Have you looked at a smooth gem stone in a piece of jewelry and wondered how they got to look that way. You have collected rocks for quite some time, but your rocks are rough and jagged. A rock tumbler is a machine that tumbles stones to remove all of the imperfections, which reveals the underlying beauty of minerals like amethyst, tigers-eye, and rose quartz and gives them a beautiful shine. In this guide, we will look at some of the top rock tumblers on the market, but before we begin, let’s take a look at the different types that are available
Top 10 Best Rock Tumbler Comparison Table
What Type of Rock Tumbler Are There?
Rock tumblers are designed for anyone to enjoy, so whether you need one for your job, your own hobby, or for your kid who collects rocks, you will need to make sure that you choose the right type of rock tumbler. Most of the rock tumblers on the market are rotary. They give you a smooth finish; but if you want a quicker polish, then a vibratory tumbler may be an option. However, these will not give you a smooth finish like a rotary tumbler. Rock tumblers can typically be separated into three categories.
Toy Rock Tumblers: These rock tumblers are designed to smooth a small handful of stones at a time. The machines are made from plastic, so they may not be the most durable option, but they are they are the cheapest, which is why they are great for kids. The plastic material tends to wear quickly, and it also makes a lot of noise when the machine is tumbling.
Hobbyist Rock Tumblers: These are mid-tier rock tumblers that are designed to be a little more durable, so it has a metal barrel that can hold two to 10 pounds of rocks at once. The inside of the barrel is lined with rubber so that it does not create a lot of noise during the tumbling process. This type of tumbler can even be repaired, so it will last for years to come.
Commercial Rock Tumblers: These are large machines that are used for industrial purposes. They are able to tumble a few thousand pounds of rocks at once; so if you work for a company that creates smooth stones for a driveway, jewelry, or any other reason, you may need to use this type of tumbler.
Benefits of the Best Rock Tumbler
When you purchase a rock tumbler, you will find that there are many benefits to owning one. First, these devices are quick and easy to use, and the result is often a smooth round shape that shines. If you purchase a hobbyist model, then you can tumble more than a handful at a time, which makes it so that you can put the rocks into the tumbler and set it for a certain amount of time. In addition, you do not need to watch over these models are they are working, which means that you can go on about your day as you normally would.
Downsides of Rock Tumblers
As with any purchase that you make, there are going to be a few downsides to consider. Many rock tumblers take several days to produce smooth rock, so you may need to keep it running for more than a week. In addition, some models are very noisy, which can be disruptive to the things that you want to do during the day. Don’t forget that plastic models will wear out faster, so a metal barrel may be the best option when it comes to longevity.
10. NSI/Smithsonian 49005 Rock Tumbler
The first rock tumbler in our guide is a product from NSI/Smithsonian. This product has a good sizing for hobbyists and children that are interested in the educational process of rock tumbling. For the most part, it takes about 48 hours to tumble a load of pebbles, and if you want a more thorough and layered appearance, you can tumble your rocks for several days.
The product itself is about four pounds, which means that you can easily transfer it to another room during the tumbling. This is very useful because this device has a tendency to be a bit loud. As an NSI/Smithsonian product, this is a great educational tool for youngsters; in fact, this product is actually recommended for kids 13 and older.
This product really shines when it comes to ease-of-use; you simply load your rocks into the barrel and start the tumbling process, which is why this is such a kid-friendly device.
- Includes more than 15 accessories for things like bracelets and key chains.
- It has a bonus refill kit.
- The device comes with eight ounces of stones.
- It’s very easy to use.
- Some rocks can actually damage the barrel and the drum.
9. Thumler’s Tumbler Heavy Duty Rotary Rock Tumbler
If you’re looking for a professional grade of rock tumbling, then Thumler’s Tumbler is more than equal to the task. Just looking at this product will help you understand that this is more of a tool than a toy. The barrel is larger and has a heavy duty design, the mechanical components are designed to be durable, and the device is set at a price point that is what you’d expect from a professional device.
This product has a 15-pound capacity, which is on the higher end for a product of this type. Additionally, the device is also fan-cooled, which means that even during extended tumbling processes, the machine won’t overheat. To further aid in output, the motor is designed to be efficient, even when you’re using it continuously; it even has overload protection.
One of the best features of this product is its barrel’s interior. The barrel itself is shaped hexagonally and is coated in a rubber inner lining, which ensures a relatively quiet and efficient tumbling output.
- It has a professional grade output.
- The device is guaranteed for five years.
- It can hold up to 15 pounds of stones.
- This tumbler can work with polishing media.
- It doesn’t have a high RPM for polishing and tumbling things like ammunition.
8. Green Single Drum 3lb Rotary Rock Tumbler
Another rock tumbler that’s been designed with a professional level of quality in mind, the Real Kids Green Single Drum rock tumbler is still excellent when used as an educational product for children. While it only has a three-pound capacity, the tumbler itself is very durable and it can even manage abrasive media if you’re looking to do some metal polishing and smoothing as well.
The motor on this product is actually very powerful and efficient, which is amazing, especially considering the low price point and the kid-friendliness of the tumbler. Since this uses abrasive media, you can change the grain size periodically in order to quicken the tumbling and smoothing process. Overall, you can expect to get the best results out of this tumbler in about four to six weeks.
This product can even be used to polish and clean jewelry as long as the jewelry isn’t too delicate. For the most part, if you’re looking for a good entry-level tumbler that’s durable and can be used semi-professionally, this may be your product.
- It can manage three pounds of stones.
- It’s very durable.
- This tumbler simulates the natural action of the ocean on rocks.
- The motor on this device is designed with longevity in mind.
- Over time, the barrel will definitely suffer from wear and tear.
7. Lortone Lapidary Double Barrel Rock Tumbler 33B
The Lortone Lapidary rock tumbler has a double-barreled design that lets you manage twice the rocks of a standard hobby-level rock tumbler. Each of the two barrels can handle three pounds of rocks at a time, which makes smoothing a lot of rocks a relatively easy process. Additionally, this tumbler has a thinner design than many rock tumblers; making it an easy product to store on a shelf while it does its work.
The dual-barreled design also adds a bit of versatility to the product; no longer will you have to wait to grind a load of rocks while you polish your jewelry. With this product, you can do the two jobs simultaneously, which means that you won’t have to wait days or weeks in order to get to the next job. This tumbler also has a fairly simple operation, which makes it a good product to consider for both hobbyists and inquisitive youngsters.
- The double-barreled design has a lot of value.
- It can manage six-pound loads simultaneously.
- It has a good level of ease-of-use.
- If you keep your rocks in the weight range, this will last for a long time.
- It doesn’t come with tumbling medium.
6. Lortone 3A Deluxe Rock Tumbler Kit
Lortone is widely considered to be the definitive rock tumbler manufacturers and this product has such a high level of quality that you’ll understand. This single barrel tumbler has a lot in common with the double barrel; it just can manage half the weight. The motor in this product is very rugged and durable and is designed to deliver maximum output for years of continuous usage.
Since the barrel is comprised of hard rubber, you’ll find that this particular tumbler is very quiet during operation. Also, if you have an inquisitive teen, this is a great option because it really has an operation that’s designed for convenience and ease; your teen will be able to grind and polish at his or her leisure without making a lot of noise.
If you’re shooting for the “beach glass” effect, this tumbler can definitely tumble broken glass into a myriad of smooth shapes and textures. In fact, this is one of the better products for this kind of beach-worn effect.
- This is a relatively quiet tumbler.
- It has a three-pound capacity.
- It can smooth glass shards.
- The device is relatively beginner-friendly.
- The belt that spins the barrel has a tendency to come loose from time to time.
5. Thumler’s Tumbler Rock Polisher
The next tumbler that we are going to be looking at on this list is the Thumler’s Tumbler Rock Polisher. It is a hobbyist sized device that is able to smooth about three pounds of rocks at once. The motor is a 115 volt, so it will not bog down with a full three-pound capacity. It is also designed to be lightweight so that you can easily move it whenever you want with ease.
With this model, it will take about 20 to 25 days to smooth the rocks that are included with the set, so when you collect more rocks to tumble, you have an idea how long it will take. The barrel of the tumbler is made from rubber so that it does not wear down as you use it. In fact, the base is a bright red metal, so you can expect it to be durable enough to last for years of use.
- It is very easy to use this tumbler.
- Considering that it tumbles rocks, it is not that loud.
- It works great with small and medium-sized stones.
- It mimics the motion of the ocean and the sand erosion quite well.
- The tumbler is difficult to clean.
4. Heavy Duty Rotary Tumbler with 15 lb Capacity
If you are looking for a more professional tumbler for your gemstones, rocks, brass, or even glass, then this heavy duty tumbler may be a great option for you. It is designed to manage up to 15 pounds of material at once, which means that you can get quite a bit done at once. The barrel of this machine is made from metal with a hexagon shape that is designed to make the process quicker.
In addition, there is a rubber liner in the barrel, but if you don’t mind the noise, it can be removed. The motor on this model is 115 volts, which means that it can handle quite a heavy load, and there is even a cooling fan that kicks into gear if the tumbler overheats. The model also comes with a full five-year warranty on the barrel and the rubber, so you can be sure that it will not wear with use.
- With the insulation, the tumbler is very quiet.
- It has an all-metal build that is extremely durable.
- It holds quite a large load of rocks or other materials.
- The motor never gets hot with this model; even when it is running for a month straight.
- You may need to oil the machine on occasion because the barrel tends to squeak if it is not properly maintained.
3. NSI Rock Tumbler Classic
The NSI Rock Tumbler Classic is a toy rock tumbler that is designed for anyone who is interested in creating polished, smooth gems over the age of ten. The barrel is made from plastic, and though it is designed to be durable, it can only accommodate a few rocks at once. In fact, if you overfill the barrel in this kit, you could actually cause damage to the machine, so try to a few small rocks at a time.
Since the tumbler is made out of plastic materials, it is a very light machine that can easily be moved from room to room if you’d like, this means that if you find that it is too loud in one area of your home, you can move it to a more remote location that will not interrupt your favorite television show.
- Polishing in this machine only takes a few months, which is not bad for a rock tumbler.
- It is very simple to use.
- It is relatively easy to clean the machine.
- It is great for children who are interested in science.
- This tumbler is very loud.
2. Professional Rock Tumbler by National Geographic (Improved Quality Sept. 2016)
The next rock tumbler that we are going to review is a professional grade machine that is created by National Geographic. The machine is made from heavy duty materials that are built to last; the barrel has a rubber lining that is designed to minimize the amount of noise that the machine makes. It is also waterproof, which means that you won’t have to deal with leaks as you are tumbling your rocks.
This model holds about two pounds of material at once, so keep that in mind as you load up the machine for your next project. On this model, you can control the number of days that you need the machine to tumble as well as the speed at which you want it to rotate. There is also a power switch that you can use to turn off the machine if the rocks are polished to your liking before the timer that you set finishes.
- This tumbler is easy to use.
- It comes with a two-year warranty.
- It is actually a very quiet machine, which is ideal for a home.
- It comes with jewelry attachments and stones to help you get started.
- Small rocks can disintegrate with this model if you tumble them for too long.
1. National Geographic Hobby Rock Tumbler Kit
The final rock tumbler on this list is another hobby edition that is manufactured by National Geographic. It is built to last with a metal barrel and a powerful motor that can handle a full pound of rocks at once. The barrel is also lined with rubber to help keep the noise level to a minimum. The barrel is also designed to be leak proof, so even wet grinding is an option in this model.
This model is designed with a timer function so that you can set the machine to automatically turn off after a certain number of hours. This tumbler comes with a full pound of rocks to help you get started; in fact, there are nine different types of gems included that you can perfect and place in the jewelry attachments that are included in the set.
- It is a very well built tumbler.
- This kit comes with everything that you need to start tumbling.
- There is a two-year warranty on this machine.
- The shut-off timer makes it easy to set the device and forget about it until a later time.
- The machine is a bit loud.
Editors Choice of Best Rock Tumbler
Rock tumblers are great for polishing rocks, polishing brass fixtures, and creating lovely jewelry. Before you make a purchase, decide whether you want a small machine that tumbles a few rocks at a time or a larger one for much bigger projects.
All of the models that we reviewed are great, but if we would choose the Professional Rock Tumbler by National Geographic as the most well-rounded rock tumbler on the list. It is quiet, it can hold up to two pounds, and it is relatively quiet, which makes it great for professional users as well as a hobbyist.
For more interesting hobby ideas or fun toys for kids as well as adults, have a look at this review here! Everyone loves a bit of pool and getting a table isn’t as expensive as is used to be!