A kids rock tumbler is one of those cool toys just about every kid wants at some point in their childhood, whether its little boys wanting to polishing rocks found at the local creek or for little girls wanting to make their own jewelry from beautiful non–precious stones and glass. Now some would find it offensive calling a rock tumbler a toy but those are the people that know the true value and magic these machines possess, that of recreating something that takes year to happen in nature. Now maybe you’re looking for a rock tumbler for yourself or as a gift for that special child in your life either way this article can help. In the following paragraphs you find all the information you will need to help educate yourself about rock tumblers including what types there are, exactly how they work, how much you can expect to pay for one and some good examples of which ones you should buy.

How Does a Rock Tumbler Work?

The first thing you should do when you buy your rock tumbler is read the instructions because all tumblers are a little different. What you will learn is the correct way to load your particular tumbler or polisher. The main thing you will learn is how much of each material you will add to your tumbler. The materials consist of the rocks you want polished, some type of grit that will help do the grinding or polishing and some water. This material will be added to the bowl or barrel of the tumbler the lid will be put on tight and the machine will be turned on. This is when the magic starts as well as the waiting because your typical cycle for a tumbler is no less than two weeks and can be up to a month. Anyways, the contents of the barrel will begin to move around bumping, sliding and rolling into one another. As they do this they slowly begin to polish by having all the jagged edges removed. Polishing is done it steps kind of like sanding with sandpaper. First you use a course grit to do most of the work and then slowly move to a finer and finer grit with the last grit being the polishing grit. Now to go into much more detail you need to know about the different types of rock tumblers.

Thumler's Tumbler Rock Polisher
Amazon Price: $105.47 $99.95 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 8, 2016)

Types of Rock Tumblers for Kids

Model A-R2 Kit Rock Tumbler

When it comes to kid’s rock tumbles or tumblers in general there are two types rotary and vibratory. Rotary tumblers are the type of tumblers most people picture when they think of rock tumblers or rock polishers. This type of tumbler is very basic in design consisting of a small barrel attached to a small motor. When you plug the machine in and turn it on the small motor starts turning so does the barrel. Then as the barrel turns the rocks, sanding or polishing grit and water begin to roll around in the barrel smoothing all the edges of the rocks. The finished product is nice rounded polished rocks.

Model A-R2 Kit Rock Tumbler
Amazon Price: $137.35 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 8, 2016)

Raytech Tumble-Vibe TV-5 Vibrating Rock Tumbler - 9-1059

Now a vibratory tumbler is a little different, it is loaded the same as a rotary but the way it works is by vibrating the contents of its bowl. This vibrating action doesn’t allow the rocks to roll around they simply slide back and forth against each other. Because of this the finished product is not round like the rocks from a rotary type instead they hold there basic shape only now they are polished. Think of them as just being cleaned of their dirt and grime. One other difference you should know about the two types is that the vibratory takes about half the time as the rotary to do its work mainly because it is only polishing not reshaping.

What Is The Best Type of Rock Polisher for Kids?

When it comes to deciding which type to get that is pretty simple, you will probably want to buy a rotary type. The reason for this is they make the biggest changes to the rocks so there are more options as far as what to do with the finished product. Typically a hobbyist will have both types of tumblers. They will use the rotary for shaping and doing most of the grinding then use the vibratory tumbler to do the final polish. By doing it this way it saves them a lot of time but people who do this are processing batch after batch not just one here and there for fun. Really a better question is to ask should I buy a kids rock tumbler or a hobbyist tumbler. The only real difference is the quality of machine you are buying. Most rock tumblers for kids are cost about $50 but only last a few batches were a hobbyist tumbler is much more durable lasting years and costing as little as $100. The easiest way to decide is to think about your child, will they do this once for fun or is there a chance they will love it and want to do it over and over? If you think there is chance they will love it no matter how small go ahead and get the hobbyist tumbler it will be cheaper in the long run.

The Best Kids Rock Tumblers for Sale

Now that you know just about everything you need to know about rock tumblers here are a couple worth buying. The first is what would be considered a kid’s tumbler the Classic Crafts Rock Tumbler Classic. It comes as a kit with everything needed for your very first rock polishing. Included with the rock tumbling machine are rough semi precious stones, grit, polish, jewelry settings and glue. The barrel will hold two cups worth of material and sit on top of a 10” x 6” plastic base with motor. Also included are all the instructions you will need to get going as well as an order form for gold tinted accessories.

NSI Rock Tumbler Classic
Amazon Price: $49.99 $29.31 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 8, 2016)

Thumler’s A-R1 Rock Tumbler and Accessories is a good example of an inexpensive hobbyist tumbler, this and all other Thumler’s Tumblers are made in the USA and also used by many schools and laboratories. It also comes as a kit with everything needed for your first batch of polished stones. In this kit you will receive the 110v one quart 4 ¼” x 4” rubber barrel that can hold up to three pounds of rocks, four grades of grinding and polishing grit, one pound of rocks, jewelry finding and the instruction book “A Guide for Rock Polishers”.

Model A-R1 Special Kit Rock Tumbler
Amazon Price: $117.49 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 8, 2016)

One final topic should be addressed before the end of this article and that is the amount of sound that is made by rock tumblers of any type in short they can be very loud. So if you plan to buy one of these terrific machine you should at least be prepared for this. The best option is the use the tumbler in a garage or shed so that the noise is not bothersome. But if you have no choice but to run it in your home you can place the tumbler in a large cooler which will muffle much of the noise produced. I hope you and your kids enjoy their new rock tumbler and who knows maybe it will become a life long hobby or profession.