The best rock tumbler enables you to create smooth stones within the shortest time possible. These stones are created mainly for use in your home decor or other craft projects. The main work of rock tumblers is to roll rocks, gritty materials, and gemstones. Also, these machines are known to polish or shape rocks.
Once completed, you can easily insert the smothered rocks into tiny pieces of jewelry. Then you can use the completed items in various displays in your garden, home, or simply create a picturesque mosaic.
Most rock tumblers are crafted from sturdy, metal bases and rubber barrels which are then filled with water, rocks, and other types of materials. The standard version of rock tumblers rotates, making the rocks inside fall and scratch each other repeatedly. In the process, the rocks get polished in the same way they would in an ocean current.
You will also come across vibrational rock tumblers or agitating tumblers. Instead of rotating rock mixtures around, they use a spinning mechanism or ultrasound to cause the minerals to move around the tumblers. This type of rock tumbler is the most preferred because it is known to polish the rocks quickly and efficiently while allowing them to retain their original shapes.
With this knowledge at the back of your mind, you can easily decide which rock tumbler to buy. This review will help you accomplish this task by highlighting key features, specifications, and factors to consider when shopping for these magnificent products.
Best Overall: National Geographic-Hobby Rock Tumbler
If you are a rock tumbling hobbyist, National Geographic-Hobby Rock Tumbler should be your best choice. Featuring a powerful and durable motor, this product will serve you for a very long time, creating breathtaking and well-polished rocks.
Speaking of rocks, the tumbler will enable you to work on a total of nine different gemstones from around the world. The gemstones consist of Amethyst, Sodalite, Rose Quartz, Dalmatian Jasper, Red Jasper, Aventurine, Agate, Black Jasper, and Tiger’s Eye. The whole process is made possible with the help of a well-detailed and illustrated full-color tumbling guide to excite your curious mind.
As a top-quality rock tumbler, this product is built to work in almost silent mode. This is due to its noise-reducing tire rubber barrel designed primarily to absorb up to 75% of noise produced during the rock tumbling process. On top of that, the barrel comes with a stainless steel lid to further reduce the noise and prevent the rocks from jumping out of the barrel.
What’s more, this model gives you the option to create your own unique type of jewelry with the help of jewelry fastenings. The automatic shutoff timer comes in to ensure that you achieve the right settings in relation to the type of rocks you want to tumble and polish.
If you are worried about the quality, well, National Geographic-Hobby Rock Tumbler assures you of the best results throughout since it is backed up by a two-year manufacturer’s warranty.
- A powerful and durable motor that lasts a lifetime
- Noise-reducing high-quality leak-proof barrel with a stainless steel lid to absorb up 75% of sound
- An automatic shutoff timer designed to help you set the rock tumbler to your designed settings
- Full-color rock tumbling guide to excite your curious mind
- Jewelry fastenings enable you to create your own unique type of jewelry
- Brand: National Geographic
- Material: Rubber and stainless steel
- Product Size:13.81×4.88×8.06 inches
- Product Weight:5.51 pounds
Best Value: Thumbler’s Tumbler Rock Polisher
Thumbler’s Tumbler Rock Polisher is a great rock tumbler for your money. Although it is a little bit noisy, this little, good-looking rock tumbling machine is a must-have if you prefer working on different types of rocks and a wide variety of minerals. This due to the fact that it comes as a large-capacity tumbler ready to handle all kinds of tumbling including the heavy-duty ones.
It features a molded rubber barrel designed to combine rocks, grit, and water throughout the tumbling process. As if that is not enough, this feature promotes four-grades of polishing abrasives. Also, it is equipped with a well-illustrated booklet guide to help you get down to rock tumbling as soon as possible. Aside from this, it is crafted from durable and heavy-duty steel to assure you of long-lasting stability and use.
- Large-capacity tumbler to hold more rocks
- Molded rubber barrel designed to hold the rocks, grit, and water during the tumbling process
- Four grades of polishing abrasives, booklet guide, and jewelry findings to get you started
- Crafted from durable and heavy-duty steel to assure you stable and long-lasting use
- Brand: Thumbler’s
- Material: Rubber and heavy-duty steel
- Product Size:18x12x6 inches
- Product Weight:6 pounds
Best Pick: National Geographic Starter Tumbler Kit Rock Polisher
National Geographic Starter Tumbler Kit Rock Polisher is built for both adults and kids. This classic rock tumbler allows you to create a variety of gemstones. As a starter rock tumbler, you and your kid can use it to transform rogue tocks into amazing and beautiful polished gemstones. It uses a simple operation that goes hand in hand with its simple design to give you the best results.
This top-quality rock tumbling machine consists of a powerful and durable motor that turns the rocks to give them their desired appearance. The motor is also designed to serve you for quite a long time, working on nine different types of rocks. Apart from that, there is an upgraded leak-proof and rubber-lined barrel that provides the best capacity to tumble several rocks in one session.
The entire product comes with an easy-to-follow rock tumbling manual to act as your guide for every stage of tumbling you undertake. That is why it is built to offer up to four stages of the grit and rock polishing process. Although it is a little bit noisy, National Geographic Starter Tumbler Kit Rock Polisher is a fun machine to have in your basement away from the rest of your family members.
- Top-quality rock tumbling machine with a powerful motor to last a lifetime
- Upgraded leak-proof and rubber-lined barrel for efficient rock tumbling
- Easy to follow rock tumbling manual to guide you in every stage of tumbling
- Four stages of grit and rock polishing media
- Brand: National Geographic
- Material: Rubber
- Product Size:7.5x11x9 inches
- Product Weight:4 pounds
Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler
Featuring up to 7 liters of capacity, Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler can accommodate a lot of tumbling materials at one time. This versatile tumbling machine is able to clean at least 1000 cases of brass in one tumbling session.
It features a clear viewing window to enable you to view and monitor all the tumbling processes without missing out on anything. In addition to that, this machine features a maintenance-free drive-train designed to eliminate the chances of ever replacing a belt.
The built-in timer is included in this tumbling system to help the machine start running from zero to 3 hours before automatically shutting off. Besides, the machine is equipped with a state-of-the-art leak-proof seal to ensure that all tumbling media stays right inside the machine throughout the cleaning process.
The dual-layer drum is another feature that makes the Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler a special machine. It helps to minimize some noise when the machine is in operation thanks to its rubber material.
- Up to 7 liters of capacity to accommodate more tumbling materials
- Clear viewing window to help you monitor all stages of tumbling
- Equipped with a leak-proof seal to keep all the tumbling media inside the machine
- Dual-layer drum made of rubber material to minimize the noise when the machine is running
- A built-in timer to enable the tumbler to run from zero to 3 hours before shutting off automatically
- Brand: Frankford
- Material: Rubber
- Product Size:16x15x11inches
- Product Weight:9 pounds
Best Budget-Friendly: Leegol Electric Hobby Rock Tumbling Machine
Rock tumbling is the best way to allow your kids to venture into the hobby of rock collection. That is the reason you need to invest in the best rock tumbler on the market. One of the tumblers that can give you value for your money is the Leegol Electric Hobby Rock Tumbling Machine.
Made of sheet metal and rubber, this machine can handle different types of rocks to give them a smooth finish. This is made easy using a powerful motor that runs the whole machine.
The same machine is equipped with a power adapter of 120V/60Hz to ensure that your tumbling machine performs optimally and for a long time. Plus, the machine is equipped with five more V-belts to facilitate the rotary movement of your machine for a perfect rock polishing process.
It also comprises a leak-proof barrel that comes complete with an aluminum lid to lower the noise produced during the rock tumbling process. Most significantly, the product has easy-to-read and follow rock tumbling instructions to guide you across all tumbling stages.
- A powerful motor to give you a smooth finish
- Easy-to-follow rock tumbling instructions to guide you
- Leak-proof barrel complete with an aluminum lid to reduce the noise
- Up to five more V-belts to facilitate the rotary movement of the machine
- Brand:Leegol Electric
- Material: Sheet metal and rubber
- Product Size:11.06×8.5×7.99 inches
- Product Weight:6.93 pounds
Best Features: Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler Lite
Although it is smaller than other models from the same manufacturer, Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler Lite is designed to offer perfection and quality when it comes to tumbling.
The product boasts numerous features that make it more efficient than most products in this category. It features a 3.3-liter capacity that holds up to 300 pieces of brass (.223) during the tumbling process. On top of that, it comes fully loaded with a maintenance-free direct-drive electric motor to provide circular motion to the media and also to run the whole machine.
The easy ON/OFF feature is part of the entire system to help you control the machine. At least you can turn on the tumbler when you want to clean your valuable items or turn it off when the tumbling is over. All you need is to press the button and everything else will fall in place.
Most importantly, you can clearly follow up the entire tumbling process through the clean leak-proof cap on this machine. The same feature helps to maintain the cleanliness around the reloading area.
- A 3.3-liter capacity can hold up to 300 pieces of brass (.223) during the tumbling process
- The maintenance-free direct-drive electric motor to run the machine
- Easy ON and OFF operation to turn on or switch off the machine
- A clear leak-proof cap to help you check on the tumbling process while maintaining cleanliness around the reloading area
- Brand:Frankford Arsenal
- Material: Plastic
- Product Size:12.75×12.5×9.5 inches
- Product Weight:7.4 pounds
Best Small Size: Jewelry Polisher Tumbler
Although it is small, Jewelry Polisher Tumbler from GanGou is a tumbling machine that you will appreciate. This rotary rock tumbler is simply operated to give you an excellent finish to a variety of materials.
It can clean stones, rocks, polish brass, and clean cartridges among others. The machine features a clear barrel that comes complete with a locking bar closure to keep the media inside. That is why it is considered the best equipment for polishing silver and gold jewelry.
This little machine can turn your jewelry into something completely new. This explains why it is an excellent choice of rock tumblers for small jewelry projects and studios.It is also a great tumbler for beginners and a great tool for professionals.
- A timed bidirectional rotation to offer up to five different speeds
- A clear barrel complete with a locking bar closure
- Multi-sided 3 kg barrel to handle all types of media
- Brand: GanGou
- Material: Glass and polycarbonate
- Product Size:11.22×9.88×8.03 inches
- Product Weight:8.97 pounds
Best Lightweight: Leegol Electric Hobby Rock Tumbler Machine
When it comes to simplicity, Leegol Electric Hobby Rock Tumbler takes the lead. The machine comes fully loaded with several features that make it efficient.
One of these features is the durable and powerful motor that is designed to serve you for a very long time. The motor plays a significant role in running the tumbler during the tumbling process. It is connected to the barrel using five v-belts which transfer rotary motion to make the process a reality.
On the other hand, the leak-proof barrel consists of an aluminum lid to keep the media inside throughout the tumbling action. If you are a beginner you will still find this product easy to use. This is because it comes with easy-to-follow rock tumbling instructions.
- Up to 5 more v-belts to transfer the rotary motion from the motor to the barrel
- Leak-proof barrel with an aluminum lid to hold the media
- Durable and powerful motor to run the machine
- Easy-to-follow rock tumbling instructions
- Brand: Leegol
- Material: Sheet metal and rubber
- Product Size:16.38×8.39×8.23 inches
- Product Weight:10.13 pounds
Best New Features: National Geographic Rock Tumbler Kit 3LB Extra-Large Capacity
Here is another rock tumbler from National Geographic to help you create high-quality, polished rocks. National Geographic Rock Tumbler Kit 3LB Extra Large Capacity enables you to tumble different types of rocks to perfection. Besides its 3lbs capacity, this machine uses up to four levels of grit to give the rocks a nice finish.
This top-of-the-line professional rock tumbler is equipped with five jewelry fastenings and an automatic shutoff timer to give you absolute control of the entire rock tumbling process. Unlike other tumblers from National Geographic, this machine uses the GemFoam to add some dazzling and amazing shine to your polished stones. What you need is the tumbling grit, stones, and water in the barrel to make your rocks look great after three days of tumbling.
- Automatic shutoff timer to control the machine
- Five jewelry fastenings
- GemFoam to add some dazzling shine to the polished stones
- Brand: National Geographic
- Material: Stainless steel and rubber
- Product Size:12.6×10.25×6.7 inches
- Product Weight:10.91 pounds
Best Structure: Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ Vibratory Case Tumbler
If you are looking for a reliable tumbler for your project, look no further than Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ Vibratory Case Tumbler. With a bowl capacity of up to 13.25 liters, this machine is able to handle a maximum of 350 (.223) or 600 9-mm cases of brass easily.
Its unique bowl design is a plus when it comes to increasing the brass agitation for an efficient and aggressive cleaning process. The machine is also easy to use since it comprises a clean lid to help you monitor the tumbling action.
On top of that, it uses a cord-mount ON/OFF switch for convenience and safety. Generally, this tumbling machine removes lube, fouling, and oxidation fast and conveniently. The entire unit runs on 110 volts.
- Unique bowl design to enhance brass agitation for aggressive cleaning
- Clear lid to monitor tumbling action
- ON/OFF switch for safety and convenience
- Brand:Frankford Arsenal
- Material: Metal sheet
- Product Size: Not provided
- Product Weight: Not provided
Best Rock Tumblers Buying Guide
What’s a rock tumbler in the first place? This is a simple device or a small machine that makes the barrel turn round and round consistently for many days or weeks. The main idea behind the turning of the barrel is to make rocks smooth.
Usually, the barrel contains some ricks, grit, and water. It is the grit that smoothens the rock. The same grit acts as the sand that makes rocks smooth and well-polished. Another thing is that grit comes in different levels of coarseness just like sandpaper.
What to do with a Rock Tumbler
Many people love rock tumbling for various reasons. Some of them love this idea because they find collecting a wide range of rocks their fulfilling hobby. But the most common reasons are as follows:
- Various craft making
- Jewelry making
- Holiday decorations
- Vase or planter fillers
Types of Rock Tumblers
The best rock tumblers are available in two major types-rotary and vibratory ones. Rotary tumblers are the most common type and ideal for beginners. When people think of rock tumblers, their minds wander to a rotary.
This type of tumbler knocks off the shape and edges of rocks while smoothing out rough rocks during the process of course griding. Most of the rocks tumbled in rotary tumblers change their shape to become rounded and smooth.
With vibratory rock tumblers, things are a little bit different. To begin with, these tumblers are not as common as the rotary ones. But they play a significant role in polishing rocks (already shaped rocks). This is where they differ from rotary rock tumblers since they are not built to shape your rocks.
Another important function of the vibratory tumblers is that they help in polishing, maintaining angles and shapes of rocks. Their main advantage lies in their ability to dramatically speed up the process of rock tumbling.
For example, a rotary rock tumbler can take 2 to 4 days to complete a task that only takes a week with a vibratory rock tumbler. However, you should consider having both types to make your work easier and more colorful.
Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Rock Tumblers
When shopping for the best rock tumblers it is likely that you will want to settle for the most perfect one. Most likely you will want to ask yourself which rock tumbler is the best for your needs. This is a hard question to give an answer especially if you are a newcomer in the world of rock tumbling.
Therefore, you will need first-hand information regarding these products before you get out to look for them. Here are a few tips that you can apply on your search for the best rock tumblers.
The Purpose of Objective
Ask yourself what you intend to do with a rock tumbler or what you want to use it for. Are you buying it as a gift to someone you cherish? Or are you looking for it to give to your little one? If that is the case, then you should consider going for a smaller and affordable rock tumbler like those crafted by National Geographic.
But if you are a seasoned hobbyist and an enthusiast rock collector, you may settle for a powerful, durable, and sturdy machine. Such a rock tumbler will enable you to process large stones efficiently. This is the reason most experienced rock collectors choose to buy expensive rock tumblers.
Size of the Barrel
Another thing to consider when shopping for the best rock tumblers is the size or capacity of the barrel. This feature plays a significant role in rock tumbling. However, the choice of the barrel size depends solely on your usage needs.
Speaking of your needs, you must know that barrels and bowels are available in many different sizes. Also, their different sizes mean that they can accommodate rocks of varying sizes. This is the main reason why you should think about how large or small your batches should be.
At the same time consider the size of the stones you will be tumbling in relation to the capacity of the barrels from a variety of rock tumblers. If you are a newbie, you may want to consider going for small-sized barrels since you will be starting this hobby by polishing small stones in small amounts.
Having said that, the most ideal barrel capacity for you should be something like 3 to 6 lbs. This leaves larger capacity barrels for professional rock tumbling purposes. On the other hand, rock tumblers with double barrels are also ideal for commercial use since they provide a larger capacity for experienced individuals.
Rock tumblers with a larger capacity can polish not only rocks of varying hardness but also many rocks. They can also be used to carry out different stages of rock polishing concurrently. With that in mind, make sure to choose the barrel size and capacity that meets your needs.
A Complete Starter Kit
A rock tumbler that comes with a complete starter kit saves you time. Such a tumbler allows you to get started with your rock tumbling task as soon as possible. It also saves you some money you may spend looking for additional accessories to make it more practical.
The starter kit contains almost everything you need to make your task complete. It includes semi-precious gems, grits, educational journals, jewelry fasteners, and instructional manuals to give you vital information on how to go about tumbling and polishing different types of rocks.
Level of Noise
All rock tumblers make some noise during the tumbling process. This is attributed to the fact that the whole process is usually messy, leading to unpleasant noise. That said, you must expect some noise no matter how efficient your rock tumbler is.
This fact explains why some users prefer keeping their rock tumblers away from other people. They usually keep these equipment in their laundry rooms or basements where very few people go. So, by tucking your rock tumbler away you will help in minimizing noise pollution in your home.
Alternatively, you may choose a less noisy product to keep the noise as low as possible. To know which product is less noisy, you need to take a closer look at its features and construction materials. In this regard, those tumblers made of rubber materials are 75 % quieter compared to the plastic ones.
Consider the Control Features
The best rock tumblers come fully equipped with near-perfect control features. Here the control features refer to speed and timer controls. With the timer control, you are able to set how long you want your machine to run or operate before shutting down automatically. This feature allows you to go about your business while the rock tumbling process is taking place.
Speed control also is important in many ways. The most important thing about this feature is that you can set the number of revolutions/rotations per minute you want your rock tumbler machine to make. This feature allows you to achieve great results in a given timeframe.
Your choice of rock tumbler should reflect its value. In this regard, it should be long-lasting to give you value for your money. A durable rock tumbler is one that operates efficiently for an extended period of time.
When it is durable your rock tumbler is likely to save you time and money on a long-term basis. This means you will save a lot more on what you would have used in the repair or replacement of worn-out parts.
How do you tell if a particular type of rock tumbler is durable? Well, check out the design and material used in its construction. Also, ensure that the tumbler is of high quality in addition to being sturdy. The same tumbler should be easy to assemble and use. If possible, ensure that it is compact enough to make the storage easy.
Consider the Overload Protection
For you to get the desired results, you need to allow your rock tumbler to run for several days non-stop. As such, this is likely to cause the motor in the tumbler to overheat and cause some complications and problems.
To avoid such cases, you need to take into account the overload protection for that particular rock tumbler you want to buy. One of the features that will assure you of load protection is the ability of the machine to shut down automatically in case of excessive load or utilization. This type of protection helps to extend the lifespan of your rock tumbler.
Check the Warranty Policy Provided by the Manufacturer
Since you will be spending a huge amount of money to purchase the best rock tumbler, the first thing you need to find out is the warranty policy for that particular product. Keep in mind that this is a great investment thus it requires some warranty to cushion you against any potential loss should the machine stop working suddenly.
Most manufacturers prefer awarding a one-year warranty for their products while others offer an extended warranty period to their machines depending on the quality and cost. Better still, some go the extra mile to give their customers a money-back guarantee covering a specific period of time. This guarantee covers some defects that the machine may have due to the manufacturing process.
Also, the guarantee comes in when the product fails to meet the customer’s standards. To be on the safe side, make sure to compare certain features on a product with the type of warranty that is being offered to avoid last-minute disappointments.
Best Rock Tumblers Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)Q: Can I use my rock tumbler to keep items such as glass, coins, or shells? A: Absolutely yes! You may keep your glass, coins, or shells in your rock tumbler. Make sure that these items are not too thin. Also, use a new process for each item because the process used for rocks won’t work for shells, coins, and glass. Q: What online forums and magazines do you recommend? A: If you are interested in learning more about rock tumbling you can subscribe to online platforms like Rock and Gem, Rock Tumbling Hobby Forum, or Lapidary Journal & Jewelry Artist. Q: What are the best media or grit substitutes? A: There are a few media substitutes that you can try. But your choice will depend on what you are tumbling. Examples of media you can use include;
- Aquarium Gravel
- Ceramic pellets
- Walnut shells
- Corn cob
- Tile spacers
- Crushed glass
- Stainless steel bb’s
The above-mentioned media is not recommended for beginners. Only the standard levels are recommended by rock tumblers’ manufacturers.Q: How louder can the rock tumbler become? A: Your rock tumbler can be loud sometimes. This is the case with the inexpensive models sold as toys. Larger models that process larger rocks are also louder. Their noise comes about as a result of large rocks clanging around. That is why you are advised to keep your rock tumbler in a separate room, garage or basement. Q: Where do I find roughs? A: If finding rocks to tumble is not your strongest, or you don’t know where to find them, buy some roughs for yourself. It doesn’t matter whether you live near a rock shop or not. What you need is to buy them online at places such as amazon.com. Q: How do I maintain my rock tumbler? A: It is wise to properly maintain your tumblers because they will be operating 24 hours non-stop for weeks. Read through the manual for each tumbler and follow the instructions laid down. You may need the following general rules to keep yourself updated:
- Always keep your tumbler’s outside barrel clean
- Make sure all the moving parts and bearings are well lubricated
- The drive belt must have the recommended level of tension- It is should not be too tight or too loose
- Just like any other product, the more you maintain your rock tumbler, the more it remains functional and durable.
The best rock tumblers enable you to create and polish rocks of different structures and appearances. Also, these tumbling machines play an integral role in cleaning products such as brass cases, coins, and many others to make them look as good as new.
Just like other products, tumbling machines come in different brands and models just to make your selection easy. Each model has its own special features that put it apart from the rest. Based on features, specifications, and functionality, our best overall tumbler is the National Geographic-Hobby Rock Tumbler. This product is affordable, easy to set up, and makes less noise during the tumbling action.