When selecting your rocks it is important to remember Golden Rule #1 "Garbage In Equals Garbage Out". To achieve a high quality result it is important to start with quality rough rock. Use your own judgement here and make notes in your log to learn from your experiences.
Rocks that are porous, should be discarded. They will not polish out to that high quality brilliant shine that you are looking for and may carry grit from one step to another, creating an issue with Golden Rule #2 "Avoid Contamination".
Rocks with fractures will most likely break while tumbling and scratch the other rocks in the batch. If you are able to break the rock at the fracture, the rock can still be used, otherwise it should be discarded.
To achieve the best result, the barrel should be loaded with rock of various sizes (1/4 inch up to 1 inch) and similar condition and hardness. Rocks with jagged edges will take longer than rocks without, thus both would have different processing times, same with hardness. By selecting rocks with similar condition and hardness, you are selecting rocks that have similar processing times.
Loading the Barrel
Make sure the barrel is clean before loading, remember Golden Rule #2 "Avoid Contamination". It is also imperative to load the Tumbler with the proper amount of materials, or the process will not be successful, and the motor could be damaged. An under loaded barrel will not lift rocks up the inner side walls allowing the cascading effect. Also, the abrasive material in an under loaded Tumbler will tend to form a slurry and will not be effective. An overloaded Tumbler will not allow the rocks to cascade. Lastly, too much water will cause the abrasives to float and not do their job.
Load the barrel from 2/3 to 3/4 full. More pointed or abrasive rocks or stones will require close to 3/4 full, leaving a 1/2 full barrel when it comes time to polish. If you don't have enough rock to fill the barrel 2/3 full, we recommend filling the remaining volume with plastic pellets.
Note: Make sure loaded barrel isn't over 3 lbs. An overloaded barrel may damage the motor.