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This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 53 Sat. 8/30/97
2. NEW: Fixing Nevada Opal
3. NEW: Richardson's High speed sander
4. NEW: Dopping Suggestions
5. RE: Bulk Slabbing of Nodules and Geodes.
6. RE: Chrysoprase
7. RE: Chrysoprase
8. RE: Polishing Amber
9. BIO: Beth Echols
10. BIO: Barbara and David Tuttle
11. BIO: John Duncan


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 53 Sat. 8/30/97

I hope all of you have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend!
For the 47 members who live outside the US, this weekend
for us is a long holiday weekend, Friday through Monday for
many of us. Everyone be careful, use SPF 35 and Have fun!

I find it hard to realize that the Digest has come this far
in only three months; this is Issue 53, and we have 401
subscribers receiving this issue!

If you can think of ways we can improve the Digest, or
things we can add which will be useful to you, please let
me know.


Subject: NEW: Fixing Nevada Opal

Anyone know anything about fixing cracky Nevada opal?


Subject: NEW: Richardson's High speed sander

About a year ago I purchased a used high speed sander from
Richardson's Rec. ranch but it didn't have any instructions
with it. I phoned Richardson's for instructions and they
gave me instructions over the phone. I followed them, but
did not get the results I was looking for. I am trying to
polish hard agates and jaspers using the outer edge of the
sanding disks, but this produces ripples across the surface
of the piece and the edge of the disk often snags on the
piece, producing shrapnel. Also, the piece gets so hot by
the time I have it sanded that cracks often form.

I know this machine works since I have seen good results by
other people. Is there anyone on the list who can give me
a complete run-down on how to use the machine including
what grit disks to use, what part of the disk to use, and
any "tricks of the trade" that might be helpful? If the
answer is too lengthy, feel free to email me directly
off-list. Thanks.
Vance McCollum
Earth Relics Co.

non-commercial republish permission granted
Subject: NEW: Dopping Suggestions

>I'd like to hear some alternatives to the dop-pot approach
>for holding onto small pieces, since amber responds as badly
>to being flung about as to heat- has anybody tried hide glue,
>(which is water resistant but dissolves in alcohol) often
>used by woodworkers for items which are to be disassembled?
>What about warm beeswax?

This is in response to questions about dopping amber and to
someone who recently mentioned dopping stones to pieces of
wood for slabbing.

Another answer to both: sodium silicate (water glass). If
you don't see it on the drugstore (or farm store) shelves,
ask the pharmacist. I think egg-producers use it to coat
eggs to help keep them fresh, and I don't know what else
it's used for -- except dopping.

I've used it for years to dop to "heel" pieces for slabbing.
Just cut a few pieces of square or rectangular hunks of
lumber in lengths to fit the jaws of your slab saw and your
stones. You'll want a variety of diameters to provide the
maximum amount of area to "glue" to the sawed surface of
your heel pieces.

I usually pour a small amount of water glass into a shallow
throw-away aluminum pie plate, dip the end of the wood into
it and apply the wood to the slab. Set it into the box you
use to hold kitty litter to degrease your slabs to keep it
level (or come up with some other leveling arrangement) and
let it sit for a couple of days to harden.

Saw with oil-based coolants ONLY because water glass is
soluble in water -- that's where its name comes from. You
don't want a stone coming loose while sawing. Using oil,
I've never had that happen. When you want to un-dop, soak
the stone-wood assembly in a bucket of water for a few days,
dry out the wood, and you're ready to start again.

The same procedure works well on amber and other "sensitive"
materials for dopping. You might want to coat the dried
water glass on the dop/stone with clear nail polish or some
other waterproof coating to protect it from the water
coolant during grinding/sanding. (You may have to carefully
peel this coating away with a scalpel to un-dop). I don't
use a coating because I've found I can complete the stone
before the water glass softens, but you've been warned.

Rick Martin
-- non-commercial republish permission granted --

Subject: RE: Bulk Slabbing of Nodules and Geodes.

Hi Hale and all.
My name is Bill Collins and I have a comment and a question
concerning slabbing.

I have collected many geodes and various small globular
agates over the years but could never cut them because the
saw vices would not hold them and they were so round that
they could not be glued up to a chunk of board secure enough.
I got a bright idea and tried it. It worked like a charm and
have since found that many others have used the same or
similar technique.

Save some of the square milk/orange juice
containers (Half-gallon size work great). Mix some mortar
mix (or plaster of paris -- I used mortar mix) and place
alternate layers of mix and rocks-to-be-sawn into the
containers (cut the tops of the containers off first to make
it square). The cement will surround the stones (try to
orient the stones in the cement so as to get the proper
faces cut) and lock them in position. After setting up about
a day, just put the container with the rocks into the vise
and start slabbing. Better results will be obtained by
marking on the container where the cuts should be made in
relation to the rocks. Of course the containers are
destroyed as you cut but are easily replaced.

Question: The above procedure makes a horrible mess of the
oil/lubricant in the saw tank. I would therefore recommend
that it only be used immediately before changing the oil or
lubricant) unless -- does anyone know of a way to clean the
oil so that it may be reused? I have heard that there is a
simple way but I don't know what it is. help ????

Bill Collins
(Ed. note: Bill, this topic was discussed back in Issues
17 throu 28, under the subject title: Bulk Slabbing of
Nodules. I just checked the Archives for Index-47.txt file,
which is an index of all topics in the first 47 issues,
and find that items in this thread appeared as follows,
where 17 is the Issue No., and 3 is the Item No.:

Bulk Slabbing of Nodules: 17-3, 18-3, 18-4, 19-3, 20-7,
21-5, 24-7, 28-4

Bulk slabbing was discussed in these items, as was how to
clean up oil. See Welcome letter or the note at the end of
any issue for how-to instructions for accessing the
Archives. If you want more information on oil cleanup after
reading these, send a query to the digest. hale)

Subject: RE: Chrysoprase

According to the Summer 1988 issue of Gems & Gemology
the color of chrysoprase is due to microscopic inclusions
of a nickeliferous clay-like material. I am however, not
sure what the white portions are. Perhaps, since it is a
member of the quartz group the white areas are just portions
without the inclusions that gives the color. From what I
have read the best chrysoprase does indeed come from
Australia, though I have never been there to make sure :).
Like you, I would also like to find a good source for this
material. About a month ago, I e-mailed a company that
advertised this material in Lapidary Journal, asking for
information, but I have yet to get a response .

Scott Steward

Subject: RE: Chrysoprase

CHRYSOPRASE: The most interesting bit of lore I know is
that it was considered a good amulet for thieves, as it made
them invisible and protected them from hanging. I won't
guarantee it!

Chrysoprase is a chalcedony, that is a non patterned agate
of some translucence and even color, a form of
cryptocrystaline silica. Although silica is the most
abundant component in the crust of the earth, gem varieties
of agate (translucent or banded silica) and jasper (opaque
cryptocrystaline silica) occur in endless varieties and some
of these are rare and beautiful. Chrysoprase, being silica,
has a hardness of seven and the coloration is due to the
presence of nickel, as opposed to gem crysocolla which is
chalcedony colored by the soft blue green copper mineral,

In terms of availability and cost, the best of most gem
materials is earmarked for major cutting centers or
organizations who see that it is carefully cut and well
marketed to the top dollar markets of the world. It will be
set aside at the mine and never appear on the open market.
Unless you devote a long time to learning to operate in
these mining areas and mastering the nuances of quality you
are generally wasting your time trying to buy rough at the

With regard to chrysoprase, most of the material comes from
a few remote sources in the Australian bush. White dots,
pits, dark dendrites, and other junk generally originates
where the agate vein meets the red earth on either side,
with some areas of solid gemmy material of good color
occurring on rare occasions in the central area of the vein.
The rough is hard to judge, as the color looks deeper in the
chunk than it will in a cab, just like a pane of glass looks
deep green when you peer in at the edge but looking through
the pane the glass seems colorless. The thicker the
material, if it is clear, the deeper the color. And then
there is the moment when you are doing your final shaping of
a stone and suddenly a pit or some other lurking ugly
inclusion shows up on the surface of the stone... there is a
lot of disappointment in cutting chrysoprase and the rough
is often priced at more than it is worth.

There is, on the positive side, a strong demand for top
quality chrysoprase in finely cut cabs. You might want to
shop the Tucson or Denver gem and mineral shows, comparing
and haggling, until you find some promising pieces. If you
get to the point where you have a source that you can work
with, then you can easily develop a market for every fine
stone you can cut. And there is a market for medium quality
goods among the crafts fair jewelers, where the interesting
color makes up for some inclusions.

As you can probably gather, I take the easy way out and cut
the fabulous American agates and jaspers that can still be
located in this country, usually in old collections or at
old time rock shops. A small amount of mining continues
for these materials in the US.

Hope this helps,

Visit my website at or send
me email at

-- non-commercial republish permission granted --

Subject: RE: Polishing Amber

As for polishing amber, I've achieved wonderful results on
my Genie using diamond. I usually shape carefully on the
600-grit metal wheel, refine on the 600 sanding wheel, and
run the wheels thru 14,000 to polish: no further polish

I was excited recently when a small piece of amber I
polished this way turned out to have a bug inside. I
whipped out my 10X loupe and was disappointed to discover
. . . a flea. As the poet Ogden Nash (I think) said:
"Fleas: Adam had 'em."

Rick Martin

-- non-commercial republish permission granted --

Subject: BIO: Beth Echols

Hi everyone. Been reading the digest for several weeks now
but have not sent in the requisite bio. Have been actively
involved in lapidary pursuits for past four years. Prior
to that seems I've always been a rockhound to some degree.
Work in a South Carolina school system as a School
Psychologist. Am secretary of the Low Country Gem and
Mineral Society in Charleston, South Carolina. Have taken
classes at William Holland and Wildacres in Faceting, Opal
Cutting, Silversmithing and Wirewrapping. Am an opaholic.
Primarily cut opals but do other cabs as well. Have a
Diamond Pacific Pixie. Am a facetor (that was my first
venture) and have a Graves Mark I. I also do wirewrapping.

Hope to learn to wax model and cast so I can do something
with my opals and faceted stones other than wirewrapping
them. I have a Diamond Laser 3000 band saw and own a
large slab saw with a friend. I am enjoying this digest
very much.

Hale...I do have a question. Does anyone out there know
if the gem and mineral show usually held at Jekyll Island,
Georgia over the Labor Day weekend is being held this year.
Can't find anything in LJ or Rock and Gem.


Date: Fri, 29 Aug 1997 12:12:29 -0700
To: <>
Subject: BIO: Barbara and David Tuttle

We're Barbara and David Tuttle from a little town north of
Jacksonville, Florida.

We've been in the hobby for nearly 17 years and have
enjoyed meeting many new friends. Barbara wire wraps
and collects minerals. David does a little of a lot, rock
carving,mineral collecting, faceting, cabbing, etc.

Barbara recently started collecting material for a "rock
dinner". We've belong to the Jacksonville Gem & Mineral
Society and have been active in the Southeast Federation
for a number of years. We've seen the "rock dinner" that
Bill and Lois Pattillo have. If you get a chance to see
it you'll know what inspired Barbara to try it.

Barbara & David Tuttle
(Ed. note. As usual, the Tuttles are being modest. David
was President of the SFMS, and if he does a little of a lot
in lapidary or writing, he does a little very well,
everytime.(smile) Glad to have y'all aboard. Hale)

Subject: BIO: John Duncan

Over the last 26 years I have been a rockhound, sphere
maker, member of the Convair Rockhounds and, with my wife
Peggy, have raised four boys. I have built several sphere
machines and now have a collection of over 150 spheres,
mostly made from self-collected material. I would like to
know of any unusual, accessible, marble and granite deposits.
Recently, I built a small rock lathe and have been turning
small items, mostly from soapstone and the like. Any
suggestions on turning hard (e.g.., agate, jade) materials
would be appreciated. When not rockhounding, I am a patent
attorney nearing partial retirement. September will be spent
motorhoming and rockhounding through the Black Hills, Wyoming
and Utah. I would be glad to try to answer any questions on
sphere making and patents (no fee!).
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