Administered by Hale Sweeny (

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 177 - Wed. 11/18/98
2. NEW: Equipment needed for carving
3. NEW: How Do You Polishing Copal?
4. NEW: Making Water Glass Go Back Into Solution
5. NEW: Spare Part for a Beacon Star Rock Polisher
6. RE: Polishing Geodes on Vibratory Lap
7. Re: Polishing Geodes on a Vibratory Lap.
8. RE: Dry Vibrating Flat Lap
9. WTB: Silver Smithing Tools
10. WTB: Looking for small stones
11. AD: Holiday Gift Suggestion
12. SHOW: Columbia Gem & Mineral Society Show
13. SHOW: Mineralogical Society of Arizona Show


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 177 - Wed. 11/18/98

We have had very little published, over the first 176
issues, on the topic of gemstone carving. So I am very
pleased to present a paper on beginning carving, by Henry
Hunt. I have had Henry's books on carving for a long time,
and read them and reread them, but have never done much
with it. Then, about a month ago, I found that he was a
member of the list, and shamelessly twisted his arm. It is
apparent from reading it that Henry is a teacher and likes
teaching. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and urge you
to try it out! A small investment - a rich addition to
your skills! Please send me pictures of your first carved
piece, with a lightening bolt, and we will put those
pictures on the web page!

Take care, enjoy this beautiful fall weather (at least it
is beautiful here in NC!), and above all, have fun!


Subject: NEW: Equipment needed for carving

Once you know how to cut cabs, you are ready for carving.
Very little machinery is needed. Lets follow through on a
simple design. You have cut a large oval cab and wish to
carve a zigzag line, a thunder bolt symbol, diagonally
across the top. This groove will have 2 zigs and 1 zag at
a 45 degree angle.

First, you need an old motor, either 1725 or 3450 RPM, plus
a 1/4 inch Jacob’s chuck like the one on your electric drill.
An adapter is used on the 1/2 inch motor shaft and the chuck
is screwed onto it. These adapters can be obtained at
jewelry supply stores. This is all you need in the way of

A V shaped groove looks best for this design. So you will
need a V shaped diamond tool, not a tapered wheel, but a
straight wheel with a V shaped cutting edge. A 1/4 inch or
3/8 inch wheel will work best. First, scribe the zigzag
line with an aluminum pencil, then lightly trace the line
with the diamond tool. This will leave a shallow groove. Be
careful where the long zig meets the 45 degree zag. Once
you have a light groove, then you can go back and run the
line again, making it deeper each time. The outer ends of
the two long lines can be made wider by rocking the tool
against the sidewalls.

Make your grooves as neat as possible, but don't strain,
the next step will clean up the line. You use the knife edge
Cratex wheels to sand down the walls and edges. These
wheels are abrasives mixed with a rubber substance and work
exceptionally well with the quartzes. Pick the medium grade
if you buy only one grit. They are made in four different
grit sizes. The groove will be smooth and nicely frosted
when you finish.

Next, you go to a V shaped wood wheel the same size as your
diamond tool. These are easy to make using any hard wood
available. Maple for instance. Saw out a 1/8 inch slab
and cut 1/2 inch circles from these thin slabs. You will
mount these wheels on the same 1/8 inch mandrels you are
using with the Cratex wheels, so drill a center hole that
fits the attaching screw of the mandrel. Then, with a very
sharp file, shape the wood wheel to a knife edge; keep the
wheel straight and taper the cutting edge. Make several of
these. You will use them.

You use diamond compound on the wood wheels. The cheapest
way to go is to buy a one caret vial of 600 grit diamond
powder and mix it with 2 level tablespoons of Vaseline.
This is your sanding compound. Apply it sparingly, you don't
need much. Go back and forth over the groove with the wood
wheel until you have a very delicate frosting. Be
especially careful with the edges. I actually like to use
a second wood wheel with 1200 grit diamond powder, just to
make doubly sure that I have a perfect surface.

Now you are ready to polish. There are two methods for
polishing. Cerium oxide on a felt buff is the preferable
one for the quartzes, but it is very difficult to reach the
bottom of those grooves with a felt buff. Use either a rock
hard knife edge or the sharp edge of a small straight wheel.
The other method is a wood wheel with 50000 grit diamond. If
you go this route, you should use the 1200 grit diamond to
complete the sanding stage. And then, after finishing with
the 50000 grit diamond, it is nice to conclude a quartz
piece by working it against the felt buff wherever you can.
Cerium, for some reason, puts a brighter glitter on quartz
than anything else.

While you are working on this carving, especially with the
Cratex wheels, you will probably slip a few times, leaving
bird tracks on the surface of the cab. The only way to
remove these marks is to resand with 600 grit and then
repolish. For this reason, I like to process the cab
through the 600 sanding stage, then carve it, and then
polish everything. That way avoids any duplication.

So now you have a beautiful cab with the lightening bolt
symbol carved across the surface. They say such a stone
will give you the speed of Mercury and the power of Zeus.

Good Luck!

Henry Hunt

non-commercial republish permission granted
(Note: Books on carving:

American Lapidary: Designing the Carved Gemstone--Hunt, H.
Lapidary Carving for Creative Jewelry--Hunt, Henry
Fundamentals of Gemstone Carving--Kennedy, Gordon S. et al
Creative Lapidary, The--Long, Frank W.
Lapidary Carving : Design and Technique--Long, Frank W.
Gemstone Carving--Nie, Arthur
How to Make and Use Gem Carving Tools--Pond, F. W.
Carving Shells and Cameos--Richie, Carson I. A.
Ivory Carving--Richie, Carson I. A.
Scrimshaw--Richie, Carson I. A.
Soft Stone Carving--Richie, Carson I. A.
Gemstone Carving--Walter, Martin
Handbook of Gemstone Carving--Wertz, Ed & Leola

Some may be sculptural books. hale)

Subject: NEW: How Do You Polishing Copal?

I recently purchased several pieces of Copal rough. I have
never polished it before and was wondering if anyone had a
good method to share with me.

Randy Aue

Subject: NEW: Making Water Glass Go Back Into Solution

Hello! Hale,

I have some Water Glass (Sodium Silicate) that has been
sitting in my house for the last two years. It was stored
in a glass bottle. Recently, I picked it up and realized
that a heavy white solid residue has settled on the bottom
of the bottle with clear water on top of the white residue.
I believe it has been sitting for long and it become

Is there any ways to recycle them again ? Thanks in
advance for your answer.

Chee. Han
from Singapore

Subject: NEW: Spare Part for a Beacon Star Rock Polisher

Fellow List members,

Any one out there put me on the trail of a outlet for the
Beacon Star line of rock polishers? I'm trying to help a
friend find a part for a Model 12 Rock Polisher.

Matt D.

Subject: RE: Polishing Geodes on Vibratory Lap

In a message dated 98-11-16 16:43:36 EST, you write:

<<Speaking of gluing rocks to wood brings up a question
I've had. I have the butt end of a geode I want to polish
but I need to add some weight to it.>>

Sometimes, knowing what not to use is as important as
knowing what to use. I had a big chunk of the putty that
is used to seal the weather head where the electricity
enters your house. This seemed like a great material to
attach weights to the stones on the lap. It was sticky, and
not affected by water.

Well it did a great job of attaching the weights but when I
was finished, I had an impossible task of getting the stuff
off the rocks. When I finally got the putty off, there was
a sticky stain on the rock that would not come off with any
solvent I could find. So, try something else but don't use
the electrical putty.

Don at Campbell Gemstones.

Subject: Re: Polishing Geodes on a Vibratory Lap.

In answer to Dave on the weighting of geodes, I use the
round and flat "woody" fishing weights in 4, 6, and 8 oz
sizes. Some of the larger geode halves, (1 ft diam. and
larger), I use the 1 lb rectangular fishing weights. I use
"dum-dum", (motorhome trim installation putty) to attach
the weights. The putty has to be fresh and sticky; use
plenty so as to form a base for the weights. You can also
put a small amount of putty between the weights so you can
stack them and put as much weight as needed to keep the
geode halves rotating properly.

I also use surplus "O rings" (they come in all sizes) to
stretch around the bases for bumpers.

The down side of using putty is the grits will stick to the
putty and carry over to the next polishing sequence so you
have to keep it clean and change between grits.

Ernie (

Subject: RE: Dry Vibrating Flat Lap

Hi, I met a woman out sapphire hunting who seems to have
managed a little more spectacular incident with the
vibrating lap. She inherited a bunch of equipment from her
father in law and set it up in a little trailer. For her
first try, she set up the vibrating lap and left it running
.. how long, I do not know. She said a black cloud met
her when she opened the door, and the whole contents of the
trailer were covered with a black film.

Rose McArthur

Subject: WTB: Silver Smithing Tools

I am interested in anyone that might have used silver
smithing tools for sale. I want to learn the trade since I
need something to do with all of my nice cabs.

Please feel free to contact me.

Randy Aue

Subject: WTB: Looking for small stones

Hi folks,

I am looking for small cut stones between 2.2 and 2.5 mm.
They can be round or faceted. Would love to find small red
heart shaped stones. I need several hundred. Would like
ruby, garnet, sapphire, emerald, or ?

Also does anyone know of a source of "sand" or fine grit of
these same materials?

Thanks for your help.


Joe Kilpatrick
Expressions With Metal

Subject: AD: Holiday Gift Suggestion

Dear Readers,

The holidays will soon be here. I'd like to make a gift


I have hundreds of polished pieces of Dominican amber with
inclusions waiting to be fashioned into jewelry. The
inclusions are complete, identified, and easily visible.
Prices reflect the kind of inclusion/s and the size of the
piece of amber. The vast majority of pieces are $35.00 or
less. Prices given are retail. Dealers and resalers inquire
about your cost. Contact me for additional information at

Visit my website, The Dead Bug in Amber Club. The URL is

Thanks in advance.

Yale Goldman

The Dead Bug in Amber Club

non-commercial republish permission granted

Subject: SHOW: Columbia Gem & Mineral Society Show

The Columbia Gem and Mineral Society will hold it's 31st
annual Gem, Mineral, and Jewelry Show Thanksgiving weekend.

The dates and hours are:
Friday November 27, 11:00-7:00
Saturday November 28, 10:00-7:00
Sunday November 29, 12:00-6:00

Mineral specimens, jewelry, beads, fossils, and cut gems are
for sale. Demonstrations and members collections will be on

The show is located in the Moore Building at the South
Carolina Fairgrounds. Admission is $3.50, children 12 and
under are free.

For more information: (803) 736-9317 or


Subject: SHOW: Mineralogical Society of Arizona Show

For Arizona rockhounds, the annual Mineralogical Society
of Arizona hosted show and sale will be held November 20,
21 and 22 at the Phoenix Civic Plaza, Hall C at Third
Street and Washington Street in Phoenix. The show is
produced by GeoExpositions and features minerals, fossils,
gems, lapidary, jewelry and beads. It's a great place to
meet other rockhounds and mineral collectors. The show
opens at 10 am and closes at 7 pm Friday, 6 pm Saturday
and 5 pm on Sunday. You will find competitive exhibits,
gold panning and Wulfenite from the Red Cloud Mine for

John McLaughlin
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