The amount of noise that rock tumbling makes is a big concern for many people.
While creating beautiful jewellery, gemstones and decorations is a hugely rewarding activity, waking up the neighbours is not quite so rewarding, and many people are put off getting involved in rock tumbling for fear of making too much of a racket.
Although some tumblers do make enough of a racket to rouse a small animal from the dead, these are certainly the minority, and there are various precautions you can take to ensure your rock tumbling doesn’t anger your nearest and dearest.
Barrel Material & Motor Quality
The noisiest rock tumblers have a barrel made of plastic and generally have a cheaper motor.
Tumbling rocks in these plastic barrels will produce a lot of noise (just imagine continuously banging a rock against plastic), but they are a cheaper option. However, you are likely to pay for the cheaper model in the long run as plastic isn’t hugely durable, so it’s likely to wear out or break after just a few tumbles.
The quieter rock tumblers are generally more durable, with a better motor although they are of course, more expensive. The quietest tumblers are the small, rotary tumblers with a soft rubber barrel. The rubber will absorb the impact of the rock, meaning you won’t get that nasty clatter that comes from plastic barrels.
Check out this article for advice on the best rock tumblers.
The noise from close-proximity will likely be a gentle whirring, and you are unlikely to even hear it from another room – meaning your neighbours can enjoy their weekend sleep-in! These rubber-barrel tumblers, while more expensive, will last for longer and may require less maintenance in the long-run.
Overloading the Barrel
It’s important to note that most rotary tumbler motors run quietly, so if it starts growling when you place a loaded barrel onto the machine, it might be overloaded.
Ensure you don’t pack the barrel too tightly, ideally only to about 65% full. If the engine is making a lot of noise and you think you may have overloaded your tumbler, try removing some of the rocks. If this doesn’t work, your motor might need oiling or, if it continues to growl, you may need to get a replacement motor.
Another noise that often catches people out is vibrations. If your tumbler is rattling a lot, it doesn’t mean it’s broken! It could be from loose screws vibrating. Check the screws on your tumbler and ensure they are properly tightened.
So, when it comes to noisy rock tumblers the answer really is that it depends! While investing in a high-quality rubber barrelled tumbler is one of the best ways to limit the noise, we know this isn’t always an option. Ensure your tumbler isn’t overloaded, all screws are tightened and, if in doubt, get you and your family a few pairs of earplugs!