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 227 - Thurs 8/19/1999
2. REVIEW: August 1999 Issue of Lapidary Journal(LJ)
3. RE: Mineral Oil as a Trim Saw Coolant
4. RE: Mineral Oil as a Trim Saw Coolant
5. RE: Mineral Oil as a Trim Saw Coolant
6. RE: Filling Cracks in Dino Slabs
7. RE: Filling Cracks in Dino Slabs
8. RE: WTB: Flint for Flintknapping
9. RE: Etching Stone
10. RE: Does Alunite Need to be Stabilized?
11. BIO: Grace Hessler
12. SHOW: Houston Gem & Mineral Society
13. WTB: Used Lapidary Equipment
14. WTB: Used Lapidary Equipment
15. FS: Woodbury Geodes
16. FS: Gem Silica Chrysocolla


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No 227 - Thurs 8/19/1999

Long time member (and lurker) Alec McCreadie wrote say that
he had put up a page for his rock club, and invites all to
visit. He wants to exchange links with club sites from
around the world. His URL is
and his e-mail address is
(I could not connect with him - my ISP kept telling me that
a connection could not be established. But don't let that
keep you from visiting his site!)


Noel Rowe (see LJ Review, below) and Marcia Ingham both
wrote to say that they could not connect with the
wirewrapping magazine's home page:,
and wanted to know how else to contact them. You may email
them at, fax them at 519-474-2579, or
write them at The Wire Artist's Group, P.O.Box 21105,
Stratford, Ontario, N5A 7V4, Canada. And tell them that
you heard of them here!!

Noel also said: "Thanks to the Lapidary Digest I wrote my
very first lapidary article. It appeared in the August issue
of Lapidary Journal and was the direct result of interaction
with this group. You never know what hidden perks there
might be when you're willing to share a little of what
you've learned. Thanks again for providing this great forum
for all of us in this great hobby!" Thank you, Noel for the
kind words and congratulations on your article!


Boo Schellenger, one of my dearest buddies, wrote to say
that they are having the third annual Geode Jamboree on
Sept. 17-19th, at Sheffler's Geode Mine in Alexandria, Mo.
(near where Mississippi River, where Iowa, Illinois and
Missouri meet.) The weekend will feature digging at the
geode mine, tailgate swap, geode opening, free rockhound
tool sharpening, picnic dinner buffet, specimen contests,
T-shirts, kaluha party and best of all--- plenty of fun and
a relaxing time to visit with rockhounds from all over.

Complete details for the Geode Jamboree are up on:
Tom Whitlatch and Julie Sova from the Cedar Valley Club in
Iowa are chairmen, so please direct any questions to them


The next issue should be out on this coming Sunday; I am
going to Wildacres on Monday for a week's opal cutting!

Hey! Summer - and field trips - is coming to a close, so
enjoy as long as possible (phooie on you guys in California;
I know you have summer all year long!!!). Stay safe and


Subject: REVIEW: August 1999 Issue of Lapidary Journal(LJ)

(Review of items in the issue of interest to lapidaries)

The Amber Room. Page 20

Rachel V. Katz has an article that talks about a lapidary’s
worst nightmare. For those that do not know, the German army
stole a one of a kind, never to be replaced, room of amber
from Russia in the waning days of WWII. The amber room was
located at Catherine Place just south of St. Petersburg. It
was called the amber room because the walls were literally
made of thousands of amber stones, cut to fit.

Years of searching has failed to discover the hiding place
of this world treasure. The task of recreating the
impossible was undertaken. Working off of pictures and 64
recovered samples of amber, the room is being rebuilt. The
cutters task was to cut new stones three millimeters thick
and then match not only the shape of each previous stone,
but also the color.

After 20 years they have just completed the first of the
panels and it has been mounted. Only 11 panels to go. The
biggest challenge now is money and skills. They don’t have
the funds to pay the cutters, so the cutters leave and take
their skills with them. Work is underway to acquire the
estimated three million dollars that it will take to
complete the project. (Anyone know Bill Gates? <grin>)

Geodes The "Hole" story. Page 45

Si & Ann Frazier answer five questions about these more or
less hollow rocks. They cover: What’s a geode, What are
Keokuks, How do Keokuk-type geodes form, What’s the
difference between a nodule and a geode, and where can I
hunt for my own geodes?

For those who have never sliced open one of these surprise
packages, it is such a thrill when you get your first look
at what was hidden within.

Carving Amber, Page 51

Yoli Rose explains how to do a step-by-step amber carving.
This project is a beginner to intermediate carving project.
Try your hand at cutting the same stuff the amber room above
is made from. Be careful though; Amber is only a 2-3 on the
Mohs scale.

Cutting Mexican Jelly Opal 55

Noel Rowe has a Project for beginners. It walks the beginner
through the selection process and the orienting process, all
the way through to the polishing process. An added note is
that Noel Rowe made all the equipment in his shop by hand.
(It sounds like Noel could share some great plans if anyone
knows him.)((Note by Hale: Noel is a long time member and
contributor to this list; see above)

Old Glory Intarsia, Page 69

Tom Benham provides the steps for the second half of this
project that was started in the July issue. This part covers
the grinding and polishing.

JR Schroeder
J & J Jewelry

Subject: RE: Mineral Oil as a Trim Saw Coolant

Diamond Pacific sells a product called ROC-OIL, you can ask
for a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). You are entitled
to receive it by federal law, although you may have to ask
for it. Generally people are willing to comply and send/fax
you one. The MSDS lists all sorts of things like what the
stuff is, who made it, general safety and health info, fire
precautions, safe disposal, emergency contacts, etc. As a
side note you are even entitled to one if you receive a
free samples, This will apply to goods purchased at grocery
and hardware stores. My day job is in an R&D lab, you can
imagine how many of these things we have! At times I will
also use this law to obtain information about products for
cross-reference purposes, i.e., industrial espionage.

Back to ROC-OIL it is listed as a food grade mineral oil
manufactured by ARCO, the viscosity is on the lower side
compared to the drug store stuff. From the MSDS you should
be able to drink the stuff (if that is your sort of thing).
In theory it is possible to buy direct, but if you try you
will be looking for a distributor and drum quantity's, plus

Personally I like the stuff. It is very gentle to the skin
and has a very low odor. From the MSDS it has minimal
inhalation hazards, but I believe it is best to avoid this.
The product is water clear, it seems to wash out in the
laundry but it may take a couple of times to remove the
appearance of a wet spot. Again wear old cloths. I wear a
bib vinyl type of apron - the type that you can buy at a
commercial restaurant supply. As far as rocks cutting, it
works as well as any oil that I have ever used.

Jeff in Kalamazoo

Subject: RE: Mineral Oil as a Trim Saw Coolant

Dear Hale and Listmembers,

We live in Washington state, and have access to another
Pella oil, called "Pella B". After doing some checking
around at the different oil companies, we learned that the
only difference, aside from price, between Pella A and B,
is that Pella B is used primarily East of the Rockies, where
the winters seem to be a little more harsh. It has
something to do with the viscosity of the oil in the cold
(someone who knows about this please jump in here for me!).

We decided to try the Pella B, and bought a five gallon
bucket from a local distributor for around $20. That is
much cheaper, let me tell you, than the cheapest we could
find Pella A for, which is about $8 bucks a gallon. We use
this both in our slab saw and our trim saw, and it works
just as well.

I think that the mineral oil sounds good because it would
be virtually odor free, and the smell of the Pella oil
does bother me a little, but not enough to scare me away!!

Hope you find this helpful.

Ann Griffin

Subject: RE: Mineral Oil as a Trim Saw Coolant

Hale, when cleaning up my job site one day, I picked up a
gallon jug of Ridgid Thread Cutting Oil. On the jug it
low-odour low--mist halon-free nion-free
this-and-that free High Quality Mineral Oil.

Sounds like it might be just the thing for cutting rocks.
It's available from any plumbing supply place, which seems
to be a problem with Pella A and some others. Just don't
mistake what a product is used for, with what it is.
I'd try it out myself, except I'm committed to using water
for my cutting of cracked and porous stones.

Ron Francis

Subject: RE: Filling Cracks in Dino Slabs

<<I picked up some dinosaur bone slabs, and some are porous
and some fractured. (snip) I plan to make some bolos out of
them, but am worried about them falling apart before I get
a polish on them. Is there a way to fill the cracks before
I shape them?>>

Greetings Jerry:

I've been grinding some cabs from material that is full of
cracks. Fortunately the natural pattern of the stone works
with design of the cracks. I've tried several methods.
Forget about Opticon. What I do is first grind out the
outline of the stone (oval, square, triangle, whatever) that
I want to make. That is, I just grind down the edge of the

Then I heat the stone on my dop pot where I melt my dop wax.
While the stone is heating, I mix up enough epoxy on a sheet
of scrap paper. Then I use a large nail to coat the top,
bottom and side of the stone and let it cure on the paper.
If you use Hughes 330 epoxy, it cures in a day. If you use
5 minute epoxy, it cures in about an hour.

When cured, I grind the epoxy and paper off the bottom of
the stone and dop it on a stick. Then grind the basic shape
of your cab and take it through the first and/or second
round of sanding off the scratches. At this point, carefully
examine the stone under strong light and 5X magnification
for cracks. If there are cracks, re-epoxy the stone and let
cure. Then finish polishing.

Good luck!


Virginia Lyons

Subject: RE: Filling Cracks in Dino Slabs

There was a product called Opticon that would be the best
for sealing cracks. It is costly, but it goes a long way.
It was made by Eastman (I think).

There is also the tried and true epoxy method. Find some
water clear epoxy. Most epoxies yellow with age. Warm
the stone on a dop pot or something else that provides lower
heat. Put the epoxy on and remove from heat right away. As
the stone cools it pulls the epoxy in. You may need to redo
this after 220 sanding as the epoxy will undercut easily.

Then just follow rules of keeping things clean. I usually
wash the stone, then clean it with alcohol. Be careful when
mixing the epoxy so that you don't get too many bubbles.

Steve Ramsdell

Subject: RE: WTB: Flint for Flintknapping

Dear Frank,

Having read your message in Lapidary Digest I thought I
would let you know that if you want knappable material, we
can supply some suitable material here in Australia. Both
our gem chalcedony and some of our bi-colour material (i.e.
chrysoprase/chalcedony in one piece as a green and white
stone) have been knapped by a leading U.S. flintknapper with
good results. The size you are after is no problem.

If your client must have flint, a good source of information
and suppliers on flint knapping is Chips magazine which is
available from Dane Martin on It has
advertisements for numerous suppliers of various types of
flint and chert with stone from the U.K. and Texas

Although I get to break more rocks than most people, it is
normally with a sledge hammer. So I am no expert on this
art! However from what I have learnt from Dane, heat
treatment of the stone prior to working it is important.
If you are unfamiliar with this you may find it useful to
order a copy of " The Art of Flint Knapping " by D.C.
Waldorf. This book goes through the process in some detail
and I am sure if you contact Dane he will be able to
organise a copy for you.

On another note, I keep getting inquiries for Queensland
agate although I am thousands of kilometres from
Queensland. In future, I will pass the inquiries on to you
if that is OK.

N.B. I have sent this direct to you and will also send a
copy to Hale in case he wishes to publish it for the

Craig White
Chrysoprase Mines of Australia

Subject: RE: Etching Stone

Regarding the suggestions to etch stone, I can recommend
one other method of making a mask for sandblasting: Use
photographic resist method. The design is transferred to a
negative film (can be drawn on in ink), and the negative
placed over the object to be etched which has been coated
with a liquid resist material and then exposed to
photolight. The resists sets up or cures under the light,
but does not where the lines block the light. The uncured
resist is carefully washed away and the design is then
sandblasted with silicone carbide, or aluminum oxide (the
cheapest) as the medium. Sand will be too grainy. It is
a time-consuming method but is the best I've seen for fine
detail--unless you can find someone to make the vinyl
resist for you (some sign shops w/computers can do such

Of course, I have only etched glass, so cannot comment on
how hard the stone would be.

Barbara Cashman/GlasTile.

Subject: RE: Does Alunite Need to be Stabilized?

Dear Hale,
I've seen alunite for sale at the Quartzite Pow Wow
and other Quartzite shows preceding it. Their rock club,
The Road Runners, I believe they're called, take people on
field trips to locations around Quartzite, during the show.
There is an alunite deposit they stop at on one of their
trips in order to gather cutting material. It is a pleasing
material well suited for pendants rather than rings, due to
softness. The location could be in Calif. rather than Ariz.
for all I know.

Brian C.

Subject: BIO: Grace Hessler

I'm glad I found this digest. I am currently the editor of
the Rocky Reader, the monthly newsletter of the Toledo Gem
& Rockhound Club. Lots of information comes to me this way
and I can always use more.

I have always loved rocks but after discovering the club
here, I have learned how to do most everything involved in
the hobby.

Along with the newsletter, I have mainly been faceting.
Soon I will want to get back to cabbing and silver work. I
love working opal and unakite is my favorite plain old rock.

Try to visit our show in Toledo, September 10-12, at the
beautiful Stranahan Center (formally Masonic).


Subject: SHOW: Houston Gem & Mineral Society

The Houston Gem & Mineral Society annual show will be Labor
Day weekend at the George R Brown Convention Center. The
show dates are Friday, Sept 3, 10 am-6 pm, Sat Sept 4, 10-6,
and Sunday Sept 5, 10-5. Admission is $4.95, Seniors (>60)
$3.00, youngsters (<12) $1, and 5 and under free.

Robin Pascal
Asst Show Chair

Subject: WTB: Used Lapidary Equipment

I would like to buy a large slab saw, and large flat lap.
Contact me at the address below.

Kevin Zebulon

Subject: WTB: Used Lapidary Equipment

I am looking for the following used equipment:
1. One Polyarbor
2. Six splash pans (like the Lortone SS8)
3. Four 6" x 2-1/2" flexible drums
4. One 900rpm 110vac motor
5. One 8" polishing disk to put on above motor (will
cover disk with leather). Also need adaptor to mount
disk to motor.
6. One 6" to 8" trim saw, without blade or motor.

David Clayton

Subject: FS: Woodbury Geodes

We have Quartz crystal lined Geodes from 1" to 8" plus,
some are hollow, and some are solid and quite suitable for
polishing.. Asking $1.00 per inch, cheaper in quanity.

There is great variety; Agate banding, Smoky Quartz,
Citrine, clear or milky, large crystals micro crystal
formations and snowball formations.

Kevin MacNelly

Subject: FS: Gem Silica Chrysocolla

We have a good sale of GEM SILICA CHRYSOCOLLA for Peru.
For US$250 , including shipping, you will receive :
Fax: 51-1- 4498492
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