Edited and Published by Hale Sweeny
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. 210 - Wed. 5/19/99
2. REVIEW: June 1999 Issue of Rock and Gem
3. NEW: How to Build a Wet Belt Sander
4. NEW: Polishing Obsidian
5. NEW: Need Help with Cabbing
6. New: Looking for Cabbing Rough in New Mexico
7. NEW: Lion's Den Poppy Jasper Mine Contact
8. NEW: Where To Buy Good Mexican Fire Agate?
9. NEW: Utah Nodules
10. NEW: Black Jade
11. RE: Cabbing Templates
12. RE: Cabbing Templates
13. RE: Cabbing Templates
14. RE: Cabbing Templates
15. RE: How to Polish Chalcedony Roses
16. RE: Wyoming Jade
17. Re: Wyoming Jade
18. BIO: Larry Lansdown
19. Show: Denver Rock Sale
Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 210 - Wed. 5/19/99
Got a note from Lila <BOOKSLT@aol.com>, who is distributing
sphere machine plans. She said that she had about 65
requests for plans, and about 20 of these have sent the
postage. Please send her the postage costs if you want the
plans. She had thought there might be a dozen people who
were interested in sphere machines, but it looks like the
flood gates opened! Our gratitude goes to Lila for her
I am going to Wildacres next week, so expect the next issue
to be published on Sunday and for that to be the last issue
till about June 1.
Hope you guys are enjoying the beautiful Springtime.
Subject: REVIEW: June 1999 Issue of Rock and Gem
Making Gemstone Beads With Africa John by James E. Mulkey
is not only the story of Africa John, but also a how-to
article on making beads. He has a somewhat unusual approach
to bead making, and interesting because it needs equipment
a lot of lapidaries already have. Read the article to find
out how Africa John got his name.
The Bounty of the Hills by Kenneth H. Rohn explores the
Hills of South Dakota including finding a favorite lapidary
material, Fairburn Agate.
Create Obsidian Wind Chimes by Gail Butler is a step by step
guide for making a wind chime from obsidian needles, from
finding the needles to the finished product.
Safety in the Shop by Gerald Wykoff is a reminder of the
dangers of a lapidary shop, and how to work safely with
everything from equipment to chemical, debris to maintenance
and several other tips for a safe shop.
East of Fallon by William Keppele is a field trip searching
the desert near Fallon Nevada for lapidary materials and
fossils, particularly wonderstone.
Last but not least is Bob Jones' usual feature: On the Rocks.
Congratulations to Bob on being awarded the Carnegie
Mineralogical Award. The award was presented at the Tucson
Gem and Mineral Show in February.
Bob also tells about the American Federation Show in
Nashville, Tennessee this July 9-11. No lapidary worth his
salt would want to pass up on a good show, especially with
rockhounds from all over the country. (As a member of the
host club, Middle Tennessee Gem & Mineral Society, I would
like to extend an invitation to each of you to attend the
show this year. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information.)
Subject: NEW: How to Build a Wet Belt Sander
Building a wet belt sander may not be for everyone or what
you are looking for but after looking for a used or new
manufactured 6'' wet belt sander for years and couldn't
find one, I finally had to partially build one myself.
I purchased a 6" X 48" belt sander and stand from Harbor
Freight in Camarillo, CA. for about $200.00 and then
fabricated and welded an Aluminum shroud with a spray
nozzle on top and a drain on the bottom.
I then purchased a (Koolerant) pump and tank from Covington
Engineering in Redlands, CA. for about $180.00 with all the
hoses and nozzles included. This gave me a good sized wet
belt sander that really does the job.
You have to use waterproof silicone carbide belts which are
hard to find over the counter. I buy mine from Ruff
Industries in La Mirada CA; they stock the finer grit belts
but they have to make the course grit belts to order, and
they cost from $5.00 to $8.00 ea.(They last quite a while
if you use a crystal clear coolant in the water). I have
belts from 24 grit to 600 grit but you will have to
experiment around with different grits on different
materials to see which works best.
By the way the down side to all this is you have to stand
in front of the sander and it does spray a bit so you have
to wear a rubber apron.
I do a lot of big Geodes and slabs and sand the angles on
my golf putter heads and it works pretty good.
The Geode Man
Subject: NEW: Polishing Obsidian
Hi, everyone. I have been using the 8" All-You-Need diamond
laps for polishing the various types of obsidian (sheen,
flame, etc.), but I don't seem to be able to achieve that
final "wet look" polish that I see on some commercially
polished stones. I normally take them up to 14,000
Does anyone have any "tricks of the trade" for getting that
great final polish look?
Thanks for your suggestions!
Bill (from Alaska)
Subject: NEW: Need Help with Cabbing
Hey all you really good cabbers (this sort of lets me out).
My son has designed a bracelet (special order) in which he
needs 7 different trapezoidal cabs (2 of each size) in 7
different stones. The cabs all need to be 5 mm wide.
They will decrease in length by 1 mm each time, with the
first stone being 14 mm top x 13 mm bottom, down to
seventh stone being 8 mm top x 7 mm bottom. The top side
of the cabs will need the normal curve with the cabs being
approx. 3-4mm thick.
If I had one of those wonderful little "All you'll ever need"
machines, I could do this, but with my "Little Cab" I cannot
hold onto this small a stone. I have tried and so far have
ground all my finger nails off.
The stones need to be:
Amethyst, Charoite or Sugilite
Lapis or Sodalite
Turquoise or any sky blue stone
Citrine or any yellow stone
Carnelian or any orange stone
Red Onyx or any red stone.
I know there are some wonderful cabbers on this line because
some of you do intarsia and I know what is involved in that
process. Feel free to contact me off list.
Subject: New: Looking for Cabbing Rough in New Mexico
I will be in Albuquerque next month on business and while
there would like to put my hands on as much good cabbing
rough as I can carry/drag onto the plane. I have checked
the yellow pages through excite and yahoo and the Alb.
Journal without much success so if anyone can hook me up
with a supplier/rock shop in or around that area (within
100 miles or so) I would greatly appreciate it.
I am sure you will get advice from residents on NM, but
also you should look in the latest Lap Journal Buyer's
Guide, which just came out! hale
Subject: NEW: Lion's Den Poppy Jasper Mine Contact
I have been trying for ages to find a contact phone number
for the Lion's Den poppy jasper mine. Does anyone know how
to contact the owner directly? I live close to Morgan Hill
CA, so it's easy for me to drive there.
Subject: NEW: Where To Buy Good Mexican Fire Agate?
I am looking for a reliable, reasonable and proven source
from which to buy quality Mexican fire agate rough. (I
sure have learned a lot about those other sources that
purport to sell good stuff but deliver less than acceptable
material.) Anyone know about those reputable dealers who
must exist somewhere out there and who meet the above
I'd sure like to contact one or more.
Subject: NEW: Utah Nodules
(This item is derived from Item 11 of Issue 209 (209-11))
In regards to the Utah nodules, I have been cutting this
materials for several years for a jeweler here in Denver.
A few of the pieces have a lot of fine grained fluorite in
them and I have not yet have found a method to get a high
polish on them. Most of the material I have cut for him has
been highly opalized and cuts very well. The colors I've
seen are all shades of purple, gray, yellow, peach, tans,
brown, black, and a few reds and oranges. Fun cutting but
this material all contains small amounts of beryllium, the
reason they are mining it, and inhalation of too much of the
dust can cause serious problems, so take precautions.
All for Now
The Amethyst Rose
Subject: NEW: Black Jade
(This is an offshoot of the discussion on Wyoming jade)
Hello Hale, Rick Martin, and List Members!
For a peek at some very fine black jade (yes, black jade),
check out Fred Ward's site at
about mid-page down. It's from Guatemala and the real
I recall one of the Listmembers telling me off-list that he
had purchased some for cabbing and it was beautiful material.
I know that Fred can speak for himself, but am not sure if
he subscribes to this list.
Anyway, take a peek....black jade does exist, but I don't
know about in Wyoming! <G>
Subject: RE: Cabbing Templates
In a message dated 5/17/99 8:51:24 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
<<Does anybody make templates for pears and marquis cut
There is a jewelry design template from the GIA Bookstore.
It has the best selection of oval, emerald, pear, marquis,
round, and baguettes that I have seen. None are very big
though. I think a 12x14 oval is the largest, but for
cutting small stones, this is the best. I don't remember
the price, but like most things from the GIA, it is not
Don at Campbell Gemstones.
Subject: RE: Cabbing Templates
A method I use for making unique templates is to print the
pattern out on transparency film with my Inkjet printer.
This material can easily be cut with an Xacto knife. They
are not as durable as thicker material, but I get quite a
few uses from them. I find this technique almost an
necessity for my inlay an mosaic projects. Almost any
inexpensive CAD program can be used to generate the line
Subject: RE: Cabbing Templates
I have found that Swest (page 59 in catalogue)(phone 800
527 5057) has the best set of stone templates for pears,
baguettes, hearts, marquise and the usual ovals and rounds
- better than Rio Grande. Price is 16.45 for the complete
Subject: RE: Cabbing Templates
Also, on the subject of cabbing templates, I have a fairly
simple drawing program on my computer that I like to use for
creating custom shapes requiring symmetry, such as drop
shapes, shield shapes, etc.
Once you draw up the shape you like it can be printed onto
a piece of acetate and cut out with an Xacto knife. The
best part is that once you have created and saved a basic
set of shapes, they can be quickly and easily modified with
a little point, click and drag to best fit whatever piece
of rough you are working on.
Save all of these cutouts in a file folder and pretty soon
you will have an amazing assortment of shapes to choose
Subject: RE: How to Polish Chalcedony Roses
Polishing Chalcedony roses: this brings back a happy memory.
My wife and I had collected a lot of small chalcedony roses
from the foot of the Cady Mountains; They were
wind-polished, but that was all; I thought I'd try an
experiment. I put them into the 1/2 gallon tumbler,
(lor-tone), with tin oxide and very little water. I let
them go for two weeks, picking the thing up occasionally and
shaking it to see if the stones were still moving, thinking
to add water if they stopped, but they never did. After two
weeks of polishing without grinding, I took them out - my
test piece looked good, so I washed them all. After drying,
they were the most incredibly beautiful Chalcedony Roses I
had ever seen! I think the old-fashioned ways are sometimes
the best, and the polish without grinding is the neatest
trick I ever came up with!
In Chalcedony Roses especially, Carborundum gets into the
small seams, and you can't get it out! Try the stunt - you
might be amazed.
Subject: RE: Wyoming Jade
I was able last year to purchase about 50 pound of Wyoming
black Jade. This lot consisted of small pieces of fully
black, completely opaque jade as well as several larger
(8-15 lb) pieces of blocked rough from the Edwards mine.
The larger blocks were a very dark green on the thinnest
edges but the cabs are completely black and take a glassy
polish. I had this material checked prior to purchase to
insure it was indeed jade. (advantages to having friends
with electron microprobes). The price I was getting made
me slightly suspicious about it but the gentleman I was
obtaining it from at one time held the claim to the
Edward's mine. I market this as super dark green Jade.
The Amethyst Rose
Subject: Re: Wyoming Jade
Three years ago, when I was just getting started in lapidary
and I was pretty much buying any rough material I came
across that looked good (that I hadn't already experienced),
I encountered a dealer from Wyoming selling black jade at
Quartzsite. I was wondering if this could be the fellow you
referred to. He was wearing a nice bola made from what he
said was "Flower Jade," a medium dark apple green, that had
a grainy appearance like over cooked cheddar cheese. It is
really a nice looking material when finished, much better
than what you would think from my description. I gave him a
complement and he sold me the last piece he had, enough for
a single bola sized cab. I cut it almost immediately but
couldn't get the "orange peel" effect out until recently,
after I finally broke down and purchased a few ounces of
Now that I have a better idea what good quality jade is
about, I've been on the lookout for more with no success.
I would sure like to run across this gentleman again. He
had a lot of interesting stories to tell and could easily
talk your ear off if you let him.
Subject: BIO: Larry Lansdown
I live with my wife Sue and son Daniel(14) in Farmington,
NM, where the women are smart, the men good looking and
babies don't cry. This is in the Northwest corner of New
Mexico. I enjoyed rockhounding and cab making as a teenager
40 years ago, but am just getting back into it due to my
son's interest. We have joined our local club and my son is
an officer in the junior rockhounds. We bought a vibrating
tumbler and just finished our first batch of carnelian,
jasper, wood and agate. They came out great! I bought a
used trim saw and am looking for a cab machine, or might
build one. Daniel is also into fluorescent rocks and we
have a long-wave light in a cabinet, We are looking for a
short-wave or dual portable.
We find the rocks we tumbled within a few miles of home,
and also found a travertine outcropping. We have traded
some with rockhounds on the net to expand our collection.
Always willing to give directions to local sites, but I
don't think ours compare too well with what I see on the
net. I am very happy my son is becoming a rockhound, it is
so much better than what a lot of fourteen year olds are
into, and it brings the family together.
Subject: Show: Denver Rock Sale
For those of you in the Denver area, there's a great rock
sale this Thursday-Sunday, 5/20-5/23. Once a year, John
Haney, President of the Colorado Federation of Gems and
Mineral Societies, pulls rock out of his personal collection
and offers it for sale. This year, there will be about 16
tables of rough rock, plus assorted piles and buckets of
rock. Also available are several good used lapidary units
Please feel free to stop past during the 4 days, from
9am-7pm Thurs-Sat, and 7am-6pm on Sun. The address is 4242
Thompson Ct, Denver. This is about 3 blocks south of I-70,
and 3 blocks east of York St. For further information, call
John at 303-494-2614, or email me at email@example.com.
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