Skilcraft Rock Tumblers
A Skilcraft rock tumbler from 1972.
A Vintage Tumbler from the 1970s
Skilcraft Rock Tumblers were widely sold in the United States during the 1970s. The model shown here was available in 1972. Their marketing slogan was "Convert rough rock into sparkling gemstones!"
The Plastic Barrel Dates this Machine
This Skilcraft tumbler had a very small octagon-shaped barrel that processed about 1/2 pound of rock. The barrel was made of plastic with a metal screw-on lid. To reduce the amount of noise produced, the metal lid had a foam rubber liner glued to the inside surface. The kit came with a rectangular piece of rubber to line the inside of the barrel. If you ran the tumbler without this "barrel silencer" a considerable amount of noise would be produced as the rocks were tumbled about in the barrel.
About one year later this same tumbler was sold with a solid rubber barrel with a design that is very similar to the 1.5 pound Lortone tumbler barrel that is sold today. In fact, the Lortone 1.5 pound barrel can run successfully on this machine.
Skilcraft rock tumbler in box.
Skilcraft by Western Publishing Company
Skilcraft was a subsidiary of the Western Publishing Company and their products were resold by a number of retail stores including Montgomery Ward. The Skilcraft product line included a number of "science kits." These included rock tumblers, chemistry sets, telescopes, microscopes and other products. Mattel bought Western Publishing Company in 1979.
The Skilcraft products of Western Publishing Company are not to be confused with the Skilcraft brand of today which is the trade name for the National Industries for the Blind.
For more information about early rock tumblers see our article: The History of Rock Tumbling.