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Using Tumblers

Tumbling stones, jewelry, and coins is a fairly simple hobby to get into. Most people are drawn to its simple steps paired with extraordinary outcomes. Common creations you can make with a rock tumbler are: vase filler, decorative paperweights, fish tank bedding, and much more.

Here is what you need to get started:

The tumbler.

There are many options that you can choose from. You could buy a tumbler sold alone or as a set. Here are links to a solo tumbler and a tumbler with a set.

Grit. The type of grit corresponds with what kind of stones or other object you want to polish as well as the what function you would like to perform. For example there are types of grit for polish and prepolish as well as extra coarse to extra fine grit.

There are many hobby websites you can turn to for these items. Here is a link to a kit that is available and has all of the supplies you need for multiple bundles of polishing with a multitude of rocks, including the rocks! It also has an instruction manual to use with it.

Patience. The wait time for a solid polish is about 2-3 weeks. The key is patience. Rock tumbling is like roasting a turkey, it takes a while to finish but the outcome is worth it and the polished items are beautiful enough for everyone to enjoy.

Once you have all of your supplies, you can begin the process!

There are 4 easy steps to polishing with a tumbler

Step 1: Grinding and Shaping

In this process, you will need a coarse abrasive, water, and rocks (or other item you want to polish. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll just say rocks)

The purpose of this step is to remove coarse edges and your rocks and make it easier to polish for smooth, shiney results.

Depending on the amount of rocks you have in the barrell, measure the proper amount of grit. Reference the tumbler’s instruction manual for the proper rate to volume mixture.

Next add water the rocks and grit. Pour right up to where the rocks sit, so the rocks should barely kiss the surface.

Put the lid back on the barrell, but be sure not to over tighten. Doing so could warp the threading on the screw attached to the lid when the barrell is rotating.

Place the barrel and the base of the tumbler and start the tumbler.

Leave the rocks tumbling for approximately 24 hours.

After the 24 hours are up, remove the barrel from the base and open the lid to remove any gases that may have built up during the tumbling process

Take a look at your progress. We’re almost there!

Reseal the lid to the barrel and place the barrel back on the base to tumble for another 7-10 days. Check stones every 24 hours.

Once you’ve reached the 7-10 day mark, remove the stones from the barrel by placing them into a strainer. Rinse your stones and barrel throughly to remove the abrasive from the rocks.

Step 2: Smoothing

Place the clean stones back in barrel to begin the smoothing process.

Add a fine grit silicone abrasive with the rocks in the barrel. Again, reference your instruction manual for the correct ratio.

Put the barrel on the base and check the stones every 2-3 days for one week.

While inspecting the stones, you should look for a uniform, matte finish. If after one week, the stones are not uniform or matte, keep repeating the process for another 2-3 days until you achieve that look.

Once you’ve reached the the ideal look, place the stones in a strainer to rinse of the fine abrasive.

Step 3: Pre-polish

What do you think the next step is? You guessed it! Put those rocks back in the barrel! But this time use a pre-polish abrasive with water.

Tumble for 7 days. Check for broken and chipped stones to remove from the barrel.

After the 7 days, your stones should have a smooth and shiny surface. If they don’t look like that, tumble for an additional 2-3 days until you reach these results.

Clean the stones again in a strainer, rinsing off pre-polish abrasive.

Step 4: Polish

We made it to the last step!

Place clean stones back in the barrel with the appropriate amount of water and polish.

You could also add plastic pellets to the polishing process to add volume to the barrel, so you could add more polish and cushion the stones.

Let the tumbler run for 7 days, and the result should be smooth, shiny polished rocks!

Rinse and enjoy your finished product!

There you go! Simple enough right?

Get to tumblin’, FindingKingdom.