There are so many fun activities that go along with rock collecting. For example, you can polish rough rocks to reveal very beautiful stones of high value. One common way to polish rocks is to tumble them in a rock tumbler.
The downside of rock tumbling is that it can be a very noisy process.
Can you soundproof a rock tumbler? If so, how?
It is very possible to soundproof a rock tumbler. Here are seven easy ways to do it:
1. Build a Soundproof or Noise-Reduction Box
The most effective way to reduce the noise of rock tumblers by more than 50% is by building a soundproof box. A soundproof box for rock tumblers is very easy to make. All you need are:
- Two boxes: One large, one small. The small box should fit into the large one while your rock tumbler should fit into the small box.
- Insulating Material: You can use materials such as fiberglass, foam egg panels, carpet, etc. as insulating materials.
- Drill: You’ll need to drill ventilation holes and also an extra hole for the cord of your rock tumbler.
To build the soundproof box, place the insulating material inside the large box and place the small box in the insulating material. Make sure that the lid of the large box can be shut with the small box inside. Drill a hole at the bottom so that the cord of your rock tumbler can pass through.
Some collectors fear that your rock tumbler can become too hot when using it in the enclosed box, so they recommend drilling ventilation holes on top of the box. Drill one or two holes on top of the soundproof box for proper air circulation.
While the soundproof box is very effective, there are still other solutions that you can try.
2. Try Different Rock Tumbling Media
Sand, plastic pellets, ceramics, etc. are tumbling media or grit that you can tumble your rocks with. While ceramic grit is the most effective, the quietest grits are plastic pellets.
You can add plastic pellets to your ceramic grit until the sound is manageable while the grit is still effective at polishing.
3. Use Rock Tumblers with Rubber Barrels
Many rock tumblers come with hard plastic barrels. These barrels can cause loud noises when the rock tumbler is turned on. If you get a rock tumbler with a rubber barrel, it won’t make as much noise as tumblers with hard plastic barrels.
When searching for tumblers to buy, you should use reputable brands that you can trust and not nameless brands. Quality rock tumblers can be expensive, but they are worth your money.
4. Perform Occasional Maintenance
Most quality rock tumblers do not go bad quickly, but routine maintenance can help reduce their noise.
Some ways to maintain your rock tumbler are oiling the motor (engine) of the rock tumbler and changing the rubber belt, shafts, or barrels.
5. Keep the Rock Tumbler Far from People
The most common way people reduce the noise of their rock tumblers is to keep it far away from them while operating. You can keep the rock tumbler in your basement, kitchen cabinet, shed, garage, or any place far from you.
Rock tumblers can work 3-4 weeks straight, so you do not want them around you especially when they are noisy.
6. Place the Rock Tumbler Far from the Ground
Rock tumblers are louder when they are on the ground due to vibrations. To cushion the effect of the vibrations, you should place the rock tumbler up off the ground.
You can place it on a towel or you can place it on any insulating material (to absorb the vibration). While this option does not reduce a lot of sound, it can help a little.
7. Combine Two or More Solutions
The best way to soundproof your rock tumbler is to combine two or more solutions. You can place the rock tumbler in a soundproof box and keep it far away from you in the basement.
You should also try using rock tumblers from reputable brands. Note that the more solutions you combine, the quieter your rock tumbler will be.
How to Use Rock Tumblers
Rock tumblers are very easy to use. There are four major steps while using rock tumblers. Also, remember to read the manufacturer’s manual
Shaping is the first phase in rock tumbling. This step can take more than three days according to the size and hardness of the rock. You should pour some rocks into the tumbler until it is halfway full. Pour two or three teaspoons of grit into the tumbler and start tumbling the rocks.
The purpose of this phase is to remove the rough edges and surfaces of the rocks. This step of rock tumbling helps to give your rocks a vaguely roundish shape.
2. Scratch Removal
After shaping the rocks, you will notice that the surfaces are round but full of scratch marks. The scratch marks on the surface of the rocks will be removed in this phase. This phase of rock tumbling can take up to a week.
This process is similar to shaping rocks, but you have to add more grit. The idea is to prevent the rocks from touching each other because if they do, they will scratch even more.
Add four or five tablespoons of tumbling grit and start tumbling the rocks.
The pre-polishing phase is similar to the scratch removal phase. In this phase, the rocks are without a scratch (or with very little scratch marks) and you just want them to appear shinier.
This phase takes a week just like the previous one, and the difference is in the grits.
Add more grits to prevent the rocks from touching each other. You should also add plastic pellets. Start tumbling the rocks. You can check the rocks every two days if you like.
Note that the idea behind this phase is to prevent the rocks from touching each other in the tumbler, the grit provides a cushion between the individual rocks.
The final phase of rock tumbling is the polishing phase. This is when most of the grit in the tumbler should be plastic pellets. You should polish the rocks for two to three days and then they should be good to use.
Congratulations!!! You can now display your beautifully polished rocks.
Related Questions and Answers
1. How Do You Dispose of Your Rock Slurry?
After tumbling your rocks, you will see a sludge of slurry in the rock tumbler. This is simply a mixture of water, grit, and impurities from the rocks. The rock slurry is not toxic but can be an eyesore if not disposed of properly.
Here are some ideas to dispose of rock slurry:
- Dump in Your Yard: If you are comfortable with the look, you can dump it in the yard. It will harden and solidify or can even be blown away.
- Dry and Dispose of in the Bin: You can keep the slurry in a bucket, wait until it is dry, and then dispose of it in the trash.
- Fill Potholes: You can always use the rock slurry to fill a pothole near you.
Remember that it is not toxic, so you have little to worry about.
2. What Type of Rock Tumbler Should You Use?
While there are many types of tumblers, they can be grouped into rotatory and vibratory tumblers.
Rotatory tumblers are the most common as the rocks are kept in a barrel. Rotatory tumblers help smooth rocks and make them shiny.
Vibratory tumblers, however, are a bit more expensive and work by vibrating the rocks instead of rotating them. With a vibrating tumbler, you’ll spend less time tumbling your rocks.
You can use whatever type of tumbler fits your lifestyle best.
3. Where Can You Find Rocks for Tumbling?
You can find rocks everywhere. From sidewalks to riversides, rocks are everywhere. You can even buy rocks from shops and other rock collectors.
4. Can You Display Polished Rocks in Aquariums?
After tumbling the rocks, you can put as many as you want in an aquarium. Polished rocks add more beauty to your aquarium.
Make sure that you do not coat the rocks with any toxic material before putting them in the aquarium and that you test them properly first.
5. Can You Use a Cooler to Soundproof Your Rock Tumbler?
Using a cooler is very effective in reducing the noise of rock tumblers.
Coolers are already lined with insulating materials, so they are similar to a soundproof box. If you have an old freezer or refrigerator in your garage, you can even keep your tumbler in that.
You should try different methods to soundproof your rock tumbler to figure out the best option for you.
There are different ways to soundproof rock tumblers. You can create a soundproof box, keep the tumbler far away from you, or even perform occasional maintenance on the tumbler.
You should buy quality tumblers from reputable brands for minimum noise.