What are Stone Tumbling Machines

In simple words, the machine that tumbles stone is a stone tumbling machine. They are also known as stone tumblers or rock tumblers. Although the concept of polishing rocks is ancient, the rise of stone tumbling machines are pretty recent.

A stone tumbling machine can essentially be a vibratory machine, a rotary machine or a centrifugal disc finishing machine. It really depends on you what you are trying to achieve with your stones.

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Vibratory stone tumbling machines use vibration to create friction between the media and the stone, which creates the polishing and rounded look. The media or the grit is very different from what you would see in a metal vibratory finishing machine.

The outcome of your tumbling operation ultimately depends on the grit you choose. Some might call it grits. They mean the same thing when it comes to stone tumbling machines.

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Importance of Tumbling Media

Tumbling media probably plays the most important role in the whole process of stone tumbling. Stone tumbling machines are aided with the media to make the tumbling process faster, efficient and cost-effective. In stone tumbling machine language, the media is called grit. It works very similar to media, so we’ll call it media for our article.

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For example, ceramic polishing media is a great choice for stone tumbling machines. Ceramic tumbling media also works as a cushioning surface for the parts in a stone tumbling machine. Stones might get damaged if allowed to rub against each other.

The media also helps to balance out the particle sizes in the stone tumbling machine. A drastic mismatch between different part sizes can lead to catastrophic results. Using good quality stone tumbling media can minimize the risk to a great extent.

The shape and the size of the media greatly impact the final result generated from a stone tumbling machine. We’ve dedicated pages where you can learn about the importance of media size and shape.

In short, the wrong choice of size and shape will dramatically change the final result. For example, if you use large media on small stones in a stone tumbling machine, you might as well discard the batch. The same goes for vice versa.

After the media which works as the abrasive to grind down the surface, it’s essential that you use the polish at the end. The polish is a fine mixture of zinc oxide paste that works similarly to the fine-grit sandpaper. It’s to add the final touch on the rock surfaces.

Types of Stone You Can Tumble in a Stone Tumbling Machine

Just because it’s called a stone tumbling machine doesn’t mean that you can tumble any kind of stone in it. In fact, most stones will not tumble very well in a stone tumbler machine. You can tumble agate, jasper, chalcedony, and petrified wood very well in a stone tumbling machine.

The reason behind these stones are great for tumbling is because they are mostly made of microcrystalline quartz. It’s a very hard, durable and tough composite that can take a lot of abrasive action and shine like a star.

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Also, you need to make sure that the stones you choose don’t have a granular texture. They are hard to find and it makes them really appealing to the general mass. It’s great if you happen to live in a location where these stones can easily be found. If not, you can buy them from certain shops or order them online as well.

How Many Stones Can You Tumble?

The answer is it depends. One of the best-selling points of stone tumbling machines is that they come in different sizes. Manufacturers have really gone the extent to ensure customer satisfaction. You can build small portable stone tumbling machines to huge industrial machines, totally custom-built for you.

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In general, you can use 20 medium-sized stones at once. It might not sound much, but in the stone tumbling industry, it’s a lot. Stone usually takes more time to process than metal. So, you’re getting 20 stones in one batch means you’ve been productive.

How Long Do You Need with a Stone Tumbling Machine

Stones need a lot longer than metal parts when it comes to tumbling. While a batch of stainless steel parts can be finished within 20-30 minutes, you need almost 2 days to tumble a batch of stone.

It also depends on the finish you are going for. If you want a matte finish, you can get away with less tumbling. But if your goal is to get the shiniest little pebble, you have to let it go for a few days.

Can I Use the Same Container for Both Metal and Stones?

It’s not recommended. If you’re absolutely compelled, it can be done. But you have to make sure that no grain of media is left once you’re done with the parts. The slightest amount of wrong media will ruin the entire batch.


Tumbled stone is a relatively new industry. The appeal of these stones is great and people want them badly because they can’t get them easily. Stone tumbling machines are a great investment if you’re looking forward to getting a headstart in the industry. Stone tumbling machines are really customizable and affordable. Although has a steep learning curve, it’s worth to invest in one.

We, Inovatec Machinery has been manufacturing top of the line industrial machines like the stone tumbling machine. If you’re looking for one, feel free to contact us anytime.

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