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This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 47 - Friday 8/15/97
2. RE: Hardness vs Toughness
3. RE: Polishing and Dying Geodes and Agates
4. RE: Polishing and Dying Geodes and Agates
5. RE: Polishing and Dying Geodes and Agates
6. BIO: Dave Millis/Inga Wells
7. BIO: Rick Hong


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 47 - Friday 8/15/97

In Issue #46, I gave an old address for MinLab; they have
moved and their new address is: 3284 Mohawk Drive, Sierra
Vista, AZ 85635; Phone 520-803-9775 (The order phone number
has not changed.) Their e-mail address is,
and their web site URL is = The
price for the deluxe hardness testing kit was lower than I
had suggested; $39.95 rather than $40 (:-).

Do any of you have a Rock "Bull Wheel"? Do any of you have
a Richardson Ranch polishing machine? If so, please send me
a note telling me so, and tell me what you do with these
two machines. Send the note to the address on the masthead
of this Digest. Thanks, and will be picking your brains
about these machines later.

Have a great weekend. Remember the SPF=40 sun lotion, and
use it! Be safe! Have FUN! See you tomorrow or Sunday....


Subject: RE: Hardness vs Toughness

Concerning Peter Rowe's comments about diamond hardness,
cleavage, etc.:

Peter, when you have spoken, there is little else to say.
Thanks for putting me straight. It's been a few years
since I cleaved a diamond in the back seat of a luxury car,
or sawed one either. I'll get right down to the gym and
work on my cubics and octahedrals.

Rick Martin

--non-commercial republish permission granted--

Subject: RE: Polishing and Dying Geodes and Agates

Jeff posed the following question in Issue #46:

<<Regarding the comments about dyeing agates..I would
like to pose the following question: WHY??????>>

Because gemstone treatments are an intregal part of the
Lapidary arts. In the case of Agate,the preferable raw
material is grey, and White. Without the enhancement it
would really be somewhat unattractive. And to call the
process to color Agate dyeing, although that is done, is
really a misnomer. The bulk of it is chemical reactions,
Acid burns, and heat treatment. And if it weren't for the
lab costs, you'd see a lot of irradiations producing some
pretty neat colors.

Gemstone treatments are not a derogatory thing. Cutting
and polishing stone is a treatment too.

Mark Liccini
Gemstone Rough Dealers since 1970 U.S.MAIL
E-Mail: 107 C.Columbus Dr.#1A Jersey City,N.J.07302
Voice Mail/Fax: 201-333-6332

Subject: RE: Polishing and Dying Geodes and Agates

(Ed. Note: I sent the original query to Vince King, as he
knows more about dyeing stones than anyone else I know. He
returned his answers in a personal letter to me, with the
pertinent parts abstracted (and edited) below:)

<<I see all kinds of colored geodes, etc.... in
the stores that have obviously been dyed. How
do they do that?>>

Most of the Geodes that you find on the market that have
been "stained" are of the Brazilian variety. These have
gone through a "cooking" in a Sulphuric Acid Bath, under
pressure, for quite a while. This process opens the
pores of the outer edges of the material, allowing the
dyes to be introduced following the rinsing phase.

Should you purchase a slab of this material, then break
it, you'll notice that this dyeing process does not go
completely through the stone, but is simply a surface
type staining.

Although the term is used loosely, "staining" implies that
the dye intrudes into the stone a mere fraction of an inch,
say .01 each side. Without the acid bath, this would not
occur at all.

-Non Commercial reproduction permission granted-
(although I've no idea why anyone would want to!)
(Ed. Note: Thanks, Vince, for this explanation. For all
of you out there in LapDigest-land, Vince has a home page
at URL= If you look at it, you will find his
cabbing slabs of snakeskin agate with induced inclusions
and designer inclusions! hale)

Subject: RE: Polishing and Dying Geodes and Agates

I posted a variation of the following note to Rockhounds
and to Rocks-and-Fossils mail lists:

"In a Lapidary Digest thread, Steve Ramsdell
<> mentioned that small geodes might
be sanded and polished on a machine called a "Bull Wheel"?
Have any on you heard of this machine? It was suggested
that it was manufactured in the northwest. Maybe at
Richardson's Ranch? Can you tell us anything about the
machine? Speed, etc. hale"

Roger Pabian << >> replied:

The Bull Wheel (TM) is a product of Rock's Lapidary
Equipment. I have an old 1980 address of P.O. Box 10075, San
Antonio, Texas 78210. I think that they are still in
business but don't have a current address. They should be in
the Lapidary Journal Buyer's Guide.

The secret behind the Bull Wheel is simply a lot of
horsepower and a sanding drum with the capability of taking
a lot of abuse. I have seen people try to put expando drums
on 1/2 horse motors and turn them real fast to duplicate the
action of the bull wheel. The results can be disastrous as
one friend had the drum fly apart on him---he looked like
he had spent 15 rounds with Evander Holyfield (or maybe Mike
Tyson, as his ears were banged up too). Don't try to make a
substitute for the real thing.

Richardson's Ranch also has a commercial polisher
for doing thunder egg halves and it is quite effective and
has an air cleaner built into it.

Hope this is of help to you.

(Ed. Note: We will hear more of this Bull Wheel and the
Richardson Polishing machine later. hale)

Subject: BIO: Dave Millis/Inga Wells

Inga Wells and Dave Millis share this logon, but only Dave
does lapidary stuff. I (Dave <>) usually
just make cabs in standard sizes from self collected
materials and occasionally purchased rough. I have several
diamond saws and never buy slabs. I also sell rough and
slabs as well as the few cabs I have time to make. (I make
about 100 a year.) I have an old Graves machine that looks
like the new ones in Lapidary Journal, but I don't read the
magazine. I have polishing equipment for doing geodes
including a 12" buffing wheel for polishing which I also
use for polishing the cabs.

My business name is Rock Doc from a nickname I got while
working at IBM before I retired in 1992. At that time I
was a senior engineer and I have a PhD (piled higher and

I have written two books on rock collecting in New York,
know at least 50 sites near Bancroft, Canada and dozens of
sites near Lordsburg, New Mexico.

Inga is the Eastern representative of ROCKAMANIA, the
largest club in the Rocky Mountain Federation which meets
for 3 or 4 weeks in Lordsburg in Februray for daily field
trips usually for cutting material.

We both do more collecting than any other facet of the
hobby, but try to sell most of it as fast as possible in a
few local shows. If you are interested in field trips to
collect cutting rough in the winter near Lordsburg, you can
contact Inga for info. For info on cutting rough sites near
Bancroft contact Dave. There is not a lot of cutting rough
to be dug in New York, but there is some; contact Dave or
better still buy my book from a local dealer. I don't sell
over the net yet. I will when the next book is done.

Subject: BIO--Rick Hong

Dear Fellow Rockhounds:
Here in Hawaii, we have very few opportunities and
resources related to the mineral and lapidary fields. As
such, we have had to either take trips to mainland locales
to purchase materials or self-dig, or mail-order through
catalogues or over the internet. Fortunately, we have a
local mineral society, and although few in number, the
members are enthusiastic and knowledgeable.
My family and I have been involved in this hobby for only
2 years now. We started the usual way--finding agates,
fossils and petrified wood (on the Oregon coast). That led
to our first tumbler (we now have 4). Last year we went to
Washington State for collecting/purchasing. That led to an
8" trim saw and 8" Crystalite grinder/polisher. This summer,
we went to Central Oregon and really picked up a lot of
material (both self-dug and purchased, from rockshops and
the Madras PowWow). We also have had to resort to buying
more specimens in order to expand our collection. We
recently started a fluorescent collection, and am now
looking for an ac-powered, shortwave UV light fixture (I
have a Raytech LW/SW handheld light, but need a more
permanent model for setting up a display cabinet). I have
checked with Raytech and UVP so far. Does anyone know of
any other companies I can contact?

One final note--we were lucky enough to add to our
collection an enhydro thunderegg which we found at
Richardson's Ranch in Oregon. A lucky find and an even
luckier cut on my saw produced this collector's item. We're
still excited over it.

Anyway, thanx for this great site. I'll be reading every

Rick Hong <>
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