Administered by Hale Sweeny (

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest Issue No. 127 - Wednesday 3/24/98
2. NEW: Need Help with Chrysocholla
3. NEW: How Do You Cab Obsidian?
4. NEW: Identification of Agates and Jaspers
5. RE: Another Motor Question
6. RE: Another Motor Question
7. RE: Saw Oil and PCBs
8. RE: Saw Oil and PCBs
9. RE: Saw Oil and PCBs
10. RE: Saw Oil and PCBs
11. RE: Sphere Machine and Sphere Making
12. WTB: Used Crystalite Master 6" or 8"
13. FS: Morro Reddondo Tourmaline


Subject: LapDigest Issue No. 127 - Wednesday 3/24/98

Next Issue will probably appear this coming Saturday.

Work safely, be careful, and HAVE FUN!


Subject: NEW: Need Help with Chrysocholla

Hi Gang:

I recently had a problem that I would like some feedback on.
I cut several Chrysocholla cabs, some still in matrix, some
not. After fighting all the usual problems with something that
soft, when I polished them, they all had a strange finish. I
can best describe it as a " crazed " finish. Small, kind of
spider web-like cracks in the surface, some so fine that it
looked like foam in the finish, as well as small areas of the
surface that popped off-usually where the cracks intersected.
Some of the stone took the polish, some did not.

After doing the first stone, I thought maybe I'd overheated
the stone, so I took care not to do so on the next one. Same
results. I tried wetter, drier, hotter, cooler, everything I
could think of, only to have 5 stones of too expensive rough,
with potential of being some real beauties, ready for the

I still have some second choice rough left, but I really need
some opinions before I try again.

Larry & Susan
DURNING'S Rings & Things

Subject: NEW: How Do You Cab Obsidian?

The other day, I was sawing a piece of obsidian to cab and it
exploded! It was in a clamp and I guess that it had too much
pressure on it. After that piece, I tried grinding a different

Please Reply


Subject: NEW: Identification of Agates and Jaspers

I am new here and I'm happy to see you are going to make a
list of books and also have reviews.

A little background on myself. I am an elementary school
science teacher. I have always had an interest in "stones" of
all kinds. I never took any courses, but have read a few
books. I guess I have a rudimentary knowledge of them. That
is one of my problems. I have now gotten into making jewelry
to sell and also reselling some items. I am getting
overwhelmed by the names of different types of stones. As for
instance, Jaspers. I know some jaspers but find it difficult
to identify many of them. I would be interested in some book
pointing out the differences in items like jaspers and
agates. The books I have usually just have the broad
classification. They don't tell the difference between
Picasso and Poppy for instance. I would appreciate any help
in this area. My husband thinks the terms are rather
arbitrary and you call them just what you feel like.

Rita B.
We are not humans having a spiritual experience,
We are spiritual beings having a human experience!


Subject: RE: Another Motor Question

In Issue #22 someone asked about motors for vibrating
tumblers. I wonder the same thing, having a MiniSonic that
has bit the dust and a larger "Gemstone" brand that also has

I took the Gemstone apart, mostly because it was easier to
get at. It has a round motor that sets in a housing. There is
a (I'm not sure what you would call it) a counter balance of
some sort that causes the round motion of the motor to
vibrate the frame of the machine. At this point I haven't
found the same sized (shape) motor but if I can't find one
soon I may just have this one rewound. If it works I will
then attack the MiniSonic.

If you find the secret please let me know.

Dixie Reale

Subject: RE: Another Motor Question

<<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?>>

Motors for the Raytech Tumble-Vibe and the Gemstone
Micro-Vibe are the same, they are custom motors
manufactured by Fasco Industries. We carry the replacements
for these and they run around $20-$30. If anyone needs more
info and a more accurate price, give me a call at

Peter Erdo
Graves Company

Subject: RE: Saw Oil and PCBs

I have a 12" and a 36" diamond saws and I have been using
Pella oil in them forever and they are very easy to clean,
just drain and - being its oil, it is lighter than the sludge
and I can reuse the oil again with just filling up to 1 1/2
inches above the bottom edge of the blade. As for cleaning, I
use cat litter and then I wash with water and let the sun do
the rest. I hope this helps you cutters out there!


Jim Carrier
Graduate Gemologist (Resident Course G.I.A.)
Master Goldsmith

Subject: RE: Saw Oil and PCBs

Hello Hale: Normally my wife Rose Alene responds; however,
she is gone visiting our new grandson and I felt it
imperative to respond to the query about transformer oils.
The only safe way to find out is to contact the local
Electric Co. or the one from whom the transformer was
obtained. Electric Companies have been replacing old PCB
transformers and supposedly disposing them in a proper

THESE ARE DEADLY! There is a very good saying: "When in
doubt -DON'T!"

Take care



Subject: RE: Saw Oil and PCBs

Greetings from the Northwest,

A number of us here in the Puget Sound area use a Shell Oil
product called "Pella A" in our rock saws. Does a good job
and doesn't start smelling until it gets polluted with a lot
of rock cuttings.

It sells here for $4.24/gal if you bring your own jug.

George Burkhardt

Subject: RE: Saw Oil and PCBs

Something I read in LapDigest #126 caused "warning lights
to go off".

Cutting oils, transformer oils, PCB, kerosene, and etc. are
all manufactured with specific uses in mind. They are all
CHEMICALS. As such they must be handled responsibly and
safely. Transformer oils are not made for cutting purposes
and I strongly discourage their use as a cutting oil,
especially when their chemical properties are unknown. I
realize this sounds over reactive and prude to many of you,
but let me explain myself.

As part of my job as Laboratory Coordinator for the Dept. of
Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado, I am
partially responsible for the collection and disposal of
hazardous (usually) chemical wastes generated by our research
labs. As such, it is my responsibility to be as informed as
possible about the materials and chemicals I work with. The
advantage of using transformer oils is that it can often be
obtained for free, having been drained from a transformer.
Many large companies change transformer oil as part of their
regular maintenance like you and I change motor oil. I have
come across PCB in old transformers before. Fortunately it
was tested, identified and disposed of properly. But it
could have easily been given away for a buddy to use as a
"cutting oil". The rules here would prevent that from
happening, but then all across America, rules are broken.
The scary thought is that PCB is still out there in old
transformers and in many cases it is thought to be
"transformer oil". Do you really want to take the chance???
For yourself?, your children?, PCBs are deadly carcinogens.

As for buying modern transformer oils;
Hale wrote the following about Texaco transformer oil
(Code Number 600)
Odor - (not specified)
Flash Point - 305 F
Viscosity - 8.9 cSt at 40 C
Carcinogens - (not stated)
Wait a minute! What does "Carcinogens - (not stated)" mean?
Well it means we don't know or we don't have the information.
Do you want to take a chance? Please don't.

The specifics for Almag;
Odor - mild
Flash Point - 295 F
Viscosity - 9.49 cSt at 40 C
Carcinogens - None

Almag is by far the better choice here because we know what
were dealing with and it has undergone proper testing for
toxicity and has been manufactured for cutting purposes.
There is admittedly a trade-off regarding flash point and
viscosity, but the safety issue outweighs the slight
disadvantages in my mind.

Another cutting oil available is PELLA, manufactured by Shell
Oil Co. It is slightly less viscous than Almag and has a
milder odor. I purchase mine from Tom Hicks ((303) 936-3537,
5614 W. Mexico Ave., Lakewood CO, 80232) for about $12.00 per
gallon. Also available are water based coolants such as
SIMCOOL and others.

Finally, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are required by
law to be made available to consumers for any chemical
product manufactured in the USA. These are usually available
via Internet in manufacturers home pages. Retailers of these
products are also required to supply MSDSs on request. Sooooo
be informed.

Paul Boni
Boulder, CO
(Ed. Note: Thanks for a thoughtful and well written letter,
Paul. You are right; I should not have made that statement
until I had received the MSDS. I have received it now and
can tell you that transformer oil (Texaco 600) has no
carcinogens. Thus, I will restate what I said about using
transformer oil: "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."
As long as you can be assured that the transformer oil you use
is indeed free of PCBs, you can use it as a cutting coolant
without worry. But do get it from a major utility - and ask
them for a certificate that it is free of PCBs. (That will
remind them to double check!) The reason I am not concerned
about getting this oil from a major utility is that the
product liability is so great that they must go to extremes
to avoid the risk of letting PCBs out.

You can get any MSDSs from Texaco from their FaxBack system
at 713-423-3383. hale)

Subject: RE: Sphere Machine and Sphere Making

Hi Hale,

A rock club member of the Grand Island Earth Science Society
in Grand Island, Nebraska, is an accomplished sphere machine
maker. He's a retired machinist and has been making sphere
machines for the last 15 years at least. He has sold them
all over the midwest. However, he doesn't have a computer.
His name is Ed Junker, 307 W 9th, Wood River, NE 68883.
Phone number (308) 583-2855 He makes spheres from marble
size to 4-5 inches in diameter, and they look really nice.

I also know someone in Illinois, whom I met through the MWF,
who also has experience in sphere making--she uses diamond to
create hers. Her name is Colleen Kugler, 612 E 3rd St.,
Aledo, IL 61231. Sorry, don't have a phone number for

Hope this info helps you out.

I enjoy the Lap Digest. You do a great job putting it
together. We will say prayers for your wife and keep you
both in our thoughts. Thanks for such a great "magazine"

Dolores Rose
Grand Island, NE 68803
(Ed. Note: We have received several responses with names of
people making spheres or sphere machines. Great! These will
be kept on file in case anyone asks about the machines. What
I want is someone to write details of how to make spheres
given that you have a machine, for publication here on Lap
Digest. Any volunteers? If so, write. hale)

Subject: WTB: Used Crystalite Master 6" or 8"

I am looking for a gently used Crystalite master w/ set of
laps 6" or 8". Please contact me if you have one for sale.

Leo Kusher

Subject: FS: Morro Reddondo Tourmaline

I have recently purchased 2 kilos of nice cabochon material.
The material was mined several years ago. The 2 kilos are
both from Morro Reddondo Mine in Brazil. This mine produced
the largest amount of fine tourmaline in history and
basically has produced nothing to speak of in the last year
or so.

The material I have is bicolored (pink/blue-green) and solid
blue-green in average sizes from 5 cts. to 25+ cts. A large
number of the blue-greens are terminated xls. and also some
of the blue/greens are cats eye material.

I am selling mixed lots( containing both) of 50 grams for
$100. This material I feel will only become more and more
valuable, because the colors are rich and intense and the
mine is one of the most well known in the history of fine
tourmaline finds.

I am not a dealer but I had to buy this much material to get
it at this price. If interested please contact me off list.

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