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FAQ’s

Which tumbler is good for beginners?

The biggest thing to think about when choosing a tumbler is the difference between vibratory and rotary tumblers. Rotary tumblers are likely what everyone pictures in their mind when thinking about a rock tumbler. Using a barrel that rolls around and around for days on end. While the process is a long one, this method of tumbling requires the least amount of attention. You will fill the barrel with your rocks, grit and water and run it for approximately one week for each grit cycle. Most stones require 4 stages which adds up to about one month per batch. While it will be fine to open up the barrel mid-week to see how things are going, it is also fine if you just let it run until the end of the stage without checking on them.

Vibratory tumblers are quite different. Their bowls are stationary and the vibration of the machine will make the rock rotate in the barrel. While this will be a much faster process, a vibe tumbler needs much more attention. You will need to be able to check a vibratory tumbler a couple times per day and you will likely want to rinse them out once a day. Vibe tumblers use very little water making it necessary to keep an eye on them. You can usually add enough water to last approximately 10 to 12 hours. Adding more water than that will slow the rotation of your material and even possibly damage your tumbler. Add any less than that and they will dry out in the middle of the day which can be a potential setback. Many people enjoy the extra time spent on the hobby and watching their stones become beautiful gems. Others find that their daily schedule just won’t allow it. For those who decide this is best for them, the process requires 3 steps instead of 4. A batch that will take a month in a rotary tumbler can be done in as little as 2 weeks. Beach pebbles or river worn material can be done in as little as 5 days.

Once the decision has been made between a rotary or a vibratory tumbler, it is our opinion any tumbler is fine for beginners. While you probably don’t want to start a 6 year old out with an 18lb vibratory tumbler, the process for a 10lb tumbler will be the same as a 4lb tumbler and so on. It really depends on how much material and what size of material you are wanting to process.

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What size ceramics should I use in my tumbler?

Using ceramic media as a filler can be a very important part of your success in tumbling stones. Smaller ceramics will generally always be more beneficial than larger ones as they fill more voids and create more contact against the stones you are tumbling. Larger ceramics are often less expensive. Our favorite method is to start out with both sizes and after several uses, they are all a bit smaller. Adding larger ones to the process at this point assures that you will have a mix of sizes that will help you get results you can be proud of. We do recommend using all small ceramics when doing cabochons or slabs as they will pack around your stones and keep any flat sides from sticking together.

Ceramic Media can be used in any stage of tumbling and in any tumbler, Rotary or Vibratory. It can be used in the coarse grind stage if you don’t have enough stones to fill the barrel or just added in the 2nd stage once the volume has reduced from grinding. Once added, the ceramics can be washed up and moved onward through the later stages including the polish stage. Then washed up and used again on your next batch. They grind a little smaller with each load but continue to benefit your tumbling process until they are gone.

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What is the difference between large and small ceramics?

Smaller ceramics will generally always be more beneficial than larger ones as they fill more voids and create more contact against the stones you are tumbling. Larger ceramics are often less expensive. Our favorite method is to start out with both sizes and after several uses, they are all a bit smaller. Adding larger ones to the process at this point assures that you will have a mix of sizes that will help you get the results you can be proud of. We do recommend using all small ceramics when doing cabochons or slabs as they will pack around your stones and keep any flat sides from sticking together.

Ceramic Media can be used in any stage of tumbling and in any tumbler, Rotary or Vibratory. It can be used in coarse grind stage if you don’t have enough stones to fill the barrel or just added in the 2nd stage once the level has reduced from grinding. Once added, the ceramics can be washed up and moved onward through the later stages including the polish stage. Then washed up and used again on your next batch. They grind a little smaller with each load but continue to benefit your tumbling process until they are gone.

Click here for Ceramic Media

Can plastic pellets be used in vibratory tumblers?

While plastics can be used with success in rotary tumblers, it is not that helpful in vibratory tumblers as it can spend most of its time stuck to the sides or the top of the tumbler. It is our opinion that ceramic media is a better option than using plastic in any tumbler.

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Can ceramic media be used in rotary tumblers?

Ceramics can be used in both rotary and vibratory tumblers. Our favorite method is to start out with both sizes of ceramic and after several uses, they are all a bit smaller. Adding larger ones to the process at this point assures that you will have a mix of sizes that will help you get results you can be proud of. We do recommend using all small ceramics when doing cabochons or slabs as they will pack around your stones and keep any flat sides from sticking together.

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How do you use Green Epoxy Media?

Green epoxy media is recommended for the removal of rust, paint, or plated coatings from metal.

If you are using a rotary tumbler load the barrel 2/3 full of media, 1/3 full of water, then add the pieces you are working on. Tumble until you reach desired result. Use fine cut epoxy media before polishing. Some items can be polished in corn cob, others may require additional steps.

How do you use Burnishing Compound?

For use in a Rotary Tumbler:

  1. Mix 2 1/2 to 3 ounces of Burnishing Compound with one gallon of water to make the solution
  2. Load the barrel 50% full of media
  3. Add work pieces to bring the load to 60% full
  4. Add Burnishing Compound solution to the level of 1″ over the media and work pieces
  5. Close the barrel and run the tumbler for the prescribed length of time
  6. When the solution appears dark grey, strain the spent solution and replace it with new solution. How often you need to replace the solution depends on the work piece to media ratio and the cleanliness of work pieces

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