How to build rock tumbler

Written by dawn quinn
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How to build rock tumbler
Polish rocks at home easily. (Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

There are a number of powered rock tumblers on the market, but they can be very expensive and in some cases, difficult to use and cumbersome. Make your own homemade rock tumbler out of a few basic inexpensive items to use for your rock polishing hobby. Homemade rock tumblers can also be used in classrooms to teach students basic geology lessons about the types and textures of rocks. Build your own rock tumbler quickly and easily.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Plastic or metal container
  • Sand
  • Water
  • Selection of rocks
  • Duct tape (optional)

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  1. 1

    Find a metal or plastic cylinder-shaped container the size of a coffee can.

    How to build rock tumbler
    Empty coffee cans make great rock tumblers. (Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)
  2. 2

    Fill half of the container with sand. Work with very coarse sand at first and then use finer sand progressively as the rocks get polished to your liking.

  3. 3

    Create a gritty slurry by filling 1/3 of the container with water over the sand.

  4. 4

    Put the rocks that you collected into the mixture. Secure a lid onto the can and be sure that it is very tight. Tape the lip down with duct tape if need be.

  5. 5

    Shake and roll the tumbler vigorously for several days and check the polishing of the rocks as you go. Replace coarse with sand that is finer over time and continue rolling and shaking vigorously to get the desired polish level.

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