Administered by Hale Sweeny (

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest Issue No. 126 - Sat 3/20/98
2. SPECIAL: Classes at Wildacres
3. NEW: Sphere Machine and Sphere Making
4. RE: Saw Oil and PCBs
5. RE: Saw Oil and PCBs
6. BIO: Walter R. Houk
7. BIO: Jim Cates
8. BIO: Pam Welborn
9. BIO: John McLaughlin


Subject: LapDigest Issue No. 126 - Sat 3/20/98

I am sorry for the long delay since the last issue, but some
personal problems intervened. I want to tell those who have
joined recently that Anne, my wife of 50 years, has developed
Alzheimer's and now needs constant care. She is my first
responsibility, and this mail list... and other things, take
back seat to her. But we have been able to do both OK up to
now, and expect that to go on.

Our membership now stands at 960, and grows each day.

Sometimes soon, we will publish a list of all lapidary books
we have been able to find, along with author names; I expect
that a whole issue will be devoted to that list. Shortly
thereafter, we will start publishing book reviews, probably a
max of one per issue. We have several volunteers for these
reviews, and need more. If you would like to help by
volunteering to read and review a lapidary book, please let
me know. I will be contacting those who volunteered this
next week.

After that, I want to compile a list of lapidary videos; if
you have a lapidary video, please write me and tell me the
name of the video and what you think of it.

Recently unanswered questions:

--- How do you round small pieces of turquoise (1-5mm) into
nuggets by tumbling? (Issue 121)

--- "I have 2 vibratory tumblers that have dead motors. Both
small, both mounted on frames with a place to attach the motor
underneath. One is a "Tumble-Vibe", the other I got at a
yard sale. Is there any off-the-shelf type of motor that I
can use to run these puppies?" (Issue 122)

--- "I was given some faceting rough called "laser gem". It
is a light blue under fluorescent light and a light purple/
lilac in natural light. Can anyone help me with the chemical
composition, or any other information on this synthetic gem

Take care .. the next issue should be next Tuesday or
Wednesday. And remember to tell those you love that you do!


Subject: SPECIAL: Classes at Wildacres

The Southeastern Federation of Mineral Societies conducts one
week long summer workshops at Wildacres Retreat and William
Holland Lapidary School. Admission to the workshop at
Wildacres for April 16-22 has been opened to any members of
clubs with any of the AFMS's Federations affiliation.
Membership in many of the Federation clubs is not very
expensive and generally open. The classes available are:

Bead Stringing... Cabochons... Chain Making... Faceting
(Beginning)... Gem Identification... Wax-Design/Casting
Wirecraft(Advanced)... Wirecraft(Beginning)

For further information contact Registrars:

Arthur & Doris Mott
337 Walter Rd., River Ridge, LA 70123-2652,
Tele&FAX (504) 737-0259,

Wildacres is located just south of Spruce Pine, NC, and just
off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Cost per person for this session
is $215 (double occupancy with private bath), not including
material costs for each workshop.

Note: I have been going to these workshops for a decade and
can attest that the accommodations are more then adequate, the
food is good and the fellowship wonderful. I've never had a
bad class (and hope I've never taught one!)


Subject: NEW: Sphere Machine and Sphere Making

I'd love to find a good condition, reasonably inexpensive
sphere-making machine. Alternatively, I'd be willing to try
to build my own with a good set of instructions. Ideally,
I'd love to buy a new one, but don't think I can afford to do
so. I'm interested in making spheres and eggs from marble
size to ~6" diam. Can anyone out there point me in the right

No sphere experience to-date,

Tom Bowers
(Ed. Note: I have tried to find someone to write about sphere
making and about sphere machine making, but no luck so far.
The article in the Rocks & Gems about the sphere maker in
Illinois rekindled this desire. Please send me some names and
addresses of people who are competent in these two fields and
I will contact them and try to get them to write up what they
know about this field. hale)

Subject: RE: Saw Oil and PCBs


Earlier there was some questions concerning cutting oils for

Texaco makes a product called Almag. It comes in five gallon
cans and is available for $25.50 plus Ga sales tax from a
local company here in Atlanta. It is one of the two oils
recommended by lortone. If you can't find it locally, I will
be glad to meet you when I am heading in your direction. I
suggest they call your local texaco office if you are near a
major city and they can direct them to the nearest dealer.


Tim Vogle
non commercial reprinting allowed
(Ed. Note: For more information about a US dealer, you may
call Texaco Lubricants Customer Service at 1+800-STAR-TLC or
send an e-mail message to Texaco's web site
is at, and the page for Almag is at .... hale)

Subject: RE: Saw Oil and PCBs

In the discussion on Oils and PCBs, several people said that
transformer oils made quite good saw oils. I thought I would
do some checking on this.

First, I called a friend who was in an electric utility and
who was knowledgeable about the PCB problem. He said that it
would be unlikely to find any transformers here in the US
which still had PCB oil in them, and if they did exist, it
would be highly unethical for companies to sell that oil.
Thus I conclude that is unlikely that you will get oils with
PCBs from utilities. But you can ask them to test it and
give you a certificate and the test results.

Next, is transformer oil good for rock saws? Bill Ritter,
formerly one of the owners of Contempo Lapidary, in
discussing saw oils (see Issue 37), said:

"We define the proper oil as one that has a high flash point
(remember that diesel and kerosene are FUELS!) has no
carcinogens, has a very low viscosity (almost like water or a
3-in-1 oil), and has a low odor."

Almag has the following characteristics, according to the
Texaco product spec sheet:

Odor - mild
Flash Point - 295 °F
Viscosity - 9.49 cSt at 40°C
Carcinogens - None

Texaco transformer oil (Code Number 600) has the following

Odor - (not specified)
Flash Point - 305 °F
Viscosity - 8.9 cSt at 40°C
Carcinogens -(not stated)

Transformer oil has a 10 °F higher flash point (negligible,
but on the right side) and has less viscosity - again, on the
right side. I have requested information on carcinogenicity
potential in transformer oils but haven't heard back.

The specific gravity of Almag is 32 and of transformer oil is
31; transformer oil is a wee bit lighter than Almag per unit

>From these two characteristics, flash point and viscosity, it
would seem that transformer oil would be an acceptable oil
for rock saws AS LONG AS IT IS FREE OF PCBs. If anyone has
any other information about the suitability of transformer
oils, please let us hear from you.

non commercial reprinting permitted

Subject: BIO: Walter R. Houk

I am a newcomer on this list, and would like to tell you a
little about myself. I am an electronic technician by trade,
single, male, 36 yrs old.

I have been a rockhound for about 25 yrs. In the last 7 to 8
years I have begun cutting the stones I have collected. I am
a facetor, but am mainly into inlay and cabochons(free form).
I have played with intarsia a little bit, and would like to
learn more about it.This newsletter sounds like just the kind
of group I needed to run into. I am glad to find this kind of
exchange of information available through the net.

Walter R. Houk

Subject: BIO: Jim Cates

Hi. My name is Jim, and I am retired and Sacramento, Ca.

I am not only new to the hobby, but brand new. Two months
ago I didn't know a rock from a hard spot. Now, I know a
rock, but not what kind it is. Here is what I have done:

1. Read all the rock/mineral books at the library, that I
could understand, and perused the others.

2. Located the local rock shop via the yellow pages, and
bought a tumbler and a half dozen books.

3. Attended a gem and mineral show.

4. Located the local club thereby, and would have joined
already, except for a schedule conflict.

5. Registered to attend "Let's Rock" in Socorro, NM, later
this month.

6. Have made two field trips to known collecting sites, and
have a sack full of rocks of unknown variety. But, the
sunshine, fresh air, and exercise are rewards in themselves,
even if the rocks are of no merit.

Over the years I have had an interest in minerals, even
taking a course in geology, and now that I have acquired a
modicum of information and knowledge about rockhounding and
lapidary, hope to move on to other facets of the hobby.

I will acquire equipment as my progress warrants, and once I
meet other rockhounds, I am sure the square root effect will
take place.

My normal preference is to stay in the woodwork, but I would
be remiss if I did not post this as a means of thanking Hale
for all the work involved in setting up and overseeing the
net, and to each of you for accelerating my learning process,
vis a vis, your postings to the group.

Thank you much!

Jim Cates

non-commercial republish permission granted

Subject: BIO: Pam Welborn


My name is Pam Welborn and I have been a cabber for
about 15 years. I use the Diamond Pacific Genie and do my
work out of my studio/office at home. I work on cabs, mainly
high dome for the designer market. Since 1985, I have owned
and operated a business selling loose colored gemstones and
diamonds to the jewelry trade. Usually, I buy my rough in
Tucson each year. I used to do repair work (repolish abraded
stones or recut broken stones such as opal), but now I just
cut for my own inventory.



Subject: BIO: John McLaughlin

I am a life long rock hound. My father was a lapidary in the
1950's and I learned to make cabs as a teenager. I did not
return to lapidary work until four years ago. I own a Genie
cabbing machine, a Wizard six inch trim saw and a Lortone 12"
slab saw. I also have a Contempo vibrating lap, which I have
not yet used. I recently bought a Foredom flex shaft system
and I've begun playing with boulder opal.

I enjoy making cabs out of a wide variety of materials.Tucson
and Quartzite are both about two hours from my home, so I
have access to lots of exotic rough. My cabs are relatively
uninspired in shape, but are of good craftsmanship. I make
wire wrap pendants and ear rings out of the cabs, although I
produce far more cabs than I do finished wire wrap pieces. I
am a member (and secretary) of the Mineralogical Society of
Arizona (MSA).

My wife Rodeane and I frequently camp and hunt for rocks,
both on MSA field trips and on our own. We have a Coleman
pop up trailer camper which has been modified to follow our
Explorer across four wheel drive terrain. Our oldest boy has
been dragged to so many rock hunts that he graduated from
college with a BS in Geology. We will look for anything:
fossils, agate, barite roses, quartz crystals, copper
minerals - Arizona has no shortage of minerals and hunting
locations and Utah is not far away.

John McLaughlin
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