It’s a dirty job, but hobbyists have no complaints. Rock hounds love to get down in the dirt and dig. They stumble on all sorts of things while they hunt for rocks and stones that would complete a collection or convert to jewelry and other decorative arts.
It can be cheap, or you can chase rocks all around the world. It takes just a little knowledge of geology to start a real education in the field. It’s a hike, an exercise, and a treasure hunt. And, you can sell or trade your findings.
If this whole idea is new to you, the U.S. Forest Service even lists and monitors public rockhounding sites throughout the country.
Rock Hound Tools
As Sports Illustrated once noted, “There are as many varieties of rock hound as there are rocks.” But, here’s a short rock tumbler buying guide to finding the supplies you will need to make your collection shine:
1. National Geographic sponsors the Rock Tumbler Hobby Edition, a metal barrier run by a powerful engine. It will handle a pound of rocks and stones at the same time. A timer cuts off the tumbling even after hours of work.
This sturdy machine comes with a 2-year warranty and everything your need to start, including 0.05lb of rocks to polish.
2. Also from National Geographic comes their Professional Rock Tumbler. Heavy duty, this barrel has a rubber lining to reduce the noise and waterproof wet tumbling. It holds up to two pounds of material with an automatic setting which lets you schedule tumbling for days.
Professional tumbler comes with jewelry fastenings, four polishing grits, and 1lb of rough gemstones and a 2-year warranty.
3. The NSI Rock Tumbler Classic is a great way to get your 10-year old interested in the hobby. Easy to use, it is made of durable plastics. It only tumbles a few rocks at a time, and takes a while to polish them to a shine. But, it is a great introduction to a lifetime pleasure.
Instructions are simple to follow, and machine is portable, washable, and easily stored.
4. Thumler’s Heavy-Duty Tumbler holds 15lbs of rocks for serious work. The barrel has an hexagon shape to speed the process. The engine runs on 115 volts with a cooling fan that turns off if the tumbling overheats.
Sturdy and guaranteed for five years, this machine takes you into serious rockhounding, school laboratories, and industrial uses.
5. The high-quality Lortone 3A Deluxe Rock Tumbler Kit is a favorite of long term hobbyists, more affordable than Lortone’s Lapidary Double Barrel Rock Tumbler 33B Kit with its twin barrels.
The 3A Deluxe comes with rough rocks for starters, an extra drive belt, and plastic pellets. The dense rubber tumbling barrel is very quiet and durable enough for years of use by jewelers, craftspeople, and metal artists.
Just a starter guide
This brief rock tumbler buying guide only means to introduce you to the enjoyment of finishing the rocks and treasures you find in the field. As you and the family get more involved, you’ll need gear for hunting, digging, and camping. But, with rocks in hand, you can tumble your way to a polished finish.