Tumbler Making for Beginners: Common Questions and Easy Answers

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Tumbler making for beginners can be really stressful. In my time making tumblers, I have been asked and seen asked a barrage of questions about tumblers, from where to buy to what to do. I have added some of the ones I see most frequently here.

Where do I buy tumblers in bulk?

I have a post related to this, but if you want the quick version, there are two sites I recommend before any other. 

MakerFlo

Stainless Steel Depot

I have purchased A TON of tumblers from both of these sites and I have never had an issue. The tumblers are durable, easy to work with and keep hot drinks hot and cold dinks cold for just as long as any other, in my opinion.

What kind of epoxy should I use?

This depends on a few things. 

Use a normal epoxy if:

  • you’re a new maker with little to no experience with fast set epoxies
  • you need some extra time to work with the epoxy and get it on the cup. This could be while working with alcohol inks or layering multiple glitter colors on your cup (like with a beach themed cup, for example 
  • You have the time to let you cups dry
  • You are a beginner tumbler maker

Use a fast set export if:

  • You are an experienced maker
  • You have lots of orders to get through and not a lot of time
  • You have a limited amount of tumbler turners 

In terms of brands, I love Mr Nola’s Speed Dry. It is my all-time, hands down favorite epoxy to work with. It’s a quick dry, easy to work with, no fuss epoxy that never leaves bubbles and dries with a shine I haven’t seen in any other epoxy I have used.

When I was a beginner and needed an easily accessed epoxy with a longer dry time, I used Alumilite Amazing Clear Cast. It was very easy to get the hang of, even though I was new and had no idea how to use epoxy. It sometimes dried a little tacky, but it was nothing a little sanding and a new coat of epoxy wouldn’t fix. I also recommend a heat gun to pop the bubbles, as this epoxy can bubble quite a bit.

How do I prep my tumbler?

I have a post about this as well, but I recommend Klean Right a concrete and Metal prep. You can prep multiple tumblers in about 30 minutes. You also don’t waste your elbow grease. 

Why do I need to prep my tumbler?

Tumblers have a protective coating on them that repels water and helps protect the cup from rusting and erosion.  You don’t need this coating, because you’ll have epoxy to protect it. So you take it off. 

How long does my cup need to cure? When can I give it to my customer?

This is completely dependent on the type and brand of epoxy you choose. 

While some tumblers are “dry” in 4-6 hours, they still need approximately 72 hours to completely cure. 

What’s the difference between set time and cure time for epoxy?

Most two part resins come with a resin portion and a hardener portion. Mixing these two together allows the chemical reaction that gives the resin it’s hard and shiny solid state. 

The drying or set time is the time needed for the epoxy to dry (duh).  This means that after this allotted amount of time, tumblers are ok to move or sand. They are NOT safe to drink from until they are fully cured. 

Curing time is the amount of time for the epoxy to reach its maximum hardness and protection. Some resin products do not list the curing time. A good rule of thumb is to give your final coat of epoxy 72 hours before you deliver the tumbler to your customer. This also means 72 hours before you package and mail a tumbler. 

How long do tumblers need to spend on a turner?

Again, this depends on the epoxy. My quick drying Mr Nola’s Speed Dry is dry in about four hours, so I typically turn my turners off at 2.5 hours. My normal 8 hour epoxies I let spin for about 5-6 hours. But if you leave them longer, it won’t hurt anything. 

How much should I charge for my tumblers?

This answer is completely dependent on you, the amount of overhead you have invested (including the amount of time the tumbler takes to make) and your area.

Personally, I start a tumbler off at $5 over the size in ounces for just a plain glitter tumbler with no frills. So for example, a 20oz tumbler would be $25, a 30oz would be $35 and so forth.

I then add $5 for each additional thing I do to it. So if I put a name or decal on it, that 20oz tumbler would now be $30. If I do a woodgrain tumbler with a name or decal, then that 20oz tumbler is now $35.

Again, you have to know your area as well. I know for a fact I would be hard pressed to sell a $50 tumbler in my area, despite what’s on it or how long it took me to make. But I will absolutely make a $50 tumbler and list it on my website, because chances are really good I will find a buyer from somewhere else that will spend a little more on a quality tumbler.

But there you have it. Those are some of the most frequently asked questions I’ve had, heard and read about while on my tumbler making journey. If you have any advice about tumbler making for beginners, or if you have a question of your own, drop it below.

Tumbler Making for Beginners FAQs

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