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DetectiveDick

Rock Tumblers?

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Hey everyone, I have always wanted to get a metal detector and spend a couple hours every week walking around the fields and beaches to see what I find, so I have been finding this place to be a great source of information. Something I have been wondering lately is what kind of rocks/gems people will commonly find? And do you take what you do find and put it in a rock tumbler to see how it really looks. I am sure that some of you must use a tumbler as you would inevitably get something out of it after cleaning all your finds. 

To any of you that do use rock tumblers, what ones do you use? I remember having a really cheap one years ago that I would use on the gravel in front of our house and it did not last very long so I assume I need to spend more than $30 if I want a good one! I might not be getting one right away but I do find a lot of cool rocks around so it is something I have been considering. Thanks in advance for all the tips!

 

I took a look at both Lortone and Harbor Freight and I found some great rock tumblers but being the frugal guy I am I went looking for some deals. I did find some used rock tumblers on  http://www.used.forsale/rock-tumbler and found the same tumbler for a lot cheaper and it was barely used. I figured I would pull the trigger on this one, then if I end up using it a lot I could spend more money next time. Thanks for the suggestions guys, happy hunting :)

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You're not going to find a rock/gem with a metal detector unless it's in a metal setting of some kind.

 

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Metal detectors only detect things that have conductive and magnetic properties. Most rocks a metal detector will pick up are iron ores plus a few metallic minerals like some copper ores. The types of rocks one would normally tumble, like agate, jasper, etc. are usually not going to be found with the detector itself. However, you can find such things visually while wandering around with a detector. I have a nice chuck of agatized petrified wood and some quartz crystal I have found while detecting recently and wandered into a nice agate patch not too long ago. The reality though is you don’t need the metal detector, just the eyeballs!

There are many cheaper versions but I was always a fan of Lortone Rock Tumblers

4D1A6565-DAF6-4504-8B4C-A37D504E993A.jpeg

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I use a tumbler with walnut shell to help cleanup my crusty common coins.

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On 9/21/2017 at 9:11 PM, Steve Herschbach said:

Metal detectors only detect things that have conductive and magnetic properties. Most rocks a metal detector will pick up are iron ores plus a few metallic minerals like some copper ores. The types of rocks one would normally tumble, like agate, jasper, etc. are usually not going to be found with the detector itself. However, you can find such things visually while wandering around with a detector. I have a nice chuck of agatized petrified wood and some quartz crystal I have found while detecting recently and wandered into a nice agate patch not too long ago. The reality though is you don’t need the metal detector, just the eyeballs!

There are many cheaper versions but I was always a fan of Lortone Rock Tumblers

4D1A6565-DAF6-4504-8B4C-A37D504E993A.jpeg

Thanks for the detailed response Steve :) I was thinking that was the case, but wondered if there would be anything interesting that is magnetic/conductive that would look nice after a quick tumble. I am always on the lookout for gems when I go wandering, spent to much time in the arctic seeing all the stuff they would pull out of the soil there to not look for myself. I'm going to take a better look at that tumbler, I think something like that would be perfect. 

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Check out Harbor Freight. That's where I got mine and it is a dual drum.

They have single drum also.

https://www.harborfreight.com/dual-drum-rotary-rock-tumbler-67632.html

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If you’re patient (ie have time before you need one) and search often, one can usually find an almost new Lortone on Craigslist for a fraction of the new price.   Just like with most tools, quality costs more but is usually worth it.  I agree with Steve. 

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Sorry for the late reply, but if you want a serious tumbler, let me recommend Thumler's Tumbler Model B, the 15# capacity one. I use it for rocks, coins that will re enter circulation, cleaning brass for handloading, small ball mill for turning clumps into powder, and about anything else I am too lazy to do. I've had mine 20+ years and only had to replace the drive belt once. Buy once, cry once.

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I have a Thumlers Tumbler too. Very well made in the USA. Good luck!

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As stated above rock and gems will not set off any metal detector. You could find diamonds and turquoise but only if the were set in gold or silver. :biggrin:

But seriously, there are lots of things to find on the beach that will set off your detector and need a tumbler. Coins and more coins. You really don't need to tumble them but it helps when trying to cash them in. Makes them look brand new & shiney. One word of caution do not tumble your penny finds with any other coins. All coins will come out copper colored. I have a cheapo Harbor Freight unit. Over the years I have only had to replace the drive belt a couple times. I found 3 for a couple bucks on feeBay. But once, I needed to use the tumbler and asked my daughter if I could have one of her ponytail thingys. (there are two types #1 like a cloth covered rubber band and #2 same but has metal crimper to connect both ends) Try to find #1 it runs smoother and quieter around the pulley system. I also need to oil the shafts every couple of weeks to stop any squeeks.

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