TOOLS How I line a Lortone 3A tumbler

When simply adding polymer clay beads, sandpaper and water into my Lortone tumbler barrel, I found the black rubber slightly yellows my beads. A few others have also reported similar problems when using a black rubber barrel tumbler.

An alternative, according to Dave Arens, is presented at the bottom of this page.

Borrowing from some of the characteristics of my plastic kiddie tumbler barrel, I decided to modify a plastic container and insert that in the Lortone barrel. It protects the beads from discoloration and because I added some "ribs" to the container, it promotes tumbling, just like the kiddie tumbler.

The steps I took to modify the 32 oz. polypropylene container (a cottage cheese container in this case) are advanced steps, which I cover here.



Transform a cottage cheese container into a Lortone 3A rock tumbler liner with ribs.


  Lining my Lortone rubber tumbler


  • 1 - 32 oz plastic tapered tub (PP or HDPE) with lid
    • tub base should fit just inside Lortone barrel
  • 1 - plastic clothes hanger
  • 4 - #2 1/4" brass wood screws
  • power sander w/ 80 wet/dry grit
  • drill w/ 1/16th drill bit
  • Xacto w/ #11 blade
  • scissors

Use scissors to cut enough height from the top of the container so it can it just short of the height of the inside lower ledge of the Lortone barrel.

  Use scissors to trim the outer area of the lid so the remainder can rest just on the lower ledge of the Lortone barrel.
  Since the container is tapered, it cannot fit all the way into the barrel. Make two vertical cuts in the sides of the container; from top to bottom (but not the base). The sides can then overlap a bit and then easily slide all the way into the barrel.



 Cut two straight segments from the plastic clothes hanger. The length of the segments should match the height of the plastic liner.

If the segments (to become the ribs of the liner) are round, you should use the sander to give a flatten side to the segments. They will be easier to attach to the liner.

Then you need to pre-drill the holes into the ribs; one hole 1/2 inch from the top and the second hole about an inch below the first one.

You should also very small cut holes in the sides of the liner where you want the screws to fit through.


 Attach the ribs on the inside, as shown in the diagram. Since the liner sides overlap more as it reaches the top, try to keep the screws near the top. This will allow the overlaping sides to cover the screws and protect the rubber barrel from the metal heads.

It is important how the sides overlap in relation to the rotation of the barrel. If the liner edges lead when rotating, this will allow the chips to work their way inbetween the walls. That would be bad. :(

Make sure the edges trail.


(You might wonder why not use an adhesive to attach the ribs. If you can find one that works, let me know. Plastics experts told me one doesn't exist.)




 This diagram shows the order of components:

  • Lortone nut
  • Lortone washer
  • Lortone metal lid
  • Lortone rubber lined sealer
  • liner lid
    • optional - add a sheet of sand paper that matches the grit of the chips you're using that's the same size as the liner lid.
  • liner
  • Lortone rubber barrel

Here's a tip for eliminating the yellowing problem caused by the tumbler rubber  

Dave Arens wrote:

Probably the best way to clean a tumbler & shot is with Draino.

When it's time to clean my vibratory tumbler & 5lbs of shot, I drain the liquid from the tumbler. Then I add about a 2 oz dixie cup of granular Draino & 2 oz of water, put the lid on it & let it run for about an hour.

After about an hour, I drain the liquid down the drain & rinse the shot & tumbler with warm water. I wipe the tumbler out with a paper towel & put the shot back in & put the lid on it.I let the tumbler in that condition until I need to use it again.

When it's time to use it, I add about 2 oz of real ammonia from the hardware store, not the soapy junk from the grocery store. I add a pinch of burnishing soap, but a drop or 2 of Dawn would work as well. Putting too much liquid in it serves no purpose.

The tumbler works by having the shot impact on the items being burnshed. Adding too much liquid reduces the force with which the shot impacts the items being burnished thus reducing the burnishing. The burnishing compound or Dawn acts as a lubricant to give the shot better action.

There's nothing better than having a great tool when you need it.


Last update to this page: 6 Aug 04. Send comments, questions or suggestions to Desiree McCrorey.