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Step-By-Step Guide: How To Properly Oil Your Rock Tumbler

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Rock tumblers are fun to use and can be used to make a variety of stones for different things, from decorations to jewelry. Rock tumblers require some maintenance, though, as you will need to oil it regularly to keep it running smoothly. So, how do you oil your rock tumbler properly? 

Identify the bearings and the oil ports on the motor. Clean the bearings and motor with a clean rag. Place one drop of oil on the drive shaft adjacent to the bearing and then move the shaft through the bearing, do this for each bearing. Then place one drop of oil into each oil port on the motor. 

What is the best oil to use on your rock tumbler? Can you use WD40 to lubricate your rock tumblers’ moving parts? How do you ensure you oil your rock tumbler correctly? Let’s find out!

How To Properly Oil Your Rock Tumbler
How To Properly Oil Your Rock Tumbler

If you are interested in checking out the best oil for rock tumblers you can find it by clicking here (Amazon link).

What Oil Do I Use On My Rock Tumbler

Rock tumbling is a great hobby, but it can also be used for business purposes as you can create beautiful rocks for crafting, jewelry, and use as decorations. This is a simple hobby that can easily be enjoyed at home, without the need for expensive equipment and other possible expenses.

Rock tumbling is an activity that the whole family can enjoy, and all you need is a tumbler, a few other materials like water and grit, and then, of course, some stones. 

Even though rock tumblers are simple devices, and the motor only turns the barrel in a circular motion, you still need to take care of it to ensure it lasts as long as it should and that it works correctly. 

One thing that you will need to do is oil your rock tumbler regularly. You need to apply some lubricating oil to the various parts of your rock tumbler every 30 days to ensure it works correctly. 

Some lubricating oils are better than others when it comes to lubricating your rock tumbler. For rock tumblers, you need to use a good-quality light motor or machine oil that can be used on metal and plastic parts without causing problems. 

You need to ensure that the oil is good quality as low-quality oil will build upon your tumbler’s bearings and other parts. This can cause your rock tumbler to stop working correctly, or it can even break parts of your tumbler. 

If you use an oil that is too heavy, this can also cause a “gum” build-up on the moving parts of your rock tumbler, which can cause it to break if left on the machine for long periods of time.

Can I Use WD40 On My Rock Tumbler?

When you have a rock tumbler, it can become expensive to always buy top-quality lubricating oil for your machine, especially as you need to oil your tumbler every 30 days. This can lead some rock tumbler enthusiasts to try to come up with possible alternatives to these somewhat expensive lubricating oils. 

One of the alternatives that many rock tumbler hobbyists want to try is WD40. After all, isn’t WD40 used in other types of machinery, so why not try it in your rock tumbler? Is this a good idea, or could it lead to some problems down the line with your rock tumbler? 

Well, WD40 is not meant to be a lubricant. WD40 is more of a cleaner and will not lubricate the moving parts of your rock tumbler as well as you hoped it would. WD40 is perfect to use on your rock tumbler when you have a build-up of excess oil or dust on the moving parts of the machine. 

The WD40 will clean these off of your tumbler. However, if you need to lubricate your rock tumbler, do not use WD 40 for the job. This will not adequately lubricate your rock tumbler, and your tumbler will not last as long as it will suffer more wear and tear than one that is properly lubricated. 

TIP: There are two different types of rock tumblers and one of them is the vibratory rock tumbler. Find out how vibratory rock tumblers work in the article below:
Vibratory Rock Tumblers: How They Work & Which One Is Best?

How To Oil Rock Tumbler

Oiling your rock tumbler is a simple and easy task that you can easily do and will not take much time to complete.

In rock tumblers, there are two areas that need oil to function smoothly; these are the bearings and the motors. Oiling the bearings will prevent them from squeaking while in use, and it will prolong their life. 

Older motors will have bearings that need to be oiled, while newer motors tend to have factory-sealed bearings that don’t require lubrication to stay in working order.

Let’s go through how to oil both the bearings and the motors or your rock tumblers to ensure they are working well for years to come. 

Here is how to oil the bearings of your rock tumbler: 

Step 1 – identify the location of the bearings. There will be one bearing on each side of the drive shaft. There will also be one bearing on each side of the idler shaft. 

Step 2 – use a rag or paper towel to wipe away any dirt or excess oil from the bearings. Make sure you rotate the shaft with your free hand to remove all the dirt or oil from the bearings. If you do not clean the bearings properly, the excess oil will attract and collect dirt, grit, and dust, which will damage your bearings. 

Step 3 – open the oil you have chosen to buy and carefully apply one drop of the oil to the drive shaft adjacent to the bearing. Once you have done this, you need to rotate the driveshaft and slide the shaft back and forth through the bearing. Then wipe off any excess oil, and your bearings are good to go. Repeat this process every 30 days. 

Here is how to oil your rock tumbler motor:

Step 1 – locate the two oil ports on the motor you are using. There should be one port on both ends of the motor right above the driveshaft.

Step 2 – use a clean, dry cloth or rag and clean the motor to ensure no dirt or dust is present. If you don’t do this, dirt and dust could enter the motor with the oil and cause problems. 

Step 3 – place one drop of oil inside each oil port on the motor. Wipe off any excess oil, and your motor is now oiled. Repeat this process every 30 days.

TIP: Once you have tumbled your own rocks and have loads of gorgeously polished gemstones, you may start wondering what you can do with them. Check out simple and clever ideas in the article below:
What Can You Do with Tumbled Rocks? 10 Simple & Clever Ideas

Best Oil For Rock Tumblers

Now that we have covered how to oil your rock tumbler properly, we can go through the best oil to use for your rock tumbler. The number one recommended oil for rock tumblers is 3-in-1-10045 motor oil (Amazon link).

This oil is perfect for rock tumblers as it’s a light oil meant to lubricate small electric motors. This oil is a high-grade oil blend that offers an SAE 20 oil rating equivalent, which is excellent. This oil also provides extended wear protection, so you are sure to get more out of your rock tumbler if you use it. 

BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):


Rock tumblers are fun, and it makes a great hobby for people both young and old. However, rock tumblers require some maintenance to ensure they run smoothly and do their jobs correctly.

One such form of maintenance is oiling the machine. Luckily, this is a simple task that is easy to accomplish. Just ensure you use the right, high-quality oil!

TIP: There are some key supplies and equipment you need to ensure your tumbled rocks come out looking smooth and shiny. Check them out in the article below:
GUIDE: Rock Tumbler Accessories, Equipment & Supplies