take your rough rock and grind it (tumble it) down into a form which is indistinguishable (in shape) from the final product. The size and shape of the rocks at the end of this first step will be more or less the same as they will be once they are completely shiny at the end of the fourth step.
Step 2 of using a rock tumbler is in itself a two part process. These tumbles will not actually shape the rock, instead it will work on the outer surface making the rocks smoother and smoother until they are ready for the final polishing which is the ultimate goal.
And now for step 3. This will add a shine to the gemstones you have worked so hard in the tumbler now for many weeks – it is the last stage. Doing this part right will make it all worthwhile, so apply concentration to how clean and free from grit the barrel and rocks are and the results will be amazing.
1. What is a Rock Tumbler?
Rock Tumbler is nothing but a machine to smooth and polish different types of rocks and stones. This machine is highly used by Jewellers to polish raw stones and give them the perfect shape. It is also used for craftsmen and other professionals who can produce tumbled rocks using this machine.
The Rock tumbler machines are of different types. Depending on your basic needs, you can pick the right size of the tumbler to fulfil your needs. You don’t need to limit yourself with your work as the rock tumbler comes in different shapes and sizes and gives you the professional results every time you use it.
Aside from this, the same machine is used by the people who are fond of different types of stones. They can use this machine on their home to discover the real beauty of the stones. It comes with a decent functionality making it easier for them to use it like a pro.
2. What to do with Tumbled Rocks?
There are many reasons why many people are getting attracted to rock tumbling. The same process was done by manual tasks which require a lot of time and patience. However, with the use of a reliable Rock Tumbler machine, the rock tumbling process has become a lot easier and faster.
There are people who just love to collect a variety of stones with different colours, shapes and sizes. Here we have enlisted a few arear where the tumbled rocks are used.
The most common use of tumbled rocks is in the jewellery making process. Most Jewelers do own a Rock Tumbler Machine to design and produce the perfect stone as per their clients’ needs.
Jewellers use raw stones on the barrel of the tumbler to give them perfect shape and shine.
Craftworks require a lot of patience and innovative things to attract the eyeballs of the consumers. If you are unable to offer a unique design on your crafts, no one will praise your efforts and you will end up storing your own crafts. People will buy things which are unique and innovative.
Tumbled rocks can be used in a variety of craft work. Craftwork requires different types of stones in different colours and shapes and tumbled rocks are just perfect for them.
Some people use tumbled rocks to fill the planter. It looks adorable and enhances the beauty of your home.
Tumbled Rocks look beautiful as they come in different shapes and colours and look extra shiny than normal stones. They are also used for various decorations in parties and other occasions.
Paperweights are useful in the offices to hold down the papers placed on the work table. Tumbled Rocks can be used as paperweights in the offices as well.
There are some creative minds which use the tumbled rocks in Keychains. They combine multiple tumbled rocks and produce an eye catchy keychain. You can also ask them to create a keychain as per your requirements from the available options.
Where to Find Rocks to Tumble?
Most people don’t aware of the Rock Tumbling Process and what they can do with the tumbled rocks. We hope that you are not aware of the Rock Tumblers and why they are high in demands. Now, let’s talk about where and how you can find rocks to tumble using a Rock Tumbler machine.
Rock Tumblers are compatible with limited types of rocks and stones and for that reason, it is important for the users to pick the perfect and suitable stones and rocks with the rock tumbler machine. Before you start searching for rocks to tumble using the machine, you need to know about the quality of the rocks first.
The rocks which you are going to use with the Rock Tumbler machine should be hard and with a gritty surface. Thankfully, there are many resellers available online which lets you choose rocks to tumble using the rock tumbler machine.
Jasper and Agate are the most common types of Rocks to work with the rock tumblers machines. Most professionals do make use of these rocks for their needs.
Agate is undoubtedly the most useful and highly recommended type of Rock to work with the Rock Tumbler machine. This rock comes in different colour options and gestures. You can use a variety of methods to give them the perfect shape and shine as per your needs.
This type of rocks can be found easily near coastal areas. Thankfully, you can order them online from various websites. So you don’t need to go and search for the suitable rocks to work with the machine.
For more information about the Rocks to tumble, you can search for the same on the Internet. You will find many tutorials and guidebook to make you understand about the different types of rocks that can work with the Rock Tumbler machine.
Which Rocks NOT to Tumble?
As we have discussed the different types of rocks in the above section, it is important for you to know why you should not use all types of Rocks with the Rock Tumbler machine. Rock Tumbling is a highly time-consuming process and you have to wait for days to get the perfect stone or rock as per your needs.
If you pick a wrong type of rock, then you will end up wasting your time and efforts. To not make such mistakes, you should also know about the types of Rocks which are not recommended for the Rock Tumbling process. Let’s find them out now!
For Rock Tumbling process, you need to pick the rocks based on their hardness. According to a German Geologist who formed a Mohs Scale to understand and figure out the hardness of the stone or rock.
Mohs Scale is nothing but a scale with 0 to 10 numbers to measure the hardness of the stone. A lower number means that rock is soft and is not suitable to work with the Rock Tumbler unit. For Rock Tumbling, Mohs Scale ratings should be above 7.
According to experts, Rocks that are too hard too soft are not good for rock tumbling as they can’t be polished well. If you are a beginner, you are advised not to go with this type of stone as you will end up spending your time and money with poor results.
Marbles can be considered as the softest Stone while Diamond is the hardest stone in the world.
Types of Rock Tumblers
There are two different types of Rock Tumblers available on the market, Rotary and Vibratory. Rock Tumblers come in different shapes and sizes. There are many manufacturers available on the market who are producing Rock Tumblers for Kids. Yes, Kids too can make use of the Rock Tumbler to work with a variety of rocks and stones. Let’s collect some useful information about the types of Rock Tumblers.
Rotary Tumbler is also known as Rotating Tumbler which is highly used by the professionals. Rotary Tumblers are high in demands as they offer professional-grade results with the types of Stone and Rock that you select.
In this type of Tumbler, rocks fall over and over again on each other within the barrel. This way the Rotary Tumbler polishes the stones and rocks. This is the same method which is used by the Ocean.
If you ask us, we recommend you to go with the brand which has been in the market for years. Always choose a trusted brand when buying a new Rotary Tumbler. When you go with a branded Rotary Tumbler unit, you will not have to worry about the performance and quality of the machine.
Rock Tumbling requires a number of days and for that reason, you will have to replace some parts of the machine especially if you use it on a regular basis. For that reason, you need to choose a brand who also manufacturer the different parts of the Rock Tumblers.
On the other hand, the Vibratory Tumblers are also good in shaping and polishing raw stones and rocks. This type of tumblers is also known as Agitating Tumblers in the field. This type of machine work on a different principle and they are not actually tumbling the stones or rocks.
Vibratory Tumblers use either ultrasound or spin method to polish the raw rocks. The spinning method is highly used by this type of tumblers on the vertical axis. This type of rock tumblers costs a lot and that’s the reason why most people don’t want to own them.
However, they come with a lot of benefits compared to the traditional rotary tumblers. This type of Tumblers is good at polishing stones and rocks with less time.
Things to Consider while buying a Rock Tumbler
Rock Tumbler requires professionalism and for that reason, there are many things you need to consider first before buying a new Rock Tumbler machine. Here we have listed down some things which should be considered first. The following list will help you to pick the best and suitable rock tumbler machine for your needs.
There are numerous manufacturers available on the market with a range of different types of Rock Tumbler machines. If you are looking for a rock tumbler machine for your kids, then you should pick a branded rock tumbler which comes with a good warranty.
If we talk about popular brands, then Thumbler and Lortone are the most popular brands with a range of Rock Tumblers for both, Kids and professional users. It is highly recommended for you to go with the branded Rock Tumbler machine instead of going with a non-branded and cheap one.
The size of the barrel is the first thing you need to consider as it decides the capacity of the machine. The size of the barrel on a Rock Tumbler machine is measured in Weight. The most common size of the barrel on the Rock Tumbler is of 3 lbs. If you are a beginner, then 3 lbs of barrel size are suitable for you.
If we talk more about the size, with a 3 lbs of barrel size, you can use rocks and stones up to 2 lbs. The other pound should be filled with water or grit as per the type of rock you use on the machine.
If you are into professional rock tumbling, then are many options of Rock Tumblers available on the market with 6 lbs to 12 lbs of size. For commercial use, the Rock Tumbler machine comes with a larger size of 20 lbs to 40 lbs. They are made of heavy-duty materials and designed to last for years.
Depending on your basic needs and the size of the rocks you will work with the machine, you need to choose the right size of the Rock Tumbler. If you go with heavy duty for smaller tasks, then you won’t get the desired results with it. Always go with a suitable size as per your needs.
Different manufacturers are using different materials to manufacturer their Rock Tumbler machines. The main part on the Rock Tumbler machine is the Barrel. Some manufacturer offers multiple barrels on their new generation machines.
In today’s world, barrels are made of either rubber or plastic materials. Rubber barrels are highly used in the new generation rock tumbler machines as they reduce noise while tumbling and they are not good for the people who don’t like noisy environment.
If we talk about the Tumblers for Kids, they are made from plastic materials. Plastic is less expensive and comes with extra durability which is best for the Kids.
Professional-grade tumblers use high-quality rubbers. Rock Tumbling process takes days of time and for that reason, you need to choose the machine which doesn’t make any noise while rock tumbling. The machine you use should be noise free and the material of the barrel should be of rubber.
Single or Multiple Barrels?
As mentioned in the above section, some manufacturers offer multiple barrels on the rock tumbler. If you are into professional rock tumbling, then you can go with the rock tumbler with a dual barrel unit. You can use two different types of rocks with a single machine to use simultaneously.
Apart from this, you can also use the rock tumbling process with different batches on a single machine. A single batch of rocks requires several weeks to get the desired shape and polish. When you use multiple batches, the process becomes easier and faster. You don’t need to spend weeks of time on a single batch.
Price is also a factor to consider especially if you are a beginner and with low budget. There are numerous types of Rock Tumbler Machines available on the market and you need not go with a cheap machine. Pick the machine with an affordable price tag without compromising with its quality.
Rotary Vs. Vibratory Tumblers
Rotary Tumbler and Vibratory Tumbler are two different types of Rock Tumbler Machines available on the market. Rotary Tumbler is the most common type of Rock Tumbler machine which is highly recommended for the beginners.
Vibratory Tumblers are new generation Tumblers and they are designed to work with a range of Rocks and Stones. Vibratory Tumblers offer professional grade results in less time compared to the Rotary Tumblers.
Vibratory Tumblers are used for polishing the rocks after rock tumbling. They make the polishing process much faster and professional for the users.
Professional users own both, Rotary Tumbler and Vibratory Tumbler. They use Rotary Tumbler for shaping and sharpening the Rocks, and Vibratory Tumbler to polish them. Once they finish tumbling rocks, Vibratory Tumbler is used for faster polishing to finish the entire process.