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Rock collecting may be an engaging, and you need a rock tumbler entertaining activity for anybody, regardless of age. Finding a few rocks in your yard that catches your eye and you’re ready to begin doesn’t require any special knowledge, but you can learn a lot about the many sorts of rocks and how they’re made along the process.

However, a rock tumbler is necessary for your activity if you want to highlight the true beauty of the rocks you uncover. You can tumble rocks to give them a polished, nearly glass-like sheen. Polished stones can be used to create original jewelry items or to set out for exhibition in your collection.

But you need a good rock tumbler to accomplish the work if you want your rocks to look as lovely as possible. Knowing what to look for and which features are most crucial can help you select the best model.

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Best of the Best Best of the Best
1 c6ded6
Dan&Darci Rock Tumbler Kit
  • Brand:Dan&Darci
  • Item Dimensions LxWxH:12.99 x 9.06 x 5.51 inches
  • Item Weight:3070 Grams
  • Educational Objective:STEM
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Best Bang for the Buck Best Bang for the Buck 2 927ba2 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Hobby Rock Tumbler Kit
  • Age Range:96 months to up
  • Material:Stainless Steel
  • Color:Multicolor
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3 5ce983 Classic Crafts NSI Rock Tumbler
  • Brand:Classic Crafts
  • Capacity:1.5 Pounds
  • Material:Plastic, Metal, Stone
  • Color:Multicolor
  • Theme:Science
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4 cc598b NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Professional Rock Tumbler
  • Material:Default_no_selection_value
  • Item Dimensions LxWxH:12.6 x 6.7 x 10.25 inches
  • Educational Objective:STEM
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81pvgluhxvs ac sl1500 7708ac AliKids Rock Tumbler
  • Brand:AliKids
  • Material:Stainless Steel, Plastic, Rubber
  • Item Dimensions LxWxH:1.03 Kilograms
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Rock tumblers are compact devices that often fit on top of a table. They are composed of a chassis that the barrel rests on, a motor, and a barrel. Many tumblers only have one barrel. However, other types may operate with two barrels simultaneously.

The barrel is filled with rocks, water, and abrasive grit material. The grit is classified in the same grades as sandpaper, such as fine, medium, and coarse, and is identical to the substance used to coat sandpaper.

The machine starts rotating as soon as the barrel is loaded, causing the rocks inside to start tossing. The abrasive grit continuously coats the surfaces of the stones as they move. This erosive action mimics the process of a boulder being carried downstream by a stream or river.

You tumble rocks gradually to give them the right texture and polish. The usual procedure is to drop rocks for three weeks: once with coarse grit, once with medium grit, and once with fine grit or polish. Depending on the type of rock, you could also choose a pre-polish stage. Between each grit size, the stones and tumbler must be meticulously cleaned.

You don’t have to be concerned about the motor burning out because rock tumblers are designed to run continuously for several weeks.


rock tumbler type

There are two types of rock tumblers: rotary and vibratory.

Rotary tumblers: Rotate the barrel containing the pebbles, water, and abrasive grit using a motor. The rotary tumbler continuously lifts and drops its contents, moving your clothing like a clothes dryer. This causes the spirit to wash over the pebbles.

Vibratory tumblers: Use an electric motor to shake the base of the container holding the rocks, water, and abrasive grit. A vibratory tumbler works similarly to the paint shakers you may buy at your neighborhood hardware store. The barrel vibrates, creating friction between the pebbles and grit to help smooth and polish them, just like in a rotary tumbler.

While the same operation typically takes seven to ten days in a vibratory type, it typically takes four weeks to tumble rocks in a rotary tumbler.

Vibratory tumblers, however, are only helpful for polishing and sanding rocks. They are ineffective in shaping stones because they don’t wear down angles like rotary versions. Use a rotary tumbler if you want your finished rocks to have more rounded edges.

Some serious hobbyists mix the two. To round and smooth the edges of the rocks, use a rotary tumbler for the coarse stages. Then, transfer to a vibratory tumbler for the polishing stages. By doing this, you can finish the polishing process faster and with less grit overall.

Barrel or bowl size

You should consider how big your regular rock batches will be to determine what size is appropriate for your needs since rock tumblers with barrels or bowls are available in various sizes.

It may seem like more is better, but if you buy a tumbler with a huge barrel, you’ll need to add filler material, like plastic pellets, to fill the barrel if you aren’t tumbling a larger batch of rocks to reach the advised two-thirds whole level.

A model with a barrel holding three to six pounds of rocks is typically adequate for beginners and young children.

Number of barrels

While many rock tumblers feature a single barrel or bowl, you can find models equipped with double barrels or bowls.

With a double-barrel tumbler, you can use just one barrel or run them simultaneously to increase the machine’s capacity.

The double-barrel construction also allows you to tumble rocks of different hardness simultaneously, so you don’t have to wait long for your stones to finish.

Barrel and bowl material

Rock tumblers often have bowls or barrels made of rubber or plastic. The most resilient barrels are usually made of rubber, and they also operate quietly. Generally speaking, plastic barrels are less expensive, but they don’t last as long and can be noisy when used.

Extra accessories

Many rock tumblers are sold as a part of complete rock tumbling kits that contain everything you need to get started. If you’re just starting out, you might want to pick a tumbler with a ton of extra accessories so you can begin tumbling right away.

The various grades of abrasive grit required to polish, smooth, and shape the rocks are often included in kits. Some kits also come with multiple pebbles that are good for tumbling, saving you from having to look for your own.

You can even purchase rock tumbler packages that include jewelry-making materials, allowing you to create necklaces, earrings, or keychains out of your tumbled stones.


Depending on the size, some barrels, materials, and additional accessories, rock tumblers can range in price from $70 to $300.

Single-barrel tumblers

  • The typical price range for a small, single-barrel tumbler is between $70 and $120.
  • The normal price range for a sizable single-barrel tumbler is between $120 and $140.

Double-barrel tumblers

  • The typical price range for a compact, double-barrel tumbler is between $100 and $200.
  • The price range for a sizable, double-barrel tumbler is $200 to $300.


  • All rocks are not created equal for tumbling. Select stones that are hard, non-porous, and have a smooth surface. The best choices are quartz varieties agate and jasper.
  • For the best polishing, fill the barrel of your rock tumbler about two-thirds full with rocks, then lightly cover the tops of the stones with water.
  • You’ll need to add plastic or ceramic tumbling media to help fill the empty space if you don’t have enough rocks to fill the barrel of the rotary tumbler.
  • It helps to mix up the sizes of the rocks in the batch you’re tumbling for the most outstanding results.
  • For the tumbling operation, use just enough water to cover the top of the rocks and two tablespoons of grit per pound of polished stone.
  • The most excellent place for your tumbler to be kept is in a garage, cellar, or another area where it won’t disturb the home because tumblers may be pretty noisy when operating.
  • Between each stage of the tumbling operation, the tumbler’s barrel must always be cleaned with soap and water. Before adding the following grade, it’s crucial to eliminate all of the preceding grit to prevent mixing.


You’ll need to buy a high-quality rock tumbler for the best results. There are different types on the market, and one may be better for your needs than others. From these choices, we’ve identified four tumblers that rose to the top based on customer reviews and aesthetics. These are our top picks for rock tumblers


What does a rock tumbler do?

Machines called rock tumblers are used to polish and sand rocks. They are a well-liked instrument used by lapidary, jewelry, and craft hobbyists to create tumbling stones.

Can I put regular rocks in a rock tumbler?

The Moh’s scale should be well-known to every rock enthusiast. The majority of the hobby’s facets depend on it. Rock tumblers struggle with soft stones, and they struggle with too-hard rocks as well. When hard rocks and soft rocks are put together, the harder rocks will etch and scratch the softer stones.

Is it worth getting a rock tumbler?

People of all ages can engage in the very enjoyable and fulfilling activity of rock tumbling. Consider purchasing a tumbler and giving it a try, whether your goal is to use your pebbles to make and sell jewelry or simply to spend time with your family.

 What features should you look for in a rock tumbler if you’re new to tumbling?

A single-barrel rotary tumbler is usually the ideal choice if you are new to rock tumbling. Smaller quantities of rocks can be tumbled more frequently, allowing you to become accustomed to the operation. A starter package with all the materials you require, such as uncut stones or rocks and abrasive grit, is a fantastic option as well.

Can you re-use the grit that you add to the rock tumbler for polishing?

The grit begins to degrade as the rocks tumble in the apparatus. You can’t use it again because it combines with the water to form a slurry that is ineffective in removing the sharp edges of the pebbles. After each stage of the tumbling process, discard the grit and thoroughly clean the tumbler’s barrel.

Is rock tumbling a suitable activity for children?

For kids, rock tumbling is a fantastic hobby. When they transform common, unattractive rocks into exquisitely smooth, glossy stones, kids gain knowledge about rocks and experience a sense of success. But because it involves using an electric device, an adult should be in charge of watching the action.