Rock tumbler recommendation for a nine year old
June 29, 2016 2:26 PM   Subscribe

I want to get my son a rock tumbler for his ninth birthday. He loves rocks, jewels, jewelry and processes of transformation.

Do any of these Thumlers tumblers seem like a good idea? I like the prices (especially the cheapest) and the noise level (low). I like that there's a basic jewellery kit with it. I know that he'll enjoy the rock tumbling and hope that maybe he'll get into making stuff but this is a secondary wish. If he gets to fill the rest of his bedroom with precious objects and hand out cool rocks to his friends then he'll be very happy. Any experience, advice, recommendations or warnings? Any advice for maximizing results and minimizing disappointment? Any particular rock he should start with or avoid? Is there any reason to spend more than the minimum on a tumbler?
posted by firstdrop to Shopping (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The cheap ones work fine, but rock tumbling takes four weeks. I had one when I was a kid but I did not have four weeks attention span.
posted by gregr at 2:44 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

My grandfather tumbled rocks. That thing was huge and noisy and on all the time. It may be quiet when empty, but remember your kid will fill it with a bunch of rocks that will clank clank clank. It may be cheaper, easier and provide sanity if you just buy him a bulk bags of tumbled rocks. You can buy many types by the pound, and bag mixes. If he really takes to it, then buy him a tumbler.
posted by AlexiaSky at 2:54 PM on June 29, 2016

Any experience, advice, recommendations or warnings?
Is there any reason to spend more than the minimum on a tumbler?

If the more expensive ones are actually quieter than the cheap ones, it might help save your sanity. We had a rock tumbler while homeschooling and we had a large 2 story house at the time. I ended up sticking it in the laundry room (as far from the bedrooms as I could manage) and closing the door and doing all I could to minimize the sound. Because, yes, it takes weeks and listening to this constantly (24/7) when you are trying to sleep can slowly drive you insane and make you want to give up.

But the results are nifty and we had a great time with it, other than, you know, the sanity hit.
posted by Michele in California at 2:55 PM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

I managed to use one of those basic Thumler's ones in an apartment -- it had a loft where it could be tucked away; I didn't hear it on the floor below.

The one thing that makes me crazy about it are the refill kits. There's probably a hobby shop somewhere in my city that sells the grit/polish, but I haven't found it.

Do try to figure out a thing to do with the tumbled stones -- I think I might include some strong magnets, strong glue, and googly eyes? For an amusing little beginner craft.
posted by kmennie at 3:08 PM on June 29, 2016

We did this and while my girl was pleased with the polished stones, having nothing to DO with them was pretty much the death knell of her interest. So if you want to proceed here, strongly suggest that you include something you can use to make the pretty rocks interesting once they're done, even if it's just a cool container for displaying them.

The tumbler is noisy as hell, but we put ours in the garage so that was not a problem.

Try to get rocks that are as big as possible. The ones that came with my girl's kit came out as wee pebbles.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:01 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

We have a Thumler! It works great and we found a local hobby shop to replace the grit and stuff. It is loud! We are lucky to have a basement we can run it in.
posted by padraigin at 5:36 PM on June 29, 2016

I REALLY wanted to try this last year, but I, too, bailed out when I considered the combination of the sounds and the duration. And also, you have to buy new grit stuff, and for some reason you can't use playground sand.

I carved some spoons instead.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:49 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Um, so this might sound kind of crazy, but a friend of mine and I got a rock tumbler at a garage sale awhile back with all of the original stuff included and set it up in her tiny apartment. It was WAAAY to loud. Solution: We put in in her fridge to let it tumble and were able to leave the cord hanging out with the door adequately sealed. It might be sketchy as far as food safety goes (tiny increase in temperature?), but it solved the sound problem.
posted by macrowave at 8:39 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Thanks all. I bought the thing and when we get back from summer meanderings we'll set it up and make magic. Thanks for the warning about finding uses for the stones. I'm sure they'll be great give aways and he's keen to decorate the hilt of the wooden sword he made at school.
posted by firstdrop at 7:10 PM on July 30, 2016

OMFG MAGIC! We did the first grit change on Sunday and out of the grey ooze appeared the most exquisite gems. Jaws and expletives dropped. Everyone should have a rock tumbler: the world would be a much happier place.
posted by firstdrop at 10:47 AM on August 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

« Older Baby daddy or baby granddaddy?   |   Does anyone know what happened to the chrome... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.