Collected Information on Rock Tumbling
My Tumbler Shop
Last update (this page): March 16, 2008
My tumbler shop has grown into quite an elaborate (but enjoyable)
The setup is in my basement utility room. It's cool year-round and
blocks most of the operating noise from my three (3!) tumblers. I
covered most of the concrete floor with some cast-off carpeting I
I added overhead fluorescent lighting controlled by a wall switch, a
120V switchable power strip on the wall, an AM/FM radio and a couple of
"spot" lights controlled by the power strip, and a phone. I also bought
a "baby monitor" on sale. I put the transmitter end in the tumbler shop
and the receiver in my bedroom so sometimes I could monitor the
operation by its sounds, although I don't bother much any more.
There's a floor drain and fresh water available in the utility room. I
added copper plumbing to run to a new spigot and hose connection, from
which hangs a short length (18" or so) of flexible hose and a hand
sprayer, over a large plastic sink (wash tub), the latter about $20 from
Home Depot. In the nearby
you can't see much of the plumbing, but note all the buckets of rock in
various stages of processing.
The sink drains into a 23-gallon plastic tub which I refer to in
nautical lingo as a "spooge bucket". I let the slurry settle out of
this dirty water as long as possible after running water down the sink
and stirring it up. In the nearby
note how the sink is up on cement blocks to a comfortable height, and
the spooge bucket is also up on blocks so it can be siphoned to the
filter bucket. It's a little hard to photograph this since the water
heater is in the way. My
hangs on the wall to the left, and a towel on a screw to the right.
Suspended in the bucket, held in place by a wooden contraption that
clamps across the diameter of the bucket, is a cheap plastic hand-pump
siphon device. The intake end is a few inches above the bottom of the
The outlet end of the siphon goes to a 5-gallon plastic "filter bucket".
The plastic outlet hose is held to the edge of the bucket using a
plastic spring clamp. The side bottom of this bucket has a plastic hose
going out through a hole I drilled, sealed with plumber's putty, which
directs water into the floor drain. (I cut a larger hole in the drain
cover to fit this hose.) The filter bucket has a layer of coarse gravel
on the bottom. I bought a pair of cloth pillowcases cheap at Goodwill
and use them, one inside the other, to line the filter bucket, folded
over the top rim. Inside the pillowcases I put two paper bags, one
inside the other. Oh, also I hung some ribbed plastic sheeting inside
the bucket, outside the pillowcases, to keep the fabric from just
sticking to the wall of the bucket.
The purpose of this contraption is to capture as much silt as possible
before it goes down the drain. I try to let the spooge bucket settle
for several days before siphoning it into the filter bucket, but it's
not always easy to wait for it to settle between uses of the sprayer and
sink. Crud does get caught in the paper bags. When they are clogged
enough, I replace them and wash out the rest -- outdoors, or back into
the sink and spooge bucket.
In the nearby
you can see some of the gallon jugs of
reusable prepolish and polish
compounds. The yellow pipe is the gas line to the water heater in the
back of the picture. You can't see the plastic hose out the back of the
bucket into the floor drain.
Quite possibly it would be just as effective to siphon the spooge bucket
into 5-gallon plastic buckets, let them settle for a long time (say a
week), and then just dump the mostly clear water on top into a toilet
and flush it.
I think the ideal setup would be a simple way to direct the sink drain
to any one of several large spooge buckets in rotation, so each one
could sit undisturbed for a week or so before siphoning it off.
I also added a lot of wooden shelving in my tumbler shop, including open
screw eyes under the shelving from which to hang empty plastic buckets
of various sizes.