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Frequently Asked Questions About Rock Tumbling


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  • Grit and Polish
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  • Tumbled Stones
  • Tumbled Stone Uses
  • Other Things to Tumble
  • General Information
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  • Grit and Polish

    Can you use sand as grit?   Some people want to save money by substituting sand for silicon carbide grit. You might save money but you will waste time, electricty and machine life.
    Grit for sale:   We sell silicon carbide grit in three different size ranges for rock tumbling. Save money by purchasing a "grit kit".
    What polish should you use?   We use TXP aluminum oxide for almost all of our rock polishing. There are many other polishes that some people believe are superior for specific types of rock.
    What is silicon carbide grit?   The silicon carbide grit used in rock tumbling consists of specific sized granules. Used in a proper sequence they can prepare your rocks for polishing.
    Polish for sale:   We sell TXP aluminum oxide, cerium oxide, tripoli, tin oxide, and titanium oxide for rock polishing. We offer red rouge for those who want to polish soft metals.
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    Rock Tumbler Rough Questions

    Best types of rocks for tumbling:   Some types of rocks can be polished to a brilliant luster. Other types of rocks will not polish at all. Mixing them in a tumbler can cause problems.
    How big can your rough be?   This article explores the proper sizes of rough that can be used in a tumbler, when to use media and how to produce "monster" tumbles.
    How much rough should I place in my tumbler barrel?   This video shows how different amounts of material behave in the tumbler and why "2/3 full" is the right amount.
    Where can I dig for my own rough rocks and minerals?   Many mines are open to the pubic. There you can pay a fee, look for gems, minerals, rocks or fossils and keep any that you find.
    What is the difference between agate, jasper and chalcedony?   This article explains the difference between these terms that confuse many people.
    Polished Petoskey Stones   A Petoskey Stone is a fossil of a colonial coral that lived in a shallow sea during Devonian time about 350 million years ago.
    Where can I get glass to tumble?   Lots of people like tumbled glass. This article suggests possible sources of landscape glass, craft glass,.bottle glass and stained glass scrap.
    Why didn't my rough get a good polish?   A bad polish can be caused by many things. And, some rocks will not polish no matter who you are or what method you use.
    Tumbling glass in a rock tumbler:   Here is the step-by-step procedure that we use to produce tumbled glass in a "frosted" or brightly polished finish.
    What is "Ohio Flint" and will it take a good polish?   Ohio Flint is a really tough rock with an interesting history. Quality pieces of this material can be polished to a super bright luster.
    Rough for sale:   We offer several different kinds of tumbling rough. Each is a material that has been crushed or sized for use in your tumbler without further preparation.
    Can I polish preforms and cabochons in a rock tumbler?   Lots of people who cut cabochons and make other stone objects sand and polish them in a rock tumbler to save lots of time.
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    Rock Tumbler Media

    What media should you use?   This article explains the use of ceramic media in a rock tumbler. What size to use? When to use it as filler? When to use it as "cushioning".
    Rock tumbler media for sale:   We sell ceramic cylinders for rock tumbling. They can deliver grit, serve as filler, cushion impacts and act as roller bearings to improve tumbling action.
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    Maintenance & Parts

    How Long Should A Belt Last?   This article explores the potential probems with rock tumbler belts, how to fix them and how to get a long life out of your next belt.
    Replacing a Lortone tumbler belt:   These videos show how to replace the belt on Lortone Model 3A, 33B, 45C, QT6, QT12 and QT66 tumblers.
    Oiling a Thumler's Tumbler:   Thumler's tumblers require monthly oiling of the motor and bearings. Photos of where to place the oil and how much to apply.
    Vintage rock tumbler parts:   Lots of people contact us trying to find parts for a vintage rock tumbler. This article explains why we do not have them. Nobody has them.
    Lortone parts for sale:   We sell parts for most of the current model hobbyist tumblers made by Lortone (Models 3A, 33B, 45C, QT6, QT66 and QT12).
    Thumler's parts for sale:   We sell parts for most of the current-model Thumler's Tumblers (Models MP-1, A-R1, A-R2, A-R6, A-R12, U-V10, Model B, Model T).
    Lot-O-Tumbler parts for sale:   We sell parts for current-model Lot-O-Tumbler Singles and Lot-O-Tumbler Twins.
    Tumble-Bee parts for sale:   We sell parts for current-model Tumble-Bee rock tumblers.
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    Instructions

    Rock tumbling instructions:   This article gives the step-by-step instructions that we follow when tumbling rocks in a small rotary tumbler.
    Printable instructions:   Printable version of our rock tumbling instructions (for rotary tumblers).
    How to properly clean your barrel?   A perfectly clean rock tumbler barrel is a very important part of achieving a great polish on your tumbled stones and preventing a leaking barrel.
    Does your rough have gas?   Most of the rocks that people run in a tumbler do not make enough gas to cause a problem. However, any man-made glass and any natural glass could be a potential gas generator.
    How much rock should I place in my tumbler barrel?   This video shows what happens in a rock tumbler when different amounts of material are placed in the barrel.
    How to burnish rocks and glass:   Some rocks come out of the polishing step with a film of polish or hard water marks. This video shows how to clean them up.
    Printable tumbling log:   We use a log to keep track of our tumbling success and problems. If you run several barrels you really need this!
    How we use the Thumler's UV-10:   This is a really nice tumbler that quickly smooths and polishes rocks. It's interesting to watch too!
    Tips for polishing opal in a rock tumbler:   Opal is soft, fragile and often very expensive. We offer a few tips on polishing opal in a rock tumbler. Be careful!
    How we use the Lot-O-Tumbler:   This video/article explains how we use the Lot-O-Tumbler. Almost every rock that we tumble spends medium, fine and polish in the Lot-O.
    Books about rock tumbling:   Very few books have been written about rock tumbling. Most of them are currently out-of-print but can be obtained from used book dealers.
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    Rotary Rock Tumblers

    What's the difference between vibratory and rotary tumblers?   This question is asked so frequently that we have a video and an article to answer it.
    What is the difference between Lortone and Thumler's tumblers?   A photo gallery comparison of the two most popular and enduring brands of rock tumblers.
    Which rotary tumbler is right for you?   Here are some things to consider when selecting a rock tumbler. Make a thoughtful choice!
    We sell rotary tumblers   A quick review of all of the rotary tumblers that we sell.
    Thumler's rotary tumblers for sale:   View Thumler's tumblers only.
    Tumble-Bee Rotary Tumblers for Sale   View Tumble-Bee tumblers only.
    Should you buy one of the inexpensive plastic tumblers?   Maybe you should. Maybe you shouldn't. Some thoughts on how to decide.
    Tumble-Bee - A new brand of hobbyist tumblers   We have been running the Tumble-Bee. We like it and here is what we have learned.
    The Rapco “Tumble Stones” rock tumbler   Maybe you remember this tumbler from 40 years ago?
    Vintage Skilcraft Tumbler   The famous "chemistry set company" made rock tumblers too!
    Lortone Rotary Tumblers for Sale   View Lortone tumblers only.
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    Vibratory Rock Tumblers

    How we use the Thumler's UV-10:   This is a really nice tumbler that quickly smooths and polishes rocks. It's interesting to watch too!
    How we use the Lot-O-Tumbler:   This video/article explains how we use the Lot-O-Tumbler. Almost every rock that we tumble spends medium, fine and polish in the Lot-O.
    What's the difference between vibratory and rotary tumblers?   This question is asked so frequently that we have a video and an article to answer it.
    How does a vibratory tumbler save time and money?   Vibratory rock tumblers are more expensive than rotary tumblers - but they are faster and much cheaper to operate.
    Vibratory Lot-O-Tumbler for sale   We sell the Single Lot-O and the Lot-O-Tumbler Twin.
    Thumler's U-V10 vibratory rock tumbler for sale   We sell the "industrial" model of this tumbler. If you are going to tumble rocks you need this one!
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    Lortone Tumblers

    Lortone tumblers for sale   We sell the Lortone hobbyist tumblers, including Models 3A, 33B, 45C, QT6, QT12 and QT66.
    Lortone parts for sale:   We sell replacement parts for Lortone Models 3A, 33B, 45C, QT6, QT12 and QT66.
    Lortone motors for sale:   We sell replacement motors for Lortone Models 3A, 33B, 45C, QT6, QT12 and QT66.
    Lortone barrels for sale:   We sell barrels for Lortone Models 3A, 33B, 45C, QT6, QT12 and QT66.
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    Thumler's Tumblers

    Paint can rock tumbler:   Some of the first rock tumblers used paint cans for barrels. Here's an early Thumler's A-R2.
    Thumler's rotary tumblers for sale:   We sell most of the current rotary tumblers made by Thumlers: MP-1, A-R1, A-R2, A-R6, A-R12 and Model B.
    Thumler's U-V10 vibratory tumbler for sale:   We sell the Thumler's U-V10 vibratory tumbler - the "Industrial" model for rocks.
    Thumler's parts for sale:   We sell parts for most of the current Thumler's Tumblers.
    Thumler's motors for sale:   We sell motors for the Thumlers A-R Series Tumbler, the Model B and the U-V10 vibratory.
    Thumler's barrels for sale:   We sell barrels for the MP-1, A-R Series and Model B. We also sell bowls for the U-V10.
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    Tumbled Stones

    Polishing igneous and metamorphic rocks:   We picked some nice river stones out of our landscaping and ran them in our vibratory tumbler. Wow they came out nice!
    How can I identify tumbled stones?:   With a little practice and experience you can identify many types of tumbled stones. Here is a photo guide.
    What are semiprecious stones?:   The terms "precious stones" and "semiprecious stones" are poorly understood and falling out of use. We explain what they are in this article.
    River stones: Some "river stones" might look like they are polished; however, they are often coated with a layer of wax. 
    What are eye agates and how do they form?:   Eye agates are really interesting stones that give clues to how agate nodules form.
    Amazing Tumbled Stones:   This is a collection of some amazing tumbled stones with descriptions of what makes them awesome.
    The turquoise imposter:   When dyed a light blue color the mineral howlite can easily be confused with turquoise. It can also be dyed other colors.
    Are tumbled stones valuable?:   Most tumbled stones are not valuable. Occasionally one will be discovered that is composed of high quality faceting or cabochon-cutting material.
    Fluorescent Opal   Some specimens of opal display a fluorescence under short-wave ultraviolet light.
    How much do stones weigh?  Most rounded stones weigh a little over 100 pounds per cubic foot. It matters not if they are tumbled by people or tumbled by a stream.
    What are dyed gemstones and how to identify them?   Some stones are dyed to improve their appearance or appeal. If you know what to look for you can often identify a dyed stone.
    Ocean jasper under a black light:   We looked at some ocean jasper under a ultaviolet lamp and discovered that it was beautifully fluorescent.
    Fluorite - the original fluorescent mineral:   Here's a look at some tumbled fluorite under an ultraviolet lamp.
    Can you get energy from stones?  Lots of people think that polished stones or "crystals" can be a source of "energy". We agree (sort of) but for very different reasons.
    Sea glass vs. tumbled glass:   Sea glass is a piece of glass that has been tumbled in the ocean by waves and currents. Tumbled glass made by people is a different commodity.
    Brown and white zebra jasper:   We tumbled some "Zebra Jasper" and share our results with a few photos.
    Is dalmation stone a jasper?  This rock reminds you of the black and white spotted dog, but calling it a "jasper" is incorrect.
    Fluorescent moonstone:  Many speciments of moonstone fluoresce in ultraviolet light. Here are photos of some fluorescent tumbled moonstone.
    History of rock tumbling:   Rock tumbling got its start in the 1950s as a way to mass produce tiny polished stones for an emerging jewelry business.
    Tumbled gemstones for sale:   We have a variety of tumbled stones for sale. We have some nice ones for you.
    Forty gemstones from around the world:   Here is a colorful collection of forty different tumbled stones from many parts of the world.
    Printable identification chart for tumbled stones:   Lots of people who purchase our tumbled stones would like to identify them. We made this printable chart to help.
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    Uses for Tumbled Stones

    What can I do with tumbled stones?   Here is a collection of uses, crafts and ideas for using your tumbled stones.
    Vintage Swoboda Jewelry:  In the 1950s this line of gemstone jewelry was the inspiration behind the invention of the electric rock tumbler.
    Swoboda gem trees were the first tumbled stone trees:   The first gem trees made with tumbled stones were produced by Swoboda Jewelry.
    A bowl of beautiful stones:   This is one of our favorite ways to display and share our tumbled stones. Want one?
    Using tumbled stones as vase filler: Tumbled stones can be used as a beautiful vase filler that can be used over and over again. 
    What glue works for making gemstone jewelry?   We tested several popular jewelry glues and report on how they work for making tumbled stone jewelry.
    How to make a gemstone keychain:   Instructions and tips for making a tumbled stone keychain.
    How to make a pendant necklace:   Instructions and tips for making a tumbled stone pendant necklace.
    How to make a gemstone bracelet:   Instructions and tips for adorning a bracelet with tiny tumbled stones.
    How to make a tumbled stone tie tack:   A tumbled stone tie tack can be a great gift. We give instructions and ideas for making one.
    How to make tumbled stone earrings:  A nice matched pair of tumbled stones can be used to make a great pair of earrings.
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    Other Things to Tumble

    Making tumbled glass in a rock tumbler:   Lots of people use a rock tumbler to convert landscape glass, cullet or broken glass into colorful gemmy nuggets.
    Polishing Marbles   Some people use a rock tumbler to polish marbles that have light scratches and “hit” marks on them. However, some collectors are not fans of the practice.
    Can I clean brass cartridge cases in a tumbler?   Many people who reload their ammunition will clean their brass casings in a rock tumbler with corn cobb or walnut shell media.
    Cleaning coins in a rock tumbler: We are sorry, but we don't give advice on this subject. Read our blog post to find out why.
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    General Information

    Our favorite rock tumbling products:   We have done lots of rock tumbling and have strong preferences for certain products. We share our preferences and philosophies here.
    How long does rock tmbling take?  Producing polished stones can take less than a week or over two months depending upon what tumbler you are using and the material being tumbled.
    How much does rock tumbling cost?   In this article we consider the costs of rock tumbling, including: electricity, grit, polish and rough rocks.
    Which tumbler should I purchase?   This pages compares 18 different rock tumblers produced by four different manufacturers.
    Where to run your rock tumbler?   We consider noise, temperature, convenience and other factors and suggest possible places for running your rock tumbler.
    How loud is a rock tumbler?   The most common concern about rock tumblers is the amount of noise that they make. We used a sound level meter to test several popular rock tumblers.
    What is "sea glass?"  "Sea glass" and "tumbled glass" are two different commodities. One is a man-made material modified by nature. The other is a completely man-made product.
    Two barrel rock tumblers: Lortone, Thumlers, Lot-O-Tumbler and Tumble-Bee all make tumblers with two barrels. We explore the pros and cons of a double barrel machine. 
    Who buys rock tumblers?   Based upon our experience, people who live where rough tumbling materials can be collected are the people who buy the most tumblers.
    What happens in a rock tumbler?   We replace the lid of a rock tumbler with a glass plate so you can see what happens inside.
    Be careful when buying a used rock tumbler:   Lots of people buy used rock tumblers and then discover that replacement parts are no longer available. We don't have parts for extinct tumblers and don't know anyone anywhere who sells them.
    Which rock tumblers are recommended for kids?   Rock tumblers should only be used with close adult supervision. Some tumblers are best used only by adults.
    The history of rock tumbling:   The interesting story behind the invention of the first electric rock tumbler and how rock tumbling became a popular hobby.
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    Other Questions

    If your question is not answered here send us an email message for a fast reply.
    To save time be sure to look for your question here before writing. Thanks!
    rock tumbler questions
     
     Rock Tumblers and Supplies
    Rotary rock tumbler
    Rotary Tumblers
    Vibratory rock tumbler
    Vibratory Tumblers
    Tumbling supplies
    Tumbling Supplies
    Rock tumbler parts
    Tumbler Parts
      Rock Tumbling Book
    Modern Rock Tumbling We highly recommend: Modern Rock Tumbling by Steve Hart. Learning is the fastest way to improve the quality of rocks that you tumble. In this book you will learn from an expert with extensive experience. You will increase your abilities, learn to save time, money and have a great reference book that you will use again and again.

      Gemstones of the World
    Gemstones of the World We highly recommend: Gemstones of the World (fifth edition) by Walter Schumann. One of the most popular gemstone books ever written, with over one million copies sold. It has about 100 pages of basic gemstone information and about 200 pages dedicated to photos and descriptions of over 100 gems and gem materials.

    Tumbling Articles and Resources
      Tumbling Instructions
      Polished Stone Identification
    Fee mining sites   Fee Mining and Digging Sites
      Rock Tumbler Blog
      Compare Rock Tumblers
      Tumbling FAQ
      Using Tumbling Media
      Tumbling Glass
      How Long Does Tumbling Take?
    History of rock tumbling  History of Rock Tumbling
      Review: Lortone & Thumler's Tumblers
      Burnishing Tumbled Stones
      How Loud Are Tumblers?
      How We Use the Lot-o-Tumbler
      Uses for Tumbled Stones
      More RockTumbler.com YouTube Videos

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