How to build a vibrating rock tumbler

Written by rachel terry swick
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Building your own vibrating rock tumbler can be a fun and educational activity for you and your children. It can also be cheaper than purchasing a new rock tumbler at the store. Vibrating rock tumblers bought in some stores can cost up to £130.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Sturdy metal or wood base
  • Drive belt
  • Metal or plastic jar
  • Small rotary motor
  • Wheels
  • Pulleys
  • Mounting brackets

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  1. 1

    Take a heavy piece of wood or metal and place it on the table or workbench where you plan to operate your rock tumbler. This should be a sturdy area and the wood or metal platform should sit evenly. It can be as large as you need - but at the least should be 1 foot long by 1 foot wide.

  2. 2

    Mount the wheels and pulleys on top of the baseboard using the mounting brackets. Depending on the size of your rotary motor, you will need several sets of wheels and pulleys to hold both the motor and the jar in place.

  3. 3

    Mount the metal or plastic jar on top of the wheels and pulleys so that it is firmly in place.The jar should rest between the wheels comfortably and be sitting a few inches above the baseboard.

  4. 4

    Mount the small rotary motor and drive belt on the opposite end of the baseboard. This will power the tumbler and allow the rocks to move around the jar.

  5. 5

    Hook the belt from the motor around the jar. This will allow the jar, on top of the wheels to vibrate and tumble the rocks inside the jar.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure the rotary motor has low RPM capabilities, so that you are more easily able to control the speed of the vibrations on the jar. You do not want a motor that is too powerful or it could damage the rocks and the tumbler.
  • Do not let your children make this project alone. Once the motor is turned on it is possible for a small child's finger to get caught between the drive belt and the tumbler. Tell your children they can only operate the tumbler with an adult present.
  • Do not use a jar made of glass or any breakable material as the rocks inside the jar could break it.

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