Web Site: http://www.lapidarydigest.com
Assoc. Editors: Geo. Butts, JR Shroeder,
Steve Henegar and Margaret Malm

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 209 - Mon. 5/17/99
2. NEW: An Amber Adventure
3. NEW: How to Polish Chalcedony Roses
4. NEW: How to Polish Kona Dolomite
5. RE: Cabbing Templates
6. RE: Cabbing Templates
7. RE: Cabbing Templates
8. RE: Selecting a Lapidary Machine
9. RE: Selecting a Lapidary Machine
10. RE: Wyoming Jade
11. RE: Wyoming Jade
12. RE: Wyoming Jade
13. Re: Poppy Jasper
14. RE: One Way to Dop a Stone - with Superglue
15. RE: One Way to Dop a Stone - with Superglue
16. RE: What is Utah Opalite?
17. BIO: Gary Betts
18. RE: Thanks!
19. WTB: African Queen jasper
20. WTB: HP Wet Belt Sander
21. AD: Sphere Machines


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 209 - Mon. 5/17/99

Lila (BOOKSLT@aol.com) offered, in Issue 208, to send plans
for a sphere machine to anyone requesting one. She reports
that she has had about 15 requests so far and has answered
them all. The plans are lengthy and she sends them by snail
mail, requesting only postage costs. Thanks for doing this,

If you have anything you want to say about working amber,
or anything else about amber, please write it up and send
it in!

Have a GREAT springtime, hug the ones you love, and for
goodness sake, HAVE FUN!!


Subject: NEW: An Amber Adventure

Dear Hale.

I am very excited to read of your plans to publish a whole
issue of information on the working of amber. Way back in
the mid-1970's, my then-boyfriend and I traveled from San
Diego, Ca. to Simojovel (spelling?), a remote village in
the mountains of Southern Mexico, in the state of Chiapas.
The trip there and back was one of the great adventures of
my life.

The whole purpose of our journey was to obtain amber. We had
hoped to be able to mine it ourselves, bur instead we
purchased several kilos of it from one of the local Indian
men for $200.00 US.

The Indian couple who gave us lodging for the night (a space
to hang our hammocks in doors) spoke no English and we
spoke almost no Spanish but they demonstrated for us the
techniques that they used to work amber- sandpaper and lots
of time and patience. For a final polish they used Brasso
polish but in a form that I have never been able to find
here in the States. It was Brasso paste and came in a really
flat, round tin, rather like a shoe polish tin.

I am still in possession of a good portion of that unworked
amber though only small pieces. I’ve devoted a good deal of
the last two years to trying to figure out the best
possible methods for transforming this raw amber into
jewelry, which has led to my increasing interest into all
things lapidary.

Initially I purchased a bench grinder at my local Home
Depot, but I quickly became disenchanted with that as it
had no speed controls and just ground my little pieces of
amber to nothing; or overheated them and caused what I
think is called an orange peel effect; or as happened with
heartbreaking frequency, the pieces would be yanked out of
my grasp and sent hurtling across my garage like projectile

I then switched to using my Dremel and a drill held
stationary and upright by means of a big C-clamp. The drill
actually worked fairly well with various wheels and stones,
though it also tended to send pieces flying through the air.
The drill motor burned out after a time and although I have
purchased a new drill, I haven't much used it as I couldn’t
bear the loss of so much amber.

The Dremel works but I miss being able to use bigger
hand/arm/wrist motions while swiping pieces across a larger
surface. Since most of my rough does consist of small
pieces, I continue to do a lot of the work by hand. I have
discovered that the local beauty supply shop sells a variety
of sanding and shaping implements intended for use by
manicurists that work quite well on small pieces of amber.
They sell padded files made of sandpaper in grades 80
through 600, and sanding sponges, and even little tools made
of chamois that are lovely for polishing. I have
experimented with many different polishing compounds and
have fairly much settled on Zam at this point .

I am still a rank amateur in lapidary and my equipment is
crude for sure, (I can only dream over the machines I see
advertised in the lapidary catalogs). Anyway, I just wanted
to let you know that I'm excitedly looking forward to your
upcoming amber issue.


Subject: NEW: How to Polish Chalcedony Roses


We returned from our trip to Arizona and New Mexico with a 3
lifetime supply of chalcedony roses. By now, I have them
pretty well cleaned up and am experimenting with ways to
polish them. I have a batch in the vibratory tumbler now
but am anticipating poor results. I'm wondering if anyone
out there has found a way to polish these pretty little
items. What about the dry polish compounds sold by several
companies? I've never tried any of them. Do they (or
anything else) work with the roses, getting down into the
I like them so much that if I find a way to polish them
I'll have to go back for more.


Subject: NEW: How to Polish Kona Dolomite

Hi- I have some pretty pink dolomite which is quite soft.
It grinds very fast in the flat lap. I am having problems
getting a polish on it. I have heard it takes a good polish
but I have failed twice.

The first time I used cerium oxide. It ended up with a
rough surface consisting of tiny raised circles on the
surface of the stones. I reground and decided to try the
old time general purpose Tripoli powder. Similar result.

Do I have to settle for I nice smooth but unpolished 600
grit surface?


Subject: RE: Cabbing Templates

The best source I have found for different ready made
templates are the drafting supply stores. They may be part
of the architects supplies. There are some that can send a
catalog if you live farther out. There is always the best
way and that is to make your own.

It is easier than you think. Just fold tracing paper and
trace a pattern of half a pear (or whatever shape) so that
the center of the stone is the fold. Carefully cut out
your pattern and open it up. You can glue it to a stone and
use it once, or you can glue it to a scrap of thin metal and
saw it out. Drill a hole on the inside of the pattern and
insert the jewelers saw into it (pierce sawing), and cut
your shape out.

good luck
Steve Ramsdell

Subject: RE: Cabbing Templates

>Does anybody make templates for pears and marquis cut

I've made templates from the translucent plastic of coffee
can lids. The plastic cuts easily with an Xacto knife, and
enough light comes through for tracing and helps with
locating the desired pattern on a stone. Also, the price is

Chunk Kiesling

Subject: RE: Cabbing Templates

<<Does anybody make templates for pears and marquis cut

Look in the 1999 Rio Grande Tools Catalog, Pg. 254, Stock
# 116-157. These are designed for jewelry rather than
stones but they cover the shapes and sizes you are asking

Dick Friesen

Subject: RE: Selecting a Lapidary Machine

I too started out on a 6" All "You Need" outfit a couple of
years ago and have recently acquired a used Genie. I must
say the Genie is faster and more efficient but I have never
cut & polished better shaped cabs than I have on the "All
You Need." I also managed to cut some rather large ones.
I guess I got used to working on a horizontal plane. Anyway,
I'm glad I got the Genie but I still use the "All You Need"

As far as a decision between a Genie and a Titan: If you can
afford it and have a need for that much machine, go for it.
It's not a bad idea to look around for a used one either.
They are built like tanks. If you can find one, they are
often half the price of new and generally only need a couple
of wheels replaced. Lapidary clubs are good places to nose
around. A lot of machines get passed around.


Subject: RE: Selecting a Lapidary Machine

<<I currently have an All-You-Need 6" setup and find that
I don't have enough grinding surface for the way I like
to work. My pocketbook says to get a Genie, but I wonder
whether 6" wheels are really big enough to run the wheel
and if I should instead get a Titan.>>

Really hard question to answer, the "All-You-Need" will
actually handle a larger stone than the "Titan" if that is
the only problem. If it is a question of working style, (I
like wheels better myself) ether one should work. I have
used both and the only objection I have to the Genie is
that the wheels are too close together and Diamond Pacific
has an adapter to use few wheels at a time with more
spacing. Again this is a personal style issue.

If you really want to handle larger stones you should look
at the 6"x2.5" or 8"x3" expandable drums with diamond belts.
To get what you want may require more study, there are
trade-offs with all systems, but only you can decide which
ones you are willing to make.

Dick Friesen
(Well, it is time I put my 2 cents into this discussion!
The Titan has POWER! I doubt that you can slow it down by
pressure. The All-1 has less power, and I personally think
this is an advantage, as it make you use a lighter touch
and keeps you from over cutting. The Genie is in between
and I personally prefer the Genie for this reason (I tend
to have a heavy hand!) Some stones - such as charoite -
need a light touch and are more easily cut on the Genie.
Other than this, it is just a matter of the time it takes
to cut a cabochon. hale)

Subject: RE: Wyoming Jade

<<I recently bought, for use in intarsia work, some "black
jade" from Wyoming. May I take it that this is not really
jade but serpentine?>>

Wyoming produces some very fine nephrite jade, including
black (I am told there is no real "black" jade, only
intensely saturated shades of green that can be seen when
thin edges are held against the light). The finest is a
color called "apple green." It's very rare, very beautiful
-- and very expensive. Some of my finest memories involve
sunny blue-sky fall days spent out on the desert pavement in
south-central and southwest Wyoming searching for jade float
and "dreikanters" -- a distinctive nephrite weathering
pattern caused by wind-erosion that distinguishes nephrite
from most "Other Stuff."

We used to find very nice nephrite pebbles (and a few small
boulders) along with the well-known and lovely almond-shaped
dendritic Sweetwater agates. Back in the early 1960s it was
possible to pick up a shoe box or two of Sweetwaters in 3 or
4 hours of pleasant collecting, and perhaps 3% of the total
would be cuttable nephrite jade. My first silversmithing
project featured a self-collected black Wyoming nephrite.

However, it's very possible your material is serpentine,
tremolite, or something else. There are many Wyoming
materials collected as "jade" that aren't. You must learn
the gemological procedures necessary to distinguish the
false from the real. There's a very instructive article in
a recent "Rock & Gem" about a gentleman's quest to find
true nephrite on the Idaho side of the Tetons. It's there,
but it's hard to identify. Ditto Wyoming. There are many

Rick Martin

Subject: RE: Wyoming Jade


The massive jade we find off our coast has thus far produced
58 shades of black, yes there are also many greens as well
as other colors. The material is very dense and weighs far
more than similar sized rocks. It is also very hard and
tough. Indian cultures throughout Central America and
Mexico used it as a hammer. It also withstands 2000 degrees
Fahrenheit. I recently asked if a larger piece could be thick
slabbed to use as a soldering block and was advised yes. I
plan to collect one and have it slabbed for me.

Now about Utah, Margaret is correct with her suggestion it
is from the Brush Wellman site in Delta Utah. I was there
last September on a field trip and collected a fair amount.
I took a piece into Diamond Pacific's shop in Barstow where
Jim Hare showed me a piece he was cabbing for his wife. It
was the purple with white material. He took me into a
darkened area and used UV lights to show its fluorescence.

I took a fist sized nodule of the purple and gave it to Cal
Clason. He recently returned it to me as a sphere. The
harder areas took a high sheen, the softer less so. It is
beautiful. Looks like a swirl of Cirrus Clouds in a Sky of
Deep Purple.

There was far more opalized material of many colors. Light
greens, browns, oranges, as well as the purple.

I had a piece with me at the Barstow Show and Bob DePue
(Diamond Pacific) cabbed it for me on a Genie. There was a
lot of fracturing, but in the end I did get a cab.


Subject: RE: Wyoming Jade

Many years ago and through the 70's a big part of the jade
coming out of Wyoming came from Sweetwater. The man (now
deceased) that owned the rock shop there, owned the claims
on Jade Mountain. This was really good stuff, beautiful
high quality green and black jade. A few years back when I
did some digging there, his wife still operated the rock
shop and had the biggest supply of jade I have ever seen.
Although I did not find any jade myself I did bring back
some from her shop, al-beit very expensive.

I make golf putters and green jade is very popular.

Ernie Ogren
The Geode Man

Subject: Re: Poppy Jasper

I was in Quartzsite last year. Ran into a well known dealer
attempting to get rid of some of the MAIL ORDER VARIETY of
the Lions Den Poppy Jasper stock.

They had mail ordered theirs from the Lions Den to sell at
the show. The jasper they ordered was poor quality and they
had not been able to return their order for a refund and had
not one good thing to say about mail ordering from the
Lions Den.

I am sure if you purchase on the spot and see what you are
getting up front from the Lions Den that your material will
be fine, as what you see you get. I still did purchase one
small slab from them for $3.00, but it was only fair quality.

So I am simply passing on the story I was told and suggest
that you get everything fully understood up front IN
WRITING, then you should be OK.


Subject: RE: One Way to Dop a Stone - with Superglue


Haven't post anything for a while. Picked up the problem of
doping. In the Club I attend we have over the last 40 years
used many differing types of wax and shellac. The wax that
has been used for some time now and is undoubtedly the best
is the top grade sealing wax without the string wick. (£60
for a box of approx.. 80 sticks) 80 sticks might seen a lot
but I assure you that in a Club it doesn't last long. Sorry
but I can't remember the name of the top of my head at the


Subject: RE: One Way to Dop a Stone - with Superglue

When I am using super glue and small flat headed nails as
dop sticks, I just use my jewelry torch to quickly heat the
nail just a little bit and the cab will just fall off. If
the stone is heat sensitive, I hold on to the stone and
pull it as I heat it so there in not enough time for the
stone to be affected by the heat. I may be doing a dozen
stones at a time so wait until all are ready to be removed
so I don't have to light the torch very often.


Subject: RE: What is Utah Opalite?

It has been several years since I cut any of this but
the material I cut took a good polish, just like any
other piece of opal. I have seen cabs for sale and they all
had good polishes but I am sure that, like with most
cutting material, there are differences in quality and
I may have just been lucky.

Dick Friesen

Subject: BIO: Gary Betts

Hello...Is this lapidary heaven?

Just checked out the Lapidary Digest website...in fact I
just subscribed. Thanks again Margaret! Haven't done more
then read the FAQs yet, but I know I'm going to love it.

Must admit to being a multifaceted guy, but will attempt to
curb the urge to talk about that here...He He. Have mostly
learned by trial and lotsa error so far and I love it. Am
excited about the Lapidary Digest and I haven't even read
it yet!!! I have an underdeveloped webpage at
www.bcity.com/wolfrun_creation. You can see some of what I
do and who I am there.

Nice meeting all you wonderful people...well you gotta be
wonderful if you love rocks; they won't have it any other
way and I like what they do with the light.



Subject: RE: Thanks!


I would just like to take this time out to thank all those
who replied & purchased Chinese writing/picture stone from
me in the past month. I never realized that it would become
so popular, so it looks like I will be heading back into
the valleys to try & locate more.

Thank you all once again.

John Ratcliffe
Kamloops Geological Tours

Subject: WTB: African Queen jasper

Does anyone know a source for African Queen Picture Jasper
rough. This material came from Zaire several years ago. It
is in shades of brown and tan and shows desert scenes. If
so, please reply to <hbinkley@flintemc.net>.



Subject: WTB: HP Wet Belt Sander

Hi Hale and everyone,

I have been looking without much success for a 54 inch
wet-dry belt sander, They used to be made by Highland Park,
though there may have been other manufacturers. I would like
to find one of these in good working order. If anybody has
one for sale, or knows of one for sale, would you please
contact me. I am in Tucson but I travel a lot so I would be
able to pick it up in another state. I can be reached via
email (ekmtuc@azstarnet.com) or my phone is (520)793-3825.
Thanks in advance,

Jason Penn
Jason Penn Designs

Subject: AD: Sphere Machines

We manufacture 4 sizes of sphere machines. A marble
refinisher/maker. A machine that makes up to 3 inch spheres.
One that makes up to 5 inch, and one that makes up to 7 inch
spheres. Contact me on email at ejadams@ix.netcom.com or by
phone at 303 936 6600 and I will send you the prices and

Joe Adams
2903 So Meade
Denver Colo. 80236
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