Rock Tumbling Tutorial for Rotary Tumblers and Ceramic Media

Want to learn how to polish rocks with a rotary tumbler? In this in-depth tutorial, you’ll learn to use your rotary tumbler with ceramic media to get a professional shine on your rocks.

I have another similar video that shows how to do the last stages with a vibratory tumbler. This is my favorite method of tumbling.
If you want to tumble with a rotary tumbler with plastic pellets, check out this video:

All measurements are for a three-pound barrel. In all stages, the water should be just below the top layer of rocks. I use a little less than that in the coarse grinding stage.

Coarse Grinding Stage
Run your rocks for a week at a time coarse grit to get all the imperfections out. This will take much more than a week if you want really good results.
3-4 tablespoons of coarse silicon carbide grit (80, 60/90, 46/70 or similar)

Stage 2
3 tablespoons of 120/220 or 220 silicon carbide grit
Run for one week

Stage 3
3 tablespoons of 500 grit aluminum oxide (you can use silicon carbide, but I prefer aluminum oxide)
Run for ten days

Polish Stage
3 tablespoons of aluminum oxide polish
Run for two weeks or longer

This is optional and can be run between stages and after polish. The idea is to clean out any grit or slurry stuck in holes and cracks. If you don’t have holes or cracks, this is not as important. I think the most important time to do this is between the 500 and polish stages.
2 tablespoons of borax
Run for several hours


0:00 Coarse Stage
28:09 How to Shave Off Some Time
37:17 220 Grit Stage
39:30 500 Grit Stage
42:58 Polish Stage
46:20 Finished Rocks
53:41 Slide Show

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