Edited and Published by Hale Sweeny
Web Site:
Associate Editors: Geo. Butts, JR Shroeder, Steve Henegar
and Margaret Malm

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 223 - Tues 8/3/99
2. NEW: Looking for Book(s) on Agates
3. NEW: How to Orient Tigereye Rough for Slabbing
4. NEW: History of FRANTOM Company
5. NEW: Polishing Gypsum
6. NEW: San Francisco Rock Shops
7. NEW: Morgan Hill Poppy Jasper
8. NEW: How To Stabilizing Turquoise
9. New: Does Alunite Need to be Stabilized?
10. RE: Parts for 6" Sears and Roebuck Gem Maker
11. RE: Parts for 6" Sears and Roebuck Gem Maker
12. RE: Need Information on Sunbeam Equipment
13. BIO: Don Sommerfield
14. BIO: David S. Phillips
15. BIO: Walt Kulpa
16. BIO: Epaul Fischer
17. FS: Slab Saw and Flat Lap
18. WTB: Used Lapidary Equipment
19. WTB: WAD or Romanechite


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 223 - Tues 8/3/99

Well, I am going to the Annual Meeting of EFMLS just outside
Washington this weekend, and will take a side trip after the
meeting to visit my grandchildren (and my daughter).

Went to the Franklin NC Gem Shows last week and had great
time. It was a bit hot in the tents - and outside. Saw
several friends and had dinner with several others. A great

I bought some rainbow obsidian rough, and will post several
questions about this material in coming issues.

Watch out for the heat - it can get to you fast and hard!

Otherwise, have fun!!!


Subject: NEW: Looking for Book(s) on Agates

I seem to remember a note in a previous LD issue earlier
this year describing a recently published book on Agates.
I don't recall if it was on Agates in general or Agates
from a specific area. I do seem to remember some positive
comments (reviews) on this book from Hale and others but
I cannot remember the title or author.

The LD WEB page seems to be under construction and I've
checked the TOCs in the last 150 or so LD issues with no

Does anyone recall the book I'm thinking of? Any other
suggestions on books about Agates?

Steve Wheeler
Wylie, TX

Subject: NEW: How to Orient Tigereye Rough for Slabbing

I recently purchased some tiger-eye rough and would like to
start cutting. A friend of mine told me that if I don't cut
it properly, I won't get that nice chatoyancy that tiger-eye
is famous for.

Is this true? If so, how do I cut it correctly?


Jed Allsop
South Jodan, Utah

Subject: NEW: History of FRANTOM Company

Hello Hale

I found an old "FRANTOM" combination lapidary machine at
an estate sale last weekend for $25.00. It has an 8" diamond
saw on one end, and two 8" grinding wheels ( ea. 2" wide) and
a sanding drum on the other end. It is all mounted in a
beautiful cast aluminum housing. It has a sticker on it that
says it was sold by the "ALLEN LAPIDARY EQUIPMENT AND

Have you ever heard of the FRANTOM machine? I would really
like to know where it was manufactured and how old it is. I
would imagine it is an antique.

I would be interested if you or anyone at the Lapidary
Digest knows anything about it.

Incidentally, I was born and raised in Los Angeles zone 44
which was close to where the Allen Co. was located. (for
those of you who are not as ancient as I, Zones preceded
Zip Codes.)

Thank You,
Ernie Ogren
The Geode Man
Ernie: Frantom was bought out by "?" and several others and
now owned by Diamond Pacific; I dont know whether DP still
has spare parts for that machine, but they have an 800
number and you can ask. I don't know the history of
Frantom. hale

Subject: NEW: Polishing Gypsum

While I've never actually cut a cab from gypsum, I have made
a number of spheres from gypsum. I had some trouble getting
a good polish until I tried using an old pair of nylon
pantyhose doubled up and stretched over the sphere cutter
heads (held in place with rubber bands) for polishing with
cerium oxide. It makes a great display item, but gypsum is
just too soft for making jewelry. Gypsum is soft enough to
scratch with a fingernail and does not hold up to normal
wear, but it might be usable for a pendant that wouldn't
get much contact with anything except skin and clothing.

I learned the nylon trick from a friend who carves
sculptures from gypsum and hand polishes them with nylons
(after hand sanding with 1000 sandpaper). She told me it
also works for talc (soapstone) sculptures.

Kreigh Tomaszewski
Please visit our family web pages at

Subject: NEW: San Francisco Rock Shops

Hello all, I'm planning a quick visit to San Francisco in
August and am wondering if anyone has a favorite rock shop
(besides Alcatraz!) or source for slabs or rough in the


Sally in Houston

Subject: NEW: Morgan Hill Poppy Jasper


A few months back, I requested information about a contact
for who was mining Morgan Hill Poppy jasper. Several of you
nice folks sent me the miner's name and phone Number. But
alas, my home computer monitor just died, and I can't
access my old save files.

I would greatly appreciate getting the name and number of
the guy who is mining Morgan Hill CA poppy jasper, as I
would like to acquire some nice rough for cabbing. Feel
free to respond via email.


Virginia Lyons

Subject: NEW: How To Stabilizing Turquoise

Hi everyone,

I just bought about 10 - 12 lb. of what looks like some
fairly good turquoise for $5.00. Problem is that it isn't
stabilized. Now that I've blown 5 bucks, can anyone tell me
how to go about stabilizing this material?


Walt Kulpa

Subject: New: Does Alunite Need to be Stabilized?

Hi again,

I should have posted this question along with the one about
stabilizing turquoise - but I forgot! I also have a bunch
of material called alunite which I am told handles a lot
like turquoise - (matter of fact, it feels a lot like

Does this material need to be stabilized?


Walt Kulpa
Walt: I couldn't find alunite in the first four books I
searched, and don't think I have ever heard of it or seen
it for sale. Tell me about it, please! hale

Subject: RE: Parts for 6" Sears and Roebuck Gem Maker

Hi -

I'm not certain of this but I believe your Sears unit is
identical to the Star Diamond 6" gem-maker combo unit. If
I recall correctly Sears once sold these under its own

In any case, Star Diamond being no longer with us you might
have a hard time finding the appropriate peripheral
wire/spring. If you can't find it, you'll need to improvise.

Try the war surplus store. They often have a variety of
rubber o-ring seals, one of which might fit. With judicious
cutting and bonding (use the stuff from a bicycle tire
repair kit) you might be able to cut a strip from an inner
tube that will do the job, or maybe rubber gas hose of the
sort used in hospitals.

But if it were me, what I'd do is simply wrap a copper wire
around the periphery and twist it tight so it goes snug
into the groove. And yes, that can be dangerous if the
twisted part contacts your knuckle as the wheel spins.
Hammering the twist down so it's as flush as you can get
it will help, followed by filing it smooth. Even so there
will necessarily be a bump where the twist is, so be

Hans Durstling
Moncton, Canada
Freelance writing. Feature stories, technical ad copy,
clear manuals, bid documents, simple english, videos,
speeches. Email for publication and client list.

Subject: RE: Parts for 6" Sears and Roebuck Gem Maker


I received the nameplate info on the Sears Gem Maker which
you sent, and was able to get to a parts consultant at Sears
who was able to find records, and he verified that they had
no parts for this machine. They would not say who made it!

Next option, see if you can find a picture of the Gem Maker
which Hans referred to (above) and compare it to your
machine. If it is close, phone MK Diamond (who took over
Star Diamond) at 1-800-421-5830 and ask for either Martha
Sheets or Rulon Heaton, who are the customer relations
agents at MK Diamond for lapidary products. Ask them about
the spring.


Subject: RE: Need Information on Sunbeam Equipment

I wrote to Sunbeam about this request, and just received
the following answer:

<<RE: Lapidary Grinder

Your inquiry has been forwarded to the Research Department.
We doubt very strongly that they shall be able to find any
information regarding the grinder. We are so sorry. We
hope you can find something on it on the web but we have no
guidance for you.

Sunbeam Consumer Affairs Department>>

I guess that's it! Sorry!


Subject: BIO: Don Sommerfield

Hello Hale:

Glad to be on your list. I have been involved in Lapidary
for forty years. I belong to two clubs: One In Saginaw,
Michigan and another in Ft. Myers Florida. I spend 8 Months
in Florida and 4 in Michigan.

My shop in Florida has a 10" saw, Genie, Flat lap, two
polishing arbors, and a 6" saw. The Michigan shop has
similar but older machines, but there we also have an 18"

Like lots of your people, we have done lots of traveling.
I also teach cabochons at the Art Studio in Cape Coral,
Florida, (been doing this for 13 years). Also I do a few
arts and craft shows, mostly in Florida and then maybe four
or five a winter.

Don Sommerfield


Subject: BIO: David S. Phillips


I am new to the list and live in West Virginia. I don't do
much lapidary, except run a couple of tumblers and dome and
polish specimens.

I signed on to further my education and see if I could
learn something, since I am just beginning to polish. A lot
of our material in WV, takes a very good polish, i.e.,
agatized coral, two colors and two kinds, hematite,
travertine calcite, and banded agate.

Thank you,

David S. Phillips
Sunset Fossils & Minerals
Morgantown, West Virginia

Subject: BIO: Walt Kulpa

Hi -
My name is Walt Kulpa, I live in Bellingham, Washington. I
have been collecting rocks and fossils since I was a child
growing up in upstate NY. I have had my equipment stashed
away for almost two years now and am just now getting it
pulled out and set back up.

I have a 24" Hillquist diamond saw, as well as 10" and a 6"
slab saws. I have an 8" highland park drum polisher, and a
20" vibrating flat lap. I also have several home made
machines (Bull wheel polisher and high speed sander).

Generally, I spend more time building equipment than I do
working on my rocks- but I'm trying to get past that problem
as I set up this time. I have a great deal of opalized and
agatized wood which is readily available in central

I enjoy polishing petrified wood limbs as specimens and
making cabs and fabricating silver jewelry. I'm very much
looking forward to reading the digest and learning whatever
I can to enhance my growth in this hobby.

Best Regards,


Subject: BIO: Epaul Fischer

My name is Epaul. I have been a professional entertainer for
a couple of decades, most recently working the Renaissance
Festival circuit. I got married and settled down (well,
relatively) about 2 years ago. I decided to go back to an
early love of metal working.

I make mostly custom jewelry, with a strong emphasis on
historical reproductions or neo-historical pieces. Crowns,
signet rings (carved in carnelian or other gemstones), and
Celtic interlace pendants seem to be my bread and butter.
I love working with all types of metals, stones, substances,
and techniques. I guess you could say I'm a true renaissance

Because I work so much on historical pieces, many times I
can not find stones commercially cut the way I want them. So
I slowly acquired tools for my Foredom to work stones. Gem
carving has become my latest passion. I recently decided to
learn more about what I am already doing, and took a great
class on lapidary at the Arizona Mining & Mineral Museum.
This also now gives me access to their WELL STOCKED lapidary
lab at a mere $2/hr.

I guess that's all for now.

Epaul Fischer
Gryphon Song Creations

Subject: FS: Slab Saw and Flat Lap

I have 2 machines that I would consider selling. One is an
18" HP Slab Saw, and the other is a 24" HP Flat Lap. I
paid $1800.00, one year ago. Any help would be appreciated.

Subject: WTB: Used Lapidary Equipment

I am looking for used lap equipment. I would like to have
at least a 10 inch slab trim saw but would like to have a
bigger one. I am willing to trade wood working equipment
for such plus about 200 dollars. I have a Beaver lapidary
arbor and want something to cut my slabs on.

Willing to sell or trade wood band saw 16", which will cut
6 1/2 inch thickness; 16 deep. This is the 300 dollar model
from Sears. Also a 16inch scroll saw.

I want lapidary equipment more than woodworking equipment
so that is why I’m selling it.

Subject: WTB: WAD or Romanechite

I am looking for the mineral WAD which is a member of the
Psilomelane mineral family. I would like rough or polished,
or whatever is available. I understand this comes out of
California and Arizona. Telephone me at
1-800-817-7958 or contact me by e-mail.

I enjoy the Lap Digest and look forward to seeing it
every time I set down at the computer.

I am about two years into lapidary work and enjoy it
tremendously. I enjoy all the responses from the pros out
there who have done lapidary for so many years.

Lee Corey
Lee, according to my copy of the Photo-Atlas of Minerals CD,
by LA Museum, WAD is another name for Romanechite. They say
that Psilomelane is a name used for two materials: a black
mixed of manganese oxides and as a synonym for Romanechite.
Confusing, eh wat? hale

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