Setting Up a Workspace for Rock Tumbling
Once you have selected a rock tumbler, you need to find a place to use it that has running water and tables and good lighting and is temperature controlled. Some lapidaries find the constant sounds made by a tumbler to be soothing, others consider it noise. If you have a basement or attached garage or other type of workroom that can be shut off from the rest of the house, that's probably your best bet. Your workshop should be out of the way, yet convenient so you can frequently check on your tumbling batches.
- Running water in a deep sink is a necessity for filling your tumbler and for thorough cleaning of all stones between tumbling steps. Add a plastic colander (like the type you'd use for pasta). Do not use an aluminum strainer because it marks the stone. You'll also need some mild soap for washing rocks between tumbling stages.
- Wastebaskets are also important because you can't simply rinse everything down the drain. The used grit and rock dust form thick solutions that can set like cement in your drain. You need to dispose of this material in the garbage. These waste materials are non-toxic, so OK to be disposed of in the trash.
- A constant source of electricity is needed and grounded outlets for plugging in your tumbler.
- Good lighting is important for inspecting your stones. The best lighted area should be near the sink so the stones can be sorted as they are washed. It should be high in intensity but glare-free for evaluation of the final polish.
- Basements with solid concrete floors are ideal as workshops so you can break up your tumbling rough here. Of course you can always do that outdoors, too.
- The tumbler itself needs to be on a firm, solid table or other work surface to minimize noise and vibration. The room needs to be temperature controlled where it's not freezing in the winter or like a furnace in the summer. Not only will you not want to be in the room when it's way too hot or cold, but the water in the tumbler will freeze if the workshop is not heated.
- Dry storage space for your rocks, grits, tools, how-to and reference books, and other supplies is needed. As you get more and more into the hobby of rock tumbling, you are likely to collect many helpful items that tend to be bulky such as rock hammers and picks and bags of tumbling rough. Sturdy bins or a cabinet or shelving will organize all these items so you can find them quickly and easily. Abrasives (grits) do not deteriorate in storage, but if stored in a damp place they will absorb moisture and cake, making them difficult to get out of the container and to measure.