Administered by Hale Sweeny (

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 85 - Wed 11/19/97
2. NEW: Retensioning and Straightening Saw Blades
3. NEW: Lathe Turning of Rocks
4. RE: Dopping for Lathe Turning
5. RE: Dopping for Lathe Turning
6. RE: Cleaning Rocks After Lapping
7. RE: Cleaning Rocks After Lapping
8. RE: Lapidary Glues and Cements
9. BIO: Dixie Reale
10. WTS: 14" Saw
11. WTS: Lapidary Equipment


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 85 - Wed 11/19/97

As my mother used to say, at the end of those long and chatty
letters which she sent to me when I was serving overseas in
the Navy, "Well, no news tonight!"

So stay safe and happy, and above all, enjoy life!!



Subject: NEW: Retensioning and Straightening Saw Blades

I have two 14" blades that I sent to Star Diamond for repair.
All of my equipment is Star Diamond so that was my first
choice and I really didn't do any shopping around. Both were
dished, one pretty severely and the other somewhat less, but
also bent due to the saw pulley slipping and the power feed
driving the rock into a non-turning blade - ouch! Sadly,
both these blades had lots of useful diamond and potential
cutting life left. SD charges a flat fee of $21 for each
blade repaired. From what I've seen in the catalogs, a new
blade in the same style averages around $125.

When I got the blades back from SD, they indeed looked much
better. But when I mounted them on my saw and checked dish
and run-out with a dial indicator, I found they both were
still dished, one about .015" and the other about .030".
The one blade that was bent also had noticeable run-out,
about .030 to .040. I was not satisfied, so I called SD and
they said that I could send them back - so back they went.

Many weeks later, I still had no blades so I began calling SD
to track down what had happened. They said there was nothing
wrong with them, that they had cut some sample material and
that they cut "just fine". So I asked if they would return
them to me. They said they would ship them back right away.

Many more weeks later, still no blades. I think they lost
them - they couldn't seem to find any record of them at the
time. After making many phone calls, SD finally produced
some evidence that they would ship them back to me and I
received them a few days later - with the samples they cut.
The samples turned out to be rather smallish pieces of agate.
Sure, for that size of rock, the blades indeed "seemed" to
cut just fine. But later I would find out that they would
not cut "just fine" anywhere near the capacity of a 14"

In the meantime, while I was waiting for my blades, I read
anything I could find about saw blades. An old LJ had a very
good article on repairing/tensioning saw blades. It
discussed why and how larger blades should be tensioned. Ok
I thought, perhaps my blades should have some slight dish for
proper tension - according to this article. So I mounted the
first blade on my saw and tried cutting. Sure enough, every
cut pulled off in the direction of the dish - arggggh! Now,
since I really can't cut with these blades (at least one
anyway), I'm willing to try repairing it myself.

That's why I was interested in finding out more about how
"experts" repair and tension blades so I can see if I can do
it myself. From what (little) I've read, it doesn't sound
too difficult, mostly trial and error. I'm not really
condemning Star Diamond for their work - they were friendly
and professional (even though they did seem to lose my
blades) - it's just that I feel I can do a better job if I
had the technology. I'm a former machinist, so I have the
tools and somewhat of a precision background. Especially since
I can immediately check the results and modify something
if necessary. Something that's very hard to do with a vendor
hundreds of miles away.

Jim Schnell
Storage Technology Corporation
(303) 673-2685
(Ed. Note: The LJ Index lists one reference to tensioning of
blades: Some Notes on Tensioning Saw Blades 73:11:1295. See
the file: LJReprints.txt in the Archives for instructions on
how to order LJ Reprints. hale)

Subject: NEW: Lathe Turning of Rocks

I am very interested in lathe turning....and have actually
been anxiously awaiting your summary of it. I am curious as
to how lathe turning is connected to lapidary. The process
of making vases and bowls, etc. is one I would like to try,
but I don't know what kind of equipment (motors, setup) is
required. I don't want to get too far off of the desired
path here, though. At any rate, the kind of lathe and
HOMEMADE lathes are of interest to me.

John Dodds
(Ed. Note: Actually, John, I am not doing a summary, but have
asked some members of the list to write up their experiences,
and when I get them, will publish them in a single issue. I
need help in this; if you do lathe turning, you could make a
real contribution to the Digest by writing about what you are
doing. Please help.
There are several references available which you may wish to
refer to; one is an LJ Reprint: Turning With Flair, LJ,
90:02:92. See the file "LJReprints.txt" from the Archives for
a description of how to get LJ reprints. hale)

Subject: RE: Dopping for Lathe Turning

David wrote:
<<I met a fellow who turned serpentine on a lathe. .. (snip)
.. Does any one have knowledge of what would hold a rock to
a lathe head-stock? >>

I turn a lot of talc on a Delta lathe. I use a hot glue gun.
Warm the rock completely through til it is warm to the touch,
attach the rock to a horizontal wood block with hot glue and
let it sit until cool. Thirty minutes is not an unreasonable
amount of cooling time. You don't want to disturb warm hot
glue. Then screw the wood block to the lathe faceplate.



Subject: RE: Dopping for Lathe Turning

For relatively small pieces with a flat side, bonding the
rock to a wood faceplate (a wood disk screwed to a
conventional metal faceplate) with double stick tape works
well. The thicker tape seems to work best. The rock should
be clamped to the faceplate for a few to assure adhesion.
Don't use high rotational speeds, press too hard on the
rotating rock or get it too hot. I had one come off--it
bounced all over the shop (missed my head, though!).

Epoxy also works well between a rock and a wooden faceplate.
It can be removed by placing the assembly in a jar with a
little acetone (possibly other solvents will work) for a day
or two.

A water drip, somewhat messy, helps keep harder rocks cool.
Soft materials like soapstone and alabaster can be worked dry
with conventional woodworking tools--but dusty!

John Duncan


Subject: RE: Cleaning Rocks After Lapping

<> writes:
<<I am having a problem getting the lapping grit and polish
cleaned off the stones from lapping operations. I have tried
scrubbing with dish soap and other household cleaners. I get
the loose grit and polish off but still have the white
residue or stain left on the rock. Any suggestions?>>

Use a steel wire brush, I have a cheap one I got at a Pow-Wow
for $1.25, and I want a couple more. Dunno who makes it, all
it says is China on the handle.

Tim Fisher, 1995 President, Pacific Fishery Biologists
Ore-ROCK-On Rockhounding Web Site PFB Information
WWW See naked fish and rocks!

Subject: RE: Cleaning Rocks After Lapping

I only have one lapping pan so I have to be sure the pan is
extra clean before I put in the polish. I discovered that
after the lapping with grit is finished I wash everything
with soapy water and a scrub brush, let it dry, vacuum it,
then put water and a couple of squirts of Joy in the lapping
pan, put the rocks back in and let it run for a couple of
hours. You would be amazed at all the grit that comes out of
the rocks and off the lap with this process. I also do this
after I have finished polishing the rocks. I have two polish
pads--one is for polish, one is for washing. It seems to do
the job quite well. Then whenever possible I air dry the
stones in bright sunshine. It intensifies the color.

The white stain you are experiencing may be polish left on
the stones, or soap left on the stones. If it is soap I would
try running the stones on the wash pad with no soap just
water, and maybe a touch of vinegar. It cuts soap. Be sure to
rinse it out well afterwards. You don't want it to affect the
metal on the lap. Do you have hard water in your area? Could
the white stain be hard water stains? If so try bottled or
distilled water or you may want to invest in a water softener
for your workshop. Just a thought.

Dixie Reale

Subject: RE: Lapidary Glues and Cements

Dear Hale and fellow LapDigest'ers,

The finest adhesive I know of is called HXTAL. It is a two
part epoxy with extraordinary properties that sells for a
mere 265$ for two pounds. They also offer a 60gr. kit for
40$ if you want to experiment with it first. It can be
hardened under a lamp in an hour or so, it cures in about 3
days at room temperature and if it's mixed it can be put in
the freezer where it will keep for at least six months
without setting up. Unmixed it seems to last forever. It
dries clear and will not weaken or turn yellow for 500 years!

I use it for doublets, gluing stones in settings, intarsia
and sealing cracks and pits in cutting rough. For the latter
use I submerge the stones in the mixed resin and pull a
vacuum as is done to debubbleize investments for casting.
Jewelry manufacture supply companies carry the vacuum

Here is where to get it. Please tell them you heard about it
from Thom Lane:

Conservators Emporium 1-702-852-0404 60gr for $40.00. Two
pounds for 265$. I talked to Bill. Also there is Talas in New

One word of warning, if you glue something and then want to
get it apart, the only way I know is to heat the item to
around 600F at which point the resin carbonizes and emits a
carcinogenic smoke that smells like fifty vipers dying.
Placing a metal/stone glued piece in acetone in an ultrasonic
cleaner for two weeks failed to get it apart. So take
advantage of the slow setup time to get everything lined up
perfectly, then put the heat lamp on it.

Hope find this as useful as I do...
Best regards,
Thom Lane

non commercial use permitted
(Ed. Note: The full address for Conservator's Emporium is 100
Standing Rock Circle, Reno NV 89511. Talas is another seller
of conservation supplies, and their address is: 568 Broadway,
New York, NY 10012-3225; (212) 219-0770.

I called Conservator's Emporium and they faxed me the MSDS
and the properties data sheet for HXTAL.

If you look up references in the Internet, you may find that
HXTAL is reportedly sold also by "Conservation Materials" of
Sparks, NV. The word I get is that this latter company is now
out of business. hale)

Subject: BIO: Dixie Reale

Dixie Reale here. I have been a rock hound most of my life, a
hard core or serious rock hound for 20 some years. It all
started with a rock tumbler as a Christmas present over 20
years ago. That soon led to rock saws, polishing wheels, lap
machines, sphere machines, facet machines, silversmithing
etc. After awhile I found the hobby was getting quite
expensive so started a little rock shop set up in my garage
so I could sell some rocks so I could keep getting more.
After awhile you have to sell something because otherwise you
can't afford to keep at it. Anyway I am a free lance writer;
have had rock related stories published in Rock and Gem, in
Eclectic Lapidary and a lot of other sorts of stories
published in a lot of other places. I launched a web site
last summer to advertise my rocks and shop it is located at
<>. Check it out. I have a
lot of old favorites and classic rock. I do a lot of mail

Dixie Reale

Subject: WTS: 14" Saw

We have a 14" saw for sale for $600.
206-241-0666 OR FAX 206-433-8116

Subject: WTS: Lapidary Equipment

Received a letter from Henry Maresi, saying that he had
inherited some lapidary equipment that he had little use for,
and wondered if any of you would be interested.

3/4 hp Great Western combination Belt & drum sander
Procraft polishing lathe (Like New)
"Rocks" 3/4hp 12" drum sander + 12" diskpolisher (called
"Bull Wheel")
Fordom flexshaft with motor & chuck (used for 10 minutes)
6" drumsander & grindstone
3/4" and 1" mandrels
assortment of grindstones & buffing wheels

If so, contact him off list at <>


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