Anybody have a rock tumbler?

Mark Barone

Well-Known Member
I am looking to get a rock tumbler. I want one that can at least do an 8 inch blade. I am not sure how long the one at Harbor Freight can handle and still tumble. Anybody have one.
 

Casey Brown

Well-Known Member
One thing to keep in mind, if you are doing long blades. It will sometimes consistently flip a knife to a certain orientation because of blade geometry, and will work one side more than another. Just don't let it run too long, and reset the orientation of the knife to get the desired wash on the blade. Also, for big blades make sure you have enough media to easily cover the blade while it is running.
 

bladegrinder

Well-Known Member
Has anyone ever used the stainless steel pins for tumbling knives?
I use them for tumbling reloading brass but switch out to the ceramic triangles from horrible freight, just wondering what the pins would do.
one thing I've been doing is breaking up some of those triangles every time I use them, which isn't too often. they seem kind of big when you buy them.
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
If you are just going to tumble a blade occasionally for a stone washed finish, try some cheap gravel stones first before you go buy expensive ceramic or other tumbling media. Stones will create dirty slurry water but they are free and I use them in one of our tumblers often. Stone size should be marble size to maybe double marble size.
 

bladegrinder

Well-Known Member
I wonder if you threw a couple handfuls of pennies in if you would get some kind of copper wash finish, or if it would look like crap and just contaminate the barrel and media.
 

bladegrinder

Well-Known Member
Just wondering outside the box, I've seen Damascus mistakenly contaminated with copper. that didn't look good but I've never seen a stone washed blade with copper tints.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Anybody ever tried stainless steel tumbling media? I use if for cleaning brass for re-loading.
I've used it for tumbling brass. However, this thread is confusing... a rock tumbler is a rotary drum tumbler that hums and turns at a glacial pace, and a vibratory tumbler is a giant, loud, shaky bowl which when filled with rocks and blades sounds like WWIII.

I've used rotary rock tumbers with SS media to clean brass and it's utterly amazing. I use crushed walnut with a cap of NuFinish car wax in my vibratory tumbler and it does a great job... but about 75% of the job the rotary does if you are talking about shiny results. I think with a rotary tumbler you need the most aggressive media you can get because it's slowly washing the work versus the vibratory bowl that is raining down Hell on the work.

I had big plans to offer stonewashed blades several years ago. When I put the ceramic rocks in my vibratory tumbler and loaded the blades in I realized that my neighbors would lynch me if I did that on a regular basis. I went back to hand sanding.
 

Gliden07

Well-Known Member
I use SS pins to clean my Pistol brass also. I built a larger hopper out of a 6" piece of PVC. I split a piece of 1/2" PVC and bolted it on the inside 180 deg to agitate my cleaning media. When I decided to try a "Stone Wash" on some of my blades I took out these pins and got a couple bags of ceramic media a touch of Dawn Detergent and some Lemi-Shine. Same recipe for my brass except for the Ceramic media. Heres the result on an EDC I built. Hope it shows up in pics.
 

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Bill Hubbell

KNIFE MAKER
If you are just going to tumble a blade occasionally for a stone washed finish, try some cheap gravel stones first before you go buy expensive ceramic or other tumbling media. Stones will create dirty slurry water but they are free and I use them in one of our tumblers often. Stone size should be marble size to maybe double marble size.
As for the stones, are you using a type of whitish looking, crushed limestone, or the more rounded stones like pea gravel (looks like large sand)?
 

Drew Riley

Well-Known Member
I've seen a couple guys get really good results with a concrete mixer filled with some media, rocks, etc.... It'll take up a little bit more room than a benchtop tumbler (and require more media initially), but you'll have a much larger capacity.

I've been looking at this cheaper one from Amazon: cement mixer, which is the same price as the 18 lb tumbler from Harbor Freight.

I may just wait until one pops up on my local craigslist though, since I don't really do a lot of stone washing right now, and I've already got an 18 lb tumbler. If I had it to do all over though, I'd probably get the mixer.
 

Bill Hubbell

KNIFE MAKER
I've used it for tumbling brass. However, this thread is confusing... a rock tumbler is a rotary drum tumbler that hums and turns at a glacial pace, and a vibratory tumbler is a giant, loud, shaky bowl which when filled with rocks and blades sounds like WWIII.

I've used rotary rock tumbers with SS media to clean brass and it's utterly amazing. I use crushed walnut with a cap of NuFinish car wax in my vibratory tumbler and it does a great job... but about 75% of the job the rotary does if you are talking about shiny results. I think with a rotary tumbler you need the most aggressive media you can get because it's slowly washing the work versus the vibratory bowl that is raining down Hell on the work.

I had big plans to offer stonewashed blades several years ago. When I put the ceramic rocks in my vibratory tumbler and loaded the blades in I realized that my neighbors would lynch me if I did that on a regular basis. I went back to hand sanding.
I'm also thinking about trying stonewashed, but looking at options. So, say if the vibratory unit was running in your garage, would the neighbors actually be bothered by it? I too want to be respectfull of neighbors and am wondering just how noisy is noisy? Thx ...and I wonder if there would be a way to drape something over it or build a sound blocking box over it, or if that might make it overheat.
 
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