Step 1. To load a tumbler barrel, add the correct graded rough rock to about ¾ full, add the grit, and add water so it covers the rock by about ½ inch and seal the barrel.
Step 2. Place the barrel on the rollers and turn on the tumbler. Make sure that the barrel is turning and running quietly – with no squeaks or groans. Check the tumbler periodically to assure that it is operating and not leaking.
Step 3. The tumbler needs to run for 7 to 10 days (in some cases more time is needed for hard rock), 24 hours a day. The load may be checked to see how much rounding is taking place. This depends on the material being tumbled. Soft materials need less run time than do hard materials like agate, jaspers, and petrified wood. If the barrel is opened the seals of the barrel need to be cleaned before reassembly.
Step 4. Pour off the water and grit (slurry) into a disposable container (milk carton). A plastic colander or plastic window screen can be used to retain the stones. Wash and rinse the stones and barrel in a bucket of water. Do not pour the slurry or wash water in your home plumbing system as it will plug traps.
When changing grits and polish, rinse well.
Dispose of the slurry, it can not be reused.
Step 5. Place the stones back in the barrel with water to ½ inch above the rock and add some “IVORY” BAR SOAP. A chunk of soap maybe ½ X ½ inch in a small tumbler (1 to 3 pound) up to ¼ bar of soap in a 12-pound tumbler. The amount is not critical. Place the barrel back on the tumbler for 4 to 6 hours. Then drain and rinse off the stones again. This process will clean both rocks and the barrel, removing leftover grit, now you can go on to the next step.
Step 6. Place the stones back in the barrel with water to ½ inch above the rock and add the second grit. (120 – 220 grit). Seal the barrel and make sure the tumbler is operating correctly. This second grit will also run for 7 to 10 days (or more).
Repeat Steps 4 and 5.
Step 7. Place the stones back in the barrel with water to ½ inch above the rock and add the third grit. (400-fine grit). Seal the barrel and make sure the tumbler is operating correctly. This third grit will run for 7 to 10 days (or more), just like the previous two grits.
Repeat Steps 4 and 5. RUN THE WASH FOR 12 HOURS THIS WILL REMOVE THE LEFTOVER GRIT BEFORE THE POLISH STEP. Be sure to thoroughly rinse. It is critical to have no grit remaining in the barrel or on the stones.
Step 8. Place the stones back in the barrel with water to ½ inch above the rock and add the polish. The amount of polish powder is the same as grit. Seal the barrel and make sure the tumbler is operating correctly. The polish will run for 7 days. A thickening agent may be added to the water if soft stones are being polished. This thickening agent is sugar or corn syrup. The amount added will be twice as much sugar as polish.
Repeat Steps 4 and 5
At this time your stones should be polished.
Sometimes a Burnishing Run will improve the polish. This is an extra step with the use of powdered soap such as “IVORY” or “WHITE KING” in the same amount as the polish step 8. but run it for 4 days. Then wash and rinse them. DO NOT USE LIQUID DETERGENTS OR DISHWASHER POWDERS THAT HAVE BLEACH IN THEM.