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This list digest contains the following message subjects:
1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 197 - Sat 1/23/99
2. NEW: What Ritter Said in "My Saw Doesn't Cut"
3. NEW: Compatability of Backing Materials
4. New: Orienting Star Sapphires
5. NEW: Methods of mounting finished cabs, baroques
6. NEW: Backing up Opals
7. RE: Which Oil to Use in a Slab Saw?
8. RE: Beginners- Web Site Pages for Beginners
9. RE: Beginners- How to Find a Rock Shop
10. RE: Beginners- Schools for Learning Lapidary
11. RE: Beginners- Schools for Learning Lapidary
12. RE: Beginners- Schools for Learning Lapidary
13. RE: Saleability of Opals with Imperfections
14. SHOW: Need Info on the Tucson Show
15. BIO: Joe Quattlebaum
16. SHOW: Lincoln Gem & Mineral Club Mid-Winter Swap
17. AD: See You in Tucson
Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 197 - Sat 1/23/99
I've written two notes below. One is a summany of what Bill
Ritter said about selecting a coolant for a saw. The other
is an outline of information a tyro might need to get
started in lapidary; I think this is important because many
people want to do lapidary and do not have instruction
nearby. I will try to use this - and what you add - as a
model for a group of webpages aimed at beginners.
Subject: NEW: What Ritter Said in "My Saw Doesn't Cut"
I noticed that a large number of you sent for Bill Ritter's
paper entitled "My Saw Doesn't Cut"; I want to abstract
what he said because I think it is so important! He is
talking about why diamond blades won't cut. He tells about
blade metal smearing over the diamonds, tells how to correct
this, and gives a method to determine if the blade still
has life left in it. But the major discussion is about the
choice of a coolant, and that is my interest here.
First, he says there is a direct relation between choice of
coolant, blade life and type of materials cut. You don't
have to use a coolant at all, but you may 'kill' the blade
early in it's normal life (infanticide!).
In the normal lapidary saw, you can use water as a coolant,
and if you only cut 'soft' rocks, the blade can live to a
ripe old age! However, if you cut agates, and such, then
water is not good enough to keep the blade (metal) cool and
properly lubricated, and you will shorten the blade life.
When cutting harder materials,such as agates, if you want
the blade to live a long time, then you MUST use oil.
What is a good oil to use? He defines four characteristics
that a good oil must have:
1. It must have a high flash point,
2. Must have no carcinogens (must not be toxic),
3. It must have very low viscosity, and
4. Have little or no odor.
The flash point is the temperature at which the oil will
burst in flames. Many of us have seen that in our kitchens,
when a pan of oil is left on a stove for too long, and the
oil in the pan erupts or flashes into flame! We surely don't
want to see the same thing happen in our saw!. So the oil
must have a high flash point. What is high? We can get an
idea of this by looking at Pella and Almag, which are two
oils with acceptable flash points. The flash point for Pella
is 136 degC and for AlMag is 146 degF. That apparently is
Viscosity is the ease with which the oil will flow, measured
in centistokes (cSt). The viscosity of water is cSt = 1.0.
The viscosity of Pella is 4.43 cSt, quite low. The viscosity
of AlMag is about 9.5 to 10.0 cSt (both at 40 degC), higher
but still acceptable.
Neither one is toxic and both have little or no odor.
To compare any other oil with these two, you can get info on
all four of these qualities by writing (e-mailing) the maker
of the other oil.
The paper has much more to say about the care of a blade,
but my interest in the paper is what I have summarized
above! I trust Bill Ritter and would only use a good oil for
cutting rocks like quartz.
Subject: NEW: Compatability of Backing Materials
<<One respondent on this subject mentioned backing opals
with material of a similar coefficient of expansion. ????
Enlighten us, please. I have a box of Spencer opals sitting
here ready to work on and a box of thin slices for backing;
obsidian, Basenite, black jade, etc. Offhand I would assume
that silicon dioxide materials would be preferable. But
where on earth would we find information on coefficients of
expansion for gem materials?>>
My apologies for sounding too much like an engineer.
The coefficient of expansion is simply the amount a material
expands or contracts at different emperatures. When gluing
two materials together it's best to pick materials with
similar physical characteristics to minimize stresses on the
glue bond. When I make a doublet or triplet I don't want it
coming apart five or ten years from now. Just use stones
with a similar hardness & specific gravity to the stone
you're gluing and the coefficients of expansion should be
For hardness and specific gravity info, any good rock and
mineral book should have that info. Also on the web, check
out -http://web.wt.net/~daba/Mineral/index.htm or the
International Gem Society @ http://184.108.40.206/
You're right, silicon dioxide materials would be the best if
they are in the same hardness and specific gravity range as
opal. Quartz is really a bit on the extreme end of the list,
but what else can you use for a good clear top for a
triplet? Sometimes you can get black opal potch for next to
nothing from some of the Australian opal suppliers.
Of the items you listed, I would go with the basenite.
That's what I've had the best luck with. Obsidian will work
but it's not the best and I would stay away from the black
As far as finding information on specific coefficients of
expansion, a good place to start looking would be in the
local college library in the chemistry or mineralogy
sections or in the engineering section under the material
Subject: New: Orienting Star Sapphires
Either I don't have rough that's any good, or I just plain
don't understand how to orient star corundum.
I have rough that shows silkiness, but no matter what
orientation to that peak brightness I chose, I don't get a
star. The best I get is sort-of catseye.
Could someone explain (or point to info in a book or
website) how to do this? One of my books say it is not
along the c axis of the crystal, but perpendicular to it,
and says c is the long axis. Another book seems to show
that it really _is_ along the long axis of the crystal.
But what do you do when the crystal shape isn't apparent,
which is most of the time?
Do you cut to peak the silkiness?
Bob Lombardi W4ATM in Melbourne, FL (ex-WB4EHS)
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Subject: NEW: Methods of mounting finished cabs, baroques
Does anyone have the time to share some insights into
mounting cabs/baroques after they have been polished into
making them ornaments, show pieces, jewelry etc. Maybe
there are some how-to's as well as never-do's for those of
us not yet into the art of lapidary.
This may have been discussed in the past. If so ignore this
message and please give me the reference in the archives.
Unionville, Ontario Canada
Subject: NEW: Backing up Opals
In LapDigest #195 & #196 much was said about uneven backs
on Opals and the problems mounting them. My question is,
other than doublets, are there suitable materials to pad
the back of opal freeforms when mounting them for pendants
etc.. I've heard of sawdust etc. Any suggestions would be
Keep up the good work Hale. Maybe I can meet you at
Holland school this year.
Subject: RE: Which Oil to Use in a Slab Saw?
I am new to lapidary and I am using mineral oil from the
drug store in my trim saw seem's to work fine. Can anyone
tell me if this is ok to use or if it has any drawbacks.
Thank you Lap digest you are a great help I look forward
to all your advice.
Subject: RE: Beginners: Web Site Pages for Beginners
I do have a hidden agenda; well, I had one, but I am telling
you all about it right now, so it won't be hidden anymore! I
want us to develop a series of pages on the website which a
beginner can go to and get advice on a wide variety of
problems they will face in learning and getting started in
the hobby. Thinking about it, I came up with the following
draft of an outline. Please lok at this and add to it as
you see things left out.
How to Get Started in Lapidary
1. Description of the different parts of lapidary work
(described so the tyro will have some idea)
2. Where does one learn to do lapidary without their own
..Local clubs- where do you find clubs in your area?
..Local workshops - eg NCSU craft center, Duke
..Local rockshop classes
How to find a rock shop near you (my first cabochon)
..Schools - wildacres,wm holland, zzyzx, paradise (summer
develop info page on each of these.
..Schools listed in Buyer's guide.
Aids to learning:
..Books - see our list of all lapidary books
3. Where and How To get your own equipment
You can buy it NEW
...Look at catalogs
See equipment.html, and write/send for catalogs.
Learn about equipment from catalogs and talking to others
in club or net talk to people who own pieces you might
be interested in, and ask them to let you try them out.
Ask questions about the equipment in venues such as
Rock shops,local - See LJ buyers directory for shop near
you - see How to find a rock shop
Rock shops, mail order -eg Bombay Bazar - Irons - Peddler
Rock Shops, on the 'Net
Where to look for/buy used equipment
---fellow club members or neighboring club members
---ads in neighboring club newsletters
---rock shops that specialize in used equipment
---where to advertise for it on the net
--Lapidary Journal www.lapidaryjournal.com
--Bob's rock shop--
(Dad's Rock Shop)
---classified ads in magazines (would be my last choice)
(When you buy used equipment, what do you look for and
what do you guard against?)
When you get it, how to refurbish old equipment?(We have a
lot on this in the Archives)
Make your own equipment--
Where to get plans
If you go over this outline and find ways to improve it or
find things which I have left out, please write and tell me
Subject: RE: Beginners: How to Find a Rock Shop
Recently someone asked how to find a rock shop. The annual
buyer's guide issue of Lapidary Journal was recommended.
I have found that only a small percentage of all rock shops
are listed in the Lapidary Journal. Some of the search
engines allow you to search the Yellow Pages for a subject
by state. Prior to going on a multi-state trip, I look up
and print out all rock shops in the states I intend to
visit. You get both an address and a telephone number.
They seem to be quite up-to-date.
Usually "rock shop" works. If you get no hits for a state,
try "rocks for collectors" . Also, if you are interested
in particular types of rock, sometimes you can find
suppliers the same way. For spheres, I like to collect
granite or marble from "famous" locations. I have found
both supplier/manufacturers and quarries. Generally, those
who cut and polish those materials have a scrap pile and
will let you pick through it at no cost. For example, I
have gotten nice blocks of "Dakota Mahogany " granite from
Milbank,SD and several blocks of different colored granites
from Elbertson GA.
John R. Duncan
John: That is clever; wish I'd thought of it!! As a test, I
went to 555-1212.com and searched NC for 'rock shops', since
I know them. Found 16 entries, all were - in one way or
another - rock shops. But what worries me is the three or
four which weren't listed - how were they categorized by
the Yellow Pages? Are there any other categories we should
look at when we use Duncan's method? hale
Subject: RE: Beginners: Schools for Learning Lapidary
At the northern border of Georgia and North Carolina, you'll
find the William Holland School of Lapidary Arts, in Young
Harris, GA. Check out their website at
There are classes offered in cabbing, faceting, gemstone
i.d., intarsia, opal, wire-wrapping, etc, given in five day
blocks (omn-Fri), taught by many volunteers. There is a
lodge and also a campground, and the cost is low. They're
there from the end of April through October. It's a
beautiful area and the people are great. Lots of people go
year after year, taking one course while a spouse takes
another, and enjoying the mountains.
I went up there knowing close to nothing (no, scratch that -
- I knew *nothing* ;-) and got a good basis on which to
build. I still don't know much, which is why I haven't said
Subject: RE: Beginners: Schools for Learning Lapidary
Another place not to far away from N.C. is the Willam
Holland School of Lapidary Arts. I've included 3 URL's
rather than describe the place.
The first is Fred Sias at
Then my own describing the place with pictures.
And also here is the Official site with courses and such.
I'm going June 6th, going this year Hal ?
( Next year I'm thinking of teaching )
Ken Wetz in Venice Florida
98 ST1100 "KenS Toy"
Subject: RE: Beginners: Schools for Learning Lapidary
There is a Ladidary/Jewelry course given at Garvies Point
Museum on Long Island, NY. If you live any where in Queens,
Nassau or western Suffolk counties it's not hard to get to.
There are afternoon and evening sessions. Call the museum
(516) 571-8010/11, ask for Kathy Natale.
On their flyers a lot of emphesis is put on the metal work
but in reality if you are just interested in the lapidary
side then that's what you work on.
New classes start Feb 10,1999.
Subject: RE: Saleability of Opals with Imperfections
I spend time sourcing chipped, thin and uncalibrated opals,
often by the Kilogram . Instead of creating doublets I will
bulk up if needed with epxoy filler and electroform with
gold or silver a complete setting.
You can start with a mis-formed chipped Opal and finish up
with a very valuable and attractive piece of jewellery
subject to the quality of the original stone.
I have just finished some Opalized shells I collected 20
years ago in Australia that were very mixed in quality and
had been put aside as not great material, had forgotten
them until I saw all the posting re same here. I did not
have electoform facilities available back then, so with
the new hi-tech methods I have now I have transformed
suspect shells into valuable pieces.
I have found little difficulty electroforming opal.
Tony Lowe (KIWI)
Auckland, New Zealand ......... ::o::
Subject: SHOW: Need Info on the Tucson Show
I love your Digest. Keep up the good work.
I am going to the Tuscon show for the first time this year.
Does anyone have any tips about where to go to see the best?
I am mainly interested in cabbing rough and slabs. I will
only have 4 days to look around.
I also want to spend some time looking for meteorites.
Does anyone know where one can do this?
Estes Park, CO
Subject: BIO Joe Quattlebaum
My name is Joe Quattlebaum and I am 65 years old, retired
from Blue Lustre as a District Manager in sales/management
since April 1994. At the time of retirement I was living in
Dallas, TX, but moved to my wife's home town of Leslie, WV,
in May of 1994, which is in the south east part of the
state. I am originally from rural Arkansas, near Little
As did many others, I started tumbling stones, but that was
too slow! I've had no formal training, but I bought an old,
used, 14" Highland Park slab saw & built my first cab
machine and started cutting Obsidian in the fall of 1992.
Of course with more time on my hands after retiring, I was
able to devote more time to my hobby, which is from 10 to
30 hours a week.
Since retirement, I have acquired a new Lortone, 4 wheel
cab machine, using 6 inch silicon carbide wheels & belts on
an expandable drum and a 6" Rock Rascal trim saw with a
.012" blade. I use aluminum oxide on a hard felt wheel for
polishing, but hope to go to diamond sometime in the future.
I also built my polisher for the silver using a 6" grinder
with the shaft coming out on both ends, running at 3500 RPM.
Presently, I have approximately 65 different kinds of rock,
bone, & shell to cut & polish.
In the fall of 1995 I bought a rolling mill and the basic
hand tools and started buying scrap silver and melting and
rolling silver and making simple rings, pendants, earrings,
bolas & belt buckles. I attend about 16 to 20 local arts &
craft shows a year to dispose of my creations. I'm proud to
say I have a self supporting hobby; not really making much
money, but not costing anything, and very satisfying.
Since I live in rural West Virginia, I do not have ready
access to a rock & gem club; therefore I am self-taught,
learning mostly from trial & error and reading publications
I can acquire.
I would be interested in hearing from anyone from West
Virginia, Virginia or North Carolina.
Subject: SHOW: Lincoln Gem & Mineral Club Mid-Winter Swap
Lincoln Gem and Mineral Club of Lincoln, Nebraska, will host
its' 21st Annual Mid-Winter Swap on Saturday, January 23,
1999, from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM at Nebraska Center for
Continuing Education, 33rd & Holdrege Streets, Lincoln.
Swapping tables are available for donations to the silent
auctions. Swappers Dollars will be in use and are available
from the club treasurer at a 10 percent surcharge to cover
cost of building. Cash transactions are prohibited.
Unlimited swapping is encouraged.
All materials being offered must be related to the rock
hobby. All swappers in the Lincoln area that day are invited
to attend. The swap will be followed by the general meeting
of Lincoln Gem & Mineral Club at the same locality at 7:30
PM. Hope to see some itinerant rocks-and-fossils people stop
Roger K. Pabian
Subject: AD: See You in Tucson
Just an update -
We will be at the GLDA show at the Doubletree Inn from 2/3
to 2/10. We will still be happy to meet people by
appointment before and after that show.
Hope to see you there!
Paul & Catherine Gallagher
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