Rock Tumbling Instructions, Hints, Tips

Links To Tumbling Instructions Pages

Tri-Flow Superior Lubricants

This is a great light weight oil for oiling small tumblers
with bushings. The 2oz. Drip Bottle has a small tube for
pin point oiling. Crawford Tool

Tumbling information is from Rockpick Legend Co.

Tumbling Instructions for Lortone brand rotary tumblers:

  1. Fill the tumbler barrel 2/3rds to3/4ths full with rocks.
  2. Add water to just below the top of the rocks (so you can see it between the rocks, but don't cover the rock.)
  3. Add grit: (Grit amounts in tablespoons [tbsp.])
  Barrel Size Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4
  1.5# 4 4 6 6
  3# 4 4 6 6
  4.5# 8 8 10 10
  6# 10 12 12 12
  12# 20 20 25 25
  1. Let each step run 7-10 days.
  2. Make sure there is no grit transferred from one step to the next.

Basic Tumbling Tips:

These instructions are from Rough and Tumble (a now defunct web site.)

Tumbling Instructions for 12 lb barrel (adjust accordingly for other barrel sizes)

  1. Fill barrel 2/3 full of rough stones. Add 2/3 Cup coarse (60/90) grit. Add hot tap water, to just above 1 inch below the level of the rocks. Add a piece of ivory soap about the size of a sugar cube. Make sure sealing point is clean and dry. Seal barrel. run for 19-21 days.
    NOTE: Most instructions call for 7 days or so in this step, but with this length of time, the stones have a nicer rounder shape, and the grit naturally breaks down, allowing you to eliminate the medium(220) grit step, thus saving the cost and effort.
  2. Remove and rinse the rocks. Clean the barrel (don't put liquid from the barrel down the drain!). Remove any chipped rocks. Put the rocks back in the barrel with about 1/3 Cup 500F (fine grit.) Add a small piece of soap as before. Add hot tap water, just level with the rocks. Seal the lid. (clean and dry). Run for 10 days.
  3. Remove and clean the rocks (use an old tooth brush, as any grit may contaminate the polish) clean the barrel well. Remove any chipped rocks. They will start over with the next batch in step (1) replace the rocks in the barrel with about 2-1/2 tbsp. of of Polish (we recommend rapid #61, or another micro-Aluminia polish) and about 1 tsp of ivory soap flakes (liquid will do). Fill to the top of rocks with hot tap water and seal barrel.
    Run for 10 days.
  4. Rinse off the rocks. (you are almost through!) Rinse out the barrel. Put the rocks back in the barrel with about 2 oz.. of liquid soap. Add hot tap water to about 1 inch below the top of the barrel. Seal and run for 6-8 hrs. Open barrel and rinse the rocks.

Dry Measures

Wet Measures

Dry Weight of Grit (approximations)

The trick is to keep notes and see what works best for you.

To do a better job of cleaning between grits, After you clean the rocks
put them back in the tumbler, fill to above rocks with water and
1/2 Cup of borax, run about 4 hours, rinse. now you are ready for the next grit.

This is what I use in my 12/15 Lb. tumblers, I run them for two weeks on each grit.

Amounts for a 12/15 pound tumbler.

Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4
Step 5
1.25 Cup 1.25 Cup 1.5 Cup 1.5 Cup .125 (1/8) Cup
46/70 or 60/90 120/220 600 Cerium Oxide Snow King.
Run 6 to 8 hrs
for cleaning,
2 to 3 Days for