Is rock tumbling expensive? Luckily, no; a good rock tumbler costs just $60-$100 (or more if you want to get professional) to purchase and just dollars a month to run (cents a day).
The biggest investment is the tumbler itself. The other supplies are remarkably affordable and include just grit, rock polish (optional), and tap water (virtually free).
Expect to pay $60-$100 for a Rock Tumbler suitable for a beginner just starting a new hobby. $100-$400 for the next level rock tumbler suitable for small business owners making jewelry and gifts. Then $600+ for a larger industrial rock tumbler capable of tumbling larger amounts of rocks in one go.
Is Rock Tumbling Expensive?
Overall, rock tumbling is an extremely affordable hobby; the most expensive part is investing in a good rock tumbler.
After that, running the machine couldn’t be cheaper or easier. So, how much does running a rock tumbler cost?
How Much Does a Rock Tumbler Cost?
When it comes to purchasing a rock tumbler, you may be tempted to go with the very cheapest option available. This is not advisable since they often simply won’t work.
You can always find a rock tumbler that is both cost-effective and of decent quality if you take a better look!
Your average rock tumbler will cost anywhere from $60-$100, or more if you want a high-end tumbler.
What Other Rock Tumbling Supplies Do You Need?
Only a few basic supplies are needed to run a rock tumbler. Fortunately, none of them cost much, either!
Grit is a vital ingredient when it comes to using a rock tumbler. This is the abrasive that will serve to polish the rocks, similar to very fine sandpaper.
Grit is made up of carbon silicide, which is an ultra-hard, man-made material. It can handle rocks with a Mohs hardness scale rating of up to 7.
If you’re wondering why one would purchase grit instead of simply gathering sand, there’s a simple answer: Sand is too soft to polish the rocks quickly or properly.
In fact, it’s more likely that the rocks will cause the sand to fall apart, and they may sustain unsightly scratches in the process (from random, harder bits).
So, what kind of grit should you get? There are actually about 4 different grits you will need, ideally. Each of these serves an important role in the polishing process.
Grit is rated in microns, and the ones you will want are the ones between 3 – 7 microns (3 being coarse and 7 finer).
Go for a coarse grit, a medium-fine grit, a fine grit, and an ultra-fine grit (optional) or rock polish (optional).
The rocks should be tumbled with each of these grits, from coarser to finer, for a certain amount of time. This will depend upon the rocks that you’re using, but you can do a quick online search to learn what you need to know!
Finally, how much grit do you need, and what will it cost you?
Depending on the type of grit, it’s about $5-$11… per pound! This will last you some time, so it’s a great deal.
Rock Polish (Optional)
Many like to use a nice rock polish, such as a tin oxide or aluminum oxide, to finish the tumbling process off. Like any polish, this serves to leave an extra-shiny surface and rich luster.
The average cost of a good-sized bottle of tin or aluminum oxide is about $10-$20. This should last you at least a few tumble rounds, if not longer!
Water (Virtually Free)
For rock tumbling, do you need any special kind of water? Nope, all that’s required is some regular-old tap water.
For each batch of rocks, you will need no more than a cup or two of water. This means it costs next to nothing (pennies).
Most folk will simply gather rocks to tumble, either in their neighborhood or in a forest, meadow, or any other naturally rocky areas. These rocks cost nothing, and for some, finding them is half the fun.
Others may not be quite as mobile, or as interested in looking for rocks, and they can search online instead, for raw rocks to tumble.
These are also usually nice and affordable. You can buy them for just $5-$10 in bulk!
The most popular types to tumble are agate, quartz, and jasper.
As you can see, while a rock tumbler is a bit of an investment initially, at between $60-$100 or more, it costs very little to run, and it will create beautiful, polished rocks for years.
You can even use these to create jewelry to sell. What do you think? Worth the price?