In a vibratory tumbler, material loss is much less than a rotary tumbler. About 10 to 15 percent loss and the stones will be angular but polished. For the most part, the procedures are the same as a rotary tumbler except for time, water, and the amount of grit used will be slightly less. About 1 ounce of grit per pound of material or 1 tablespoon per pound. The amount of water is much less. Use only enough water to achieve a good tumbling action. Too much water and the tumbling action will stop and the grit will settle out. Daily checks on the tumbler is a must since the slurry will thicken faster, more water is needed to be added. Run time is also much less. This depends on the hardness of the material being tumbled. Generally, 2 to 3 days per grit will produce polished stones. On the daily check of the tumbler for the amount of water, it gives you time to pull out 2 or 3 stones and wash them to check on how much material has been removed and if they are smooth enough to continue on in the next grit. Longer run times than 3 days will start to give a more rounded surface on the stones. The wash cycles in Steps 4 and 5 above are very important. The amount of water needed for a wash is the amount that produces bubbles with the soap.
In both methods of tumbling, keeping a good record of what is done will help with correcting any problems that arise. Many variations of the general instructions are done. Discussions with other rock hounds or lapidary shops are helpful to correct problems in the art of tumbling stones. More advanced methods are available on the internet or book stores.