Do you love turning rocks into gemstones? Then you probably have or should invest in a rock tumbler. These wonderful devices allow you to create stones that can be used as ornaments and other building pieces of jewelry. Are you into giving handmade gifts to your loved ones? This is the best idea for you.
Rock tumblers are really interesting machines, especially when you see what happens to those rock pieces after spending days (or even weeks) inside them. The only issue with these devices is that they can be loud and annoying for neighbors (including roommates or other family members) living close by. Moreover, if it is left running for days or weeks, you need to consider where you will place it. This is one of the main reasons why people think twice about buying this gadget.
Table of Contents
What Kinds Of Rock Tumblers Are There?
1) Rotary Tumblers
When you purchase a rock tumbler, you need to spend a lot more time to smoothen out those rocks. The reason behind it is that there are a few stages to go through, plus it uses various kinds of tumbling grit. The first stage with the coarse grind will take a week, the second stage with a medium grind will also need a week, while the last two weeks are for the fine grind and polishing stages. It might be necessary, however, to repeat a stage if you are not happy with how it turned out.
2) Vibratory Tumblers
They produce a bit more of a vibrating sound (as the name suggests), but they take up significantly less time compared to rotary tumblers. To smoothen out your rocks, you run them in a vibratory tumbler for about 12 to 24 hours with the medium grit, then you have to wash them before repeating the whole process. You keep going until the rocks are smooth, in general, it should take about a week.
Once it is smooth enough, you process them in the fine grit and polish them, each stage lasting about 3 days. In all, you can expect to finish in one or two weeks, which is just half the time a rotary tumbler needs. Of course, this depends on the kind of rock you have.
How Loud Is A Rock Tumbler?
Most of the models out there are not that loud; only some of them actually make a racket that can annoy other people. Otherwise, the noise can be a sign of an issue, but this can be easily remedied.
Watch Out For Quality
The noisiest rock tumblers are ones that are made of plastic and have a cheaper motor. When the rocks are continuously banging against the plastic barrel, then it is normal that the noise level is a bit higher than normal. While you might be tempted to buy them because they are cheaper, you might regret it because they will not last as long.
A more expensive, high-quality, and quiet rock tumbler is worth every cent you will pay for it. They have rubber barrels (rubber will absorb the impact of the rock tumbling against it) and will most likely last longer. You will still hear a slight whirring, but it is so mild that you will probably not hear it from another room.
Do Not Overload
A loud, annoying sound during operation might be a sign that you simply put too much on the rock tumbler. Manufacturers recommend filling it not more than 65% capacity. If you are not sure and it is making a ruckus, try removing some rocks and check if it improves things. You might also want to add some oil to the motor but if it does not help at all, then it might be a sign that a replacement motor is necessary.
Check For Loose Screws
Vibrating sounds can be a sign of loose screws, so you might want to check if they are tight enough.
If none of these steps help and the noise is too loud to bear, you can ask a professional to check it out. Again, this might be a signal that a new motor is necessary. If the sound is not too much, then you can just invest in a pair of earplugs that will make it less annoying. You might also want to think hard about where to place the rock tumbler so that it will not bother you.
Where Should You Run A Rock Tumbler?
A rock tumbler works anywhere, as long as it has a source of electricity. You will also want it in a well-lighted place so you can check on it every once in a while. However, this does not mean that you should not consider finding a good spot for it, because the constant vibration or noise might disrupt your daily activities. Thus, you might want to avoid the following spots:
Where It Is Wet
While your rock tumbler requires water to load the barrel and clean it up, it does not mean that it likes water. Because it runs on electricity, you will not want to place it where it is wet or has a risk of getting wet. This way, you do not have to worry about any accidents while it is operating in a corner of the house. If you can, avoid using an extension cord.
Where Kids or Pets Can Play With It
Children love tinkering around with stuff around the house, so if you want your rock tumbler to be left running in peace, then make sure you keep it away from their reach. The same goes for pets unless you want its operations disturbed or worse, your gadget being accidentally broken by your cat. Keep it behind a closed door where kids and pets are not usually around. You should, however, be able to check up on it easily every day to make sure it is still running.
Where The Temperature Is Uncomfortable
Because the rocks are tumbling around in a barrel with water, you need to watch out for water freezing due to low temperatures. This means, keep the device indoors especially during wintertime. At best, choose a room where there is heating.
The same goes if it is too hot outdoors. The motors of these gadgets are fitted with thermal protection, switching off automatically when they get too hot. When it shuts down, the mud inside the barrel becomes hard, especially if it is not switched back on quickly enough. Worse, cheaper models do not have this thermal protection at all. This means the motor might fail when they start to overheat.
Where You Cannot Make A Mess
Rock tumblers do not make a lot of mess but take note that they do run with muddy water inside. While it is operating, it will also have grit and polish. The motor requires oil, which may shed a little while it is being used. In short, there is a chance that it makes a little bit of dirt, so you do not want to keep it on top of an expensive cabinet or table or a sensitive floor. To be safe, opt for a room with tiles or a concrete floor so you can easily wipe up spills and stains can be easily removed.
Where You Like Peace and Quiet
As mentioned before, your rock tumblers will be working day and night transforming those rocks into little gemstones. If you place it in a room where you sleep, work, or study, then you might find even the slight vibrations annoying after some time. There are surely other spots where you can leave it running, like a garage, basement, closet, or shed.
The noise it produces depends on the model you have and where you store it. At best, try it out, room by room, until you find the best spot for you. Check during the night because the noises during the day might drown out the machine’s sounds. The click-and-clang might be louder when everything outside is still, though.
On Top Of A Workbench or Table
You might be tempted to keep it on top of a table to keep it out of reach from kids and pets. But in general, a bench or a table is a really bad idea. As it runs, the vibrations will move it ever so slightly sideways, and it might eventually fall off the table or bench. When it does, it can damage the machine and make a huge mess. Keep it on the floor, just to be safe.
Unless you only plan to use it while you are outdoors yourself, keeping them out while running is a terrible idea. Rock tumblers do not like direct sunlight, for one, and will overheat when under the sun’s strong rays. It is also air-cooled, which means it lets in warm air when left running outdoors. Lastly, they are vulnerable to rain, dew, snow, and other extreme conditions outdoors. Most products do have a warning against outdoor use.
Should you worry about loud noise when you have a rock tumbler? Not at all, if you have a good machine and a nice, isolated place to leave it running and working on creating your beautiful gemstones.