Web Site: http://www.lapidarydigest.com

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 189 - Sat 12/26/98
2. REVIEW: Rock and Gem for February 1999
3. NEW: How to Orient a Star Garnet?
4. RE: Slab Saw Blade Reducer Insert
5. RE: Slab Saw Blade Reducer Insert
6. RE: Slab Saw Blade Reducer Insert
7. RE: Mexican Jelly Opal
8. Re: Handling Small Stones?
9. Re: Handling Small Stones?
10. Re: Handling Small Stones?
11. Re: Handling Small Stones?
12. Re: Handling Small Stones?
13. Re: Handling Small Stones?
14. Re: Handling Small Stones?
15. Re: Handling Small Stones
16. Re: Leather for polishing


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 189 - Sat 12/26/98

MERRY day-after CHRISTMAS!! Hope you had a great Christmas
and the kids were not too noisy! Since you got this on
Saturday, you can tell I did not go to Charleston -- we had
a spate of ice and snow and freezing temperatures. Anybody
still dreaming of a white Christmas? BAH HUMBUG!!! (smile)

Please stay safe, healthy, and HAVE FUN!!


Subject: REVIEW: Rock and Gem for February 1999

Here is the review for the February 1999 Rock and Gem

The February 1999 Rock and Gem is devoted mainly to the
shows that begin in mid January and end in Mid-February in
Quartzsite, Arizona. While not directly related to lapidary,
the articles on the Quartzsite shows provide a lot of
information as to what can be found, and what to expect,
and where to stay, both motels and campgrounds. The reason
I include this is because the Quartzsite shows are great
places to acquire rough for your lapidary projects. There
are thousands of dealers, many with tons of rough materials.
The desert is usually nice in the winter.

The "Craftsman of the Month" column describes an inlaid
silver butterfly box. It gives a detailed description of
creating an inlaid butterfly on a sterling silver box.

The other article of interest was "Sagenite and Plume" by
Pat McMahan. This article described the cutting, polishing
and photography of the beautiful Sagenite and plume agate.
For those who followed the Lapidary Digest articles on
cutting oil, this article also includes a section on the
cutting oils the author has used.

The Shop Talk article this month was about writing articles
about your field trips or how-to articles. As a newsletter
editor, I encourage you to read this. Although Mr. Kappele
is asking for articles for Rock and Gem, the advise on
writing applies to local club members writing for the club
newsletter as well. Read, take heed, and think about
giving your newsletter editor an article about somewhere
you have collected or something you have done. Your editors
would be especially grateful for lapidary related articles.

Merry Christmas
Steve Henegar

Subject: NEW: How to Orient a Star Garnet?

Happy Holidays to all!!

I have a question, I know how to orient Star Sapphires,
Rubies etc..., but can anybody please tell me how to orient
a Star Garnet??

Gil Shea

Subject: RE: Slab Saw Blade Reducer Insert

I was a little uncertain as to some details of the problem,
so I wrote J Eddy and asked him five questions. The
questions and his responses are given below:

Q1 ...What do you mean by 'pound'?

A1 ...There is a little play between the arbor and the
reducer. I guess by saying "pound" I mean the blade is not
centered on the arbor.

Q2 ...When you bought the saw with the old blade, did you
turn it on? Did it "pound"? Did you see anything wrong
with the saw when it ran then?

A2 ...I used the saw with the old blade for about 6
months. It fit snug on the arbor and although it did not
pound", the blade was a slightly dished. It did not spin
true (had about 3/16" wobble) but I assume this was due to
the dished blade.

Q3 ...Did the new blade come with a 1" hole and did you put
the reducer in, or did it come with the reducer already in

A3 ...The new blade came with the reducer already in it
(1" to 3/4".)

Q4 ...What do you mean when you say the new blade does not
fit onto the arbor as tight as the old blade? Is there play
between the arbor and the blade hole?

(See A1 above)

Q5 ...What do you mean when you say "the arbor to see if it
is square?" Do you mean at right angles to the travel of the
vice? ...or what?

A5 ...Maybe "straight" would be a better term? I just
thought it might be a good idea to check the arbor to see if
it spins true.

Hope this helps.


Subject: RE: Slab Saw Blade Reducer Insert

First, I would rig up something to act as a gauge. It could
be something as simple as a stick. Tape or fasten it so that
the stick just barely touches the forward blade edge. Turn
the blade slowly by hand. This should show you the high
point or points (mark them with a marker, also mark
position of adapter).

If you have more than one high point, there is probably a
blade problem.

If you only have one high point, loosen the blade and rotate
the blade and adapter together 90 degrees in the blade

If you check for high point again and the high point has
moved 90 degrees from the mark on the blade, it's probably
the shaft. If the high point is at the same spot, try
rotating the adapter 90 degrees from it's previous spot on
the blade. If the high point is now 90 degrees from the
blade mark it's probably an adapter problem.

Hope this is of help.

Bob Boston

Subject: RE: Slab Saw Blade Reducer Insert

There are several possibilities for this problem.

1. The simplest, easiest & least expensive to fix is the
reducer bushing. If the bushing is worn on it's inside
diameter (too big for the shaft) or does not fit the hole
in the blade tightly, this problem can happen. Correcting
it can be as simple as replacing the bushing with a new one.
New bushings may be available at your hardware store, most
industrial suppliers or the blade supplier. If you get a
new bushing, be sure it's the same thickness as the blade.
A thicker bushing may prevent the blade retainer plates
from clamping the blade tightly when the nut is tightened.

2. Some blade arbors have a shoulder on them over which the
blade (bushing) should rest. The shoulder is quite narrow,
usually about the width of the blade. If the blade is put on
the shoulder, but drops off before the nut is tightened,
then described 'pounding' can occur. Examine the blade arbor
for a shoulder & if present, insure the blade remains on the
shoulder when the nut is tightened.

3. The saw arbor may be bent, worn or out of round. A bent
shaft may be detected by properly installing a flat blade an
turning it by hand (turn the pulley, not the blade) past a
small indicator (piece of wood) clamped in the saw vice.
Adjust the indicator to almost touch (less than 1/64" gap)
the blade. If the shaft is bent, this gap will vary as the
blade is rotated. If the blade contacts the indicator,
readjust the indicator until the blade can be rotated a full
revolution while maintaining the 1/64" clearance at the
closest spot. If the clearance at the widest spot is
excessive (over 1/8") this may be the source of the
pounding. Replacing the arbor will correct the problem.
Note: The 1/8" figure is not absolute, some saws may
tolerate more, some less.

4. The bearings on the arbor may be bad. Excessive wear may
be determined by trying to move both ends (pulley or saw) of
the arbor forward, back, up or down individually. If any
movement is detected the arbor may need to be replaced or
repaired. Many times the arbor is a complete unit, mounting
bracket containing the bearings, seals, slingers & arbor
shaft. To check for a bad bearing(s), remove the belt from
the saw an rotate the pulley slowly by hand. Listen for any
strange noises & feel for any roughness as the pulley is
turned. If either roughness or noise is detected, the arbor
may need to be replaced or repaired.

There may be other causes for the 'pounding', but it's
usually caused by a blade not running in a true circle. I
hope the problem is a simple inexpensive one. If the
bearing/arbor assembly has to be replaced, check with any
local bearing suppliers. They may have a replacement for
the saw. Saw arbor assemblies are usually standard, off the
shelf water pump quality units. These are stocked by most
bearing suppliers.


Subject: RE: Mexican Jelly Opal


You’ve been asking for information on cutting opal these
past few weeks, especially Mexican opal. The information
coming through the list has the basics, lots of water and
take it easy on the pressure. I have a few "hat tricks" to
add to the pot.

TRICK #1) I like to use the gel version of super glue for
dopping. I use nails for dop sticks because the super glue
works better on hard non-porous material than it does on
wood. I don’t like plastic because it tends to be flexible
in the smaller diameters I often need to work with. I don’t
like to use hot wax for doping due to the heat sensitivity
of opal. I know there is the argument that if a crack
happens from the relatively low heat of hot wax, then the
stone was unstable anyway. But I’d rather claim success
from a marginal (and gorgeous) stone than moan over failure
and opal chips!

The method; rough the stones to their general shape, dry
with a soft cloth and set them face down on aluminum foil.
Trust me, you don’t want to glue your opals to the work
bench. If your opal get stuck to the foil - so what. The
foil will peel or sand off with ease. Apply super glue (gel)
to the end of the dop stick and press to the back of the
stone. I like to spray a little accelerant on the glue.
Keeps me from having to hold still longer than I have to.
Finish the stone as you normally would. When finished,
place the dop (stone side down) in a little bit of super
glue remover. Acetone works well for this, or commercial
brands are available at hardware stores.

The reason I prefer this method is because it induces less
stress on the opal, less heat and no "popping" the stone off
of the dop stick when finished, and it’s faster.

TRICK #2) When cutting Mexican Opal with transparent or
clear (that’s most of it!) base color, cut a high dome on
the top side and a moderate dome on the back. The reason for
this is twofold.

1) If you get the top and bottom domes just right the light
will refract within the stone as it does in a properly cut
faceted stone. The effect will be as though light is trapped
with in the stone and the color will "glow" in a seemingly
bottomless stone. It works great with or without play of
color. Try it!

2) Polishing the back of opal help the stone to last longer.
A polished surface tends to retard water loss from the opal
over time. A rough surface has many times more actual
surface area per given dimension than a polished surface,
thus increasing the potential for physical and chemical

TRICK #3) I use well worn carbide sanding belts on an
expandable drum every time!! Diamond is way to aggressive
for the high domed stones I like to cut from Mexican
2material. I like to run the wheels on the slow side so I
can press the stones into the sanding drum. Lots of water
is needed and discretion is needed to know how much pressure
is too much and how much is efficient. Experience is the
best teacher here.

TRICK #4) Finish sand by hand with wet, 600 grit, silicon
carbide, wet/dry abrasive paper. I tear off a small piece
of paper about 2 inches square. I hold the paper in a "U"
with the abrasive to the inside. The dop and opal are in
the other hand. I sand the stone lightly in the abrasive
"U" until all ridges are rounded and I’m satisfied with the
shape and removal of scratches. I find wheels to be way to
aggressive, even worn 600 grid carbide.

Good cutting and a Happy New Year,

Paul Boni
Boulder, CO
non-commercial republish permission granted

Subject: Re: Handling Small Stones?

<<I started using nails and superglue for dopping, but for
some pieces even the standard nails are big and I need to
use finishing nails. Unfortunately, there isn't much
bonding area and they don't seem to hold securely. Plus
the nails are hard for me to hold. What do you folks use
for small stones?>>

I have several small finishing nails driven into the same
size dowels that I normally use (1/4") have found that
these give good control over small stones. Also you might
try using some of the red or black "facetors" dop wax, it
is a little stronger than the green.

Hope this helps,


Subject: Re: Handling Small Stones?

I have found wooden shish kabob skewers purchased at the
local grocery store work well. I use dop wax, even with
opal. Just cut the skewer to a comfortable length & apply
enough dop wax to hold the stone. For heat sensitive stones
like opal, I first paint the opal with nail polish & only
warm the stone. The nail polish creates a good bond to the
dop wax. I've not lost a stone off of the dop yet.

Good Luck,


Subject: Re: Handling Small Stones?

If the finishing nail used to superglue to a small stone is
too small to hold, pound the nail into the end of a length
of thin (1/4 inch or so) dowel (and you may have to drill
first to avoid splitting, but if you do a drop of glue in
the hole before inserting the nail can help) before glueing
it to the stone. The stick gives you something to grip. I
recommend putting 2/3 of the nail into the wood.

Kreigh Tomaszewski

Subject: Re: Handling Small Stones?


This note is in reply to holding nails used as dop sticks.
What I use is a small device with a small chuck to hold the
nail. I think it is called a pin vice. Cost about $6.00.
Those who sell small tools at rock shows are most likely to
have them as well as many rock shops.

For my small stones like 8x10 mm, (I haven't gone much
smaller) I use a small nail but with a larger flat head. I
sand the head flat if it is rough and then just use a jell
instant glue.

You have to be careful to get them off. The method I use
especially opal but I use my torch and just heat the nail
shank until the stone is loose. Be very careful. The nail
is very hot. Use a piece of leather to pull the stone off
before it gets too hot.

The stones can be soaked of in a chemical solvent that is
recommended for instant glue to avoid the heat but that is
not good for some stones either (like treated turquoise).

Hope this helps.


Subject: Re: Handling Small Stones?

My local lapidary/jewelry supply shop sells aluminum
scribers that are about 8" long and less than 1/8" wide. I
found out right away that if I ground one end flat they made
great dop sticks. They're annoying to use with wax, because
they have to be heated up along with the stone, but work
great with super glue.

You can get a better bond with superglue if you coat the
dopped area with nail polish. I have heard of people using
matchsticks, paperclips and even toothpicks as dop sticks,
but haven't gone that far myself. One good trick is to
always pick up a pair of chopsticks when you eat out at a
Chinese restaurant. Eat dinner with a fork and slip the
chopsticks into your pocket. They make great dop sticks and
can be whittled down to almost any size.


Subject: Re: Handling Small Stones?

I use Eastman 910 glue. It is very similar to crazy glue.
You can dop onto any size finishing nail. Let it set well
(a few hours). Then mount the nail into a comfortable pin
vice. Snug the stone very close to the pin vise. This
will give you lots more leverage so you should watch the
pressure that you apply. Experiment on some scrap. Those
stones can disappear fast.

Steve Ramsdell

Subject: Re: Handling Small Stones?

One possible solution is to drive the nails (especially the
small ones) into the end of a conveniently sized dowel.
Drive the nails in for most of their length. If the wood
splits because of the long length, cut the nails to about
1 to 1 1/2" before putting them in the wood. The length
isn't critical, there should be about 3/4" in the wood and
a minimal amount sticking out of the wood. An excessive
amount of nail sticking out of the wood encourages
vibration (especially on small stones) while grinding and
vibration can be hard on superglue bonds.

Another cause of superglue bond deterioration is water. A
simple way to prevent water from attacking the stone-nail
bond is nail polish. After the stone has been dopped
(superglued) to the nail, coat the joint between the stone
and nail with clear nail polish. This will prevent water from
attacking the joint & is easy to clean off when the stone is
removed from the dop.



Subject: Re: Handling Small Stones

I use small finishing nails for small stones and rarely have
had one come loose. I have found that a 5 minute epoxy holds
these small stones better than superglue or wax. It also
helps to grind the top of the nail smooth and flat. As far
as holding the finishing nail dop, I drill a hole in the
center of a standard piece of 1/4" dowel rod just slightly
smaller than the nail to use as a handle.


Subject: Re: Leather for polishing

Hello again.
The leather that I am the most pleased with is elk hide.
It has been tanned the normal way by the professionals. I
got mine from a company that makes leather products as well
as does the tanning. What I get is just the larger scrap
pieces that they sell by the pound.

I use cerium most of the time. This is for both my flat
specimens and cabs.

To unsubscribe from the Lapidary Digest, send a message to
Lapidary@mindspring.com, with the word UNSUBSCRIBE DIGEST as
the subject of the message. Other commands you may use are:
SUBSCRIBE DIGEST to join, HELP to receive a page of help
instructions on the use of the list, and DIR to receive a
list of names of all files in the Archives.

The command <GET filename> may be used on the subject line
(without brackets, of course) to obtain a copy of the file
named "filename". Type filename exactly as it appears in the
directory, including the extension txt. Do not cut-and-paste
filenames into the subject line.