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1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 73 - Thur 10/16/97
2. NOTE: Thank you
3. NEW: Saw for Cutting a 550 lb Geode
4. NEW: Small Tumbler Motors
5. NEW: Clamping Rocks in a Saw Vise
6. RE: Vertical Flat Lap Problems
7. RE: Soapstone Carving Rough and Supplies
8. BIO: Raymond Rodebaugh
Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 73 - Thur 10/16/97
Some have written commenting on the trivia I gave in the last
issue's News; here is some more:
..On the average, the list serve computer receives 21
command messages a day, mostly requesting files from
the Archives. I leave it on 24 hours a day.
..The current membership is 540.
..The list has 57 members with known non-USA membership,
broken down as shown below. The actual non-USA
membership is higher than this, but I can't tell it
from their addresses, as some of them have .com or
Extensions Count Country
--------- --- --------
au 8 Australia
be 1 Belgium
bg 1 Bulgaria
ca 19 Canada
de 3 Germany
dk 1 Denmark
es 1 Spain
fi 1 Finland
it 1 Italy
nl 1 Netherlands
no 4 Norway
nz 2 New Zealand
ru 2 Russia
se 3 Sweden
sg 1 Singapore
tw 1 Taiwan
uk 6 United Kingdom
za 1 South Africa
Total 57 18 non-USA countries
In the last Issue, I said we had our first member from
Romania. I was wrong; that member was from Russia, and was
our second member from Russia.
Below you will find a rather complete BIO for Ray Rodebaugh.
It is longer than the other BIOs, but it is so interesting
that I finally decided not to ask him to cut it, but to run
it as submitted.
A "Special" Edition of the Lapidary Digest will be published
tomorrow, and will contain one article, FELDSPAR, by Anita
Westlake. I am sure you will enjoy this paper as much as I
did. The feldspars are one of the most important classes of
lapidary materials, as you will learn tomorrow.
Finally, if any of you have scroll problems with this issue,
please let me know. I set the width four spaces wider. If
any of you are having problems, we will go back to the old
Smile! Hug and Kiss the ones you love. And above all, have
Subject: NOTE: Thank you
I just want to thank all of those who submitted suggestions
and tips on the grinding wheel issue brought to the list.
The information was very helpful.
I'd like to mention, that I did take several classes with my
local rock club; they had Covington and Genie's and I was
trained on what they had. They really didn't go into the
various choices one has to choose from. I didn't realize what
my options were until I started shopping. I choose to setup
at home for the sake of convenience due to wheelchair
accessibility at the shop; entry into the shop is impossible
without someone carrying me up steps, and no bathroom is
available for me.
Perhaps, this is something more clubs should take into
consideration, making sure that 'everyone' has the ability
to enjoy their club completely. I've been a member of two
local clubs for about three years. They share the shop I
mentioned, and I'm still waiting for changes promised when
I joined them.
Subject: NEW: Saw for Cutting a 550 lb Geode
Does anyone have homemade plans for making a large rock saw
with a six foot blade? We have a 550 lb geode we would like
to cut. Help!
-NON-COMMERCIAL REPUBLISH PERMISSION GRANTED-
(Ed. Note: WOW! A six-foot blade! Instead of this, please
consider a mud saw, which is probably much easier to use and
construct and much cheaper too. As I remember it, Earl
English (on this list) was talking about building a mud saw,
and he may have plans for one. If so, I hope he reads this
and responds to the list with some information on mud saws
and the best way to do this. We have not had any mention of
mud saws so far, on the list. If anyone else knows about
them, please write up what you know and send it in. We will
start a new thread on mud saws. hale)
Subject: NEW: Small Tumbler Motors
When I was a child my parents gave me a small tumbler. After
several loads the motor started failing. I tried to fix it
with some success, but was never really reliable. Recently
a picked up a two barrel Lortone tumbler at an estate sale
for $10.00. This tumbler has a similar open frame motor and
stalls as well. I have played around with it a little.
questions and impressions are this. Are these motors
inherently unreliable? I am getting the impression that the
load is too high for these little motors. I have noticed
that the motor on this "new" tumbler occasionally makes
noise when it is running. I assume that this is caused by
the bearings being too loose and that this is causing the
stalling. The bearings appear to be a brass tubes, into
which slips steel rod shafts. I cleaned up the ends of the
rollers and oiled the bearings. It has now worked without
stalling for a couple of days. From the design of these
things, it doesn't seem that they are supposed to be oiled.
Does anyone have any thoughts about this and about what
causes these types of motors to fail?
Subject: NEW: Clamping Rocks in a Saw Vise
As I was trying to cut some optical quartz into thin slices
the other night - and cussin' every time the quartz slipped
in the vise, I started wondering how others locked their
rocks in their saw vises so they wouldn't move. I am sure
there are a lot of tricks you use to do this. So please send
a note to LapDigest with ANY tricks or ANY advice you have
for tightly clamping irregularly shaped rocks in the saw
...non-commercial reproduction permitted...
Subject: RE: Vertical Flat Lap Problems
Please bear with me as I go through this. I have rigged up
an 8" lap wheel on one end of an old arbor. I then attached a
piece of 5/8 plywood to the wheel. Now, I figure that I can
use Feathering glue(the non-hardening stuff) to hold the
wet/dry paper to the plywood disc. That way I can change to
different grits without having to change wheels.....follow so
Ok, now, to get a grip on the slabs for sanding I would like
to use waterglass on a piece of 2x2 or 2x4 as a dop stick.
Yes, I realize that it's water soluble and here are my
(1) Could I put some grease on the joint where the waterglass
meets the slab to prevent water from reaching the waterglass?
Later, I could just wipe off the grease and throw the dopped
slab in a bucket of water and let the waterglass dissolve.
(2) Could a spray bottle give me enough water to keep the
slab cool and provide the grit cleaning I would need? I have
a direct water feed to it but have no idea as to how to hook
it up to get the water on the sanding surface.
I think I need HELP!! Any Advice would be greatly
appreciated. Thank you and take care
Dave Daigle, Edmonton, Alberta
The Edmonton Tumblewood Lapidary Club
non-commercial republish permission granted
(Ed. Note: Dave, if you used 1x3 for a dop stick, you could
cut a hand hold so the dop stick looked like a door handle,
and stick both legs of the dop stick to the slab with wax,
just like with a regular dop stick. This would allow you to
apply pressure on any part of the slab you needed to, or
apply pressure evenly all over the slab. hale)
Subject: RE: Soapstone Carving Rough and Supplies
I just read your message dated 14 Oct 97. We are located
in the Shelton WA area and carry all types of soap stone
as well as tools for carving. Anyone may contact us by
E-MAIL, (web site is being worked on).
Mail: JADE DRIVE ROCK SHOP, E120 Jade Drive, Shelton, WA
firstname.lastname@example.org (russell nation)
Any one may use this information.
Subject: BIO: Raymond Rodebaugh
When I was in seventh grade, we were required to collect and
identify 12 rocks. I didn't really think much about this
project one way or another, but collected my twelve rocks as
was my duty. Since I grew up in central Illinois, there were
no decent places to collect rocks nearby. I did manage to
find and identify 12 rocks. I don't remember exactly what I
collected, but I remember it included obsidian and "desert
roses" that my grandmother bought in Arizona, horn coral,
granite, limestone and a banded rock. I remember the latter
as having parallel green and yellow bands and identified it
as an agate. I have never seen such an agate again; if I did
I would buy as much as I could. I suspect that my memory of
the coloring is wrong and it was two tone green and really
malachite. Although I got 100% on this project, I suspect
that several of the items were misidentified. I figure that
the teacher didn't know what they were either. The important
thing was to have 12 rocks with labels.
My parents mistakenly thought that I had been extremely
interested in this project and bought me a small tumbler for
Christmas. I found out the reasoning behind this Christmas
present many years later. I didn't tell them that I hadn't
really been interested in the rock collection. Why spoil the
memory? With low expectations, I tumbled a batch of rocks
which came with the tumbler and was amazed by what came out.
I was hooked. My life was dramatically altered by a present
given me for the wrong reason. I tumbled several batches of
rocks with this tumbler, then the motor began stalling. I
took the motor apart and tried to fix it. I had some minor
success in these efforts, but ultimately had to give up.
My parents introduced me to Don Hampton, the owner of one of
the two jewelry stores in Mattock, IL. He was a very nice
man who also collected rocks and did lapidary work. He
graciously allowed me to repeatedly pester him to identify
rocks that I had collected in gravel piles from a nearby
construction company. I spent many (!) days collecting rocks
in these piles. There really wasn't much interesting there,
lots of poor quality crinoids, horn coral, chert, etc., but
it was all I had. In addition, to helping me identify my
finds, he gave me many samples of rocks which he had tumbled:
agates, amethyst, petrified wood, rhodonite, etc. He also
gave me several old issues of Lapidary Journal and a Griegers
catalog. I spent a lot of time looking at this catalog (and
the other free ones they subsequently sent me) wishing I
could obtain the some of the fancy equipment that we could
not afford. I did purchase some small stuff from them. I
should repay them now that I can afford it. If it hadn't
been for Don, my interest might have died out. I was very
sad when he died. Every rockhound should treat at least one
kid the way he treated me.
When I was in the 9th grade we were required to make a career
notebook. I thought that I wanted to be a geologist. Doing
this career notebook convinced me otherwise. After reading
background material and then interviewing a local geologist,
my impression was that there were not a many job
opportunities in geology. Instead I became a physicist and
now work in a radiation oncology department.
As I got older, my parents' financial situation gradually
improved. We made two trips out west when I was 15 and 16.
I have many fond memories of these trips. We collected rocks
in South Dakota, Colorado, and Missouri. We had no idea of
what we were doing, but found several places to collect using
a couple of Zeitner's Gem Trails books. We found nondescript
agates in the South Dakota badlands, a huge number of really
small garnets and a staurolite cross near Custer, SD, fossil
leaves and bugs at Florissant, CO, smoky quartz crystals,
Mozarkite (This came in handy later in life when I took a
lapidary class at the West Suburban Lapidary Club. One of
the instructors brought out a cab and asked if anyone knew
what it was, expecting that no one would. I'll never forget
the look on his face when I identified it.) near Lincoln, MO.
We also collected Amazonite at Crystal Peak. At a fee
collecting site we extracted a large fine piece of smoky
quartz and amazonite. Unfortunately, this specimen, which I
imagine would be worth several hundred dollars today, was
destroyed in one of my many moves. The best find on these
trips wasn't the finest, but was a fairly large chunk of
smoky quartz with a 1" long amazonite crystal. The reason it
was the best find is that we were driving around mountains
looking out the windows for rocks and noticed an unusual
looking area of decaying rocks. When we got out of the car
and checked it out we found a bunch of small amazonite pieces
and this specimen.
A friend of mine went with us on one of these trips. He
later lived my dream of becoming a geologist. This did not
work out well for him. After graduating from college, the
only job he could find was as a well logger. After several
years of this, he gave up. He now works at the post office.
Anyway, I remember camping out in Colorado during August.
The sky was so much clearer than central Illinois, the stars
were overwhelming. We happened to be there during the annual
meteor showers. We spent a while pointing out the meteors:
there's one, there's one,... There were so many. After a
while we got bored and quit paying attention.
I'll never forget swimming in a rapidly flowing stream in
Colorado. We would let the current carry us down stream,
bouncing us against the rocks. It was great fun. We were
very proper people, no swearing was allowed in our household.
My friend cracked wise "I bet this would clean your a#&x##$",
not knowing that my parents were coming to check on what we
were doing. He was very embarrassed. We remind him of this
incident to this day, he still blushes. We are very simple
I almost killed myself on this trip. We were climbing a
large beehive shaped part of the mountain. I was determined
to get to the top. This was not too difficult. I then found
out that climbing down is significantly harder than climbing
up. There was a lot of loose gravel right near the top at
the places where you could consider climbing down and it was
very steep. If you slipped, the fall would likely be fatal.
I spent about twenty minutes trying to figure out how I was
going to get off of that thing without dying. I started
having visions of having the fire department come out to save
me. Eventually my fear of embarrassment overwhelmed my fear
of death and I descended. As you can tell, my descent was
When I was 15, my parents bought me a combination lapidary
unit from Sears. It was a rock saw, grinder/lap, facetor. My
friend's parents were very strict and didn't want to let him
out of the house. Some kids he knew had broken into the
Chief of Police's house. He was a relative innocent in this
operation, but got caught. His parents would let him come
over to my house to cut rocks. He lived in a fairly small
house with seven brothers; he really liked cutting rocks. We
didn't really have much luck with the combination unit. The
saw didn't really work very well (the vise was extremely
sloppy) and the faceting head seemed inadequate. I monkeyed
around with it for a couple of years and cut a few cabs, but
never got very good at it. It didn't help that I didn't have
anyone to teach me how to use it.
At about this time, my friend and I joined a local rock and
mineral club. We were members for about two years. The
older guys didn't seem to have much interest in teaching us
how to do anything and didn't invite us on their field trips.
It was very awkward for us. We quit, since we weren't
getting anything out of it. The club only lasted a few more
My friend's next door neighbor did lapidary work. He showed
us a huge collection of rings that he had made for his wife.
His goal was to make her a ring for every day of the year. I
thought that it was very romantic. She died, at a very young
age, shortly after he had achieved this goal.
While attending college I almost forgot about rocks and
lapidary work. As a student, I spent a couple of years
working on proton-proton scattering experiments at Los
Alamos. This is the one time in my life where I lived in a
place where collecting was within reasonable distance.
Unfortunately, I had no money and an unreliable car, so my
collecting was limited. I did manage to collect obsidian and
jasper in the Jemez mountains and agate at Pedernal Peak. If
you are ever in northern New Mexico, you should take a ride
through the Jemez mountains. This is an extremely beautiful
area of the country.
After graduating from college I moved back to Illinois (the
land of little lapidary material). I started getting
reinterested in lapidary work and like to try different
things. I've gotten decent at cabbing (the older guys at the
club still kick my a**), tried centrifugal casting (my
coolest creation was a 7 ounce Sterling dog), patination of
copper, wirewrapping, silversmithing, marriage of metals, and
mokume' gane'. I made my own anodizing unit (using a
variable transformer that my employer threw away) for
anodizing titanium and niobium. I intend to use this unit
for electroforming as well. I would like to try my hand at
crystal growing; I haven't figured out whether I want to
start by using the Verneuil method for growing sapphire or
by planting a "bomb" in my back yard for growing quartz.
Other methods sound more interesting, but seem prohibitively
costly. I've spent a little time designing refractometers,
but haven't got around to building one yet. I think I could
make a better one than those sold commercially (rockhound +
physicist). If I thought there was a big enough market, I
would do it.
I joined the West Suburban Lapidary Club about six years ago.
There are many fine lapidarys in this club. We (me and my
now ex-wife) initially had a difficult time meeting people in
the club. This changed after I was roped into being the
editor of our club bulletin, The Opal. I recently resigned
after being editor for the last three years, since I
apparently will be moving to Cleveland soon. For the first
couple of years I had a difficult time finding anyone to talk
to, now I don't have enough time to talk to everyone.
Our club is graying and the membership is tapering off. I
think that we have three main problems which prevent us from
obtaining and retaining new members.
First, our meetings seem to be largely social events. It is
difficult for new members to break into the groups of
friends. Most of the real discussion about lapidary work is
done casually between the groups of friends.
Second, we haven't had a field trip chairman for several
years. This is problematical, since there is a dearth of
lapidary material in the Chicago area. Marginal places to
collect are at least three hours away, excellent places are
much farther. If you know of places to collect lapidary
material near Chicago, please let me know. I have collected
fossils in the Braidwood pits, small Lake Superior agates
near Galena, and geodes near the Illinois-Iowa-Missoury
Third, our club does not have any study groups. I think that
these are good for involving new members in the club and
developing a cohesive group.
We have discussed these things repeatedly at our board
meetings, but haven't solved the problem yet. We did try a
well received experiment at one of our recent club meetings.
We had seven people demonstrating different aspects of
lapidary work: carving, wirewrapping, etc. Everyone seemed
to have a good time, but it was impossible to spend enough
time at each of the stations. I think that it would be
better to have nights dedicated to particular aspects of
lapidary work: cabbing night, silversmithing night,
wirewrapping night, etc. The problem is that some of these
things require hauling around a significant amount of
Some of the women I work with have developed an interest in
rocks an minerals. They would like to believe that crystals
have some kind of magical powers. Being a physicist, I don't
believe this. I entertain their ideas (what the hell do I
know anyway) and provide them with samples. This makes work
a lot more fun. One of the women told me about an article
she read regarding using crystals to make computers run
better. My computer at work is now surrounded by quartz
crystals. It doesn't seem to help.
One of them read an ad for an estate auction with lapidary
equipment in the area. I picked up some equipment really
cheap (nice Highland Park arbor, 10" slab/trim saw, 6" trim
saw, vibrating lap, fairly large ultrasonic cleaner, and a
Lortone dual barrel tumbler). The people running the sale
had no idea how much these things were worth nor whether they
worked. Everything was in pretty good condition, other than
the stalling of the tumbler motor. They also had jewelry,
pottery, and carvings for sale. The people were real
collectors. The prices on these items was rather high. I
went back for the last few hours of the sale looking for
bargains. I found a Tully Monster broach pin/earring set, and
trilobite tie tacks and cufflinks made by Harry Peterson.
Has anyone heard of him? He used to be a member of our club
(now deceased). I never met him, but the club members refer
to his work glowingly. Harry wrote up a series of
silversmithing projects. I haven't looked at them yet, but
want to get copies before I move. If they are good, I am
considering trying to publish them in some form. I have been
told by one of our club members that the family has released
the copyright to us. I haven't figured out the appropriate
method of distribution (and this will require consultation
with the club and a written release by the family). One
method would be to simply publish a little booklet with any
profit going into the clubs funds. The other would be to
post them for free on the club WWW page. I'll let you know
if anything happens regarding this.
I now have more lapidary equipment than any sane person who
doesn't do lapidary work for a living. I have also picked up
a bunch hardware (which my employer was throwing away) which
I intend to convert to lapidary equipment. The only
important piece of equipment that I am missing is a rolling
mill. The last time I moved, the movers complained bitterly
about having to move all the boxes of rocks.
I will soon be moving to Cleveland. It appears that the
Cleveland area is very limited in lapidary material
collecting opportunities. I guess I'll have to fly to
I hope I haven't bored you too much with this.
Raymond F. Rodebaugh
Department of Radiation Oncology
Rush-Presbyterian-St.Luke's Medical Center
1653 West Congress Parkway
Chicago, IL 60612
Phone: 312-942-5751 X2-8662
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