How to make tumbled glass

Updated April 17, 2017

Tumbled glass is a man-made glass that replicates rare ocean-tossed glass found along the seashore. Landscapers use tumbled glass instead of rock or gravel to create colourful landscape designs. Crafters love tumbled glass for its variety and colour, which make beautiful mosaics. Making tumbled glass at home is not difficult with just a few ingredients and an old rock tumbler from a garage sale or basement. Tumbling glass is a handy way to recycle old glass, or to create custom tumbled glass from sheets of decorative glass.

Save old glass jars, vases, bottles or plates to recycle, or buy glass sheets or scraps from a stained glass supplier.

Cut the glass with a glass cutter, or place it inside an old pillowcase and break it into pieces with a hammer. Use grozier pliers to nip the glass edges into the basic shapes desired.

Sort the glass into bins by type or colour until you are ready to fill the rock tumbler.

Set up the rock tumbler out of the way in a basement corner or garage to minimise the noise.

Remove the lid and fill with tumbler two-thirds full with glass pieces.

Add several teaspoons of fine sand or medium fine grit, and then cover the glass with water according to the tumbler manufacturer's directions. Replace the lid and turn on the tumbler.

Tumble the glass for several hours just to remove the sharp edges, or tumble for up to three days to get a smooth, frosty look.

Stop and open the rock tumbler periodically to check the progress of the glass to get the desired frosted surface and smooth edges.


Buy broken or chipped glass items at yard sales or second hand shops for an inexpensive glass supply.


Do not attempt to sell tumbled glass as genuine sea glass in jewellery or as a collectable.

Things You'll Need

  • Glass
  • Safety Glasses
  • Gloves
  • Glass cutter
  • Grozier pliers
  • Bins
  • Rock tumbler
  • Sand or silicon carbide grit
  • Water
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About the Author

Roxanne McHenry has written online marketing articles and courses for Web publications including Affiliate Classroom and Web Pro News since 2002. McHenry has a B.A. in Japanese language and literature, and lived and worked in Japan as a teacher and technical translator.