So you like to wander around and pick up random rocks to bring home. But once you get them home what do you do with them? Or in my case my wife brings me rocks, and then I need to figure out what to do with them. Since our ancient Lortone tumbler motor went out and no one seems to have a replacement in stock I ventured out in the market for a new tumbler to do something with my endless supply of incoming random rocks. And yes I do add to the pile but mine are mainly just agate and jasper.
If you are ever in the market for a new rock tumbler there seems to be an endless amount by different brands out there available. The most common seem to be the small hobby models that hold about three pounds of rocks. For most people this would be the perfect size. But for us we would either need several of those or get a bigger one which is what I did. Thumbler Tumbler has a nice 15 pound model that while a bit spendy it is easy for find replacement parts for if anything wears out. Many of the smaller models are very hard to replace any worn out parts.
To polish rocks you really just need a couple things:
and really that is all you need. Put in rocks, add grit and water. Then plug it in and wait a week for stage two. For this one we are just doing the first stage only. The video below has the full process to load and go for this first stage of rock tumbling.
My wife and I decided to branch out our skills for our small business and learn some lapidary skills. Both of us have alway loved to wander around and collect agates and then just run them through a rock tumbler to polish. Normally these tumbled rocks just end up in the bottom of the big fish tank or scattered around shrubs outside. But lately we realized that we have been finding some larger rocks then we can fit in the tumbler. Which brings us to the tile saw
If you look around there are tons of reviews and DIY options people have done all over the internet and forums. Depending on your budget you can get a nice oil cooled lapidary saw that can do some very large slabs on the high end or you can get a small tile saw for the smaller pieces on the low end. Since this is our first rock saw of any kind we decided to go with a 7 inch tile saw that can be used to cut rock, tile or ceramics up to two inches thick. Our local Harbor freight had one in stock that we picked up along with a continuous diamond edge saw blade to fit it.
Both of these two below are nearly identical to what we picked up and at nearly the same size: aka the cheaper route
For the tile saw we picked up it has the same case, water cooling system, and tile fence on the one from Amazon as the one at harbor freight. So many of these kinds of things are made in the exact same factory and all they do is change a color and stick a different label on it.
These saws are very simple to set up and get going. Ours did not come with a blade installed but all it takes is removing 4 screws from the water guard below and then install the blade and tighten with the included two wrenches and then screw the water guard back on. Push the water tray back on and you are good to start up. From all the videos that I could find on it the preferred way to cut a rock is to turn the saw around and then pull the rock towards you as it cuts. This keeps the water from spraying all over you and if you do get a rock bound up in the blade it will toss it away from you. Also with using a continuous blade there is no chance of it cutting you like a wood blade with teeth would do. Using a continuous blade you might get a little skin rubbed off but nothing bad. I used a fresh pair of garden gloves to increase the grip on the rock and if it did slip and I hit the blade it would just rub off a bit of the rubber coating.
As a first try at cutting rocks we had fun seeing what was inside. Our next step is to run them through the rock tumbler with some other jasper and agates and see how that does to make them into suitable pieces to create jewelry out of. Once we get some out in a month of tumbling I will get some more pictures of the results.
We receive a small advertising fee for anything purchased through links. Any fees go to more fishing trips, videos, and blog posts