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This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. NOTE: LapDigest News
2. NOTE: How to answer a query
3. New: Bulk Slabbing of Nodules
4. NEW: Are there hand methods for lapidary work?
5. NEW: Source for Rhodonite (was Mottled Polish on Rhodonite)
6. Re: Treating Opal
7. Re: Treating Opal
8. BIO: Lynn Isaacson


Subject: NOTE: LapDigest News

I will not put out a Digest on July 4 or July 5. But please keep the queries and answers coming in!! Next Issue will be published on Sunday, July 6.

The TUMBLING.TXT file by Alan Silverstein is now available for retrieval from the Archives. Just send a message to with
"GET tumbling.txt" on the subject line (without quotes, of course!)

The policy on ADs by companies will be published in the next issue of Lap Digest. It is designed to allow companies to describe themselves to you in some detail once anually and to advertise specials in the signature lines every time they interact (ask a query or answer a query) with the list. Your comments on the policy are solicited; comments should be sent to me at



Subject: NOTE: How to answer a query

You may have noted that the formats of queries and answers to queries are becoming more standardized in form. This is important if we are to catalog and index the contents of all the issues at some point. A start has been made by listing the subject lists for each issue; these are in Contents.txt in the Archives. Take a look at that file, and you will see why uniformity in formatting the message headings is important.

When you reply to a message, please make sure that you are NOT copying the whole digest to send back with your reply. Highlight the relevant parts of the message you want to reference, and use the COPY function in Edit (or use Ctrl-C) to copy ONLY that highlighted part of the Digest. Then paste it into your reply. Please review your message and edit out all extraneous material before sending it off. Send it to '' (without the quotes, of course!), with the title on the subject line

Use NEW: on the subject line, followed by your title, to denote a totally new topic; use RE: followed
by the exact title of the New query you are referring to (as shown below in today's messages). This will help keep track of threads and make life easier when we really start archiving our answers hopefully by thread!

For NEW items, please be brief but descriptive in stating a title. In replying to a query, copy the title exactly so that the thread may be identified in the future by computer.



Date: Wed, 2 Jul 1997 15:44:45 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: New: Bulk Slabbing of Nodules

Hi all:

One of the duties performed in the production of Fischerstone involves
taking nodules of Snake Skin Agate, from the size of your first down to
golf ball size, and slabbing them. Current process includes blocking this material in 1/2 gallon milk cartons with plaster patch as the bonding
medium. The use of Almag oil as the coolant has it's detrimental effects, such as the cutting residue forming an unusual sludge that doesn't settle
out as one would expect with other carrier agents. Thanks to Peter Rowe,
the ability to reclaim some of this captured oil is derived through the use of paper bags. Question to you commercial cutters, or hobbyests who have experience in bulk slabbing, would you describe the technique you use? Results? Pros and cons. I am interested in reevaluating my S.O.P., incorporating as much knowledge as you are willing to impart.

Thank You in advance


Copper in Agate, Tin in Agate, Designer inclusions.


From: Rusty.Etzwiler <>
Date: Wed, 2 Jul 1997 13:34:30 -0700

Subject: NEW: Are there hand methods for lapidary work?

I am a dyed-in-the wool rockhound and mineral collector. I am also a greenhorn jewelry fabricator. I don't have lapidary equipment yet and would appreciate information on hand-working (before electricity) techniques. I have the Lortone hand-cabber but know there must be other methods that can be done at a Forest Service campsite without electrical outlets or "fancy equipment". Any others interested in learning about such techniques?

Editorial Note: Here is a lapidary question I had never considered before: how do you do lapidary by hand? I have seen the Lortone hand-cabber, and was once told by Paul Downing that his first opal was cut, while he was a graduate student, on a Lortone hand-cabber. (He recommended it as a good way to really learn and appreciate the techniques of cabbing.) Aside from the hand-cabber, are there other hand methods he might use? A diamond blade in a jeweler's saw for sawing? I also remember a posting on another mail list in which a fellow told -(I never knew whether or not he was pulling our legs)- of putting rocks, grit, and water in a water-tight can and putting it in the trunk of his car. The bumpy roads he traveled caused a tumbler like action, and he declared that he tumbled rocks that way!

Are there other hand methods Rusty Etzwiler might consider?

Date: Wed, 2 Jul 1997 21:33:15 -0700 (PDT)

Subject: NEW: Source for Rhodonite (was Mottled Polish on Rhodonite)

In regard to message (3) of Issue #15, I live in BC & have access to "some" nice but not excellent rhodonite. If interested please contact me off line. Thank you. I hope I did this right in replying to the sender.

Kamloops, BC:)


Date: Wed, 2 Jul 1997 23:24:47 -0400

Subject: Re: Treating Opal

In Issue XX, Liccini wrote:

<<Soaking with a saturated sugar solution allows the sugar to creep into the cracks. Then treating with sulfuric acid oxidizes the sugar leaving black carbon residue.... (snip)... >>

Hello all, Since this treatment with acid is only leaving a black carbon residue, is this a permanent treatment or will it eventually wear off?


Date: Wed, 2 Jul 1997 20:29:15 -0700

Subject: Re: Treating Opal

Thanks to all who have supplied information about stabilizing opal.
I think the Louisiana Opal will respond favorably to the "burnt sugar"
treatment. (In appearance I would describe it as opalized gray sandstone,
with a lot of small flashes of color in it.) I'll probably try something
like Opticon on it afterward if it still appears grainy.

Gary Ogg
Columbia, SC


Date: Wed, 2 Jul 1997 13:22:50 -0700 (PDT)

Subject: BIO: Lynn Isaacson

I am a CAD Designer living just north of Seattle, Washington. I have always
collected rocks, minerals and fossils and now want to start doing something
with them. A few weeks ago I bought a Lortone Cabber and borrowed my
mothers Foredom and am setting up a room for lapidary and jewelry making.
I've been wanting to do this for a long time and am really excited. Any
pointers would be appreciated, both in studio setup and in working the stone.
I have lots of labradorite I want to cut and I just bought a few bottles of
opal to play with. I really like minerals that play with light and hope to
do some freeform. I'm so glad I found this list, now to ask questions and
learn and later to contribute!

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