|Tumbled star rose quartz from the Hogg mine.
Click any picture to enlarge .
Thanks to Robert Kyle for the photos of the Tumbles
that were done by Marcy Hess.
Updated March 02, 2018
(new additions are lower on page)
|Tumbling Hogg Mine Star Rose Quartz
I produce the Hogg Mine tumbled Rose Quartz pictured here according to the steps listed
below. While there are many other tumbling methods that one can use, what follows is
simply what has proven successful for me. In developing this process, I am greatly
indebted to Steve Hart, proprietor of The Little Red Store, whose book Modern Rock
Tumbling has completely transformed my methodology—and my finished stones! I
would undoubtedly still be tweaking the process but for Mr. Hart’s book and advice.
Tools and Materials used:
• Approximately 6+ lbs. Hogg Mine Rose Quartz
• Workforce 7” wet tile saw/stand with MK-225 “Hot Dog” diamond blade
• 1-Lortone 12 lb. double barrel (6 lb. capacity per barrel) rotary tumbler
• 1-Diamond Pacific MT-4SV Mini-Sonic vibratory tumbler (4 lb. barrel)
• Silicon Carbide Grits: 60/90 coarse grind; 220 fine grind; 600 sanding; 1000 pre-
polish; ultra-fine aluminum oxide polish.
• Approximately 6 lbs. mixed shapes/sizes uncharged ceramic media
1. Examine your rough. If your pieces are too large for tumbling, trim them to size with a
rock saw or wet tile saw. If your pieces exhibit surface fractures, saw them off. If a
medium-to-large sized piece has some inclusions or fractures yet is ideal in other
respects, saw off the included or fractured areas. Time spent with the saw at this stage
will decrease time spent at the coarse grind stage and result in high-quality finished
stones. I spent a great deal of time trimming excess material and fractures from these
stones. Note that some people knock off sharp edges and roughly shape the stones prior
to the rough grind stage by using the side of the saw blade or a lapidary grinder. If you
use a saw or lapidary grinder, please remember that you must always use water or oil with
the blade or water with the belts AND wear eye protection.
2. Begin with approximately 6 lbs or more of high-quality rose quartz. Wet down your
rough and examine each piece by holding it up to the sun or bright light. Avoid pieces
that are fractured throughout; instead, select pieces that display internal clarity with
minimal internal inclusions or fractures. While “salmon-pink” is the most highly valued
and most popular shade of Hogg Rose Quartz, it is helpful to remember that the paler,
darker, and white-streaked pieces make for beautiful tumbled stones as well. If you are
using two 6 lb. barrels, you should try to have a variety of stones that range in size from ½’’
3. If you are using two 6 lb. barrels, evenly divide your high-graded rough into two piles,
one for each of your barrels. Place your quartz in the tumbler barrels, adding enough
ceramic media at intervals so that the total barrel load is exactly 1’’ from the top of the
barrel (3’’ of rock/media, 1’’ of empty space). If you are using larger or smaller barrels,
adapt these instructions according to the directions included with your tumbling unit.
Add water and 60/90 silicon carbide grit per the directions stated in your tumbler’s Users
Manual and complete the assembly of your barrels. You are now ready to begin the
coarse grind/60-90 stage. Note: I had very little success in using plastic pellets as
filler/buffer media. My stones tended to chip, fracture, frost, and take much longer in
completing the coarse grind stage. These problems ceased when, per Mr. Hart’s
suggestion, I transferred over to uncharged ceramic media of mixed shapes and sizes.
4. It will take 3-5 weeks for the stones to achieve a somewhat rounded shape. Once a
week you must stop tumbling long enough to rinse, re-charge, and re-assemble your
barrels, as the 60/90 grit becomes relatively less effective after a week’s worth of rotary
tumbling. After 4 weeks at coarse grind I stop the process and do some “touch up” work
with the tile saw on any stones that still exhibit undesirable qualities (chips, fractures,
unwanted material). I then continue the coarse grind stage, rinsing, sorting, and re-
charging the barrels once a week, until I am pleased with the size and shape of the
stones. The rose quartz pictured here spent approximately 8 weeks at the coarse grind or
60/90 stage. If some stones finished early, I removed them from the batch and set them
5. Once I had enough stones finished with the coarse grind stage, I moved them to the
Mini-Sonic vibratory tumbler for the fine grind through polishing stages. Things really
speed up from this point forward—no more waiting for weeks at a time before moving on
to the next grinding stage:
• 220 fine grind: 4-5 days or two rotations of 3 days each
• 600 sanding stage: 3 days
• 1000 pre-polish stage: 3 days
• Polish stage: 3 days
• “Final rinse” stage: 1 day burnishing/cleaning in water and mild detergent (yes, it’s
worth the extra day)
I am truly indebted to Mr. Hart’s book, which describes cleaning the stones in between
stages, creating tools and methods for accurately measuring tumble loads, and much
more. As I wish to give credit where credit is due and not to appropriate ideas that are not
originally my own, I encourage you to check out Mr. Hart’s book, Modern Rock Tumbling,
as I did incorporate many of his suggestions for improving the quantity and quality of my
tumbling loads into my own process. Please note that this is an unsolicited endorsement
for Mr. Hart’s book.
Good luck, and may you see stars in your own tumbled Hogg Mine rose quartz sometime
|I asked Marcy how these nice looking
came to be nice looking stones!
|This website powered by Dixie Euhedrals Copyright 2011
|Below are some of my ( Rodney's) tumbled polished stones.
These were tumbled in a rotary 12lb single barrel lortone
and finished in an ultravibe 10 vibratory tumbler.
Shown is tumbled Arizona Rainbow Petrified Wood
CLICK ANY PHOTO TO ENLARGE
|TUMBLING OTHER TYPES OF ROCKS: Agates, Jaspers, Petrified Wood, etc.
Rose quartz and quartz crystals can be a challenge to tumble since the edges often chip and appear frosted.
Since I tumble mostly agates and petrified wood that are much more forgiving than regular quartz I use a much
simpler method for tumbling.
For the rough, medium and fine stages I start out with a Lortone Qt-12 rotary tumbler that has a big 12 pound
barrel. In each grind I use a Table Spoon of 20 mule team Borax and shavings from a bar of IVORY SOAP.
Borax is a salt so be careful where you empty your used grit as it can kill grass. If you have poison ivy or
something that you don't want growing, then that is where you should rinse out your spent grit.
COARSE STAGE: I use 90 grit for one week, recharge with 90 grit, and then tumble a second week.
(After 2 weeks in the course stage you should pick out any rocks that are porous or have cracks and places for
grit to hide. Don't let these advance any further -the rocks with places for grit to get caught should be set aside
for the next time that you start a new batch. They should be hammered further or cut with a saw to remove any
places that could carry grit and contaminate the next stage. You can simply run these through the coarse grind
the next time that you start a new batch)
MEDIUM STAGE: Next, 220 grit for one week.
FINE STAGE: Next, 600 grit for one week.
PRE-POLISH STAGE: Next, 1000 grit or various pre-polishes for one week. I sometimes use Tripoli or 1000 grit
I then use an Ultra-Vibe 10 vibratory tumbler for the polish using ultra-fine Aluminum Oxide and a few shavings
off of an Ivory soap bar (since I have never been able to find Ivory flakes). Sometimes I mix Cerium and
Aluminum Oxide. I make sure that I have a completely full vibe by putting already tumble polished botswana
agates in to take up any free space. This helps to insure good tumbling action and helps to prevent any
chipping. There's nothing special about the Botswana agate, that is just what I had on hand and have just kept
the same batch to use every time since I know they are clean and smooth.
The stones look great after 1 full day in the vibe, but I always run the vibe for 2 days.
Last step: burnishing.
I then rinse the stones and but back in a rotary tumbler for 30 minutes with plain water and a mix of laundry
detergent, dish soap and ivory flakes. BE SURE TO COMPLETELY FILL THE TUMBLER FULL OF WATER.
When the tumbler is completely full of water it acts as a washing machine instead of a tumbler. You'll be
surprised at how dirty the water looks even though the stones looked clean when they went in. Since I don't have
a barrel that is strictly for polishing, I am always afraid to run the burnishing stage for longer than 30 minutes
because there is a chance the stones might actually get scratched or scuffed. 30 minutes seems to work well to
get the fine film off of the rocks and to improve the shine.
The total time is just a little over 5 weeks or roughly 37 days.
Use different sizes of rocks for an even and faster end results. If you use only large rocks, then as the tumble
there is spaces that aren't contacting anything and thusly not getting ground or polished. Using smaller sizes
acts as a grit carrier and makes sure that most areas are being worked at all times. Often I will throw in small
chips of scrap rock just to accomplish this. Smaller sizes act as grit carriers and also act as buffers so that large
rocks don't fall and directly impact and chip the smaller ones.
Sometimes I use ceramic media to make sure that I have a full load and I have enough small shapes. Ceramic
media is expensive and if you use them in the grind stages they get smaller with every batch. I only use the
ceramic media in the grind stage on very valuable materials like the pietersite example below.
I also have some ceramic media for the polishing stage. I made sure to run the ceramic media thru a fine grit
stage at least once so that it is smooth and doesn't scratch the very thing that you are trying to polish! I keep the
special polishing media in a bag and labeled. The smallest size media doesn't work well in vibratory tumblers
though, so I mostly have the 3/8" size for this.
Only the coarse 90 grit changes the shape:
It should be noted that ONLY the very aggresive 90 grit coarse stage changes the shape.
After that, the next stages merely sandpaper away the scratches. The medium/fine
stages removes very little material and doesn't round the rocks any further or change the
The reason why I recharge the coarse grit and run for a total of 2 weeks is to ensure a
nice rounded shape and a smooth surface for polishing. So when you finish the coarse
stage you should pick out any that don't have good shapes. You can save them for the
next batch that you start. If the shape is "almost" there, you can wait until the start of the
second week (on the new batch) and put them in the coarse stage when you recharge
PATIENCE: a necessary ingredient.
It's okay to run the tumbler on one of the stages for LONGER than a week. It's inefficient,
but okay. It's NOT okay to let a stage run for less than a full week because if you don't
then the grit wont have broken down fine enough to transition to the next grit size . Once
when I was busy I let a stage run for 3 weeks. That's just time lost but it doesn't hurt
|At left is a pietersite that I tumble
polished that turned out well.
to see more pietersite that I
tumbled check out my