I once searched for the internet for the "best toothbrush" before I went and bought a new one. Looking back, that was silly. That is not something I need to research so heavily before investing. But Rock Tumblers... Rock tumblers are something you might actually want to take some time on and make sure you get the best bang for your buck. They aren't a commodity item like a toothbrush and picking the wrong one can be a disaster. You don't want to put a bunch of time into polishing a batch of rocks just to have the motor give out on you before you make it to the final polish!
In this guide, you will find the best rock tumblers for the money in 3 different price ranges. From under $100, to mid range $100 - $200 stone polishers, all the way up to high end rock polishers that break the $200 mark. You will find out which units perform the best in each category and will hopefully give you the most bang for your hard earned buck!
Table of Contents
When you purchase a rock tumbler for over $200, you can expect to get a large capacity of up to 12 pounds, as well as a high-quality metal barrel construction that will last a very long time. The more expensive rock tumblers like these do not need to be replaced for many years, so you won’t need to worry about having to buy another one anytime soon. You will also find that rock tumblers over $200 usually have multiple barrels, which will allow you to polish rocks in one, while doing different stages of grit in the other. This can greatly speed up the time it takes to polish a batch of rocks.
A lot of these machines have a rotary design as opposed to a vibratory one, which results in much quieter overall operation. The best rock tumblers in this higher price range also usually have a thick rubber barrel, or at least one that is rubber-lined so that the rolling sound is minimal.
The motors on these units are also usually of higher quality and these will be machines that will last you a long time and go through many batches of stones.
The Lortone Double Barrel 33B tumbler kit has a lot of the features you find in the greatly expensive tumblers, for a little less money.
Since it is sold in kit form, it includes a 4 stage grit supply (coarse, medium, pre-polish and polish grade grits), a guide book, a small supply of rough to get started, and it even includes plastic pellet media for cushioning during polishing. The rock tumbler itself measures 6.25L x 16W inches and the entire package ships at a weight of over 17 lbs! backed by a one year warranty from Lortone, this tumbler is built like a rock (no pun intended).
This rock tumbler kit is often priced just below the two hundred dollar mark, but I wanted to include it in this section since it is usually right on the border. Since the price is right on the border and it isn't higher in the over two hundred dollar range, there is a slight trade-off. This tumbler is six pounds of total capacity instead of a higher volume like the double 6lb (12lb total) tumbler featured later in this guide. Two 3lb barrels give you a total capacity of 6lbs (hence the name 33B). However, most will find that the six total pound capacity of this rock polisher is more than enough for their needs and this is a no brainer compromise for such a high value rock polishing package at this pricepoint.
The high quality Lortone model is built well and includes all steel construction in the tumbler base. Heavy duty cords and a professional grade motor mean this machine will last a long time. The rubber tumbler barrels are relatively quiet and can be run continuously without driving you crazy with noise like cheaper models with hard plastic tumbler barrels.
If you're not interested in all of the extras that come with the kit, you can also get just the Lortone 33B Rock Tumbler by itself here. However, the extras that come in the kit are a good value as the pricepoint is not much higher compared to the costs of purchasing seperately.
The Lortone QT-12/ QT-66 rotary rock tumbler is measures 11.5” long by 12.5” wide with a total weight of 4 pounds. It has a professional-quality build with two 10-sided molded rubber barrels. This rock tumbler has a 12 lb. total capacity and is capable of polishing stones, brass, glass and beads. There is also the all-steel body and stainless steel drive cover. It also has a 120V, 60HZ motor.
While this rock tumbler may be easy to use even for a beginner, it is still capable of producing professional results. The body of this machine is made entirely out of steel, making it ideal for polishing rock, brass, castings, beads, glass and much more. It is backed by a one-year warranty and has an incredibly versatile design that allows it to be used for many different tasks.
The QT-12 rotary rock tumbler produces minimal noise when it is working, so you won’t have to worry about it being annoyingly loud. Lortone is certainly a well-known brand when it comes to rock tumblers, so you will definitely get your money’s worth with this one. The premium steel construction of this rock tumbler is one of the best things about it, offering the kind of long-lasting durability that you need when it comes to one of these machines.
The strong 120V motor in this rock tumbler is a large part of what makes it so effective when it comes to polishing a variety of materials. The two 10-sided molded rubber barrels are also incredibly durable with a large capacity of 12 pounds of material. It is capable of tumbling several stones around a pound each. This is the tumbler only, as the grits are sold separately.
The barrels that the Lortone QT-12 rotary rock tumbler uses are interchangeable on the QT12/66 base. You can add two 6lb drums instead of the singel 12lb drum for more versatility in your grinds. That way, you can do a fine grind in one while running a medium grind in the other. Or polish two types of materials which require different grit medium at the same time. The polisher runs on 110v power and each of the two 6-pound rubber barrels and the single 12lb barrel both have a quick-seal closure to keep all of the contents inside when it is operational.
This QT-12/QT-66 model Lortone Rock Tumbler uses interchangeable barrel drums so you can easily have different drums for different phases of polishing (2 – 6lb drums). Or One large drum (12lb capacity) to work with massive amount of stones. It can also be purchased in kit form as seen to the left, which includes a lot of extras like grit, rough, and some guide books that come in handy for both experienced and beginning rock polishing aficionados.
The interchangeable base uses an industrial strength motor to move up to 12 lbs of stone and grit at a time, consistently and reliably.
Thumler’s Ultra Vibe 18 is a great vibratory rock tumbler at this price point.
The Tumbler Ultra-Vibe 18 Vibrating Rock Tumbler from Thumler has a 1.5 gallon (approximately 18 lb.) capacity, measuring 11.5” across and 12.5” high. There is also a ball-bearing 115V, 1.2 amp motor that has thermal protection. This rock tumbler comes with a one-year warranty and there is also a removable heavy polyethylene bowl. The ball-bearing motor vibrates 3000VPM.
This industrial-quality rock tumbler features a powerful 115 volt motor that has thermal protection so it lasts a very long time without breaking down. There is also the 1.5 gallon capacity polyethylene bowl that creates a cyclonic effect that moves objects that are placed in it throughout. While it’s true that there are a number of positive features this rock tumbler has to offer, its vibratory design does make it a bit noisy. The amount of noise this machine generates does depend on the materials that are placed in its bowl though.
Thumler is a trusted and reputable name when it comes to rock tumblers, and models like this one are frequently used in schools, laboratories and other professional settings. This rock tumbler comes with a one-year warranty, so you will be able to get any parts that break down fixed or replaced with ease during this period.
It is recommended that you not use anything that is coarser than 120/220 in this particular rock tumbler. You will find that it is able to polish rock and cartridges at an impressive 3000VPM. The bowl that this rock tumbler uses can be replaced if necessary, and you can easily purchase one online. Ceramic or plastic pellets can be added to the bowl as well. This tumbler can hold up to 1000 pieces of 30-06 brass, and it is powered by a powerful 3000 VPM motor for quick and thorough cleaning. The motor also has an auto shutoff feature in the event that it overheats to prevent a fire hazard or damage to the internal components.
The MT-4SV from Diamond Pacific has a 4-lb. capacity hopper that is made out of cast polyvinyl material. It also has ABS plastic housing, making it exceptionally durable. This rock tumbler produces 60Hz, which translates into 3600 vibrations per minute. It offers alternating separation/compacting action as well. It measures 16 x 10 x 9 inches and weighs a total of 12 pounds.
You will find that this rock tumbler has a unique design that doesn’t use any moving parts whatsoever. Its cast polyvinyl hopper stays completely motionless while it is operational, with only the contents inside rotating. The Mini-Sonic that this tumbler uses produces 3600 vibrations per minute with 60Hz of power and 110 volts. The total load capacity is around 4 pounds, and only a minor amount of water and abrasive is needed when operating it.
The ABS plastic housing around this tumbler makes it exceptionally durable and long-lasting. Both the operation and intensity of the MT-4SV are controlled via electronic dials.
There are no motors, pulleys or shafts required to operate this rock tumbler, as it uses a system that produces an interrupted electronic current that creates a gentle vibration. When the tumbler is operational, the load gets separated, compacted and separated once more during each cycle.
This tumbler has a more compact design than the larger Mini-Sonic electronic tumblers. It operates quietly and is capable of processing almost any kind of stone, including opal, topaz, sea shells, metals and more. It can also polish baroques, perform beads and more. While the 4 pound capacity is certainly not huge, this machine is still highly useful for small yet delicate jobs. Because these machines do not use any belts, pulleys or shafts, they require minimal maintenance over the years. The unique tumbling action that this machine uses works both quickly and gently, making it perfect for a wide variety of materials.
You will find that rock tumblers that are fall in the $100 to $200 price range are typically meant for those who are just starting out with rock polishing, or sometimes those who have a bit of experience. Many of these rock tumblers have a smaller motor compared to more expensive ones, and they also typically have a rotary design. And while it’s true that there are quite a few rock tumblers in this price range that are able to effectively polish a variety of materials, some of them aren’t quite as fast or efficient as others in the higher price bracket.
Those who are just starting out in the world of rock tumbling will find that a tumbler in this price range is most likely ideal. You might not get the same overall build quality as with more expensive tumblers, but there are a lot of them that can certainly get the job done just fine.
This Professional rock tumbler from National Geographic comes with a full kit that includes a Pro Series tumbler, 1 lb. rough gemstones, four polishing grits, jewelry fastenings, an information guide and instructions. I included it in the $100 - $200 range but it can often be found on sale for less than $100 on Amazon. At the time of this writing it is currently under $100. Click here for the current price.
The tumbler itself has a 2 lb. leak-proof rubber barrel and comes with a 1-year warranty. This tumbler has a noise reducing design and the barrel has a stainless steel cover.
The barrel can hold up to 2 lbs. of stones at one time, and this machine has an automatic shutoff timer that will prevent over-tumbling of rocks. This can be very beneficial if you are going to be away and can’t be around to monitor the stones and turn the machine off when it needs it. The full color information guide completely explains how to use the tumbler in this kit for those who have never used one before. There are also settings that will allow you to control the speed of the tumbler itself. The educational pamphlet that this rock tumbler comes with provides those who are new to this hobby with some useful information on it.
The Professional Quality Rock Tumbler offers a number of interesting and useful features, including a shutoff and speed control timer that will allow you to choose how quickly you want the tumbler to go and therefore when it will finish. You will also receive 1 lb. of rough gemstones to polish up using this tumbler.
There is also the noise reduction design, which means that you won’t have to deal with any loud sounds while the tumbler is working. You will receive jewelry fastening as well, allowing you to create your own jewelry with the stones you polish. This tumbler has a barrel with a leak-proof, high-impact design with a stainless steel cover for increased overall durability.
One important thing to keep in mind is that while the instructions that come with this tumbler recommend 7-10 days for polishing, the timer only goes up to 5 days, so you will have to reset the timer. Also, the cost of this rock tumbler is a bit steep when you consider that there are similar models on the market that offer more/better features.
The rubber lid and metal lid can be sort of tricky to get on and take off, though once you do it enough it shouldn’t be a problem anymore. The speed variation and timer are definitely two of this tumbler’s better and more noteworthy features. The leak-free design of the barrel this tumbler uses prevents any water from getting out while it is running. There is also the education pamphlet, which offers detailed information for rock tumbling novices.
The Lortone 3A Deluxe Rock Tumbler Kit comes with a professional tumbler, rough rocks, a 4-step polishing kit, plastic pellets, spare drive belt and detailed instructions. This rock tumbler’s barrel has a 3 lb. capacity, and the hard rubber that it is made of keeps noise to a minimum.
It has an easy-to-operate design with a durable motor that is capable of running for a very long time. This tumbler measures 18 x 6 x 18 inches and weighs a total of 11.4 pounds. It comes with a 1-year warranty and can be even used with broken pieces of glass.
The barrel that this rock tumbler uses is made out of a very thick rubber material, thereby minimizing the amount of noise that is made when it’s operational. It has a 3 pound capacity and the kit itself comes with plastic pellets, rough rocks and a 4-step polishing kit. This kit is best-suited for those who are just starting off with rock tumbling and want to make jewelry out of the rocks they polish.
One of the negative things about this rock tumbler is that it tends to throw the belt sometimes due to the excessive vibrating it produces while polishing the rocks inside the barrel. It does, however, come with a spare drive belt that can easily be put on if necessary. Sometimes the polishing job that this tumbler does isn’t great, but it depends on how long you keep the rocks in and the materials you are using.
Lortone is a very trusted name when it comes to rock tumblers though, and this one in particular is ideal for jewelry artists and those who enjoy making crafts. There are a variety of rocks that come with this kit that are good for beginners. You will also get an instruction booklet with detailed information on how to go about using this rock tumbler. This tumbler has a 115V motor in it, which is fairly powerful and able to polish up a variety of rocks and materials quickly. The biggest problem with this rock tumbler is by far its problem with the belt.
The Dr. Cool PRO Series Rock Tumbler is a complete rock tumbling kit that comes with 1 lb. of 9 different types of stones that can be used with this tumbler. This tumbler has an automatic shutoff timer as well as numerous speed control settings and a leak-proof barrel that is designed to prevent excess noise. When you purchase this rock tumbler you will receive 4 types of polishing grit and semi-precious stones that include amethyst, quartz, tiger’s eye, jasper, agate and others.
You will also receive a detailed instruction manual with this rock tumbler that will tell you exactly how to operate it. There are also jewelry fastenings that come with this kit so that you can make jewelry out of the stones you polish. This rock tumbler measures 12.8 x 6.8 x 10.2 inches and weighs a total of 5 pounds.
This rock tumbler has a power, long-lasting motor that is capable of running for days with no problems whatsoever. It has won the Teachers Choice Award from Learning Magazine and comes with 4 types of polishing grit as well as 1 pound worth of various precious stones, including amethyst, quartz, tiger’s eye, jasper, agate and others.
One of this rock tumbler’s biggest flaws is that it is a bit noisy, though not so much that it should be too bothersome for most people. Also, the directions that come with this tumbler are a bit vague, which could be somewhat of an issue for those who have never used one of these machines before.
There are three different speed settings to choose from with three being the fastest setting of all. This allows the user to decide how quickly they want this machine to work, though the results may vary depending on the speed that is chosen. The barrel that this rock tumbler uses can polish up to about 1 pound of material at one time. You will receive jewelry fastenings with this rock tumbler as well, allowing you to use the stones you polish with it as various types of jewelry.
With a total weight of 5 pounds, this rock tumbler is intended for those who are just starting out with rock tumbling. The manufacturer recommended age for this rock tumbling kit is 6-15. This rock tumbler also has an automatic shutoff feature to prevent overheating.
When you purchase a rock tumbler under $100, you can expect to get one that is meant for beginners. A vast majority of these tumblers don’t have very large capacities or offer a lot of different options like more expensive models. These cheaper rock tumblers can also take a lot longer to polish the materials that are put into their barrels, though this is not always the case.
You will find that every rock tumbler varies in quality, even the cheapest ones like these. And while you can expect to get a variety of rocks to polish with many of the more expensive sets, that’s not always the case with these. Some of the rock tumblers that cost less than one hundred dollars can be a little noisy as well, which is due to the fact that the barrels do not have a noise-reducing design.
Despite the fact that some of the cheaper rock tumblers may be inferior to the more expensive ones, there are still quite a few that are perfect for those who are just starting out in the world of rock polishing. Most of these rock tumblers are smaller and therefore don’t offer the same kind of barrel capacity that more expensive models do. Those who have never used a rock tumbler before but are interested in getting one will most likely want to start off with one of these cheaper models. There is however a lot of things that can affect the overall quality of a rock tumbler other than the price, including the brand name.
The National Geographic Hobby Rock Tumbler Kit comes with 9 different types of rough gemstones, four polishing grits, jewelry fastenings, an educational guide and an instructional booklet. The barrel that this rock tumbler uses has a sealed leak-proof design to prevent any water from leaking out while it’s operational. Those who purchase this rock tumbler will also receive a 2-year warranty.
The barrel of this rock tumbler has a 1 lb. total capacity. This rock tumbler measures 10.8 x 8 9.5 inches and weighs a total of 4 pounds. The cap on the barrel is made of stainless steel, which significantly reduces noise and makes it incredibly durable.
This rock tumbler features a barrel with a stainless steel cover and 1 lb. capacity. The overall design of the barrel makes it very quiet and minimizes noise while it is operational, as well as preventing leaks. When you purchase this rock tumbler you will receive half a pound of various gemstones (9 types) as well as four grades of grit. The jewelry fastenings that are also included with this rock tumbler can be used to make jewelry out of the materials that you polish.
There is a 100% satisfaction guarantee that comes with the National Geographic Hobby Rock Tumbler Kit as well as a 2-year warranty. This rock tumbler has an automatic shutoff timer, allowing you to get the best possible results while saving energy at the same time. This is definitely a rock tumbler meant for beginners, so it does have a fairly low capacity barrel. The high-quality metal material that this tumbler is made out of is designed to last, so you’ll most likely be able to get years of use out of it.
One of the biggest differences between the Hobby Rock Tumbler and the Starter Kit is that this one has a barrel with a stainless steel cap, while the other does not. This one also includes a keypad so you can set the number of days you want to tumble for.
Thumler’s Tumble Rock Polisher has a 3 lb. capacity rubber-lined barrel and comes with 4 grades of polish grit. This rock tumbler can be used for rocks, castings and casings. It measures 6 x 6 x 7.5 inches and weighs a total of 2 pounds. You will also receive some sample stones as well as jewelry fastenings. There is also an illustrated "Guide For Rock Polisher's".
This rock tumbler has a thermal overload protected design to prevent overheating, as well as a 115V 22-watt motor. It comes with a 1-year warranty.
This rock tumbler features a fairly powerful 115V 22-watt motor and a barrel that is capable of polishing and shaping up to 2 lbs. of material at once. When you purchase this rock tumbler you will get 4 grades of polishing grit as well as some starter rocks. And while the motor in this rock tumbler generated a fair amount of power, it does have a tendency to overheat.
Thumler’s Tumbler Rock Polisher has a rotary design and can be used for rocks, castings and casings. It has a rubber-lined barrel, which cuts down on the amount of noise that is generated when it’s operational. It measures 6” long, 6” wide and 7.5” tall and weighs a total of 2 lbs. This is a smaller rock tumbler model from Thumler, so it is therefore appropriate for those who are just starting out with rock tumbling.
The Chicago Electric Power Tools 67631 Rotary Rock Tumbler is made primarily of plastic and the barrel is made of rubber and sheet metals, offering a 3 lb. total capacity. It also has a 120V, 60Hz motor. This rock tumbler measures 10 x 8 x 6 inches and has a total weight of 5.8 pounds. It is designed to run for numerous days on end and has an easy-to-operate design.
This rock tumbler uses a 120V, 60Hz motor and has a barrel made entirely of rubber for quiet operation. The barrel can tumble 3 lbs. of material at once. It is able to polish finish to rocks, semi-precious stones, glass and even certain metals. One of the potential drawbacks of this rock tumbler is that it operates at a fairly low speed, and there aren’t any speed control options available.
There are a number of different rock tumblers available on the market in a variety of price ranges. Those who are currently searching for one of these machines will find that each one comes with its own unique features and options, such as speed settings, automatic shut off and others. If you have never even operated a rock tumbler before, a cheaper one in the $100-$200 will most likely provide you with exactly what you need to start off.
Rock tumblers are available from a number of different companies, and they are generally use either a rotary or vibratory design. You will be able to find cheaper, more basic models in toy stores as well as various places on the internet. Some of the more expensive rock tumbler models tend to have a more powerful motor that lasts longer and is able to polish and shape materials more efficiently.
The fact is that you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money to get a good solid rock tumbler, though you usually get what you pay for with regards to overall quality and durability. The size of the barrel is another important factor to take into consideration, as it determines how many rocks you can fit inside at one time. Right now there are a variety of rock tumblers available on the market, so it is highly recommended that you take the time to review your options before making a final decision on anything in particular.