What to Know Before Choosing a Rock Tumbler
Choosing a Tumbler
There are a few different styles of rock tumblers. This article explains the difference between a rotary tumbler and a vibrating tumbler as well as the difference between the brands Lortone, Covington, Tumble-Bee, Diamond Pacific, and Raytech.
Covington’s tumblers are designed for tumbling small to medium sized stones, gems, glass, jewelry castings, coins, bullet casings, and other small products. The Roll-N-Tumble Gem Tumblers feature solid EVA barrels with 2 raised ridges to promote the grinding process by causing the media to fold over on itself instead of sliding down the barrel’s side. These barrels are available in 3 sizes: 1-gallon, 1/2-gallon, and 1-quart.
Machines are available in sizes ranging from single barrel to triple barrel. Additional barrels are available for purchase and the larger units allow you to mix and match barrel sizes. For instance, a double gallon tumbler will accommodate 2 gallon barrels, 3 half-gallon barrels, several quart barrels, or a mixture thereof. You might like to have a barrel for each step of the grinding process that allows you to inspect your pieces and move them
on to the next step without eliminating all of the grit from the first process.
Covington’s Deluxe Tumbler is unique in that it provides a 3-way action that promotes the grinding process. Whereas the rolling tumblers only tumble in a single motion, the Deluxe Tumbler is hexagonal in shape and sits at a tilted incline. The barrel’s 6 sides and the incline of the barrel allow for a faster and more effective tumble.
Lortone's small tumblers are a great choice if you are just getting started or for tumbling small items. They have been rated as the best Rock Tumbler of 2020. Each tumbler has a molded rubber barrel for minimal noise and a sure-seal closure to prevent leaks. The 3-A model has a 3 lb capacity while the 33-B comes with 2 barrels and has a 6 lb capacity.
For an even more affordable choice for the beginner or those that have small tumbling needs, we have the Tumble-Bee 1 x 2 which gives you a 2 lb capacity, the 2 x 2 that gives you more versatility with two 2 lb barrels and the 1 x 4 that gives you a 4 lb capacity in a single barrel.
A vibratory tumbler doesn't change the shape of the stone, it only smooths and polishes the surface. Vibrating tumblers are faster and use less grit, saving you both time and money on grit and electricity.
You can tumble cabochons in 3 to 4 days and agates take only 5 to 7 days. Brass shells for reloading are polished up in only a few hours. They do a great job of polishing slabs, cabs and Apache Tears.
Lot-O-Tumbler tumblers come in both Single Barrel and Twin Barrel models. The barrels are made from long-lasting PVC rubber and are removable for easy cleaning. Both models come with a starter grit kit.
Raytech's TV-5 Tumble-Vibe holds about 4 lb of stones or 25 ring castings with media. The bowl has an 8 Inch diameter.