Administered by Hale Sweeny (

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 147 - Mon 6/22/98
2. NEW: Polishing and Finishing Moonstones
3. NEW: What Polishing Compounds to Use?
4. RE: Does Ammonite Occur in US?
5. RE: Using Water with Dremel or Drill
6. RE: Using Water with Dremel or Drill
7. RE: Using Water with Dremel or Drill
8. RE: Using Water with Dremel or Drill
9. RE: Using Water with Dremel or Drill
10. RE: Want Plans or Help in Designing 6" Rock Saw
11. RE: Home Made Saw Filter Systems
12. RE: Opal Rough Material for Trade
13. RE:Polishing Carved Material
14. RE: Frosting Black Onyx
15. RE: Frosting Black Onyx
16. BIO: Bert Plants
17. SHOW: Western Dakota Gem & Mineral Society


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 147 - Mon 6/22/98

Went to the Quarterly meeting of the SFMS in Cartersville,GA,
and visited my brother for a few days. Also visited William
Holland Lapidary School in Young Harris, GA.

Want to spend a delightful week learning new lapidary skills
in small classes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia, and
at a low cost? Write to the Suzanne Wagner, director, at
<> or phone her at <706-3790-2126> for a
catalog. Their classes go through the week of Oct 25. You
will enjoy it!

There are a lot of entries in the wings waiting to be
published, and another edition will be published in the next
day or so.

Stay safe, and have fun!!


Subject: NEW: Polishing and Finishing Moonstones

I am starting to work with moonstone. Orienting the stones for
cabbing has been pretty easy. The finished effect however has
not been totally satisfactory. What seems to start as a stone
with nice blue-white color and chatoyancy often ends up rather
dull grey. Any tips from the old-timers on cabbing moonstone?

john at two roses studios,

John Lemieux Rose Phone (714) 778-5336 Fax (714) 778-6367

Subject: NEW: What Polishing Compounds to Use?

Greetings Hale:

One query that might help other lapidaries and myself - what
are the better polishing compounds for the various well-known
gemstones? Such as Lapis, Jade, Rhodocrosite, Sodalite,
agates, and so on. There must be somewhere printed material
on this but in smaller community libraries there is almost
nothing relating to the lapidary.


Joe Bokor

Subject: RE: Does Ammonite Occur in US?

Greetings, to answer your question on Ammonite, based on what
I am aware of, I would say Ammonite does come from the US.
However the only place, again, as far as I am aware, is
Northern Montana, just south of the Canadian border. A map of
the Bearspaw Sea, that I just dug out of my map drawer, shows
that indeed, 100 million years ago, Northern Montana was
covered by it. Whether or not they are exposed or not, I
cannot say.

The biggest producer of Ammonite is an outfit called Corite
or Korite...can't remember which :). They're located right on
the Alberta-Montana border. The Placenticeras Meeki is the
subspecies that gives the most beautiful Gem, and I'm not
sure if this species is in Montana or not.

Hope this was helpful.......take care........Dave

Dave Daigle, Edmonton, Alberta
The Edmonton Tumblewood Lapidary Club

non-commercial republish permission granted

Subject: RE: Using Water with Dremel or Drill

Upon receiving the query, I sent the following to the
Customer Service Department at Dremel:

> I run a mail list for lapidary, entitled Lapidary Digest.
> Yesterday the following query was received:
> <<I read that carving stone should be done under a steady
> drip of water and that drilling should be done under water.
> What are the rules for using water around a Dremel -- I
> will be doing gems, not large 3-D carvings. I will mostly
> carve bringing the stone to the stationary Dremel but
> also use the flex shaft at times.
> How do the rules differ for a drill. Is mine more
> dangerous because it has a metal housing , not plastic?>>
> Can you please help me answer this query?

This is Dremel's answer; it is not as clear and understandable
as I would have hoped!

<<Yes ~ carving stone generally requires some type of
water/liquid wash. Fluid will ruin our tools, as the
centrifugal force will send the liquid up the shaft of
the tool. This procedure is totally different
application for tools other than Dremel and is not
recommended. We are not aware of the effect a wash or
bath will have on other manufactures tools.

Thank you for the e-mail,

Jill Camp
Dremel Customer Service>>

Subject: RE: Using Water with Dremel or Drill

To Susan about carving: A few tricks I use are as follows:
1- I use a Dremel rechargeable unit (extra batteries are nice)
2- I use a mixture of diamond powders and petroleum jelly on
fiber or wooden points alot.
3- A stationary tool is easy to build, horizontal mounted
motor with a long shaft sticking through old wash tub bottom
(use rubber grommet here) and stick a drill chuck on the end.

This is great for heavy duty summer, outside (trust me; not
for front room) type work.

4- And if all else fails, pull shower curtain part way and
sit on edge of tub (not a big hit with wives especially when
cutting Malachite or Hematite) :-)

Seriously now, the battery type rechargeable grinders are
great for carving; light oils with diamond points or powder
mix seem to work well for the small stuff.

Craig Nielson

Subject: RE: Using Water with Dremel or Drill

I too am planning on using a flex shaft with water for

I have seen a number of solutions to this dilemma. There was
an article several years ago in Lapidary Journal about rigging
up a flex shaft hand tool with an aerator for an aquarium to
send water to the bit. It required that you drill a hole into
the handpiece and insert a tube at an angle towards the bit.

One of my lapidary friends had another solution that worked
without ruining a is what he did: He used a
flexshaft, where the handpiece is far removed from the motor.
(He did not recommend that a Dremel be used with water unless
using the flexshaft attachment...too much of a shock hazard.)

He then created a housing by using a metal tube that fit
around the handpiece, and he placed this tube in a metal
housing that was then bolted to a table. He rigged it so that
housing could be adjusted vertically or horizontally. (This
sounds like a long description, but if you saw a picture, it
would be immediately understandable).

The key to using it with a water drip is to keep water from
going up the bit into the handpiece. Many handpieces don't
use sealed bearings, and water via capillary action will
travel up the hand piece and ruin it. He took a small circle
of rubber that was just a tad smaller in circumference then
the housing, and poked a hole dead center. He then placed
the bit into the handpiece, then through the circle. He then
took the handpiece and placed it in his home made holder. It
too had a metal barrier in front with a small hole that
allowed the bit to poke through.

The handpiece was now protected, and the rubber circle would
spin freely with the carving bit, and keep water from going
back. It worked like a charm, and he was able to carve some
very beautiful carvings in this manner.

Incidently, if anyone is looking for a great alternative to a
flexshaft, I know a fellow in my area who sells rebuilt
dental drills for $200. This is a rebuilt Wells lab unit
that comes complete with motor, arm and handpiece. It is
great because it is designed for fine work without the gyro
action typically found in flexshaft tools. It runs as smooth
as silk and half the cost of a new flexshaft. It is far
superior to Dremel tools, and should last far longer.

The only drawback is that it only accepts one handpiece, and
will only take bits with a 3/32 inch shaft. If you can live
with that, it works great. I really enjoy mine. If anyone is
interested, let me know. I have the guy's number.

Sorry for the long winded response. Hope this helps.


Ben Hyman

Subject: RE: Using Water with Dremel or Drill

When I belonged to the San Francisco Gem and Mineral club the
intarsia class was using their Dremels set in a clamp at about
a forty-five degree angle. There was a container of little
flat circles of plastic there to be used as guards to keep the
water from going down the shaft into the bearings. These
little pieces of plastic were cut from milk cartons, I think.
They had a hole in the center slightly smaller than the
diameter of the shaft, and a slit from the center out to the
outer edge. This facilitated fitting it on the shaft. When
hand holding the Dremel the circle was used also. Water was
delivered to the work through an IV setup suspended from a
hook above the head of the user.

My dentist has a nice little plastic guard chamber that is
used to enclose the work when polishing metal bridges and
such. I am sorry I can't think of a more technical name
tonight. I asked him to order one for me from the dental
supply house. It is good to work in when you are hand
holding the Dremel.


Subject: RE: Using Water with Dremel or Drill

As you don't mention what sort of Dremel tool you are using,
it is hard to advise specifically, but in general: any time
you are plugging something into the wall you should use a GFI
(Ground Fault Interrupter) breaker in the circuit if you are
using water with the tool. If this isn't in your house wiring
(they are code-required for bathrooms these days) then you
can buy or build an extension cord with a GFI and use that.
These sense a short as soon as it occurs, and cut the power
before it has a chance to electrocute you. The type of tool
being used is not as important as the type of electricity.

Dremel also makes a cordless unit which works on a
rechargeable battery- these won't kill you if they short out.
I don't think the metal vs. plastic housing is the main issue
either, although double-insulated tools are supposed to be
safer-electricity can get around the plastic if water is

Andrew Werby

Andrew Werby - United Artworks
Sculpture, Jewelry, and Other Art Stuff

Subject: RE: Want Plans or Help in Designing 6" Rock Saw

Craig Nielson wrote:<snip><<Does anyone have plans for a
home made 6" saw.(snip)>>

I put mine together using a surplus 20 mm ammo can, a spare
1/2" flanged arbor, some 1" angle (for braces) and a piece of
sheet steel for the table top. I cut holes in box for the
arbor and its mounting screws, mounted table supports inside,
drilled a few holes for drainage and screws, and cut a slot
for the saw blade.

Note that a 20 mm box is big enough to handle an 8" blade.
Fabricate a base from scrap lumber and figure out a
mounting system for the motor.

I made a "universal" mount that will hook onto my Lortone
and the home made saw by bending a piece of 1/16" x 8" sheet
steel to a steep L, drilling holes for the motor at the
proper places. Hold the "motor mount" to the table with
window locks. To use, unlock the window locks, tilt up the
motor to remove drive belt, move to next machine, slip tab
into slot, connect belt, secure locks and you are ready to

Might not look good, but, I'm not much for "looks" anyway :)



non-commercial republish permission granted

Subject: RE: Home Made Saw Filter Systems


I don't know if it would ever work on a saw as big as yours,
but I rigged my 10" with a external pump and drain that
filters through a wooden frame with a cloth basket. Works OK
for my needs and keeps the oil quite clean. All I needed was
some copper tubing, a couple of fittings a swamp cooler pump
and a mouth full of bad words (first time through one of my
connection joints failed).

Maybe you can modify the idea to something useful. Another
thought might be to place plastic sheeting on the bottom of
your tank, helps save a lot of scraping if its been too long.

Craig Nielson

<I had no idea what a swamp cooler pump was so I wrote Craig
and asked him ... and here is his answer:>

Sorry Hale

I did not think before I wrote that. Just a local term for an
evaporative type cooler. Don't really know how we ended up
with that term here in Utah but its what every one I know has
called them my whole life.

The pumps are little plastic units that can be picked up at
almost any hardware store ( at least here in the West ) 5000
CFM up to about 20000 CFM type coolers. They run from about
$7.00 to around $20.00. I get the small ones, they last 2 or
three seasons of cutting before they crap out on me but I
make sure I have a spare or two sitting by. Its a major pain
to find them in the winter here.

The outlet they come with is too big for 1/4 copper tube but
by either soldering larger reducer fittings on to it or
getting plastic tube and warming and stretching it to reduce
one end and attaching with hose clamps ( automotive type ) it
will hook up and provide all the flow one could ask for.

I had my grinder in a basement with no water outlet that I
could tie into and am now using one of them in my back yard
in good weather.

Still don't quite trust the little tray type recyclers line
on a Genie I guess. I just can't figure out how they would
not contaminate the water that they pump back to the wheels.

Just being a rock cutter for the fun of it means I"m not under
production time and therefore having to change wheels on the
arbor is no big thing.

Sorry I got so long winded.

Subject: RE: Opal Rough Material for Trade

In a note in Issue 146, Tim Vogle wrote that he had some
Lambibia Opal for trading.

What is Lambibia opal?

Subject: RE:Polishing Carved Material

I am not sure this will work on all your holes, depending
on their accessibility, but rubbing fels naptha soap into
holes and druzy crystals will protect them from getting stuck
full of compounds. Of course, if you are protecting your
piece through the other grinding steps as well, you would have
to scrub the contaminated soap out and replace it with clean
soap as you go from step to step.

Rose McArthurs

non commercial publishing rights granted.

Subject: RE: Frosting Black Onyx

Professional glass etching is done using hydroflouric
acid. It is extremely reactive and poisonous. If you go that
route thoroughly educate yourself before starting out and use
all recommended safety precautions.

Rose McArthurs"

Non commercial republishing rights granted
note and check the referenced URLs. hale

Subject: RE: Frosting Black Onyx

<< I have cut some interesting shapes in black onyx and
would like to apply a "frosted" finish to them without using
a sandblaster. <snip> I'm thinking >that there must be some
chemical solution or an acid that will etch the surface of
the stone to give it that frosted look. Maybe whatever it is
that glass artists use to etch window glass?>>

Hydroflouric acid is the glass froster's alternative to sand
blasting, BUT that is some real deadly stuff. Sandblasting
is much safer and cheaper when done by a local glass

Not only is hydroflouric acid downright nasty, but it is
difficult to obtain. Save yourself some grief and check out
local glass suppliers.

For more information see these URL's: - Subject: hydroflouric
acid fatality
archives/orchid.archive.9701/date/article-78.html -
Subject: Hydroflouric Acid
archives/orchid.archive.9701/Author/article-67.html -
Subject: HF incident

Jerry Mings

"non-commercial republish permission granted"


Subject: BIO: Bert Plants

hi all thought I'd let you all know a little bit bout me.
37 yo, started rockhounding as a child, started faceting/
cabbing ~3 yrs ago. Currently have a Lee facetting machine,
Pixie cabbing machine, Raytech trim/slab saw, and Lapcraft
trim saw. have been predominantly working my way thru the
accumulated backlog of the old family collection. lots of
agate and wood, some corundum. btw, can anyone give any hints
on getting a bright polish on ruby and sapphire? currently
working from 1200 to 3k to 8k to 14k to 50k, not overly

Bert Plants

Subject: SHOW: Western Dakota Gem & Mineral Society

I would like to invite everyone that will be in the Rapid
City, S.D. area in July to our 18th annual Gem & Mineral Show.
It will Be held at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center on July
18th & 19th, hours are: 18th: 9am to 6pm; 19th: 10am to 4pm.
We have plenty of dealers, silent auction, hourly door prizes,
exhibits, demonstrations and programs.

Heming Bomford

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