Administered by Hale Sweeny (

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 50 - Tues. 8/26/97
2. NEW: Other ways to Cut and Polish Cabs or Freeforms
3. NEW: Suppliers List
4. RE: Polishing and Dyeing Geodes and Agates
5. RE: Polishing and Dyeing Geodes and Agates
6. AD: Thom Lane


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 50 - Tues. 8/26/97

In the future, I will probably not publish more than one
issue every two days, or five issues every two weeks, and
I would like to explain the reasons for this.

Anne, my wife of 50 years, developed Alzheimer's some time
ago, and now requires almost full time care. In the
beginning, the LapDigest was a blessing, as I had to stay
home most of the time to care for her, and it fulfilled the
lapidary interest I could not otherwise pursue. However,
her condition now demands more and more of my time and I
must cut back somewhere.

I could just let your messages go straight to the Digest
without any editorial input or scrutiny, but I think the
quality of the Digest would suffer if I did that. One thing
I can do is to decrease the number of issues, and I think
that I can handle an issue every other day. We will see.

One other solution is to get others involved in the process,
and I am pursuing that now (see below, for example!).

I have lived with the knowledge of her condition for a long
time, and have come to peace with it.

This is something of an anniversary issue - 50! I can't
believe that we have put out that many! And for your
information, we now have more then 380 subscribers! And
subscribers in 15 countries, with more than 47 outside the

Have fun, and ... ROCK ON!!


Subject: NEW: Other ways to Cut and Polish Cabs or Freeforms

We get so tied up with our Genies and Pixies and other
cabbing machines that we often overlook the fact that there
are other ways of doing what we do, and that we can and
should learn from others. We also saw this back in a thread
on non-machine methods of lapidary.

The following is a thread shamelessly copied from the Orchid
Digest, a mail list for metalsmiths and (mostly amateur)
jewelers. In it, five jewelers or metalsmiths or other
craftspersons tell how they shape and polish stones with the
tools THEY have at hand or which they improvise. They have
all given permission to have their posts quoted. Their posts
(I) - I am primarily a metalsmith, but I am interested in
shaping and reshaping stones to make them a little more
interesting. Right now I carve them with diamond burs on a
Dremel and some sandpaper. This works great for me. I
was wondering what I could use with my Dremel now to get a
good polish on these stones. I'm not sure if I want to
invest in a stone polishing unit just yet. Any advice on
gemstone carving would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
(II) - I use various diamond compounds (available from Rio
Grande, Rayteck, Gesswein etc.) on a hard felt wheel mounted
on a mandrel in a flexshaft. I sand the stone with a sanding
stick- 240, 320, 600 grit, then go to 600, 1200, 3000, 8000,
50,000, then grit diamond paste. It works well on tourmaline,
garnet, and other medium hardness cabs that show hard wear.
One gram tubes are a few dollars each and last a long time.
(III)-Might add to this that the tubes you buy are just
grease mixed with diamond dust. You can buy the dust alone
graded into the mesh you need,and mix with vasoline. This
is not only a lot less expensive, but you can make the
strength you like. Most diamond powders sell for $1/ct or
(Ed. note: In this, John starts off with the traditional
way lapidarys polish, then goes to a 'Dremel' method.)

(IV) -G'day; For polishing most semi-precious gemstone
material I use a piece of old leather cemented rough side
out to a wooden disc, mounted on a second-hand mains motor.
I paint a slurry of tin oxide in water on the leather and
spin it at about 800rpm. One has to press the work hard on
the leather, and presently the work begins to drag - and
that's when the polish works best. You can see your face in
it! This is excellent for cabochons and large pieces, but
it's easy to soften the dopping wax if you aren't careful.

To get into places where the big disc won't work I use
little 1" discs of leather with tin oxide, or sometimes
various diamond pastes down to #5000 grit, using tiny hard
felt discs in a Dremel, but leather is better with tin oxide
for large areas, I reckon. Just another ha'porth! Cheers,
(V)-Depending on the stone you are polishing (My main stone
is opal which is not so difficult to polish), you can use a
felt buff but make sure you have all the scratches out using
500 to 700 wet and dry sandpaper. Then use either tin oxide
or cerium oxide mixed with water into a past. You can also
use 50,000 to 100,000 grit diamond paste. Let me know if I
can sell you some opal...
To summarize, they use Dremels & diamond burrs to carve
their stones, sanding sticks or sandpaper to shape and
smooth the stones, and Dremels with hard felt wheels or
rough leather pads and polishing powders to polish. Most
interesting was Mark's suggestion to make your own
diamond powder paste.

Contributers to the thread were Jill Alessandra
< > and < >,
Richard Hamilton <>, Mark Liccini
<>, John Burgess <>, and Peter
Brusaschi <>.
Published in Orchid Digest, Issue #158.

Subject: NEW: Suppliers List

I have been working on a list of names and addresses of the
major lapidary equipment manufacturers, and suppliers, and
intend to periodically publish this list. Especially looking
for their e-mail addresses. Does this sound like something
you would like to see? If so, let me know. And if you have
names and addresses of YOUR favorite suppliers, send them
to ME and I will add them. (Anyone want to take this on as
a continuing project? Good pay - I'll make you an ASSISTANT

Then yesterday came a letter from Frank Frabbiele, which I
am printing below. Some of you might be interested in the
book cited. If anyone else buys it, let me know, so I will
know where to write in an emergency!

Hale, I have something you may be interested in. Some time
ago I was contacted about obtaining a copy of a brand-new
publication which listed as near to all the people,
companies,products etc. for the jewelry and lapidary
trades. I had all but given up on ever seeing a copy of the
phantom publication or my $45.00, when it showed up Friday!

It is called "Daves Source Directory for the Jewelry and
Lapidary Trades", "the most complete and up to date listing
of businesses and products that are used in the jewelry and
lapidary trades."

The table of contents really says it all:
Section One- product listings,
Section two-suppliers addresses,
Section three-regional listing by city and state.

Here is the address should this sound good to you:
Dave's Source Directories,
P.O. Box 14148
Torrance,Ca 90503-8148

There is no phone number listed in the directory, nor an
e-mail address. So you have to write to obtain one. It may
come in handy for those hard to answer questions that you
want to go to the source for.

Regards, Frank for ROUGH&TUMBLE <>

Subject: RE: Polishing and Dyeing Geodes and Agates

Gary Entrot wrote: <<... <snip> ... Let's just say it is
probably nothing I will ever do, but being a beginner I was
curious as to "how". ... <snip> ... >>

I recently saw a program on NHK (Japan TV) about an agate
carver who heat treated his agates before carving. The
process was crude and lengthy, involved covering several
chunks of Brazilian agate with wood ashes, then starting a
charcoal fire on top of the box. fire was kept going several
weeks, cooling period was lengthy too. Result was yucky gray
agate which turned scarlet and white.. just right for
carving a goldfish!

Earl English

-non-commercial republish permission granted-
(Ed. note: Flintknappers commonly heat treat their rocks
before knapping tools from them; rather than a charcoal
fire atop the stones, they use modern electric kilns and
have reduced this art almost to a precise recipe. We will
have a posting on flntknapping and heat treating soon, I
hope! But in addition, if any of you understand the
effects of heat on crystalline structure of, say a
microcrystalline quartz, please write and share your
knowledge. I believe the red comes from alteration of iron
compounds. --- hale)

Subject: RE: Polishing and Dyeing Geodes and Agates

<<For coloring stones there is a book out called Gemstone
& Chemicals by George W. Fischer, PHD. I think the author
is deceased now and the book might not be in print anymore.
But I've seen copies still for sale once in awhile at some
older rock shops out west. >>

I got my copy last year from Alice Fischer. She had a good
supply of books when I last spoke to her. Her address is:
Alice Fischer
E. 1700 Shelton Springs Road, Sp 17
Shelton, WA 98584

I think it was about $15. The chemicals are expensive for
the Fischerstone process, and the agate that respond to the
process are quite few. Snakeskin agate is one of the few
that work well, and Vince King seems to have cornered the
market on that material. The process takes several months
on the material I've tried.

DR. Fischer has quite a few other processes that I have
not tried. It is a neat book.

Subject: AD: Thom Lane

Hi Folks,
I'm Thom, of Lane Lapidary, a one person stone cutting
service to jewelers (with the exception of faceting). I am
a collector and dealer in rare agate and jasper specimens
and my speciality is Morrisonite Jasper. Please visit my
website at where I have
photos of the mining operations at the morrisonite mine
where I worked and collected and bought rough during the
last three summers. There is also an online scapbook from
my mining trip with Gene Mueller, of The Gem Shop in
Cedarburg, Wisconsin, to the Agua Nueava agate deposit in
Mexico this past March. Please drop me a line, feedback on
my website is welcome, and let me know if you have needs for
fine rough or cut stones or collector specimens or cabochons.

I will try to share some of my ideas about equipment and
technique with other members of this group and look forward
to learning from you as well. I believe in the free and open
exchange of information and materials.
Best regards to all,
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