Making a homemade rock tumbler can be surprisingly easy. Homemade rock tumblers can be just as effective as ones that are commercially sold, and you'll have the added excitement of making it all by yourself. Whether you're making one for your own personal hobby or you want to get the kids involved for some educational fun, the steps below will get you started.
In order to build a sturdy rock tumbler that can withstand a few pounds of rocks, you'll need a sturdy baseboard. Wood is fine for this part of the tumbler, although many people prefer metal because they believe it will be more stable during the tumbling process. As long as the piece is large and heavy enough to stay firmly on the table, you should be fine with either material.
On top of the baseboard, you'll need to mount a few sets of wheels or pulleys that will hold your tumbler while it is turning. In order to mount these properly, you should first choose what you will use for the rock tumbler itself. The tumbler must be made from some sort of cylinder. Metal is best, but you can also use a plastic jar if you wish. Do not use glass or any other breakable material. Place the jar on its side on the baseboard, and mount the pulleys so that the jar rests between them comfortably a few inches above the baseboard.
Finally, you'll need a small rotary motor and a drive belt. Mount the motor on the opposite end of the baseboard from the pulleys, and hook the belt from the motor around the jar. When you turn the motor on, the drive belt will turn and the jar will turn also, supported by the pulley wheels. Any adjustments you need to make regarding the speed of the tumbling will rely on the motor, so make sure to choose one with low RPM and the right speed for your projects.
And there you have it- a simple homemade rock tumbler that anyone can do! If you need further instructions, check your local library- there are many books available on how to make homemade rock tumblers and the various projects you can create using tumbled rocks.