Administered by Hale Sweeny (

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 151 -
2. NEW: Polishing in a Vibrating Tumbler
3. NEW: Polishing jade
4. NEW: Supplying Coolant to Lapidary Grinding Wheels
5. NEW: How to Polish with Diamond Compound
6. NEW: How to Tumble Polish Intarsia
7. NEW: Book on Lapidary Collecting for Kentucky
8. NEW: Book on ND Fairburn Agates
9. RE: Lapidary Shop Tip - Replacing V-belt
10. RE: How To Use Sonic Tumblers
11. RE: How to Use Sonic Tumblers
12. RE: Workshop Setup Advice Needed
13. BIO: Andre Laporte
14. BIO: Rachael Tang (aka Elthia)


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 151 -

Thanks for the many messages approving of LapDigest's
operating policies. There are just too many letters to answer
individually, so please accept this as my thanks to all of

I will restate our policy on ads for those of you who either
did not read the Welcoming letter or who have forgotten. We
like ads, and we encourage ads. Dealers have added a lot to
our list, and their ads are often very educational. Ads are
free, of course. Being a lapidary list, we accept ads only on
lapidary (except faceting) equipment, books, slabs, rough -
all those things our members need in doing lapidary work.
This is a strictly held rule, and for questionable ads, I
make the decision as to whether the ad is accepted.

Recently, a member submitted two ads, neither of which were
run, as they were both outside the policy stated above. That
member demurred, and took his case to another public forum.
I feel strongly that our policy is proper and is the correct
one to follow. With this statement, I consider the case

It has been hot here -- over 100 degrees for much of the
past week. Guess it has been hot everywhere. Be leary. Drink
lots of fluids, and take frequent breaks if working outside.
What I am saying is---

Be safe and have fun.


Subject: NEW: Polishing in a Vibrating Tumbler

It's good to see you up and running again! Here's a query
for the digest about tumbling...

I've been tumbling gem rough in a Raytech TV-5 vibrating
tumbler. I've had pretty good success in peeling the junk
off the outside of stones, but I'm having trouble getting a
good polish.

Here's the question: How do I tell when the stones are
ready to go from one stage to another? In particular, how
do I tell when they are prepolished enough so that the
polish will work?

Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance,

Tom's Gems
I now carry cabbing, carving & wire-wrapping rough too.

Subject: NEW: Polishing jade


Try this for polishing jade. Do lots of wet sanding on the
400 drum. Clean thoroughly with warm water and detergent.
Rinse till clean. Go on to the 600 drum and do lots more.
Clean it again with warm water and detergent. Rinse till
clean.In each c
ase do more than you think could possibly be
necessary. Use a slurry of chrome oxide polish on either a
hard felt wheel or a leather buff. Keep a light touch and
keep the stone wet.

When the stone begins to pull slightly, it is done. At this
point you should have a smooth "flow" polish. It is important
not to overdo it at this stage, because the softer fibers in
the jade will undercut, and you must return to the sanding
stage to get rid of the orange peel.

Note that unless your wheel is well shielded, everything in
the vicinity will be bright green.

Non commercial republication permission granted

Subject: NEW: Supplying Coolant to Lapidary Grinding Wheels

This problem may relate to other equipment situations
discussed in past newsletters.

My Genie gave up the ghost (Motor burned out) several months
ago, and I finally managed to secure a used lapidary set up
from a garage sale. I picked up 2 separate arbors that
accepted 2 wheels each, and it should work. The only problem
was - how do I provide water to the wheels to keep them cool.

The original user had sponges attached to the hoods of these
units wet the wheels. I would not want to use this method
with opals or other valuable stones.

I considered getting a water tank to hang above the unit and
having it drip down onto the wheel, then fall into a pan, to
then fall through piping from the pan to another container
until it emptied. I felt that was too cumbersome, plus I
didn't want to risk dripping water around the power lines.
Say what you will about the Genie, but they had the best
method of supplying water to the wheels with their air pump.

I then tried using the original brass geysers from my Genie,
and using an aquarium bubbler to provide the air power. I
tried several of them, and even the strongest available
didn't have "juice" to blow enough air to force the water
high enough to hit the wheel.

I then searched for a separate air compressor. Either they
are far too powerful for the job, or are battery operated and
not meant for long term use. (Is this scenario familiar to
any other lapidaries?)

I finally found a way....I canabalized the air pump from the
Genie, and found a way to make it free standing on a small
chassis. I went to a surplus store, and found a small motor
for $10 that would be strong enough to spin it. For about
$40 in spare parts, I rigged up a small air pump just strong
enough to supply water to the wheels, without having to use a
cumbersome gravity drip set up.

Has anyone else dealt with this problem? Aside from the pump
from the Genie, is there anything else available that would
work as a free standing unit for pumping water from a small
pan to a grinding wheel?

Sorry for the long message, but I have spoken with several
lapidaries and equipment suppliers that said this is a
significant problem. If I didn't have my old Genie air pump,
I would have been "SOL". Any replies or suggestions would be
greatly appreciated.

BTW...If anyone is interested, I would gladly share how I
made my contraption.


Ben Hyman

Subject: NEW: How to Polish with Diamond Compound

I recently purchased some diamond compounds that come in the
syringe dispensers, for polishing. Any hints suggestions on
their proper use? I have a whole series of stones I have cut
from the very soft to very hard. What is the best way to
polish hard or soft material with them?

thanking you in advance,
non-commercial republish permission granted

Subject: NEW: How to Tumble Polish Intarsia

Hello. I have been doing some Intarsia for a couple of years,
and I have been considering purchasing a small vibratory
tumbler for polishing only. Is this a good Idea? I'm concerned
that the immersion could deteriorate the epoxy, and what
polish compound and media would work best?

After my felt polish wheel wore out (my initial 2nd hand unit)
I found that I have been having trouble getting a good polish
on anything, even going to many more steps of diamond charged
laps. I usually use cerium oxide, which had been working fine.

Another reason for wanting to use the tumbler is that the
intarsia often have rather sharp corners, and I have lost
several stones to catching a corner on the felt and suddenly
sending it flying.

Also, I am finding that I seem to have no market for the
intarsias, and as I really enjoy making them, I would like to
be able to get them to support my making of more intarsias. If
anyone has suggestions on marketing, or books thereon, I would
be highly appreciative. I would swap finished pieces for
rough, or tools, but the only person to offer a swap had 20$
a gram malachite, and that seems a bit excessive to me.

Thanks for the articles on the GFI's. I had installed them
everywhere else in my home, never thinking of the lapidary
as a danger spot. Also, I met a young woman who daily works
with hydrofluoric acid, who told me that the way it kills you
is to be absorbed through the skin, sinking to the bones,
where it kills off the bone marrow. I don't know if this is
true, but it could be very bad.

Lastly, does anyone know of anything worth cutting that is
native to the northeastern Illinois area? We seem to have
only limestone and fluorite here.

Thanks lots,

John Heinz
Non commercial reprint permission granted

Subject: NEW: Book on Lapidary Collecting for Kentucky

Hi Folks :

In the 1998 May issue of the Lapidary Journal on page 257
they listed a book written by William J. Schaub. The title of
the book is "Mineral, Fossil and Lapidary Field Collecting
Guide to Kentucky".

They did not say where you can purchase the book or the cost.
I would appreciate any information on this book.

Have a Good Day

Subject: NEW: Book on ND Fairburn Agates

I would like to call your attention to a new book "South
Dakotas Fairburn Agate" by Roger Clark with photography by
Mary Jane Clark. This book is available from Silverwind
Agates, 800 N Lynndale Dr., Appleton, Wi 54914 for $19.95
plus $2.50 shipping costs. This book is a must for anyone
interested in agates, especially banded agates.
The photography is superb and the paper quality is excellent.

I hope you will post this on your list. You will be doing all
rockhounds a big favor. I am sending a postcard which depicts
the cover of the book and is indicative of the photography
and printing throughout. Of course I mean by snail mail.


Jack Seger


Subject: RE: Lapidary Shop Tip - Replacing V-belt

In Issue 148, you wrote:

<<Today while debating what to do with the saw down again I
happened to notice my daughters nylon rope for pulling her
snow sled. It was approximately the same thickness as the
broken drive belt. I whacked off a piece long enough to fit,
retied the sled up short, and took it to the shop. I threaded
the rope thru the pulley path, and using a candle, melted the
two ends. I then stuck the two ends together and as soon as I
could [that sucker was hot!] molded the repaired end with my
fingertips. I held it till it was cool, finished threading
it on the machine, and what do you know! It works great!
All for about 25 cents worth of rope and a candle!>>

Even better than nylon rope, which might tend to slip on a
pulley 'cause it doesn't stretch enough to really be tight,
you can get Urethane belting from machine tool suppliers that
is intended to do the same. Round or Vee cross sections in
various diameters/sizes. Cut it about 5-10% shorter than the
relaxed untensioned length of the belt. Heat up a knife
blade or steel ruler or whatever of the sort, you want around
700 degrees or so. Press the two ends to the steel, melting
them some and mushrooming the melted material up a bit on the
ends. Slide them off the edge of the steel as you do this,
so the melted ends now press into each other and the
"mushrooms" blend. Hold for a minute or so till it's set.
Wait another five before you use a razor blade to trim the
excess off, and another five or ten before you actually put
tension on the belt by stretching it onto the pulleys.

Hope this helps.

Peter Rowe

Non-commercial republish rights granted.

Subject: RE: How To Use Sonic Tumblers

Hale, I recently subscribed to your lapidary site and I am
really enjoying it. I have much to learn as my wife and I
recently purchased some lap equipment. We have always
enjoyed rock hunting and collecting and have a back log of
material with which to work. Now, if we can find the time.

One of the pieces of equipment I purchased was a Viking
Vibrasonic vibrating polisher. It has two top mounted
containers that will hold about 6 pounds of material in each.
It was made by Geode Industries, Inc, of New London, IA,
according to the plate on the machine. I have been unable to
contact the company. I am looking for an instruction booklet
on the machine. Can you help?

H. D. Yarbrough
Hi- What Luck!! You sent that query the same time I had a note
about the Vibrasonic, along with full instructions! See below,
and enjoy!! hale

Subject: RE: How to Use Sonic Tumblers

I saw an inquiry about Vibra Sonic tumblers in the latest
issue of the Digest. I have used two of them for years. Great
because what normally takes 37 days can be done in 10.

The instructions (below) came with my tumblers. Gives grit
size and water amount. Works great. Also I polish with a
white powder called T-14 I think that comes from 3M. My
tumblers come from H.O.P.E. Industries (Tagit), in Riverside,
Ca. I still get parts for them thru a dealer here in
Minneapolis. I paid about $250.00 ea long ago.

Bill Carrothers



(1) COARSE GRIND: Fill bowl to within about 1 inch of top with
washed, well drained rocks. Add 1/4 cup coarse silicon
carbide (200-250 grit), and 1/4 to 1/3 cup water with 1/4
teaspoon detergent, (Tide, Cheer, etc.). Run at high speed for
24 to 30 hours. As mud builds up from grinding, more water
should be added (about 2 or 3 tablespoons). Wash and repeat
coarse grind until desired grind is attained.

WASH THOROUGHLY AND DRAIN. Washing is best accomplished by the

1 . Turn off unit.
2. Remove pulley cover and change belt to low speed
position. Replace pulley cover.
3. Remove and wash bowl cover, add 1 or 2 cups of water
and add about a tablespoon of detergent to rocks in bowl.
4. Replace cover and operate at reduced speed for a few
minutes. Do not allow liquid to spill over onto
motor or bearings.
5. Turn off unit and pour rocks into collander or similar
straining device. Run cold water over rocks while
stirring them with your hands.
6. Repeat foregoing procedure.

NOTE: It is wise to eliminate stones which are very porous or
ones which have deep cavities so that coarser grits will
not be carried over into finer grinding phases.

(2) FINE GRIND: To the coarse ground rocks, add 1/4 cup
fine (500-600 grit), silicon carbide, 1/4 to 1/3 cup
water with 1/2 level teaspoon detergent. Run low speed 2 to
3 days or until rocks have velvety sheen surface.
Again a very small amount of water will be required.


(3) PREPOLISH: After fine grinding and washing, rocks should
be examined closely to be sure there are no cracks
or pits containing grit from grinding. if so, remove them from
the load and scrub the spots free of grit. Rinse again
thoroughly, drain well and add about 1/4 cup Levigated
Alumina and 1/4 cup water. Run low speed 2 to 3 days.
Rocks should now show a definite semigloss.


(4) POLISH: To the semi-polished rocks add 1/8 to 1/4
cup tin oxide and 1/4 to 1/3 cup water and 1 level
teaspoon detergent. Run low speed until polish is attained,
3 or 4 days. Save the tin oxide slurry, as it may be used
several times (if it is kept clean and free of grit). After
tin oxide polish, a few hours run (3 or 4) at low speed in
about 1 cup water with 4 or 5 teaspoons detergent will
enhance the gloss. NOTE: As Gy-Roc grinding is extremely fast
it is essential that a minimum amount of water be
used, yet care must be taken that the mass does not run dry.
It should be looked at every 6 or 8 hours and if the mud
looks thick a little water (2 or 3 tablespoons) should be


Subject: RE: Workshop Setup Advice Needed

Refer: Lapidary Digest #146 and #148

Andy, my advice is:

1. Work it all out on paper first. Prepare a floor plan. Mark
in existing structures (support poles, windows, heat vents) as
well as all electrical outlets and lights. Then, using cut
outs to represent the benches, work tables and cupboards,
place them on the floor plan where you think you want them.
That way, you won’t have the problem, 6 or 8 months later, of
moving benches or changing the electrical outlets.

2. Make sure you have sufficient electrical power with the
outlets conveniently located to the work benches for easy
access. Good overhead lighting as well as adjustable lamps at
work tables and benches are a must. Mechanically minded I am
not, so please bear with me as I try to explain our set up. A
plug in cord from an electrical outlet on the wall is
connected to a plug-in box and from that to an on/off switch
mounted on each of the benches (on the board just below the
bench top). You can then plug the machine into the bench
outlet and it is not activated until you flip the ON Switch.
If there should be a problem, the Off Switch is right there.
You are not reaching over the machine to unplug it from the

3. Ventilation. We have an exhaust fan in the ceiling that is
vented out through the wall.

4. Easy and comfortable working. Work benches and work tables
have to be at a convenient height for YOU, since you will be
the one working in the shop. Most people stand when using the
trim saw but sit on a stool when working at the grinder and
polisher. Therefore, these three benches can be the same
height. Your work table, where you would sit to prepare the
slices for cabbing, dopping and eventually mounting the cabs
into findings, would be lower since you would be sitting on a
chair. A swivel chair on casters works great!

5. Go With The Flow! Our workshop is set up like a horizontal
letter "U". The first bench has the saws, the second bench the
grinding and sanding units. Turn the corner. A storage
cupboard is next. Then there’s a long bench with the polishing
unit at the left end and the rest of the bench open for
working on. These three benches are the same height. Next
comes the work table - desk height. It goes to the corner and
along the side wall. The silversmithing and soldering bench is
next. You may want to set this a little further apart with its
own work table and storage space if your friend is going to
set it up and use it in exchange for giving you lessons.

All the benches have a bottom shelf - about 6 inches
up from the floor. A good height for resting your feet on
when sitting at the grinders and for the 5 gallon water pail
with the recirculating pump in it. Some of our friends have
put doors on their benches. It does keep everything looking
neat and tidy. Peg Board on the wall behind the grinders
allows us to hang up extra sanding belts while the peg board
on the wall at the work table holds an assortment of
templates, epoxy, optivisor and other tools. We have a 4 foot
square table in the center of the workshop where we sit when
working with the Foredom Unit. It’s also useful when we have
fiends over to work on various projects.

I hope this helps.

Trudy Martin

-- non-commercial republish permission granted --

Subject: BIO: Andre Laporte

I have been rock hounding for about 3 years now. I live in
Kingston, Ontario and have a limited supply of rough close at
hand. I work as a Fire Inspector at the Military Base where
before cut backs I was a Platoon Chief. I became interested
in rock hounding during vacation which happened to take us (My
wife and I) through Parsboro NS. Some beautiful area's there
for hunting be it for fossils or polishable rock. Love to go
back again. In the meantime I note all the wonderful stories
of those who write in and describe there adventures.

I hadn't heard any thing about cleaning stones using acid
washes to etch away unwanted material. If you were able to
put something online about this subject I would greatly
appreciate it.

Thank you for the hard work you put into the digest.

Andre Laporte

non-commercial republish permission granted

Subject: BIO: Rachael Tang (aka Elthia)

Here's my general bio:

My name is Rachael, I'm 23, and basically new to the entire
field. I'm currently saving up for a faceting machine, but
intend to do carving as well, when I can. I'm a little more
nervous about being a beginner in lapidary than I was with
wood (and wax, but not the kind used in this field - I carved
paraffin *grin*). The materials are much much more expensive,
so if I make a mistake I'd be much more afraid of the waste.
Please pardon any typos, my talons tend to get in the way of
typing sometimes.

I have a three-year-old son who loves rocks and likes to go
out with me looking at them, and a husband who doesn't much
care either way, but is glad to spend the time being with us.
I do have a number of questions about various things, but I
just woke up (we're late risers anyway (the lot of us), but
it's Saturday, so yes, I just woke at 2:30 PM (and I'm doing
e-mail before breakfast as usual - we're a computer family
too). My son is currently running around the apartment with a
bucket on his head, going "I'm buckieman!". *laugh* Anyway,
here are a few questions for which I would vastly appreciate

I recently bought one of those tumblers for children that come
in toy stores. I figured it was a neat little thing, and
Johnna could watch while I ran it to make the stones. To my
dismay, I found that the thing takes about two weeks of
constant running to tumble things! Not only that, but on
turning it on I found that it drowned out everything else in
the apartment and sent Johnna running with his hands over his
ears and me running to the plug (the only "off" switch) to
stop the headache! Are they all this noisy? Do the "real"
ones take less time, and are they noisier?

While we're on it, are the cabbing/faceting/whatever machines
noisy like that too, and if so, is there anything that can be
done aside from buying a house with a garage (we rent an
apartment in the city right now)?

We're also going on our first rock-hunting vacation soon.
We're leaving on the second of July to spend most of a week up
at the Barton Mine on Gore mountain in the Adirondacks.
Garnets! I've heard wonderful things about what you can find
there, but have never been on any rockhounding trip (not like
this - I panned for gold with an old friend of my father's a
couple of times, and pored over his rock collection (which was
stunning and enormous)). Any pointers? I got myself a handful
of tools - goggles, rock pick, hammer, and chisels (working on
gloves), but what else will I need? I've heard it's a
rock-type area, rather than sand- or dirt-type. Most of what
I'd want would not be picky about crystal formation - I'll go
for clear rather than well-formed (anything I find of size I'm
likely to cut up anyway, when I get the means).

It's kind of funny - I dropped out of high school (long story,
it wasn't just typical stupid-kid-drops-out) and never made it
to college (no $$$$!) and spent a long time wondering what I
was going to do with my life. I was starting to wonder if I'd
ever figure it out - I never thought I could take my greed for
pretties and the rocks in my head (read: love for geology
_and_ geometry, chemistry, and physics but a lack of desire to
pursue only one for a career) and actually make something of

My father-in-law bought me a subscription to Lapidary Journal
for Christmas or my birthday (they're less than a month apart,
sometimes I forget which one the gifts came for), and it was
like coming home. Not only that, but I've not yet met anyone
who does this who's a total )((*^#le, which is uncommon in any
group of people - there's always one, there are usually many.

I'm thinking of buying a used Ultra Tec, as it would be
cheaper than new - any suggestions as to what to look for, and
where/how? I live in the New York City area - anyone know any
shops and such around here, or collecting sites? I prefer
clear stones, but like lapis, sugilite, and malachite as well
(tigereye I think I'll only be using for carving, which rules
out sizes smaller than my thumb). By the way, can diamond
files be used to carve stone? I don't want to use a loud
machine, but don't mind taking my time about it. Someone
said that the hardness of steel is a five, though, which means
I won't be able to use it on much of anything. ??? Anyway,
this is getting long, I hope it's still short enough for the

Talk to you soon,

Rachael Tang

The Evil Temptress
aka Elthia
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