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This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 190 - Wed 12/30/98
2. NEW: Which Oil to Use in a Slab Saw?
3. NEW: 3-M Imperial Cabbing Belts
4. NEW: Variscite
5. RE: Orienting Star Garnets
6. RE: Orienting Star Garnets
7. RE: Orienting Star Garnets
8. RE: Orienting Star Garnets
9. Re: Handling Small Stones
10. Re: Handling Small Stones
11. RE: Slab Saw Blade Reducer Insert
12. BIO: Sheryl
13. BIO: Jeff Becker
14. FS: Slabs and 6" All-You-Need Flat Laps


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 190 - Wed 12/30/98

On the website, I am adding a section devoted to member's
links. Some of these will be rockhounding, some lapidary,
some cooking or cross-stitch ... a variety of topics. For
each name and URL, I want to add a few words describing the
contents of the web pages.

Please send an e-mail to hale2@mindspring.com, giving me
your URL, as few words describing the content of the
website, and your first and last names.

The next issue will not be published till next year! So
'till then, have a safe and sane time. Try appointing a
designated drinker at your New Year's celebrations, drive
carefully, but remember - above all - have fun!


Subject: NEW: Which Oil to Use in a Slab Saw?

OK guys,

I have a question for all of the experts out there. I
have read the posts about which commercial oils to use and
not use, and I need to get my saw cranked up again to cut
some more slabs.

Does anyone use vegetable oil in their saws? Some of the
caneola oils at Kroger look fairly light, they sure smell
better, don't know about the taste though.

Is there any valid reason NOT to use vegetable oils in our
cutting saws? I figured that I might have to clean it a
little more often, but other than that?

All comments based on experience would be appreciated.

(Hale's Note: I'm sure that vegetable oil will provide the
required amount of cooling to protect the diamonds, but I
would be concerned that the heat generated at the contact
between stone and blade will cause the vegetable oil to
'gum up'. How about it? Anyone really know?)

Subject: NEW: 3-M Imperial Cabbing Belts

I contacted 3-M with some questions I had concerning their
Imperial Cabbing Belts. I thought their answer was
interesting enough to share with the group.

From: Scott E. Femrite/ASD-AbrasiveSys/AC-ACFG/3M/US

3M Cabbing belts were designed to work on standard
lapidary equipment. Speed, pressure, coolant and workpiece
material all factor into whether the diamond abrasive will
perform properly.

6, 3 and 0.5 micron belts are all made using
micro-encapsulation technology. The diamond particles are
first incorporated into small glass beads to provide a
stronger bond or anchor for the mineral. The glass beads
are then coated onto the backing using a resin bond to
anchor the beads. Ideally during use, the roughness of the
workpiece will break open or dress the top of the beads
exposing the diamond particles which begin cutting the
workpiece. Proper speed, pressure and coolant will allow
the user to work down through the beads over time exposing
new sharp cutting edges for consistent stock removal and

For some softer workpieces the glass beads are hard enough
to act like large cutting grains which will score the
surface. For rough hard workpieces you run the risk of
scoring off the beads before they breakdown and start
cutting the workpiece. If the workpiece is too smooth it
will not open the beads or it may generate wear flats on
the beads which do not cut but only create friction and
heat. The .5u is particularly susceptible to this.

The bottom line is that the belt construction is such that
it will not work well for all workpieces. You may need to
find a stone or workpiece that can be used to dress the
belts periodically in order to maintain cut rates.

Dick Friesen

Subject: NEW: Variscite

I acquired a few pounds of very nice Variscite ( also
spelled varacite by some folks ). I know its similar to
turquoise as far as hardness and such and the 2 stones I've
cut out of it are quite impressive. Looking though my books
I find very little about the stone other than its
composition and hardness. What I want to know is does the
stuff have any value if it's a deep emerald green and
slightly translucent, I have 3 or so pounds of that color
and the rest varies from white to dark greens. It's one
I've never ran across before so I am curious as to its
gemstone properties.

Ken Wetz in Venice Florida
98 ST1100 "KenS Toy"
STOC 793
Hale's Note: I have worked it in making intarsias, but I
really don't know much about Variscite; the following is
the information about it from The Mineral Database:

Mineral = Variscite
Formula = AlPO4+2H2O
System = Orthorhombic
Color = Pale green to emerald-green,
bluish green to colorless
Opacity = Transparent to translucent
Luster = Vitreous, massive material waxy to dull
Group = Variscite
Streak =
Hardness = 3.5 to 4.5
Density = 2.57 to 2.57
Cleavages = 2
Cleav. Desc. = {010} perfect, {001} poor
Fracture = Of crystals conchoidal,
massive material splintery to uneven
Habit = Crystals octahedral, rare;
massive, crusts, veinlets and nodules
Information = Dimorphous with metavariscite;
series with strengite

To those of you who know the workings of this mineral,
please write up your impressions of the best ways to cut,
grind and polish it. (Then sent it to LapDigest!!) Also
anything else you think pertinent about it's lapidary
properties. Where does it occur? Where is it mined? So many
questions, so little time .......

Subject: RE: Orienting Star Garnets

There are two ways to orient a star garnet. The first and
easiest is to run them through the tumbler. After the rough
grind you should be able to see signs of a star. Try to have
a strong, single light source (incandescent bulb, rather
than fluorescent) and turn the stone around until you have
the star where you want it. Using an aluminum pencil, either
make an "X" over the star or draw around the circumference
where the girdle would be. From there you can either dop the
stone or, if it's large enough, slice it.

The second method I learned from a mine owner. You look at
the stone and choose the smallest facet to use as the top of
the stone. I've used this method, it works, but sometimes
the star is shifted a little to one side.

Good luck, star garnets are one of the most beautiful stones
(at least in my humble opinion...)


Subject: RE: Orienting Star Garnets

Gil asked about orienting star garnet-- Go to my web page
at http://www.dopplerfx.com/kounting and click on the rock
of the month page, then go to August and you will find brief
instructions concerning orienting star garnets. If you need
more detailed instructions send me a stamped self addressed
envelope and I will mail you a couple of pages of
instructions that I hand out to customers who purchase star
garnet rough. These instructions contain some diagrams along
with text. I would post them to the lap digest except the
diagrams don't email that well.

Dixie Reale

Subject: RE: Orienting Star Garnets

If your garnet has faces to it, a flat crystal face is the
base of your cabochon. The apex will be at the center of
the stone. If it is a water tumbled stone, it will have to
be oriented by using a drop of a special oil to find the

Someone else will probably do a better job of explaining it
than I could.

Rose McArthur
(Rose: That 'special oil' doesn't have to be so special. I
use glycerin, in a 2 oz bottle, which my pharmacist gives
me when I run out. You can use honey or a number of other
viscous materials. The important thing is that the stone
should be clean and dry, so that a single drop of oil will
ball up and provide a lens through which you can find the
correct orientation. I use a pointed wire, like a soldering
pick, to dip into the bottle and get just enough to form a
ball. hale)

Subject: RE: Orienting Star Garnets

Dead bang sure way is to tumble the stones; once polished,
the star shows. But if you can't wait, take a finger full
of mineral oil, and let just a drop fall on the stone as a
bubble. Don't let it smear. Then take a penlight, and wave
it above the bubble back and forth. You will see the "eye"
or 'star" then.

Tip: Corundum will be down the "C" axis.

Mark Liccini

E-Mail: mark@LICCINI.com
Voice Mail/Fax: 201-333-6332

Subject: Re: Handling Small Stones

Hi Folks -

I use two different methods for dopping the small stuff.
For moderately small stones, say in the 5 x 7 mm range,
I'll stick the stone on the head of a No. 4 flathead
(slotted) brass machine screw with superglue. The screw is
held in a pin vise for cutting.

This offers several advantages. A number of stones can be
pre-stuck to the screws all in one go. If it is to be a
round stone the fact that the head of the screw is more or
less round and centered provides a cutting guide. If it
needs to be a more exactly calibrated oval I'll sometimes
cut out an oval of the right size in brass and silver
solder it to the screw head.

Disadvantages - the brass, being soft, may curl up if you
grind into it. For example on a round stone, if you grind
right into the screw head rather than very close to it
(and at that size it's not easy to tell) the grinding
action will raise a slight rim of brass which in turn may
pop the stone off. So it's helpful to (fine) grind a very
slight bevel on the metal. Also the head may not be
perfectly flat to begin with and may need light touch with
a file or flat emery stick.

If it's an insensitive stone or if I'm in a hurry I'll
usually take the stone off by heating the screw shank in
the torch (small flame) while pressing against the bottom
of the stone with a soldering pick or scriber. Otherwise it
goes into acetone overnight. The slot in the screw head
helps give the acetone access to the superglue.

For really small stones I find dop wax the best. With wet
fingers you can twirl warm wax on the end of the dopstick
into a fine sharp pencil-tip cone which will stick instantly
to a pre-warmed stone. With this method you can do stones
the size of a match head or grain of wheat even.

Hans Durstling
Moncton, Canada

Subject: Re: Handling Small Stones

To: Bob Lombardi

One way that I've used, and suggested to Rocks & Gems
Magazine about 20 years ago, involves using small finish
nails and an old style drafting lead (pencil) holder.
Being an old style draftsman and designer I have several of
these still lying around from my previous life (prior to
CADD). They provide a great handle for these small stone
dops, which I do not use super glue or epoxy with. I still
used good faceting grade green dop wax. They (lead
holders) may be a little more difficult to get, but try
office supply stores. The better ones will have four jaws
to grip, the cheaper ones will have only three. Great to
find at yard sales.

Another tool to do the same job is available from jewelry
supply companies. Obtain a good pin vise with several
replaceable jaw inserts. This allows the use of many
different sized nails. They are shorter but work well, and
only cost about $5 maximum.

Happy cutting.

Mark Greenbaum
M.G. Designs - The best in Custom Handmade Jewelry, and
Hale's Note: An engineering supply house here still carries
them; suggest you look up 'drafting supplies' in the Yellow

Subject: RE: Slab Saw Blade Reducer Insert

Seasons greeting Hale:

I was thinking about this problem with the blade spacers
and was wondering if the blade is seated on the arbor all
the way. Highland Park and other saws I have worked with
have an area right against the motor side that is larger.
If the blade is not pushed all the way up to the fixed
washer it will vibrate and wobble too.

Before spending time and effort, a few moments looking to
see if the blade is snug against the fixed washer as you
rotate it can save you lots of problems.

Most people have the instructions which cover this. When
you buy used equipment, you learn these things the hard

Most blades that I have used for larger saws were very
tight and needed a little force to get them on.

Steve Ramsdell

Subject: BIO: Sheryl


What a exceptional list this is! (Yes I've been reading it
for a while.) It's not impersonal, but you do stay on topic
and the topics are instructive. I've no hesitation saying
it's the best list I've been on.

I'm studying jewelry design, fabrication, and lapidary with
the goal of becoming an independent jewelry artist. My goal
is enjoyment and a career I believe I can manage at home.
("at home" is necessary due to disability caused by repeated
heavy chemical exposure in my past.)

Right now, I'm researching to order my tools...I've chosen
an Ottomax Flexshaft & an "All You Need" to get started
cutting stone. The recent discussion here about the "All
You Need" was so helpful (!), as were two list members who
helped me with answers to questions - thanks! I'm looking
for recommendations for books on cabbing and carving both
if anyone has a favorite book they'd like to recommend?

Best wishes to all & a Happy New Year!


Subject: BIO: Jeff Becker

I am excited to be a member of Lapidary Digest.

As requested, I will tell you a little about myself. I have
been involved with lapidary since about 1961, when I had
managed to save enough money to buy a B&I gem maker (I was
in 5th grade at that time). I now have a shop in my
basement which consists of: Four saws - 18", 10", 6", and
4", an 8" Highland park combination unit converted to all
diamond, a couple of other 8" arbors with carborundum
wheels and expandable drums, four tumblers, a 20"
Vibrolap/Contempo/Diamond Pacific vibrating lap, a bull
wheel, a diamond drill press, an 8" home made horizontal
lap, a Foredom machine with carving station, and much silver
and gold fabricating tools and casting equipment.

I am president of the Peoria Academy of Science-Geology
Division, and within that group I am co-chairman of the
lapidary section. I am also a dealer (small time). The
name of my company is Rocks Plus. I am 49 years old and
still have much to learn. I am new to P.C.'s and the net
so please forgive my mistakes.

My interests in lapidary are many and varied however I
particularly enjoy free form cabs and gemmy material (opal,
spectrolite, fire agate, etc.) I am currently trying to
teach my self intarsia.


Subject: FS: Slabs and 6" All-You-Need Flat Laps

Slabs for sale, Just purchased a large lot over 750 lbs of
Slabs of all kinds agates, jasper, etc A lot of real nice
old material. Will sell by the pound at $6 plus shipping.
I will give you a good mixture.

I also received for Christmas 2 of the 6" Hi-Tech All You
Need flat laps. I already have an 8 " inch one and don't
need either of the two 6 " inchers. I will sell them for
$275 each. They have never been used; boxes have been open
but the units are brand new.

New lots of opal arriving weekly. Priced from $30 an ounce
to $2000 an ounce including Whole opalized clam shells and
pieces of shell, Lambina opal, Lightning Ridge, Boulder
opal, I also have Honduran black opal and some of the old
stock Oregan Opal at $20 a lb.


Tim Vogle Enterprises
P.O. Box 421
Redan, Ga. 30074
770-593-3962/404-738-3548 beeper
Subject: Re: LapDigest #189

Hi to all,

I want to wish you all merry Christmas and a happy new year
from Madrid (Spain)

best regards
Jürgen Maus
Industrias Velázquez SA
Engraving of coat of arms, monograms and emblems
in precious and semi-precious stones
e-mail: jmaus@net64.es
Visit us at http: //www.net64.es/jmaus/
Subject: Holiday greetings from a reader!

Hello Hale:

I have been reading LD for a number of months and although
I do not do lapidary I do have a fascination for colored
stones, precious and semi-precious. I love reading your
digest because of the interaction you have with your
readers and the wealth of information you all share.

Jewelry is my thing, I learned silversmithing while living
in South Africa, also I was fortunate enough to visit the
Kimberley mine and museum. I promised myself to pursue it
more once I returned to the USA. Hence my love for stones.
I have a day job which keeps me away from the things I love
most, jewelry making and the Internet, so your newsletter
helps bring me a little closer to all of that. Please keep
up the good work it is truly a labor of love.

I want to wish you and your wife Anne all the very best for
1999 and always.

Anne Schofield
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