Chicago Electric Power Tools 3 LB Rotary Rock Tumbler Review • Create Beautiful Centerpiece Vase Fillers

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PRODUCT

Chicago Electric Power Tools 3 LB Rotary Rock Tumbler 


DESCRIPTION TITLE

Single Barrel Rotary Rock Tumbler


MODEL ITEM

67631


CHEAPEST PLACE TO PURCHASE

Harbor Freight 

Chicago Electric is a featured brand who manufactures exclusively for the Harbor Freight stores and online. 


ALTERNATIVE PLACE TO PURCHASE

eBay

Walmart

Amazon


WARRANTY

90 Day


INCLUDED

Tumbler Unit with Motor. 

Rubber Barrel with Stainless Steel Hardware including Inner Lid, Outer Lid, Washer, and Nut. 

Extra Motor Replacement Belts 

Owner’s Manual & Safety Instructions


SPECIFICATIONS

Motor: 120 Volt • 24 Watt • 60 Hertz 

Barrel Inner Volume: 

11.5 cm Diameter x 10.5 cm Depth

4.50 inch Diameter x 4.0 inch Depth

Motor Tumbler Unit Height without Barrel: 

13 cm Height

5.0 inch Height

Assembled Dimensions: 

30.50 cm x 16.50 x 17.50 cm 

12.00 inch Length x 6.50 inch Width x 6.75 inch Height 

Shipping Weight: 

3.25 kg • 7 lb



INTRODUCTION

This budget unit makes for a unique gift. This is the perfect entry level rock tumbler for beginners, both kids and adults! The STEM student with a passion for science will also love it! 

We also love tumblers because it is a teacher of patience. Patience has always been a virtue that is earned. Perhaps patience is needed in us more so now than ever before in this ultra fast paced world we now live within? 

Plus tumbling is a therapeutic process that You may love. 

We bought this rock tumbler to make Vase Filler items for our Centerpieces. Broken Glass may be polished down to Sea Glass. Rocks can be polished down to Gemstones. 

Tumblers can be used year round for many Event decorations.

This article talks about:

  • First we briefly talk about WHY A ROCK TUMBLER?
  • Then we go into CENTERPIECE VASE FILLERS TO POLISH.
  • After we understand that, we talk about the PROS, NEUTRALS, and CONS of this specific Rock Tumbler.
  • Next we also look at the OPERATION on this specific Rock Tumbler, and general guidelines.
  • Finally we look at the additional MATERIALS AND TOOLS that are associated with Rock Tumblers. 



WHY A ROCK TUMBLE

The best explanation is inside the Owner’s Manual in the SETUP Section page 7: 

“The motion in the Barrel of a Tumbler simulates the natural action of flowing water or ocean waves. Beaches and river beds contain rocks and pebbles smoothed by water and the abrasive sand it carries. 

As rocks grind upon one another with constant water and sand in the mix, they begin to round and smooth. Although this is a constant process, it does not however, naturally polish the rocks. 

The Tumbler uses an abrasive media instead of sand. It is graded by grain size, from fine powder sized grains, up to large sized grains. 

By changing (usually by weekly intervals) the grain size, rotating from coarse, medium, to fine, the rock or gemstone is smoothed much more quickly than the natural process. 

To polish using a Tumbler, add a metallic oxide compound (not included). The complete process for a gemstone or rock to go from rough to a smooth, polished finish, usually takes from 4-6 weeks. 

Note: An Abrasive Kit (30956) is available from Harbor Freight Tools. The kit includes 4 oz. of coarse grit abrasive, 4 oz. fine grit, 2 oz. of pre-polish abrasive and 2 oz. of polish.” 


CENTERPIECE VASE FILLERS TO POLISH 

Tumblers are perfect for polishing beautiful Vase Filler Items for Centerpieces. Plus in turn, the vase itself is a great container to showcase the polished items. 

Plus they make for excellent jewelry, aquarium gravel, interior design decoration, and outside garden decoration! 

Sea Glass

Tumbler Time: Approximately 7 to 14 days to tumble. 

Density: 5.0 – 7.0 Mohs Hardness Scale.

The Sea Glass makes an exquisite Vase Filler. Use any and all glass colors. The frosted surface of the tumbled glass is translucent and has a beautiful look displayed in a vase.

It takes about 20 to 40 Years to create Sea Glass Naturally, or about 7 to 14 days in a Rock Tumbler. Hmmmm. Which to choose? LOL. 

Why toss the broken glass in the recycle bin? Fortunately, should glass items break, You now have the option to transform them into beautiful Sea Glass! 

Sea Glass in a Vase is beautifully displayed. Ironically should that same glass vase happen to break, well just make sea glass from the broken vase pieces! 

Sea Glass retains its original glass color compound. So seaglass comes in all colors: White translucent (originally clear glass), White opaque (originally white solid glass), Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet, and Black. 

Also Fortunately, or Regrettably depending on Your perspective, the BAG O’GLASS that retailed for $1.98 in 1976, by Mainway Toys, was since banned from the market. The review of holiday gifts from the show Consumer Probe illustrates further. Irwin Mainway, president of Mainway Inc. is the Guest on the show, and defends his product. LOL. 

Sea Glass may also be obtained immediately should You need them in a hurry! 

GemStones 

Tumbler Time: Approximately 30 – 45 days to tumble. 

Density: 5.0 – 7.0 Mohs Hardness Scale.

GemStones are made from polishing rough rocks to a shine! 

The best rocks for tumbling may be found at the beach, where nature has given You a helping head start. Sea rocks have been naturally tumbling for quite some time already. Using sea rocks will mean an easier time to tumble.

If the beach is your rock hunting location, then winter is the best season. The majority of rocks are deposited upon a beach during the wintertide storms.

Another consideration is to tumble rocks that are within the correct density. Select rocks between 5 to 7 density hardness using the Mohs Hardness Scale. These rocks are perfect for tumbling, as they are hard to hold together during the tumble, and yet soft enough to be polished to a smooth shine! 

Softer rocks between 1 – 4 density hardness may break apart. Harder rocks between 8 to 10 may take much longer to tumble and polish, if they ever.  

Here are a few rock varieties that are perfect for tumbling, as they are between the 5 to 7 density that have been plotted on the Mohs Hardness Scale. 

Agate • Apatite • Feldspar / Orthoclase Feldspar • Jasper • Quartz • Opal • Tanzanite • Tsavorite

Presorted Rough Rock Mixes make rock tumbling perfect for beginners, as the correct rock densities have already been selected. These rough rock mixes eliminate the guesswork, and go by several names, such as:  rough rock • rough stone • rough crystal • raw rock • raw stone • raw crystal • natural rock • natural stone • natural crystal

Polished GemStones may also be obtained immediately should You need them in a hurry! 

SeaShells

Tumbler Time: Approximately 1 to 7 days to tumble. 

Density: 3.0 Mohs Hardness Scale. 

Seashells (and most all shells), have a density hardness of only 3 on the Moh Hardness Scale. Shells feel hard to the touch. However, in comparison to other materials, shells are considered on the softer side of the scale. 

Shells are made of a rather soft chemical compound of Calcium Carbonate [CaCO3], plus a Protein Material called Conchiolin [C32H48N2O11]. 

For this reason, we advise tumbling only the thickest of seashells, or thick seashell pieces. In addition we recommend checking the tumbler often! Avoid the seashells being pulverized. 

We also recommend to process the seashells with only the last step or steps in the tumble process. Use the fine grit and then the final polish, or just the final polish. 

SeaShells may also be obtained immediately should You need them in a hurry! These shells have been polished using professional methods of professional polishers and or using muriatic acid! Much safety is needed using acid!

 

Metal 

Tumbler Time: Approximately 1 to 7 days to tumble. 

Density: 2.5 to 3.0 Mohs Hardness Scale. 

You determine if the metal pieces are appropriate as a Centerpiece Vase Filler for Your Event.

Metal items may be polished in a tumbler. 

Over time, old Metal pieces rust or oxidize. A tumbler will polish the old metal to a new shiny piece.

Tumble inexpensive items such as: 

coins • ball bearings • hardware • chainmail • jewelry 

Such metal items are often made of steel, stainless steel, galvanised steel, aluminum, brass, bronze, copper, nickel, iron, titanium, tungsten, and zinc.



PROS


Cost

The Chicago Electric Power Tools 3 LB Rotary Rock Tumbler is very economical. It is priced much more affordable than compared to a double barrel rotary rock tumbler, or a larger diameter barrel rotary tumbler, or even a vibratory tumbler. 

Noise

Noise is relative depending on Your perspective. 

What other tumblers have You used? Where in proximity to people will the tumbler be operating? The MATERIALS & TOOLS Section below, will cover a few additional Noise reduction tips. 

Noise here is a PRO, as this tumbler is much quieter in decibels when compared to a double barrel rotary rock tumbler, or a larger diameter barrel rotary tumbler, or a vibratory tumbler. 

Rotary tumblers produce the most noise from the motor, and a little bit of noise from the rotating Barrel. 

The unit comes with an outer shell, red powder coated stainless steel, that encompasses the motor, and significantly reduces noise. 

In addition, this Barrel is made of high quality noise-reducing rubber. 

Ease of Use

This unit is easy to use. There are no Advanced Speed controls. The motor rotation has been set for optimal speed. Simply plug in the unit, and switch on the motor to tumble. Which leads into the next Pro…

Switch On/Off 

The unit also comes with an On/Off Switch. Other models may or may not have a built in switch. It is nice to turn off the unit, and avoid otherwise having to unplug the unit each and every time. 

Electric Cable

This Cable is thicker than some units. A thicker cable will be better than a thin, should it happen to remain touching the rotating barrel for long durations. This scenario has never happened to us before. The cable exit point is out of the way of the barrel. It is just reassuring to know the cable is thick.  

Motor 

We have had the unit for years and the motor appears to be of high quality. It just runs for days to weeks continuously! 

Barrel

The Barrel is made of high quality rubber for optimal noise reduction. Much better than plastic barrels.

The barrel double lid with rubber and stainless steel is leak proof, with an inner lid, and outer lid. 



NEUTRALS


3 LB Barrel 

A 3 LB Barrel may be the perfect size for Your needs,… or perhaps not. How much tumbling will You be doing? 

Barrels come in as LB sizes of:  3 • 6 • 10 • 12 • 15 • 18 • 20 • 25 • 30 • 40 

Anything larger than a 40 LB Barrel, and You may look into modifying an old Cement Mixer.

Single Barrel Tumbler

This tumbler will process a single 3 LB barrel at any given time. Again this may be perfect for Your needs,… or perhaps not. It all depends on how much tumbling You are doing. A single barrel tumbler means that only one type of item may be processed at that time. Polish glass or rocks in a barrel, but not both. 

Noise

Noise is relative depending on Your perspective. 

What other tumblers have You used? Where in proximity to people will the tumbler be operating? The MATERIALS & TOOLS Section below, will cover a few additional Noise reduction tips. 

The tumbler noise may be a NEUTRAL for You, as it may not be a PRO or a CON. So we are adding it here, so You decide. 



CONS


Basic Control

The unit has a basic on/off switch that turns on the motor, which rotates the barrel at an optimal speed for the majority of tumbling. 

There are no advanced controls, which are prevalent on more expensive professional tumblers, such as variable speeds to change the motor rotation, and timer to set how many days to run. 

Noise

Noise is relative depending on Your perspective. 

What other tumblers have You used? Where in proximity to people will the tumbler be operating? The MATERIALS & TOOLS Section below, will cover a few additional Noise reduction tips. 

The tumbler noise may be a CON for You. 

Our Decibel Test Results: 

(30 dB is Whisper Level) 

40 dB with the Tumbler Off 

(60 dB is Conversation Level)

65 dB with the Tumbler On 

(95 is a Motorcycle Engine) 



OPERATION


Oil 

The Owner’s Manual in the OPERATION section on Page 9: 

“Before the first use, and once a month thereafter, put a few drops of oil on the Drive Shaft bearings.” 

We use the 3-IN-ONE Multi-Purpose Oil.

Gas

The Owner’s Manual in the OPERATION section on Page 10: 

“1. Run the Tumbler for 24 hours, checking for gas build-up at the first twelve hours.”

“2. Slowly open the Barrel Lid, releasing the small amount of gas that builds up during the process. Stones should show slightly rounded edges.”

“Note: It is important to release the gas, otherwise it will thicken the abrasive slurry.”

Slurry 

Slurry in reference to a rock tumbler, is:
“a semiliquid mixture,… of fine particles of cement suspended in water”
– Oxford Dictionary. 

Slurry cement is produced inside rock tumblers after the water, the grit/polish, any medium, and the rock material, all mix together. In other words, it is the used Grit. 

IMPORTANT! 

In the Owner’s Manual in the OPERATION section, page 10 and 11: 

“Note: Between steps you must clean the Rubber Barrel and stones. Pour off the slurry into a disposable container (such as a milk carton) and take care that the stones remain in the Rubber Barrel.”

“WARNING! Never pour the slurry into your home plumbing system.”

Slurry cement will clog plumbing! Dispose of slurry material properly. Some report using it to fill potholes. 



MATERIALS AND TOOLS


Safety Glasses

The Owner’s Manual SAFETY section page 3 says: 

“ALWAYS USE SAFETY GLASSES. Also use a face or dust mask if the cutting operation is dusty.”
Here are a few Safety Glasses to choose from.



CONCLUSION

The Chicago Electric Power Tools 3 LB Rotary Rock Tumbler is recommended. 

The unit is the perfect for beginners, as well as for the experienced person to tumbling. 

The PROS significantly outnumber the NEUTRALS and CONS. Operation is easy. The quality is great. The motor is heavy duty. The noise is quieter. The cord is thick. 

It makes for a perfect gift to the STEM student with a passion for science.  



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