National Geographic Rock Tumbler – Top 3 Reasons NOT to Buy

Choosing a hobby grade rock tumbler over an entry-level option like the National Geographic tumbler offers several benefits. These tumblers are more durable, have longer-lasting and quieter motors, and provide superior polishing results. Additionally, they offer easier maintenance, better customer support, and access to a knowledgeable community, making them a valuable investment for serious enthusiasts.
National Geographic Rock Tumbler – Top 3 Reasons NOT to Buy
Rock tumbling is a captivating hobby that promises to turn rough stones into polished treasures. Among the many choices available, the National Geographic Rock Tumbler stands out as an option marketed for beginners and families. However, despite its accessibility and branding, several significant issues make it a less-than-ideal choice for enthusiasts.
  1. Speed – In our experience, hobby grade rock tumblers perform best between 30 and 60RPM. The National Geographic rock tumbler spins at between 85 and 120RPM. This is too fast for rock tumbling, you wind up chipping and bruising rocks at those speeds.
  2. Parts Availability – Rock tumblers live a pretty difficult life. You load them with heavy rocks, grit, and water, turn them on, and leave them running for weeks at a time. Parts wear out. Motors can pack it in, drive belts can fail, and you can wear out seals on a barrel. It doesn’t happen overnight, but after a year of use, you may need to replace something. National Geographic Rock Tumblers don’t have any replacement parts available. If a part breaks, the whole tumbler is junk. A good Hobby Grade Rock tumbler will have cost effective spare parts and easy repair options.
  3. Noise – Unless you’re going to be running it in a soundproof room or an outside shed, you want a rubber barrel. They do an incredible job of lowering the sound of a rock tumbler. Unfortunately, most National Geographic Rock Tumblers come with a plastic barrel and that means they are awfully loud, like cement mixer loud. Hobby grade tumblers will sound considerably quieter both because of their motor and the barrel they use.

We’re big fans of rock tumbling in general. It’s a fun hobby, it can inspire you to get outside hunting for rocks, learning about geology, and into a community of other hobbyists. Picking the right first rock tumbler makes a big difference in how much you like it. Like many, we started with a National Geographic Rock Tumbler, but we quickly moved on something else.  Here are some options that we like way, way better.

Shop Our Rock Tumbler Options

These are all quiet (remember this is relative, your still tumbling rocks) rubber barrels, they have a complete selection of inexpensive replacement parts, and they spin at less than 60RPM so they won’t damage your rocks. If you’re looking for help picking a rock tumbler that isn’t the National Geographic Rock Tumbler, feel free to reach out with any questions, we’re always happy to help.

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