Placing your tumbler in a location where it cannot be disturbed, is safe, and cannot be heard is essential! Choose a place where
it will have a constant power supply, no children can tamper with it, and the noise will not disturb you or your neighbors. I am fortunate in that I have a garage with a dedicated workbench. My
tumbling machines can sit and make as much noise as they will - and do! - without causing a disturbance.
I have soundproofed an area of the garage to protect neighbors from the noise, which although it is
not loud, it is very persistent, running 24 hours a day 365 days per year. In the dead silence of the night, it can be heard slightly without the soundproofing.
You should have 4 barrels - Mark one
barrel as "80 Grit" one as "220 Grit" one as "400" Grit and one as "Polish Only".
Before you can start to tumble the stones you have chosen, you must first of all break them up into a mixed sized set of
pieces. Every tumble you start with should have a good range of rock sizes in the mixture. The reasoning behind this is as follows :-
If all the peices are the same size, there will be large "gaps" between them in the barrel as it turns. This reduces the effectiveness of the grits, as there is much less contact between the pieces if there are no smaller stones to fill in the gaps and help with the grinding.
The pieces will not "tumble" as much in the barrel, they will tend to settle into a regular "rise and fall" routine which will cause certain edges to be in constant contact with the inside of the barrel wall. Eventually "flats" will form whereby one side of the piece will be the same shape as the inner curve of the barrel and the rest of the stone will be virtually unchanged.
Given a 3LB barrel as an example, you should aim for pieces ranging from just 1mm in diameter to around 3.5cm in diameter with every conceivable size in between!! This will ensure maximum contact with the
grits - do not be afraid of having too many smaller stones - these will help form your prize pieces faster and to a higher standard of shape.
: When breaking up the stones - always wear protective goggles and wrap the pieces up in leather or towels before striking them with a hammer. Not only will this protect you from flying shards (many semi-precious gemstones virtually explode when hit hard enough) but you will also trap all those tiny pieces which are so essential for perfect results.