Rock Tumblers | Polymer Clay Beads | Cleanser Method vs River Rocks

Polymer Clay Rock Tumblers

Which Bead Sanding, Tumbler Technique Works Best for Your Clay Pieces?

Recently, there has been some discussion about using Ajax, Comet or Bon Ami cleansers in rock polishers as a tumbling or vibratory substrate for sanding polymer clay beads. So naturally, I just had to try it for myself. Here’s my findings…

I already had some Comet with bleach, so I used that. Filled the tumbler barrel about 3/4 full with unsanded polymer clay beads and added about a 1/4 can of Comet Cleanser (probably around 2/3 cup), with just enough water to make a nice thick sludge.

I tumbled my beads for 4 hours and checked to see how they were coming along. It seemed to be working, but as far as I was concerned, not quite as well as the ‘River Rock Method’ I discuss here: Polishing Polymer Clay Beads in a Lortone Rock Tumbler.

Even after 8 hours of tumbling, the results were just so-so. Plus in my opinion, there are a few downsides associated with the ‘Cleanser Method’.

First there is the ongoing cost of using the cleanser. With the river rock, you buy a little bag once. I got mine at the dollar store for $1 and can use them over and over again, indefinitely. Even though the cleanser is cheap at about 25 cents per use, everything adds up over time.

Let’s see… $0.25 x 13 tumbler sessions in a month = $3.25 … hmmm… that about pays for your monthly membership at my Polymer Clay Library :) :)

The second thing that kinda bugged me, was the messy cleanup process of the sludge. It gets everywhere, including in the cracks and crevices of your beads. It took me a bunch of extra time just to poke out all the bead holes… something I don’t have to do with the river rock technique.

But the thing I disliked the most about using the cleanser method instead of the river rocks, was the environmental impact. Why dump a 1/4 can of semi toxic cleaner down the drain and into the water system every time you tumble your beads… when all you have to do is rinse them with plain water instead?

Needless to say, I’m sticking with my river rocks, at least until something better comes along. BTW, if you disagree with my opinion about the Cleanser Method for tumbling polymer clay beads, feel free to pipe up. I always love a healthy discussion. Or if you agree, please add your comment too. Or if you are not yet using a rock tumbler at all, what’s holding you back? Let’s talk!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Sarahwww, 25 June, 2009

    Do you use the rocks as the only medium for the sanding process, or do you follow up with sand paper for further tumbling?

  2. Sue, 25 June, 2009

    I get such good results with river rocks and my vibratory tumbler that I haven’t tried the cleanser method. I probably won’t try it, either. My vibratory tumbler is a LOT bigger than a typical rotary tumbler, and it needs to be over half full to tumble properly… when I tried baking soda as a tumbling medium I needed to use nearly 3kg of that, which would add up to a HUGE amount of cleanser over time!

    Sarahwww, I use a different type of tumbler to Cindy so the details of use are different, but I don’t need to use sand paper after tumbling. In my case I tumble with very carefully picked-over river rocks (not just straight out of the bag), and with many more rocks than beads, and I get a finish that’s about as good as, or maybe even a little bit better than, 800 grit sandpaper. When hand-sanding I go to 1200 after 800, but the whole idea of the tumbler was that I could be lazy and generally avoid that! My tumbled and hand-sanded beads look the same once they’re buffed up… the hand-sanded ones feel a bit more slippery, but you wouldn’t notice unless you were comparing them side by side, and if you just look you can’t tell anyway. If there are big dings that didn’t get tumble-sanded out I spot-sand them by hand afterwards, but that’s about the only time sandpaper comes into the process.

  3. Polyanya, 25 June, 2009

    My hands and fingers just ache when I hold individual beads for hand sanding and buffing…..I’m going to invest in a tumbler………..but in Britain I’m not going to get the same makes as the ones you guys can buy am I?
    I’m intrigued by the river rock methods but again I just can’t go to the shops and buy them. However I live near a beach and can get any number of rocks of any size would they be alright to use? The rocks are round and smooth and come in all sizes. Has anyone tried coastal as opposed to river rocks?

  4. Polyanya, 25 June, 2009

    Ok I’ve spent an hour trying to find a posting from someone who asked you Cindy about the recipe cards. Basically they were asking about the fact that some recipes are in Fimo and some in Premo. I can’t remember what the reply was as I was focussing on ‘something else’. Apologies for posting this question on this thread but I’m really not sure where else to put it.

    I need to ask you the same question I’m afraid, as nearly all my clay is Premo (I don’t buy Fimo as I find it too hard)- how can utilise the recipes given in Fimo best?

    Thank you for taking the time to answer this one.

  5. Sue, 25 June, 2009

    Hi Polyanya,

    I’m in Australia, but I can still get the same makes of tumblers as are sold in the US and Canada: we just have 220-240V versions here. I’m going to buy a Lortone rotary tumbler like Cindy uses some time when I get more into metalwork, but for polymer clay my Hornday case tumbler (it’s meant for cleaning bullet cases!) is perfect.

    I’m sure coastal rocks would work fine too as long as they’re smooth. Go for small ones though (the rocks I bought are nominally 9mm, although they vary of course).

    (I’ve also heard that sand works… I haven’t tried it myself, but if you live near a beach it might be worth giving it a go! From my tumbling testing I’d expect sand could be used for initial, coarse sanding, but you’d need something less sharp for the final finish.)

    With the rocks, I don’t actually change from rougher rocks to smooth rocks or anything like that: I just chuck the rocks and beads into the tumbler with a bit of water and run it for about 4 hours. If you try going to this link [Polished Beads] it will take you to a reply I posted to Cindy’s article introducing her rock tumbler tutorial, where I describe what I do with my vibratory tumbler since it’s a bit different to using the rotary tumbler; in particular, the vibratory tumbler works best with a lot LESS water than you’d use in a rotary tumbler.

    I hope that helps, with the tumbler question anyway. (Can’t help you with the Premo/Fimo one… I use Kato!)


  6. Sue, 25 June, 2009

    Hornady. Not “Hornday”. Oops. :D

  7. Cindy Lietz, 25 June, 2009

    @Sarahwww: Sue answered your question beautifully! I usually tumble everything, even the stuff I intend on hand sanding like larger pendants and beads. Might as well let the machine do a lot of the work. I then line the barrel with felt and see if I can get a bit of a buff from that. After this I go through all the beads and see if they need any touch up sanding before they are buffed with the Dremel. Super small beads don’t get buffed, but may get a glaze if I want them shiny. With the extra special larger beads and pendants, I will usually go through the regular hand sanding routine up to 1200 grit or more. But like Sue, my tumbler does the bulk of the work now. (Instructions on tumbling are best shown in my tutorial video. If you want to have a look, here’s a link to the preview clip: Polishing Polymer Clay Beads

    @Sue: Thank you so much for the excellent information you have shared with everyone! I appreciate your willingness to help, more than you know! I agree that coastal beach rocks would work well for this technique, especially the smaller, rounder, light colored ones. I too have been meaning to test sand. I live close to the beach and will bring home a bucket next time I’m there. Also thanks for the international perspective on buying tumblers. I’m sure that is very helpful to everyone!

    @Polyanya: First, in respects to your color recipe reference, Fimo colors differ quite a bit from Premo colors so the recipes won’t work straight across. However, they will give you a sense of how the color is mixed. For example if the Fimo recipe calls for Brilliant Blue and Red, you could try mixing similar amounts of Premo’s Cobalt Blue and Cadmium Red. The color won’t be exactly the same, but by tweaking the amounts (like Grandma used to do with her recipes) you might get something comparable in color. When you get the color how you want it, write your new recipe in the note section on the recipe card and put a sample chip there. This way the recipe isn’t a complete loss for you should you never buy Fimo again.

    In regards to your tumbler question about whether you can find them in the UK, here is a link to where you can find the brand I use and recommend: Where to Buy Lortone Rock Tumblers in the UK

    Like Sue and I said, go ahead and use the coastal rocks. The ones along the shore that have been tumbled by the ocean, will have very similar properties to the ones tumbled in the river. Just choose small, smooth, light colored stones. It also wouldn’t hurt to bring home a bucket of sand to try, If it doesn’t work, you can always use the the sand to make faux pebble beads! :-)

  8. edie, 25 June, 2009

    Can you tell me more about how you choose your river rocks? Size, smooth, rough, etc? Since I don’t live near a river, I’ll most likely have to get something from the store and it would help to know what I’m looking for!


  9. Sue F, 25 June, 2009

    Hi edie,

    I bought mine from the local hardware megastore. I got the smallest, smoothest, lightest-coloured rocks they had (in my case, 9mm “mini pebbles”, for aquariums, bonzais, etc.).

    They need to be small to get good, efficient contact with the beads being tumbled. They need to be smooth to avoid gouging or otherwise damaging the beads, or sanding too roughly. And it’s best if they’re light-coloured to avoid the possibility of them discolouring light-coloured beads.

    I took mine home and picked over them, which is about the most mind-numbingly boring thing I’ve ever done in my life, discarding any that were broken, chipped, too flat, funnily-shaped, or less smooth to the touch than the “best” rocks. I’ve read elsewhere that using smoother rocks gives a “higher-grit” finish than less-smooth rocks, and I’m very glad I sorting them even though I hated doing it at the time! However, I think Cindy and others here have tumbled with river rocks straight out of the packet and have got good results too, so I don’t think that was *necessary*, but more like optimising the results.

    I hope that helps,


  10. edie, 25 June, 2009

    It does help; thank you! Sounds about like what we call here in the south “pickin’ a pot of beans” – going through the bag and making sure all the broken ones and the rocks are pulled out ;-)

    thanks for your guidelines – I’ll hit the local stores this weekend. 9mm is sure small for my old eyes! Walmart only has bigger ones in their floral department – but the aquarium or bonsai areas may yield better results. I won a vibratory tumbler at a decent price on ebay – now to use it!


  11. Carolyn Good, 25 June, 2009

    I bought a tumbler a couple of years ago and was so excited about it as I knew several people who used one religiously. I was very disappointed with how much time it took and the constant noise (no place to put it where you couldn’t hear it). My hubby said he preferred sanding them by hand so we sold the polisher to a friend who wanted one. Later my husband told me that my clay was getting a lot smoother and he hardly had to sand it sometimes. I noticed that myself with using Kato clay that my pieces didn’t have so many fingerprints, etc. and I don’t seem to need to sand as much as I did a year ago. Hmmm maybe if I keep improving I won’t have to sand at all anymore — (wish – lol)

    Carolyn Good

  12. Sue, 25 June, 2009

    Hi Carolyn,

    The noise IS absolutely appalling, that’s for sure!

    I think vibratory tumblers like mine are noisier with rocks than rotary tumblers would be. (It’s inconceivable that they’re quieter, anyway!)

    I sit my vibratory tumbler on the floor, and put a foam-lined box over it to cut down the noise. At the moment it’s rather ad-hoc — I just grabbed a removalist’s carton and whatever foam I had lying around in the garage — but it works quite well and makes a significant difference.

    Last weekend I bought some proper acoustic foam, like they use in recording studios, and hopefully soon I’ll have time to make a proper sound-absorbent cabinet for it. That should deal with most of the rest of the noise… I’ll report back when I’ve got it set up.

    I still hand-sand special pieces, but before the tumbler I was always sanding the ends of my fingertips off and being waterlogged from my wrists down, so I’m definitely not going to do any more hand-sanding than I absolutely have to!


  13. Polyanya, 26 June, 2009

    Hi Cindy and Sue

    Thank you so much for your in-depth replies, very helpful indeed.

    I looked up the makes of tumblers in the UK, nearly fell off my chair! £140.00 thats a lot of cash. However there is a company making some rubber cased machines with a 5 year guarantee for £50, I know you get what you pay for I just couldn’t justify spending that amount – I’d rather suffer cramp for a couple of hours!Lol!

    Think I’ll be walking the dogs to the beach this weekend looking for stones. I do that anyway as I choose lovely round palm sized ones and cover them with millefiori as paperweights.

    Thanks too Cindy for the fimo/premo colour samples information, I’ll certainly give that a go.
    Even before you’d replied to my ‘tumbling’ query I bought the video!

  14. Penny, 26 June, 2009

    For UK readers I bought a kiddies tumbler from John Lewis (and they added in some findings) – only around £22.( I then went on holiday to Norfolk and spent a whole day – yes it took over 4 hours of solid sorting – finding tiny pebbles from the beach. Always round, always small – around 1/4 inch. Given that there are millions – nay billions of pebbles on the beach you wouldn’t believe how difficult it was to find the right size and shape of pebbles. However I brought home only half a jam jar full after all that effort and added them to my beads and some water over night in my new kiddlies tumbler and it worked a treat.

    I have been lurking for many months but have to thank you Cindy for an excellent and informative website.

  15. Doug Kelly, 26 June, 2009

    What is the general consensus on vibrator polishers like the Hornady (used for polishing brass casing on bullets) and the barrel tumblers?

    It sounds to me like if you don’t have an outdoor workshop (separate building) that it could be a real noisy investment. I know the barrel tumblers take a while – as I polish gem stones, it takes about a month – 1 week for each of the 4 grits used – and my neighbors hate me.


  16. Doug Kelly, 26 June, 2009

    I should have read Carolyn Good’s comment first – never mind.


  17. Freda, 26 June, 2009

    I have my tumbler in the basement out of the way and the noise is just a low rumble.

  18. Polyanya, 26 June, 2009

    Hi Penny – me too, lurking around for ages. Thanks for the tip re tumbler – I shall investigate that one too.

  19. Jamie, 26 June, 2009

    I live on the shores of Lake Erie, and since summer started I have been collecting beach rocks to use in the new double barrel tumbler my hubby just got me. I found mine at Harbor Freight and it cost 40.00$ plus a little extra for the 2 yr extra warranty. As soon as I have enough rocks I will try it. I’ll try some sand too. I can run two batches at once, so I will try one of each. By the way, Harbor Freight also had the vibratory tumblers in several sizes for around the same price. Just for funsies has anyone tried using the small glass beads they use for sand blasting? They have them at the same store and I was wondering how they might work. XOXO Jamie

  20. Jocelyn, 26 June, 2009

    Glad to hear the Comet or the like was not successful, for the same reason I am reluctant to see folks use grades of building sand as a polishing medium. These substances, when loose in the air can be breathed in and, over time cause lung damage.

    Anytime you use small particulates, always remember to wear a certified mask. The damage is not immediate, shows up years later.

    Always, always protect your health and the health of those around your studio first.

  21. Jen W, 26 June, 2009

    I bought a rotary tumbler on ebay ( not sure of the brand). I tried a method I read about online somewhere using sandpaper & water. Unfortunately, my beads turned a slightly dark (icky!) tint, I assume from the inside of the tumbler barrel. I read that putting a frosting container in the barrel & then putting the beads in would prevent that. But the frosting container is too small. Any other ideas? I’d rather not permanently alter the barrel, if I don’t have to, but I will to save my beads. HELP! Thanks for any advice.

  22. Jamie, 26 June, 2009

    You might try the plastic containers that solid shortening comes in (ie: Crisco?) It is the same basic container as frosting only larger. You may have to cut it down a bit to fit into the barrel, but it should work. XOXO Jamie

  23. Jen W, 26 June, 2009

    Thanks Jamie – I’ll try that!

  24. Jocelyn, 26 June, 2009

    @ Jamie

    Did use the micro beads as a final finisher in the Lortone. Worked great for me. Use the search facility to find all the comments in all the topics about tumbling and you can track back my findings.

  25. Sarahwww, 26 June, 2009

    You migth try cutting some log strips of sandpaper the width of the inside of the barrel, I generally use 2 because 1 doesn’t quite cover the whole thing –you can reuse these strips several times. I also cut circles for the bottom and top of the barrel–anything to keep the inside of the barrel from making contact with the beads

  26. Jamie, 26 June, 2009

    Thanks Jocelyn. I thought I saw it somewhere but wasnt sure. They have them at harbor freight so I might just get some to use after I use my beach stones. I cant wait to get back to my clay. But I gotta wait until hubby recovers before we can finish my new studio/guest room. For now I am trying to be content with just making jewelry from wire and beads I already have done. But he better get better soon or Im gonna run out of those, and then I’ll really be craving my crafts!! Look out world!! Crazed crafter runs amok in Michaels!!! LOL. XOXO Jamie

  27. Jocelyn, 26 June, 2009

    @ Jamie

    The glass beads I used I found in my German’s Grandmother’s chest, but, a local glass blowing paint remover place with get them in huge bags and sell you just the two cups of each size needed.

    Just asked you in another thread here how hubby was doing. Sure hope well.

  28. Jamie, 26 June, 2009

    Thanks for the info. Hubby has used a sandblaster before and says he might even have some of the glass balls laying around somewhere. He will look when he feels up to tackling the shed. I answered your question about hubs on the other thread, but will tell again and thank you for asking. All is well. He is getting around much better now and got his staples out about a week ago. I snagged the little tool they used to take them out too! Because I asked and they just throw them away! It does a super job of making nice even bends in lighter gauge wire. Hubby says I see crafts everywhere hahaha! I told him I was taking up taxidermy next, cause he wasnt getting away from me that easy LOL!!! He just laughed and said he wouldnt be surprised. But he is feeling lots better now so it wont be long before he is back to getting into trouble again. Im gonna have to invest in a straight jacket just to keep him from hurting himself I swear! XOXO Jamie

  29. Jocelyn, 27 June, 2009

    Thanks Jamie, love your posts. Next summer, we have to schedule a get together for all of us who post here and want to get to know each other better.

    Glad that hubby is recouping well!

    Cindy, think you could squeeze in a meet and greet Lietz Blend long weekend next year?

    With the airlines reducing their prices and the deals you can score by “low bidding” on and the like, it really is a perfect time to plan one.

  30. Jocelyn, 27 June, 2009

    @ Jen W

    Jen, to line the inside of your tumbler to avoid marks, try using a gallon bleach container. Plenty of room there to cut out the top, bottom and sides to line the whole canister. Just attach with the double stick velcro dots (lots of them) or tape.

    Hope this works for you….

  31. Jen W, 27 June, 2009

    Thanks for the great ideas! Unless anyone has ideas how to save this batch of beads, I’m afraid they’re goners. I will certainly try some of your ideas next time tho!

  32. Jamie, 27 June, 2009

    Jen, did you try some rubbing alcohol to remove the dark markings? If it doesnt work, dont throw them away just yet. For an easy fix you can always re-cover them with clay or there is always paint or such. You could use them for filler for a beaded bead if you like to do beading. Or grunge them up some more with inks or stamps and make something steampunk. I never throw imperfect beads away. Sometimes because they dont mean much to me they inspire me to try things I might not do with a bead I was more partial to. XOXO Jamie

    Jocelyn that sounds like a super idea. Then we could pick Cindy’s crafty brain in person and have loads of fun too! I think I live fairly close to Cindy geographically, being just across the pond(Lake Erie) so to speak. So I wouldn’t have to fly, or at least not far, to get to Canada. Hope you dont live too far away. Im sure we could entice a few more takers into coming in on a clayful weekend too. Hey Ken!! You up for a weekend with a bunch of cackling clay hens? XOXO Jamie

  33. Jocelyn, 27 June, 2009

    @ Polyana

    Is this the thread that contains the information on color recipes and clay types?

    Found it by using the search facility in the upper left corner. Lots of stuff came up, and I decided on this one, but if it’s not the right one, just put
    “color recipes..fimo…premo” in the box and the whole list will pop up for you.

    @ Jamie

    Agree Jamie, think it would be a blast to all get together. Love to meet “Mad Scientist” Ken, and all the rest, too. Now, will the get together be strictly for pleasure or work? “To clay or not to clay, that is the question…” LOL!!!!

  34. Jamie, 27 June, 2009

    Oh pleasure of course! But then isnt any chance to play with clay a pleasure? And I know meeting Cindy will certainly be a pleasure! We can all gab our hearts out while we clay. We only have to stop to eat and sleep. Welll…. maybe eat. Who needs sleep when youre having so much fun? Hahahaha! XOXO Jamie

  35. Cindy Lietz, 27 June, 2009

    That sounds like fun everyone! Though Jamie I’m not exactly across the pond from Lake Erie… I’m in Vancouver on the West Coast a couple thousand miles away. :-(

    Maybe we all could get together at one of the conferences sometime. That could be cool. I sure would love to meet you all face to face, instead of keyboard to keyboard! :-)

  36. Jamie, 27 June, 2009

    Drat! Well I knew I was close to Canada at least LOL! Not much chance of me making it that far away though. Somebody has to keep the hubby in check hahaha! Otherwise who knows what shape he’d be in when I got back!! And I dont fly too well because of my breathing troubles. But if it was meant to happen then it will. I’d love to meet all of you too! We could have such a blast. No clay would be safe!! XOXO Jamie

  37. Jocelyn, 27 June, 2009

    @ Cindy and Jamie

    Welp, let’s all decide on which conference and when asap. I’ve got to start saving and find great air rates.

    Also, will share hotel room with smokers if such a thing still exists where we go. First three folks who confirm are in!

  38. Jamie, 27 June, 2009

    Well I think the conference should be up to Cindy. Since she has this blog and the videos and such to do. Im sure it takes a bit of finaggling for her to get away for any amount of time. And she has the kiddo’s and hubby to consider too. They have first dibs on her free time. Sooo Mizz Cindy, the ball is in your court. XOXO Jamie

  39. Polyanya, 28 June, 2009

    Thanks Jocelyn – that looks like the thread, I tried a search but got really confused as to which words to use – premo? fimo? colour? Blah! Anyways Cindy answered my query.
    Shame I’ll miss out meeting all you guys when you meet up!

  40. Cindy Lietz, 29 June, 2009

    I’m not so sure I could commit to anything quite yet since I’m having a hard time keeping up with everything as it is now. But going to events is definitely part of my ‘Big Picture’. Would probably combine it with a family vacation or a getaway with Doug.

    I would love to meet you guys and hang out. I will for sure let you all know about any events I intend on going to and we can ‘play it by ear’ at that time.

    Sorry I can’t be a little more definite than that Jocelyn, Jamie and others. Don’t worry, we’ll get together at some point. Till then, we can chat here! :-)

  41. Jamie, 29 June, 2009

    Not to worry Cindy. You have a lot of things on your plate thats for sure. We understand. And who could complain anyway when you keep giving all of us so much every week? My philosophy is that it will happen if it was meant to. If it doesnt then we should be happy with what we do have. And I for one am happy. XOXO Jamie

  42. Freda, 01 July, 2009

    I have a questiion about river rocks. Do you keep using the same river rocks or do they get polished and are no longer good?

  43. Cindy Lietz, 05 July, 2009

    @Jamie: I’m positive we will meet one day. How can we not, it’s in the cards!

    @Freda: I don’t really know. I think the only way the pebbles are going to stop working is if they become smooth. And if that were possible just by tumbling alone without any substrate, then all the pebbles on the beach would be polished. I suppose if it did happen after lots of tumbling, you could just replace the stones.

  44. Sue, 06 July, 2009

    Highly polished pebbles won’t work, apparently, but smooth rocks are fine. Great, even, as they seem to tumble-sand to the equivalent of a higher grit sandpaper. (I deliberately only use smooth rocks.)

    Desiree McCrorey was the first person I saw suggest tumble-sanding with rocks, and I used her process as the starting point for working out what suited me best. She describes TWO passes of pebble-sorting, with a first pass where she selected the smoothest and roundest pebbles for use in her first tumbling stage which she estimated at 400-500 grit, and then a second pass where she picked the smoothest out of those smooth rocks for a second tumbling stage which she estimated at 700-800 grit.

    I just do a single tumble-sanding stage, going straight to the “smoothest of the smooth” (had to pick through a LOT of rocks!). However, I also tumble with MANY more rocks than beads in my vibratory tumbler, and only a little bit of water, so those may be factors in how effective they are. The end result I get is a bit better than 800 grit, anyway, and I’m very pleased with it.

    Oh, and Desiree said on her web page that “Unlike sandpaper, river rocks as a tumbling media will last forever.” She’s been tumble-sanding for years more than I have, so I reckon that sounds promising!

  45. Silverleaf, 07 July, 2009

    Again, money is holding me back. Craft stuff seems so expensive over here in the UK!

    I’d love a rock tumbler but even the cheap kiddy ones are like £30.

    Anyone know if the cheapo ones are worth it? I figure clay’s much softer than rocks so it shouldn’t take as much effort to sand it.

  46. Polyanya, 08 July, 2009

    Know exactly what you mean Silverleaf – but we figured what the heck and ordered a double barrell tumbler – it was expensive but hopefully will last a good few years and will pay for itself in actual man(woman) hours. Sanding beads is sooooo dull!

  47. Freda, 08 July, 2009

    I bought a kids tumbler to see if I would like one and it works for me. Probably won’t invest in a real one now.

  48. Cindy Lietz, 08 July, 2009

    @Sue: You’re right about Desiree probably being the first to come up with the pebbles in the tumbler idea. Someone (I think Ken or Rob) suggested it here after reading it on the net and then later after testing it myself, I found her tutorial on it. It is an excellent idea! I think the idea of sorting the rocks is a good one, but I haven’t really found it necessary. My rocks probably weren’t that rough to start with. Desiree is probably right about them lasting forever. The beads are so soft and there isn’t any fine particles in there to polish the rocks further.

    @Silverleaf: There was discussion in another thread about kiddie tumblers working. I think it was the one I linked to by my name.

    @Polyanya: I agree. It is something that would pay for itself over time.

    @Freda: That is good to hear. Maybe that will help Silverleaf with her decision.

  49. Jocelyn, 21 July, 2009

    @ Silverleaf

    Anna, you folks must have “rock shops” over there where folks sell crystals, meteors, smooth river rocks, and mineral specimens.

    When you get a moment, go a visit. Usually these places have a basement full of all types of vibratory and liquid based tumblers going. Ask if you could purchase one “as is” and used.

    If you chose Lortone, the best in my opinion, that sucker will churn for decades with minimum maintenance and the replacement of a rubber gasket or two.

    Hope this works for you. I love mine.

  50. Cindy Lietz, 21 August, 2009

    **PHOTOS ADDED: Some project pictures have just been added to a Spotlight Feature showcasing Rob Kerfoot, a member who is very much appreciated here at this supportive polymer clay community. Click on the “Polymer Clay Beads and Rock Tumblers” link by my name above to have a look.

  51. Barb, 12 December, 2010

    I’m facinated by this because somewhere in my storage unit is a nearly 30-yr-old rock tumbler. I always knew it would come in handy, which is why I’ve been moving it for more than 20 years. Now all I have to do is find it.

  52. Phaedrakat, 14 December, 2010

    @Barb: How funny that you’ve been moving your tumbler all that time. As you can tell, everyone loves the results they get & the reduced sanding. I’m sure you’ll feel the same once you find yours & put it to work…you’ll be thrilled you kept on storing it all that time! I would love to have one myself — it’s been on my shopping list forever, but “emergency purchases” keep knocking it further down the list. In fact, I’ve actually bought & sorted my pebbles already — I’m just waiting on the tumbler! Yep, I’ve got it backwards, for sure! ;D

    Anyway, I hope you find your tumbler soon, and that it works perfectly. Then your hands can get a well-deserved rest from sanding! :D Kat

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