Red Jasper - Rock Tumbler Rough
This image shows a 5-pound bag of red jasper tumbling rough, dumped into a colander and sprayed with water to reveal its full color. Click on the image for a larger view. Wow! What a bright red color!
Red Jasper Tumbling or Cabbing Rough
Size: mostly 1 to 2 inch pieces
This red jasper from South Africa is one of our long-time favorite tumbling roughs. Why? Here are four reasons: 1) it accepts an awesome polish; 2) it has a spectacular red color; 3) it shapes nicely; and, 4) it is tough enough that bruising rarely occurs in the tumbler. That makes this rough easy and enjoyable to tumble. We recommend it as a great tumbling rough for beginners. Because the pieces are mostly 1 to 2 inches in size, it is also a good rough to use when learning about ceramic media.
This jasper is bright red in color and is nicely marked with a few veins and pockets of white to gray translucent quartz. It produces beautiful tumbled stones with a few interesting quartz veins. Rare pieces contain a tiny streak or a few specks of gray to silver hematite. The hematite suggests that this material was deposited in association with a banded iron formation. The rough in the photo above was photographed wet to show its full color.
This red jasper is sold in five pound bags. You might find a few pieces as small as 1/2 inch in size, but most of the weight will be in pieces between 1 inch and 2 inches across. These will produce nice chunky tumbled stones.
Ceramic Media Use Recommended:
Because the pieces of jasper are rather large, we always add enough ceramic media or small pieces of other rough to the barrel to fill the spaces between the pieces of jasper. The media or small rough will deliver grit or polish to all surfaces of the jasper and assist in shaping and smoothing the jasper. We do this in both rotary tumblers and vibratory tumblers.
Rotary Tumbling Suggestions:
When using a rotary tumbler, we fill the barrel about 2/3 to 3/4 full with jasper and ceramic media or small rough. Then we add about two level tablespoons of coarse grit for every pound of rough. We then add enough water to completely cover the rough and run it for two to three weeks. That is usually long enough to bring the jasper to a nice shape. In this first step of the tumbling we cover the rocks by about 1/4 inch of water. That extra water is to thin the mud that will be produced during the weeks of tumbling.
Steps 2 and 3 are done with medium and fine grit with about two tablespoons of grit for each pound of rough. These are run for one week. Enough water is added to almost cover the rocks. For Step 4, we use two level tablespoons of TXP aluminum oxide polish per pound of rough for one week, then burnish for 30 to 60 minutes if needed.
Vibratory Tumbling Suggestions:
When using a vibratory tumbler, we start with medium grit using the amount recommended by the tumbler manufacturer. Because the pieces of this rough are 1 to 2 inches in size, we add enough ceramic media or small pieces of rough to fill the spaces between the jasper.
We run in medium grit long enough to produce a nice smooth surface on the rocks - checking progress a couple times per day to maintain proper water content. After that, just two days in fine grit, followed by two days in polish. TXP aluminum oxide polish does a great job on this rough and is what we use for almost all of our rotary and vibratory polishing.
#61 Rapid Polish is designed with a smaller particle size for vibratory polishing. Many people use it in vibratory for dense materials like this red jasper that have minimal fractures. #61 Rapid Polish will often produce a visibly brighter polish on dense rough in most vibratory tumblers. (This is the polish that we include in our vibratory grit kits.) No matter what polish you use, always include plenty of ceramic media or small stones with this rough in vibratory - at least 1/3 by volume - and your tumbled stones should be awesome!
Some people like this rough so much that they use it for coarse ground cover in potted plants and planters. Others scatter a few pieces around their landscaping to add a little color. If we did that at our house the neighborhood kids would probably become "collectors." :-)
Finished Red Jasper Tumbled Stones:
If you don't want to tumble this red jasper yourself, we usually have medium size (5/8" to 1") tumbled stones of this material for sale by the pound. You can find them here.
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