Rock tumblers are awesome, but they’re also loud. For those in a normal home it’s problematic, in tighter quarters they’re even worse. You may not be able to truly silence them, but there are a lot of creative solutions for making your rock tumbler quieter.
Let’s take a look at some, ranging from very simple to quite complex.
1. Use the Right Tumbler
Right out of the gate, you need to make sure that you have the right tumbler. Many of the cheaper tumblers on the market are going to make a ton of noise just by virtue of their construction.
If you’ve ever had the “pleasant” experience of running the cheap tumblers sold to budding rockhounds you know that a plastic barrel is horrible for noise levels. Use a tumbler with a rubber-lined barrel to minimize the noise from rotation.
Better motors also make less noise. Using a reputable brand like Lortone instead of a no-name tumbler makes a huge difference in motor noise.
Get a good tumbler in the first place and the rest will be much easier.
The rock tumbler I have and recommend is the Lortone 3A.
2. Careful Placement Makes the House Quieter
The careful placement of a tumbler will help reduce the amount of noise that directly affects you. It may not necessarily make the tumbler quieter, but it can certainly keep it from driving you nuts.
I’ve seen two main places that avid tumblers use to avoid noise, usually combined with other sound dampening techniques.
Placement in a closet on the floor often keeps noise from behind heard throughout the home. A guest bedroom or unused pantry is a better idea than the one in your own room.
Others just go with their laundry room. They’re usually designed to keep noise getting back into the house to a minimum which helps out a lot.
If you live in an apartment, especially on the upper floors, remember to show some respect in your placement. If that’s not possible then hop to our fifth method and we’ll show you how to use one anywhere.
3. Reduce Surface Vibrations for Less Noise
One of the sources of noise coming from the tumbler comes from contact with the surface. Reducing vibrations will help with noise quite a bit.
In some cases, simply placing the tumbler on a towel helps a lot. Any soft surface will do, just keep it from being in direct contact with the surface it sits on.
When a tumbler is put on a shelf or other high, less secure location it’s more likely to create vibration noise. Placement on the floor is ideal, and the addition of a pad underneath will further reduce sound.
4. Keep Up on Routine Maintenance to Get Rid of Creaks and Groans
Tumblers are motors designed to run constantly, but they still need to have regular maintenance performed.
Go through your manual and figure out what needs to be done. The most common extra noise seen comes from creaky belts, but bearings and other fixtures may need the occasional bit of help.
Not only will keeping up on maintenance make things quieter, it’ll also extend the life of your tumbler! There’s no reason not to do it.
5. The Ultimate Solution – Soundproofing Box
Sometimes we just need that tumbler quieter.
The solution is simple: an easy-to-create soundproofing box reduces noise more than anything else. The problem lies in the construction.
Tumbler motors are inevitably air-cooled, so enclosing them needs to be done carefully. Too much heat will reduce the lifespan of the motor.
To start with, you need a properly sized box. I prefer to base the chamber off of a styrofoam cooler since they already have insulation. With a quieter tumbler, you may even be able to simply get away with just using the cooler with a hole drilled for the cord.
Build Your Own Soundproofing Box
You can also build a wooden box. MDF is standard for speaker boxes, and it works very well here. It’s also on the cheaper side of things. The box should be big enough to contain your tumbler entirely.
A cooler also works, however wood is preferable for multiple tumblers, but you’ll need a little bit of woodworking skill.
Here’s a quick look at how to build your own soundproofing box for your rock tumbler:
- Acquire or make a box or cooler that can contain your tumbler.
- Drill a hole for the cord where appropriate.
- Use carpet, fiberglass, egg cartons, or some other insulating material to lower noise levels.
- Add insulation until you’re happy with the soundproofing.
- Check on the temperature of the tumbler after it’s been running for some time.
- Add ventilation holes as necessary
Each tumbler should be placed in its own sub-chamber in the larger box. It’s a convenient way to run multiple rock tumblers and reduce noise. A hinged lid generally works well.
Try the chamber once you have it drilled and see how much further you need to go.
Types of Noise Reducing Insulation
In either case, adding insulation should be done carefully. Carpet is a good place to begin, especially with a wooden box. Make sure to place something soft like rubber or carpet underneath your tumbler as well.
Fiberglass insulation is another material that’s great at sound dampening.
In any case, you’ll want to observe the tumbler’s temperature after a few hours of running the machine. Three to four is best in most cases. If the tumbler’s motor casing feels very hot, you’ll need to add some ventilation.
Ventilation holes should be drilled at the top of the box, as heat rises. The holes will allow noise to escape so don’t get overzealous. Start slowly and add more if necessary.
In the end, a soundproofing chamber is simple:
While a lot more complex than other methods, building a soundproof box for a tumbler really is the best way to silence your noisy machine.
With the right soundproofing box, you’ll be able to run your tumbler anywhere!