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Rock Tumbling Basics

For those inclined to geology, who have admired beautiful polished stones in stores and online, and those who wish to polish their own stones to create jewelry, rock tumbling can prove to be a satisfying hobby. It doesn’t require much effort, either. But before investing in the necessary rock tumbling equipment, learn about the various aspects of rock tumblers so that you’ll be pleased with your purchase and your hobby.

Usually the quieter rock tumblers are more costly, but if you’re going to be tumbling rocks as a hobby, it’s worth it to consider the noise level. Rocks can take up to weeks of constant tumbling to result in smooth, polished stones, so noise is definitely something to take into account. However, if you’re not sure your kids will stick with this new activity, you might go with a louder but inexpensive rock tumbler to give it a try.

Start with “tumbling rough,” which are fairly uniformly shaped rocks you can gather outdoors or order online. The best rocks for tumbling are quartz and agate. They can be of various sizes, with the optimal around ½ inch long. Also look for generally uniform shape and hardness. If you have super large, hard rocks, they’ll crush the softer ones. The rocks need to tumble together; that’s how they get smooth. Jagged and/or porous stones more easily fall apart or end up uneven.

With these basics in mind, give rock tumbling a try … you might just find a new gem of a hobby.