Updated June 03, 2018 by Sheila O'Neill

The 9 Best Rock Tumblers

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Whether you're a professional jewelry maker or just looking for a new hobby, these rock tumblers can help you polish up stones of every type for any application. Some can even work on other materials, like metal and sea glass. We've included models ideal for hobbyists through to a couple that are sturdy enough to handle regular industrial use. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best rock tumbler on Amazon.

9. National Geographic Starter Kit

8. Discover with Dr. Cool Pro

7. Tru-square Metal A-R2

6. Chicago Electric Power Tools 3lb

5. Thumler's Tumbler Polisher

4. Discover with Dr. Cool Hobby

3. Lorotone 3A

2. National Geographic Hobby Kit

1. Tru-square Metal THU140

The Tumbling is Inevitable

Truisms make good T-shirts, and few scientific phenomena are more consistent or on more ready display than erosion.

Make me a T-shirt that says, "Erosion Happens," and I'll buy it from you.

Truisms make good T-shirts, and few scientific phenomena are more consistent or on more ready display than erosion.

Erosion is more or less the gradual process by which wind, water, or fine particles can wear and shape what seem to be among the sturdier substances on the planet. It's also the main principal in rock tumbling.

Keep in mind that even the hardest stones are made up of moving parts, atoms traveling at such a rate of speed or in such specific formations that they appear as a solid mass to our senses. Have you ever tried to put your hand through a moving ceiling fan and had it painfully rejected by the fast moving blades? It's kind of like that.

In an interesting way, when you put small stones into a rock tumbler, along with water and grit, you're creating a closed environment in which a kind of concentrated erosion takes place, essentially altering the atomic state of the stones in question. Pretty cool, huh?

"His Eyes Were Bigger Than His Rock Tumbler"

Trust me: You do not need a rock tumbler of this magnitude. You are not engaged in mountain top removal, nor are you a raw earth industrialist. This is simply too much tumbler for any one person to handle.

The good news is that of all the tumblers we've gone over here one of them is sure to be just the right fit for your needs.

They're all pretty much the same quality unit for pretty much the same price.

If you're engaged in this kind of research, the chances are that you're on your way to a more capable rock tumbler than the simpler plastic models with which most folks start out. They're all pretty much the same quality unit for pretty much the same price.

The tumblers you're interested in are probably at least one step up from these starter units.

The smaller capacity models might be a good place to start if your foray into professional tumbling is more curious. If you have a plan of action that includes the refinement and even the sale of your tumbled stones, especially if you're looking to make jewelry on a consistent basis, I'd recommend a dual barrel model.

These dual barrel units are good not only for doubling the capacity of their single barrel cousins, but they can also be cross purposed to work through batches of stones that are at different points in the process, meaning you can work your tumbler like a little assembly line. This ought to increase your overall productivity if productivity is a concern.

Manhattan For a Handful of Tumbled Rocks

There's a little bit of fun to be had connecting rock tumblers with the notion of American economics, but that fun is grounded in some pretty real history. Let's not forget that when European explorers first encountered American Indian tribes they traded many items, including beads, which are essentially weathered stones.

There's a little bit of fun to be had connecting rock tumblers with the notion of American economics, but that fun is grounded in some pretty real history.

And that great city, Manahattan–the city that never sleeps, wherein if you can make it, you'll make it anywhere–was bought for a handful of these beads. Or so the story goes.

There's something uniquely American about the hobby itself, and even more so about the business of stone craft and jewelry making. Manifest Destiny took us farther and farther west, into lands with an ever increasing abundance of natural resources, new kinds of rock and stone among them. To connect with that source material is, in a way, to connect with the origins of today's America as we know it.

Which is to say nothing of the business angle. When a hobbyist rock tumbler sells his or her first piece, or fashions and sells that first necklace or pair of ear rings, that hobbyist is making the smooth transition into the very core of American values. Specifically, this is the idea that anyone with a modicum of skill or knowledge, however acquired, can turn that ability into a means by which their life can be supported or enhanced.

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Sheila O'Neill
Last updated on June 03, 2018 by Sheila O'Neill

Sheila is a writer and editor living in sunny Southern California. She studied writing and film at State University of New York at Purchase, where she earned her bachelor of arts degree. After graduating, she worked as an assistant video editor at a small film company, then spent a few years doing freelance work, both as a writer and a video editor. During that time, she wrote screenplays and articles, and edited everything from short films to infomercials. An ardent lover of the English language, she can often be found listening to podcasts about etymology and correcting her friends’ grammar.


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