5 Best Rock Tumblers for Kids Reviewed - Smarter Hobby
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What are the Best Rock Tumblers for Kids?

Rock tumbling is a fantastic hobby for kids because it’s both fun and educational.

Kids can learn about different rocks and minerals while having fun turning them into semi-precious gems to collect or even to make neat things like jewelry.

Rock tumblers also make the perfect gift for kids - whether it’s for Christmas, birthdays, or other special events.

What kid wouldn’t love to have a rock tumbler to show off to his friends?

In this article, I’ll review the top five best rock tumblers for kids in detail. But first, here’s a quick snapshot of my picks:

My Top 5 Best Rock Tumblers for Kids​

Rank

Detector

My Rating

Price

Lortone 3A

5/5

Thumler's 3lb

4.6/5

Chicago Electric 3lb

3.9/5

NSI Classic

3/5

Smithsonian

3/5


Lortone 3A

The Lortone 3A is my top pick. It’s a professional grade rock tumbler at an affordable price. A great option for kids!

It’s built like a tank right here in the USA by Lortone - the leading manufacturer of rock tumblers for over 50 years.

It comes with a one year warranty and is designed to be hassle-free so you can focus on polishing your gemstones.

Pros

  • Professional-grade
  • Will never leak
  • Hard rubber barrel for reduced noise levels

Cons

  • Does not come with grit or stones

Thumler’s 3lb Tumbler

Thumler’s is another brand that’s been around for decades and makes excellent professional-grade tumblers.

Also made in the USA, their 3lb barrel model is very similar to the Lortone both regarding pricing and performance.

Pros

  • Includes grit and sample stones
  • Rubber barrel
  • Professional-grade

Cons

  • Slightly less build quality than the Lortone.

Chicago Electric

The 3lb tumbler from Chicago Electric is a slight step up from the NSI and Smithsonian.

It looks and feels a bit more like the professional grade brands like Lortone and Thumler’s.

The one feature that makes this tumbler better than the NSI and Chicago Electric is the rubber barrel.

The more inexpensive models use plastic barrels, while higher grade models use rubber.

The rubber barrel allows the machine to run much quieter as the rubber acts as a cushion for the rocks.

Pros

  • Rubber barrel for reduced noise
  • Moderately priced
  • Great instructions and detailed schematics

Cons

  • The short lifespan of belt. Although replacement is only a few dollars.

NSI Rock Tumbler Classic

The NSI tumbler is considered to be the ‘original’ kids rock tumbler and includes everything you would need to get started including:

  • Rough stones (including amethyst, jasper, and agates)
  • Grit
  • Polish
  • Jewelry Kit
  • Detailed Instructions

It’s the most affordable of the kid’s rock tumblers and makes a great gift for kids of all ages.

Pros

  • Most affordable tumbler on the market
  • Very popular model for kids - millions sold

Cons

  • Limited rock selection included

Smithsonian Rock Tumbler

Another great option if you’re looking to stay under $50 is the Smithsonian Rock Tumbler.

Like the NSI, this tumbler also includes rough stones, grit, polish and a jewelry kit.

The jewelry kit includes over 15 items like key rings, rings, and necklaces - perfect for getting starting with jewelry!

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Simple, easy to learn

Cons

  • Only enough grit for one batch of rocks - but you can easily buy more on Amazon for cheap

There you have it - my top five picks. If you’re still having trouble deciding which you should buy, consider the following:

If you’re just looking for more of a toy as a gift, then go with either the NSI or Smithsonian model.

Just be aware that these tend to break down more often than the professional-grade tumblers.

They are both made overseas and use cheaper parts than other models. I tend to think of these more like toys.

If you’re not sure whether the child will like the hobby and don’t want to break the bank, then go with the Chicago Electric model.

It’s priced pretty competitively and is a big step up from the ‘toy tumblers.’

If you know the child will love the hobby (as most do) OR if budget is not a concern, go with the Lortone or Thumler’s.

These brands have been around forever and build everything in the USA - they also have great warranties.

They’re also much higher quality than other brands and will last a very long time. And in the future when you want to upgrade to a larger tumbler, they make several other models which allow you to grow into the hobby.

I hope this article gives you a better idea which rock tumbler to buy. Whichever model you decide will be a great gift for any kid!

Mark Orwig
 

My name is Mark Orwig and I am obsessed with keeping my mind busy, keeping active, and staying healthy.

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Nikki

Thank you so much for your article! It has been very helpful!!