Who doesn't love the sight of rocks and stones that have been shaped naturally by elements of nature such as water and wind? Sometimes it can be frustrating and unbelievable just to imagine that it needs hundreds or even thousands of years to fashion them.
Now just imagine creating your own beautiful shapes from stones albeit small in a few weeks. Sounds exciting right? Well, with our best rock tumbler, this is absolutely possible to achieve.
This is a machine with the ability to transform ordinary rocks into smooth stones for use in craft projects, home decor and other hobbies. All that you need to do is mix rough rocks with water and grit then let it mix for a set duration.
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Brief Description of The Rock Tumbler
[Skip this section if you already know enough about Rock Tumbler]
It is not only rocks that can be smoothed using a rock tumbler but also glass, brass, metals and even beads.
While for the most part, it is a commercial product, it is not surprising to find people of all ages getting it for their personal use.
Indeed while it is a great tool for helping kids get more interest in geology, it is quite famous with artisans, jewelers, and lapidary hobbyists.
A standard rock tumbler comprises of a sturdy metallic base, motor, and a rubber or plastic barrel which you use for tumbling with water, rocks and smoothing powder.
While there are various ways in which this equipment works, the standard mode of operation involves barrel rotation. Here rocks fall over each other and wear off by attrition just like they do in a river or the ocean.
There are also agitating tumblers also known as vibratory tumblers. While most of them use a spin function, the best vibratory rock tumbler normally uses ultrasound to move the rocks around the barrel.
Some people prefer them over rotational ones because they polish stone more quickly. Additionally, rather than making stones rounded in shape they allow them to maintain their original shape.
In the subsequent paragraphs, we will countdown some of the very best rock tumblers of the year.
We trust that these rock tumbler reviews will guide you in making an informed decision when you decide to get this amazing equipment for yourself or your kids.
Our 10 Best Rock Tumbler For Beginners Picks:
Here is our detailed reviews on the top rock tumblers that are great for beginners-
1. National Geographic Hobby Rock Tumbler
National Geographic is undoubtedly a King when it comes to the production of rock tumblers.
It is specifically designed for the hobbyist which made it one of the best contenders in the list.
Not only is it easy to use and well designed, but it also comes with everything you need to transform your rough stones into well polished professional looking gemstones.
In the package, you will find the tumbler, 9 varieties of rough gemstones sources from all around the world, jewelry fastenings, polishing grits and educational guides.
a. Leak-Proof Rubber Barrel
Comes with a leak-proof rubber barrel complete with a stainless steel cap. This not only reduces noise production but also makes it more durable.
b. Powerful Motor
This rock tumbling machine comes with a powerful motor that consumes about 13 watts and is optimized for longevity and high performance.
c. Keypad Setting and Automatic Shut-off Timer
The National Geographic Hobby Rock Tumbler comes with a keypad setting feature that allows you to input the number of days you would like to tumble your rocks.
Automatic shut-off timer makes sure that the machine shuts itself down after the desired number of days are achieved.
This not only conserves energy but also impacts positively on the machine's longevity.
d. 1lb rock Holding Capacity
The capacity of the Hobby Rock Tumbler is approximately 1 lb of rock.
e. Manufacturer Warranty
The Hobby Rock tumbler comes with an adequate manufacturer warranty of up to 2 years.
If you are a hobbyist and finding a perfect tumbler for your money, this is our best bet for you.
2. Lortone 33B Rotary Rock Tumbler Review
This is the best pick of our rock tumbler selection guide.
This amazing bad boy is one of the top products from Lortone, a homegrown brand from Mukilteo, Washington.
They are known to be producers of different types of jewelry and lapidary equipment.
While the machine comes at a relatively high price point it is completely worth it. Indeed, it boasts of a practical, versatile and handy design suitable for both inexperienced and seasonal users.
a. Product Dimensions
Comes with dimensions of 6.25L x 16W inches that not only are adequate for most needs but also allow for easy storage.
b. Double Barrel Construction
Comes with 2 sets of rubber barrels with a capacity of 3 lbs each which translates to a total volume of 6 lbs.
This not only allows you to work on different types of rocks at the same time but also enables working on two processes of rock tumbling concurrently.
c. All Steel Body Construction
Comes with an all-steel body construction that not only makes it stable when doing vigorous operations but also durable enough to deal with materials of different types.
d. Powerful Motor
Due to its double barrel construction, the Lortone 33B comes with a powerful 36 watt/ 115 Volt Motor that is optimized for high performance, With this kind of strength the tumbler is able to effectively work on glass, rocks, and jewelry.
e. Product Warranty
The Lortone 33B comes with a 1-year limited warranty straight from the manufacturer.
3. Tru-Square Heavy Duty Rotary Tumbler Capacity
If you are looking for a workhorse with loads of capacity, power, and indisputable quality, then you cannot go wrong with the Tru-Square Heavy Duty Rotary Tumbler.
This professional grade rotary tumbler is a great option for academics, hobbyists, collectors, labs and many others.
It is truly robust and versatile and can be used to handle different operations such as fine and course polishing as well as working on metal items such as brass.
We can confidently conclude that the Tri-Square is one of the best rock tumblers for heavy-duty specialists.
a. Barrel Capacity
The product comes with a hexagonal steel barrel complete with 15 lbs capacity. It is therefore big enough for everyday use as well as for heavy commercial usage.
b. Heavy Duty Motor
The Tru-Square comes fitted with a 115V heavy-duty motor that can effectively do 1500 RPM. The motor can be however upgraded to a more robust one that can manage 3000 RPM thereby making the process faster.
c. Cooling Fans
Due to the rigorous process that goes on when polishing rocks, it is not surprising that the accessory may get hot.
To prevent this is fitted with a set of highly effective cooling fans targeting the motor. They allow the machine to operate at a normal temperature range.
d. Removable Rubber Liner
The hexagonal barrel comes with a removable rubber liner that is about 1/4 inch. The lid also contains a rubber liner albeit it is a little bit thinner.
This does not only improve efficiency but also prevents the unit from producing a lot of noise.
e. Product Warranty
The manufacturer provides a 5-year guarantee for the liner and the barrel. This goes to show the quality of the product.
4. Discover with Dr. Cool Hobby Rock Tumbler
The Discover Dr. Cool Hobby Tumbler is indisputably the most famous rock tumbler from Dr. Cool's line of product.
As its name suggests this baby is made for the hobbyist in mind although it can still be successfully used by the seasoned rock hound.
The unit has a lot of similarity to the National Geographic hobby tumbler although it looks more sturdy and Durable.
In the pack you will get a rock tumbler, 9 kinds of rough gemstones, 4 grades of polishing grit, jewelry fastenings as well as instructional and learning guide.
a. Leak Proof Stainless Steel Lid
To protect water spillage and grit lose during the spinning action, this unit comes with a stainless steel lid that is both robust and durable
b. Full Metal Base
For even more added stability, durability and polished appearance this unit comes with a fully metallic base.
c. Highly powered Motor
Polishing rocks and gems is a demanding process that needs lots of juice. This is why the unit s fitted with a powerful motor in order to keep the wheels running.
d. Good Quality Barrel
Comes with a good quality 1 lb capacity rubber barrel that does an excellent job at noise reduction as compared to other plastic barrels in the market.
e. Programmable Timer
It is incredibly easy to use with its programmable timer where all you need to set is the number of days for tumbling and then forget about it.
f. Complete Rock Tumbling Kit
Everything you need to start out rock tumbling is included in the package from instructional and educational guides, 0.5 pounds of rough gemstones sourced from as far as Madagascar, 4 grades of polishing grits and jewelry fasteners for the end product.
g. Manufacturer Warranty
Features a 2-year manufacturers warranty.
5. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Starter Rock Tumbler
NATIONAL-GEOGRAPHIC-Starter is a thing of beauty. First produced in 2016 the unit continues to attract huge interest, not just because of its looks but also due to its grand performance.
I might add the price tag on the product is such a steal you won't even believe it. All these factors conspire to make this baby is just the best rock tumbler for a beginner.
a. Powerful Motor
Comes with a powerful 12 Volt motor that does the job with distinction.
b. Good Quality Barrel
Comes with a good quality hard plastic barrel with a rubber interior and a silicone lining. This material combo is great for noise reduction.
c. Plastic Construction
The main body of the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Starter is constructed using hard plastic material.
d. On and off Switch
Features an on and off switch to facilitate easier operation.
6. Lortone 3A Single Barrel Tumbler
If you are looking for an economical, simply designed, and sturdy piece of equipment, the Lortone-3A-Single-Barrel-Tumbler is just the right one for you.
This product from Lortone, an American company known for its emphasis on quality, is with no frills actually looks very classic.
In fact, the 3A can be said to be the one barrel variant of the Lortone 33B double barrel tumbler.
a. Strong Motor
The 3A comes with a strong respectable motor that is capable of doing 30 to 70 RPM.
b. Better Quality Barrel
Comes with a 3lb capacity single barrel that is constructed from hard rubber for low noise emission.
c. Stainless Steel Lid
Comes with an easily removable stainless steel lid plated with chrome. It is so sturdy and tight that you shouldn't even a drop of water to spill from it.
d. Manufacturers Warranty
Features a one-year manufacturer warranty.
7. National Geographic Professional Tumbler
National Geographic is one of the best US companies trusted for their deluxe rock tumbling machines.
The professional tumbler improve does not let down and is a real workhorse optimized for performance and convenience.
The fact that it is a compact and robust tumbler that will turn your rough rocks into attractive gems makes it even more endearing.
a. Powerful Motor
It is fitted with a powerful 12v output motor capable of achieving rotations of up to 400 RPM
b. Inbuilt speed Control
The Professional-Tumbler-Improve comes with an inbuilt speed control feature capable of switching up velocity across 3 different levels. The minimum is 340 RPM while the maximum is 470 RPM.
c. Shutoff Timer
Features a shutoff timer with which you can set the number of days you would like the unit to tumble after which it shuts itself off automatically.
d. Barrel Design
Comes with a 2 lbs capacity high impact rubber barrel design complete with a stainless steel cover. This ensures that the barrel is both satisfactorily leak and soundproof.
e. Complete Hobby Kit
Features a complete hobby kit with the tumbler, 1 pound of rough gemstones, strainer, 4 grades of grit, jewelry fasteners and an educational and instructional guide.
8. Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler
Whether you are looking to clean spent brass cartridges, copper or even silver objects then the Frankford-Arsenal is the way to go.
Just by looking at it this bad boy looks mean and menacing, a character not far from it cleaning prowess.
Because it is optimized to clean brass and other metals, it has a high RPM making it one of the best vibratory rock tumblers in this niche.
When it comes to innovation the Frankford-Arsenal is on top there. From a see-through cap that is also leak-proof, sifter caps for easy sieving and an automatic switch, this unit has got it all.
Indeed, they are not wrong when they say that it is the best brass cleaning solution out there.
a. Large Capacity Barrel
One of the strengths the Frankford Arsenal has over other rotary tumblers is its large capacity barrel that can hold up to 7 liters.
This is not the only impressive thing about the barrel, it has a double layer consisting of hard plastic on the outside and rubber lining on the inside to deal with the noise.
b. Transparent Lid
Comes with a plastic lid that has the middle part transparent. This a handy feature especially for people who like to see the action while the tumbling process is ongoing.
Additionally, this lid comes with a rubber lining on the inside to aid in both making the barrel leak and soundproof.
c. Powerful Motor
Because the unit is created to clean brass i=the motor is optimized for speed and therefore must be robust.
It, therefore, has a power rating of 60 watts and is capable of running at about 63 rotations per minute.
d. Drive-train Gear
Unlike most other rotary tumblers that make use of a belt to turn around the barrel, the Frankford Arsenal makes use of a drive train gear to turn the bin.
This eliminates the need for replacing conveyor belts every once in a while when they are worn off.
e. Built-in Timer
The Frankford Arsenal features a built-in timer capable of setting times up to 3 hours. After the set time has elapsed, you do not have to worry about power consumption afterward; the unit simply automatically shuts itself off.
f. All inclusive Kit
It comes with an all-inclusive kit necessary to kick start your brass cleaning process right away.
9. Discover with Dr. Cool Pro Series Rock Tumbler
Dr. Cool a company that has won over 100 awards for their quality toys brings you the Discover-Dr-Cool-Rock-Tumbler.
Although this, by all means, is not a toy, it is specially designed to arouse kids interest in geology.
This, however, does not mean that adults cannot use it; it is handy for both the hobbyist and the professional.
With everything from a big barrel, innovative timing features, powerful motor and metal construction it can successfully challenge other more expensive tumblers in the market.
Let us find out what made it earn a spot among our long list of rock tumbler reviews.
a. Leak Proof Barrel
The Discover-Dr-Cool comes with a large 2 lb capacity barrel capable of holding a large number of rocks.
The barrel is crafted out of tire rubber which is material about 75% quieter than plastics.
b. Stainless steel lid
Stainless steel is used in the construction of the lid, an aspect that ensures that it is completely watertight and able to withstand the forces of moving material during tumbling.
c. Powerful motor
The Discover-Dr-Cool is a rotary type rock tumbler that uses a motor and belt to turn around the barrel.
With an output of 12 volts, the unit can boast of being a good workhorse.
d. Speed Controls
If you wish to tumble your rocks at a slower or faster speed during different intervals then the Discover-Dr-Cool is for you. It comes with speed controls specially designed for this purpose.
e. Shutoff Timer
Who wants to accrue a high power bill just because of pursuing their passion?
This unit prevents this by using the automatic shutoff feature that allows one to set the number of days the tumble action will go on before it shuts down.
f. Complete Rock Tumbling Kit
You don't have to go looking for tumbling ingredients after you get hold of this machine. It comes with a set of rough gemstone weighing in at 0.5 pounds, 4 grades of grit, jewelry fasteners, instructional guides, and a sieve.
g. Manufacturers Warranty
Comes with a 2-year warranty straight from the manufacturer.
10. Thumler's Tumbler Rock Polisher
Thumlers is a company that has been producing high-quality rock tumblers for as long as we can remember.
The Thumler's Tumbler Rock Polisher is another quality product that gets into our list of best tumblers.
While it can be used by everybody it is more suitable for beginners because its capacity is not adequate to enable heavy commercial use.
The strength of the unit lies in its construction which despite being sheet steel is unbelievably lightweight.
Additionally, the motor while being less powerful has got overheat protection and is optimized for longevity and performance.
a. Over-heat Protection
Features a less powerful but effective continuous duty motor with an input of 115 Volts.
The fact this motor also has impedance and over-heat protection ensures that you can rest assured your unit will operate for long spells of time without developing complications.
b. All Rubber Barrel
It comes with a 3 lbs capacity all rubber barrel that is extremely effective in reducing the amount of sound that the unit produces.
This makes the unit less noisy than plastic tumblers in the same price category, The barrel also features plastic lids that are further reinforced with thick rubber retaining rings to prevent leaks.
c. Metallic Chassis
The body of the tumbler excluding the barrel off course is made of high strength steel material.
While it is expected that due to this the unit will be heavy, it weighs in at slightly over 6 pounds. It is however quite sturdy and stable despite its lightweight nature.
d. Nylon Conveyor Belt
Features a nylon conveyor belt connecting the motor to the barrel wheel which is extremely durable and sturdy.
e. Complete Tumbler Kit
Besides the tumbler, it comes with a kit containing an instructional booklet, jewelry findings, rough semi-precious gems, and 4 grades of polishing powder.
Best Rock Tumbler For Beginners Buying Guide
When choosing the perfect rock tumbler for a kid or yourself, it is inevitable that you will ask yourself which is the best product for your needs.
This is quite a hard question to answer especially if you are a newbie considering a large number of brands out there in the market.
It is therefore important to keep the following tips in mind while shopping for a tumbler in order to get the best value for money.
1. The Objective
What do you intend to use the rock tumbler for? Is it a gift to a kid whom you are not sure will be interested in pursuing this hobby?
If this is the case we would suggest you go for smaller and cheaper tumblers such as those made by National Geographic.
In case you are a serious hobbyist and rock collector looking to process a large stone job then you want to stick with a powerful, sturdy and durable machine that can last for long.
Incidentally, most rock tumblers that fit the bill go for top dollar prices.
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2, Barrel Size Capacity
Barrel size or capacity should be one of those things one should never neglect when buying a rock tumbler.
It largely depends upon your usage needs which is the reason why it is important to look out for one which will meet your needs.
Barrels and bowels come in different sizes and can fit rocks of different sizes. Before making a purchase think about how large your batches will be or the size of stone you plan to polish in it.
Most newbies or hobbyist polish small amounts and sizes of stone. It therefore reasonable for you to go with a barrel capacity of 3 to 6 lbs if you are one.
Professionals looking to produce rocks for commercial use are safer going with larger capacity barrels.
Tumblers with double barrels are also a good choice if you are looking for larger capacity equipment.
This is because they can be used to polish rocks of different hardness together or even perform through the different stages of polishing concurrently.
3. Complete Starter Kit
If a tumbler comes with a fully complete starter kit, it not only allows you to practice rock tumbling but also saves you a lot of money. This type is ideal for kids and adults just starting out on rock tumbling.
Good rock tumblers come with everything including grits, semi-precious gems, jewelry fasteners, educational journals, and instructional manuals.
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4. Noise Pollution
There is no single rock tumbler that doesn't make some noise during operation. The process of rock attrition even in nature is usually messy and noisy, which then means some noise should be expected.
For this reason, most users find it difficult especially in rentals and end up tucking them away in the basement or laundry room.
Choosing a less noisy tumbler simply by looking at it is close to impossible. There are however some things you should look out for if you want to a tumbler with minimal noise pollution.
Because rubber has been found to be about 75% quieter than plastics, it would be wise to go for a barrel made 100% out of this material.
In the case of barrels made of plastic, ensure that they contain a thick inner rubber lining. The lid whether plastic or metallic should have rubber lining on the inside too.
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5. Perfect Controls
Some of the characteristic features of some of the best tumblers out there has got to be the timer and speed controls.
The timer control, for instance, allows users to set how many days they want the machine to run before automatic shutdown.
It is, therefore, a very convenient feature that allows you to concentrate on your daily tasks confident that everything is going on fine.
Speed control allows users to set the number of rotations per minute they want their machine to turn. It is quite a handy feature for people who want to achieve specific results.
6. Durability of The Rock Tumbler
One of the surest sign of a durable rock tumbler is one that runs efficiently for a long time.
A durable tumbler saves you a lot of money that would have otherwise been used for repair or replacements.
But how do you tell if a tumbler will be durable? Check out the nature of construction as well as the material.
Both should of good quality and feel sturdy. Additionally, it should be easy to assemble, use and be compact enough to allow for easy storage.
7. Overload Protection
As you are rightly aware, you need to keep the rock tumbler running for days in order to get the desired polish.
In most cases, this may lead to motor overheating and consequently leading to other problems and complications.
If a unit is kitted with overload protection, it is able to shut off automatically when there is excessive utilization or load. Overload protection, therefore, ensures that the lifespan of the rock tumbler is prolonged.
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8. Better Warranty Policy
One of the aspects you should never forget to check despite the product you are buying is the manufacturer's warranty.
Being a considerable investment the warranty information for a rock tumbler is something you don't want to mess up with.
Most tumbler manufacturers typically gift buyers a minimum warranty of about one year although others give significantly more than that.
Better yet some go further and offer a money-back guarantee for some time if the product is defective or does not reach the client's standards.
As a rule of thumb, it is important to compare the specifications of the product with the warranty they offer to find out if it is worth it.
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Where to Buy Rock Tumbler Online & Offline
If you are a rock hound (not 'The Hound' of Game of Thrones, obviously) looking to own your own rock tumbler, it is essential to know that you can get your desired rock polishing equipment online or offline.
Additionally, knowing where to find the spare parts of a tumbler is also important.
1. Offline Options to buy Rock Tumbler
Offline places you can purchase a quality rock tumbler include large retail chains and supermarkets such as Walmart, local department stores, gift shops, rock shops and manufacturers depots or agents located around your state.
For the last option, it is important to consult the manufacturer's website or call them in order to establish their nearest agent relative to your residence.
2. Perfect Online choices
The best way to buy a genuine rock tumbler online is via renown and trusted e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, and Alibaba.
Some American retail chains such as Walmart also offer the option of purchasing goods online as opposed to physically visiting their stores.
With online rock shops and stores, you should be careful about their reputation unless you are shopping from the above-mentioned companies.
Most people prefer shopping online due to the cheap prices as a result of the fierce competition there.
Shopping online is popular for its simplicity since all you need to do is to order your stone polishing items at the comfort of your seat and you will have them delivered in a few hours or days at your doorstep.
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As we have seen already, there are loads of rock tumblers from which you can choose from for kids or personal use.
Most are simple to assemble and operating thereby meaning they are well suited for beginners.
Those that made our list of rock tumbler reviews are not only good for hobbyists but also for giving kids practifcal experience in geology.
Just like we discussed in our buying guide; if you are a novice in rock tumbling it may be a good idea to invest in a cheaper unit until you get the hang of it. In time, you might find the need to replace it with a piece of more expensive equipment.
We hope that you have found our best rock tumbler reviews handy. If you are looking to get a rock tumbler please make sure to read our detailed analysis of our top products.