Tumble Until Smooth


When I was a child, I had a strange fascination with rocks. Looking back I could almost say it was an unhealthy love of rocks. At first, it was any rock; my grandfather’s driveway became my epicenter for finding more and more rocks to expand my collection. faviconThen one day after being taken to a new toy store in town I discovered some very polished, glossy rocks, this was my first introduction to a rock tumbler and my need for one grew.

Tumblers come in all shapes and sizes, but they all do basically the same principle; they take surfaces that may be rough or porous and smooth them out, polishing them in the process. The process is simple; usually a barrel is on its side filled with the parts (or in one little girl’s case rocks,) and then in goes a form of grit used to smash up against the parts along with a liquid lubricant, usually water. The barrel is rotated slowly for hours until everything is smooth.

The only downside to tumbling materials is that it can be noisy and the process can take a long time. Ever put sneakers in the dryer? That and worse are how loud a tumbler can be. The sound moves at 340 meters per second and be heard from quite a ways away. Although it’s possible to get rubber lining so the noise will be dampened, it’s still a loud piece of equipment. In this I would encourage taking measures to dampen the noise or risk a headache whenever the tumbler turns on. Eventually I did end up getting my rock tumbler; much to the dismay of my family I ran it until the poor things’ motor died. I still think of the ‘ka-chunk ka-chunk’ sound the tumbler made once in a while and it brings a smile to my face.