Wow Alberta rocks are nicer.

The Alberta rocks are starting to come through stage one of rock tumbling. The smaller rocks turned the tumbler water red. I thought that was different.

I reloaded the ones that were not ready and another load of large Ontario rocks.

The Thumblers tumbler is nice and quiet by the way. The toy one is quite noisy. The rocks make noise and the motor. It’s still okay behind a closed door but it’s┬ánotable┬áthat there is a considerable difference between the two machines.

Alberta rocks stage 1

A few of the Alberta rocks are through stage one.

I also started the small rocks from Alberta.

As you can see the lid I made for the tumbler is still working.

Rock drill fail

I got some diamond bits to drill through rock.

On my first attempt I decided to go with 30,000rpm and to drill underwater to prevent heat.

The bit fried very quickly.

I need to figure out if it’s a technique thing or if I have the wrong tools.

Perhaps more pressure? Less?

I contacted the ebay seller of the diamond bits. He pointed me to the listing in the link which has this explanation of how to drill which follows below. As it turns out, that’s exactly what I did. Rather annoying that he directed me to the explanation in the listing but it was not in the listing I bought but another. I will try again and if it doesn’t work I’ll not buy from that supplier anymore.


If you are drilling beach glass or any hard or soft stone, you need diamond drill bits. I would suggest this 40 grit 30 piece set to start with. 40 grit will cut very fast and is great for drilling holes. You get an assortment of sizes and shapes which you can experiment with. Eventually you will find certain shapes that work best for your application. I also have a 20 diamond twist drills set for very small holes 1mm and under, but suggest beginners try the larger bits to start with.
The hole you drill will be rough because the 40 grit is coarse and you may want to use a 150 grit drill to smooth the inside of the hole. If you are stringing on wire, you may not need to smooth the inside of the hole but if you string your items on thread, you should follow up with the 150 grit bits.

Start off with good protection. Glass, stone, shell, in powder form is dangerous and not good to breath. Use good eye protection with side protection, get in the habit of using a respirator to protect your nose and mouth against the small particles you will create in the drilling or polishing process. I use a full face shield with a respirator. Also, buy a full size apron and wear it to protect your clothing from dust particles.

I like to drill glass or stone by holding it under water. Put the piece into a shallow container like the lid of an old mayonnaise jar. Be very careful because the combination of water and electricity is dangerous. Hold onto the glass shard (or item to be drilled) with your left hand and hold the flex shaft handle (drill) with a diamond drill bit in your right hand. Insert the drill bit tip (ONLY) through the water and drill the glass shard or stone. (You only need enough water to cover the shard laying on its side). Drill slowly at first and allow the tip to seat and then adjust your drilling once the hole has started. I drill slowly because it allows the tips to last longer. I like to drill half way through the shard and then flip the shard over and drill through the other side of the shard to meet the hole started on the lst side. You will prevent shattering the 2nd side of the hole that way.

Diamond Drill Bits

diamond drill bits

I just received my order of diamond bits that can cut through stone.

I wanted to try them but I’m in a rush to finish a few things and then go to Artengine for the Flock Modeling workshop!

Ottawa Lapsmith and Mineral Club

I’d like to check out this group to see what there up to.

I’ve gotten a bit interested in learning the types of rocks that are found around here (and how to identify them).

I think I’ll check out some of their meetings and see what’s going on. Perhaps I can discover some nice places to go and check out rocks.

Opened tumblers with local rocks

I just opened my tumblers to have a look at what’s going on.

It’s actually really neat to see the rocks smoothed out compared to what they look like when you find them.

I’ve got quite a few that will be ready for some finer polishing soon.

I will pick up more of those protein jars so I can make a larger tumbler and get some real volume going. Given how long it takes I think I may as well do more volume.

Drilling in small stones

I’m just researching this and am coming up with drill bits that look like this.

They’re called stuff like “diamond drill bit” or “jewelry drill bit”.

I found this blog on how to make holes. They are showing a hollow “core bit”. That looks interesting.

I found some in ebay and have them on order now.

I will give them a try. I’ll drill under water for cooling. I guess I’ll make a little stone holder out of wood and then place stones in it then submerge and drill.

Rocks from tumbler

I just opened the tumbler after running for only 5 days with fine grit (stage 4). I was a little impatient and wanted to see what’s going on in there.

For one thing the tumbler has been going haywire lately.

But I really wanted to see what’s happening in terms of polishing.

It turns out that the light colored rocks are all smaller than the dark ones. I can’t remember if that’s how they started.

The light ones look better too. Many of the darker ones are pitted. It seems as they get ground down, they continue to pit so they may not be a good choice.

I tried to drill a hole in a small white one figuring it could make a neclace. The dremel tiny ball mill smoked in seconds. I will have to look that up.

Some rocks came out funny. I got one shaped like an ice-cream cone.

Small rocks start stage 4, Large rocks finish stage 1

I just worked on my rock tumbling project for 20m.

The used tumbler I got in ebay quit. The lid wore through. Now I see why thy sold it, it probably has a lot of miles on it. I can probably make a new lid on my mill so I can probably fix it.

Rock Tumbler first run


Michael Lechasseur of Artengine had a toy rock tumbler lying around which he gave me. I also picked another one up in ebay for 35.00.

I just started the first run this morning. I got a jar full of small pebbles and divided them in half by hardness. I put each pile into a tumbler and started it up. I didn’t think to take a picture of the stones before putting them in (silly me). I will next time.

The plan is to do four stages about a week long with four different grades of sand in the machine.

I am making a machine that can hold four tumblers. The idea is that I can graduate the rocks individually to the next level. I think that will reduce labor. So instead of rinsing and cleaning the rocks and reloading the machine, I just pull whatever stones out from one stage, run water over them and then drop them into the next stage (probably wash them over the tumbler before to keep recycle the grit).

I managed to find a good supplier of sand/grit and have four grades on hand.

tumbler grit