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 235 - Sat 10/1/1999
2. NEW: Lathe-Turning Alabaster Bowls
3. NEW: Plans for Home-Built Tumbler on the Web
4. NEW: Polishing Question
5. NEW: Opal Working and Polishing
6. RE: Tumbling Prepolish with Liquid Soap
7. RE: Notes from Lightning Ridge
8. RE: Mineral Oil As A Saw Lubricant
9. RE: Mineral Oil As A Saw Lubricant
10. RE: Polishing Yowah Nuts
11. RE: Polishing Yowah Nuts
12. RE: How to Orient and Cut Spectralite
13. RE: Black Onyx
14. RE: Collecting Oregon Sunstone
15. BIO: Norm Bulmer


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No 235 - Sat 10/1/1999

First, about Notes from Lightning Ridge: Seems that y'all
like that series a lot. Typical response was Rose McArthur's:
"I for one am enjoying the Australian opal letters. Reminds
me of the old format in Lapidary Journal where you learned a
lot more about countries above and beyond rocks and minerals.
One question, what is a pig's goozle?" I think, Rose, that
it has to be the boar's throat! The pictures will be put up
on the website.

Teresa Masters wrote to talk about some classes each year
in California: "CFMS Seminars and Classes are held at Camp
Paradise above Marysville, California in the Tall Pines. The
Campground Manager is as great a Host as can be. He has
hunted a Wild Boar for us each year and stakes it to a large
outdoor Spit where it turns all day. It becomes Appetizers
for our Social Time. It is a first for many of us and quite
enjoyable too. I understand quite well what our Aussie
friends tell about." Thanks, Terry. Two descriptions of wild
boar hunting in connection with lapidary! Amazing!!

And I found an interesting website about lapidary (working
with stones) in ancient Egypt:

Next, the website ( has been revised
so that all past issues are in the Archive section, as is
the index file of threads. I am writing a few paragraphs on
how to search the Archives, and this will be in the next
issue and will also be put up on the website.

By now you should know the drill: Stop everything, hug and
kiss those you love, and tell 'em you love them, and above
all: HAVE FUN!!!!


Subject: NEW: Lathe-Turning Alabaster Bowls

For the past two years, I have been trying to find someone
to write about 'how-to' turn stones on a lathe, and have not
been successful. We do have some turners on the list, but
they did not have time to write up details of their craft.
I completely understand that, for, as you know, I have had
the same problem myself in the recent past.

But today I found a web site which documents how one person
turns alabaster bowls, from beginning to end, and it's well
described with pictures of the whole process. I refer you
to URL: -- and click on
Alabaster. Hope you enjoy this site as much as I did!

For other related links, we have:

Source of Alabaster:
Another Source:
Lathe Turned Stone Housewares from ancient Egypt:

If you have other references, or if you turn stoneware your-
self, please send in information about the process!



Subject: NEW: Plans for Home-Built Tumbler on the Web

Hi folks,

I'm just a touch too lazy and daunted also by the prospect
of an hour or two searching among the clutter that Altavista
throws up...sooo..

Does anyone have a web adress (or several) to sites which
give good instructions for building a home built tumbler?

Cheers & thanks

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: NEW: Polishing Question

I have a mystery stone that has, so far, refused to take a
polish (diamond paste, cerium, Linde A). It was supposed
to be an easy repolish/replace the triangle inset. It's in
a 10K Mason ring. It's red. I thought it was Spinel, but
now? It seems very, very soft. Can anyone advise on a


Dana Carlson
Dana: Why not try ZAM on a flannel cotton buff? Works well
for me on soft stones like turquoise. I do it on a polishing
arbor, and it is running at fairly high speed. hale

Subject: NEW: Opal Working and Polishing

I was working with a few pieces of opal yesterday. I have
one piece that's fantastic except for the sand filled pit
almost in the middle of it. If I polished it down, I'd have
no color left by the time I got rid of the pit. Then I hit
on the best possible solution. After polishing, I'm going
to drill the pit so the edges are even and set a contrasting
stone in there. Since the stone is mostly blue, a faceted
quartz or maybe an amethyst would look nice in there.

As for polishing, I've always used cerium oxide for opal.
It polishes up very quickly.

Giovanna Fregni

Subject: RE: Tumbling Prepolish with Liquid Soap

C A U T I O N!

Ann Griffin in issue #233 asked if the tests developed any
sludge and I was about to write, "No sludge, only a
murkiness and all the solutions were dark black" I assumed
the blackness was from basalt which was in every test
barrel... BUT, I checked a barrel this morning using
waterglass as the solution (7 day check) and it is ALSO
black... there is NO basalt in this run with waterglass..

Actually, finely ground basalt tends to be light gray, not
black. The tell-tale black color could only be from
carbon-black being released from the sbr rubber liner!
That force acting on the stone is also acting on the rubber
liner. While a trace of carbon-black will "dye" the
solution black, it still is of consequence that the liner
is being rubbed away, even slowly.

These barrels show no sign of degradation, slick and smooth
as sbr rubber liner should be. Emphasis on "slick and

Waterglass is an aqueous solution of sodium and potassium
silicates and in no way would "dissolve" or "attack"
properly cured sbr rubber. I think it must be simply a
matter of force transfer physically picking away at that
liner, molecule by molecule.

I think this is touching on previous reports about detergent
solution "attacking" rubber liners.(LD#109 msg 2 and #110
msg 10). Anyone interested in reading the original comments
can, of course, browse these at the Lapidary Digest web site
where all the LD back-issues are posted.

So, please be advised that, exciting as this experimentation
is, there may be a hazard to your tumbling apparatus if you
choose to explore the concept.

George Butts

Subject: RE: Notes from Lightning Ridge

Hi Hale and friends,

Firstly, it is james dumar, not john.

To polish Yowah or boulder you must have heavily silicated
ironstone. The porous stuff from some fields will not take
a polish. if you have this porous stuff get out the shoe
polish coz that is the best you will do. The problem with
Queensland matrix is that the opal and ironstone have
different hardness and the opal will stand out proud while
the ironstone undercuts. Therefore from 600 grit onwards
use wet and dry paper instead of diamond and tin or cerium
oxide for polish. The softer abrasives used in a minimal
way (do not over work) will produce a brilliant finish in
well silicated material.

My wife was out looking at a claim for sale yesterday and a
(willy willy) giant dust devil lifted the roof on the camp
she was visiting, and knocked a shed down on to our van.
We have lots of adventures here.

I am working full time on silver and opal jewelry this week.
I enclose a photo for your inspection. Since posting on this
group, both my social and business correspondence have
increased enormously, I have met lots of new friends and
fellow opalholics whom I hope to see personally here at the
ridge. Til than, there are some new stones on my site:

Back to the work bench now,

Talk with you soon,

James: I am making a place on our website to show your pics
of life and people and opals on LR. hale

Subject: RE: Mineral Oil As A Saw Lubricant


Just thought I'd mention that if you REALLY want to use
veggie oil for cutting, Peanut Oil is the only one I can
recommend. It doesn't get rancid as soon as others, and
as far as I know, doesn't polymerize at all!

Olive oil is every bit as good, but who could afford it?
I have not tried Canola, so can't say.

However, here's a thought for all those who are looking for
substitutes for Pella(R), etc., go to your friendly
neighborhood discount store and buy the cheapest SAE
monograde 5 or 10 oil (non-detergent) you can find. This
will be light mineral oil relatively free of additives; DO
NOT get a multi-grade oil such as 5W/30, as these contain
viscosity index improvers which may be toxic, and
anti-oxidants (such as Phosphorus pentasulfide) which ARE!

DO NOT breathe the vapors of ANY oil! (Lipid Pneumonia
is no fun!) If you get oil of any kind on your hands, and
you will, the "Orange" type cleaners are the best to get it
off after a good wipe with a towel.

I don't know why people are always trying to find exotic
substitutes for good old petroleum, anyway, but if you must,
and are not afraid of a little work, believe it or not,
WATER is a great saw coolant! The only drawback is that
you have to drain the saw and wipe the blade dry every day!
If you do use water, put about 8 drops dish detergent per
gallon to make it a little wetter and keep the blade clean.

Ted Robles

Subject: RE: Mineral Oil As A Saw Lubricant

Re: Light mineral oil

$50 per gallon is not a reasonable price. Our local
discount store sells Banana Boat (a big brand name in
sunscreen) Sun Amplifier for 99 cents/8 oz. This works out
to $16 per gallon. Not unscented though, more of a
pinacolada scent. Keep looking.

Subject: RE: Polishing Yowah Nuts

Regarding "Holy Cow" polish I have purchased several ounces
from Guy Clark and I swear by this polish. I use it for just
about any stone and get superb results. One trick I have
learned with it is to mix the powder with white vinegar to
make the paste, and then while polishing, wet the stone
occasionally with the vinegar. (I put a bit of vinegar on a
paper towel and dab the stone on the towel.)

Guy's address is: Guy Clark, 24195 US Highway 19N # 123,
Clearwater FL 33763 727-796-0330

When I spoke to Guy about using the vinegar he nodded his
approval, and said that was a good plan!!

Jeff Ursillo
Gem & Mineral Society/West Palm beach

Subject: RE: Polishing Yowah Nuts

Hale...I read your digest I received from Tom Benham and I
found my name mentioned regarding my product "Holy Cow"
polishing the article you said that you would
like to know more about "Holy Cow".... well I'm the guy to
ask ..I developed, named and distribute the polish world
wide...if you’re interested let me know what you
the mean time the product can be obtained through me at my
email address or by phone (727) 796-0330 after 4pm est.
.for $13.20 per ounce including priority US mail...


guy clark

Subject: RE: How to Orient and Cut Spectralite

I assume that since you spelled it spectralite, instead of
spectrolite, you must have some of the material from the
Fergusson's mine in Marathon. It's fun stuff and very easy
to work with.

The color is oriented along a flat plane, so buff top
cabochons have more color than dome top cabs.

To orient the rough for slicing, hold the rock with a strong
direct light behind you (incandescent - not fluorescent).
Now turn the stone every way you can. Rotate it around until
you see the very best color. Usually that's on one of the
rougher sides. Using a permanent marker, put an X over the
colored area. Often two or more crystals will grow together,
giving you a rock that will show color from different angles.
Usually you can see a sharp dividing line between them.
Often it's best to slice them apart there, since there's
often hidden fractures there.

Once the rock is marked, you're almost home free. Clamp the
rock (or hold it) so the mark you made is parallel to the
saw blade and cut the slices for your cabs. Slice it a
little thicker than you normally would. Spectralite is a
feldspar, so it's softer than many stones used in lapidary,
plus it has a very strong cleavage (which means that in
spite of everything, sometimes a chunk will just fall off).
After you cut off the first slice, double check to see if
you stll have the color oriented right.

To polish, I use cerium oxide on a felt or synthetic pad
with a lot of water and run the wheel pretty fast. It's
messy, but effective.

Good Luck,
Giovanna Fregni
Giovanna: What's in a name? I don't know, I know that it
gets confusing about names for Feldspars. There are six
minerals in the Plagioclase series of Feldspar class of
minerals. The fourth one is Laboradorite. Spectralite is NOT
a mineral name. but generally is reserved for the gem
version of Laboradorite from Finland. The stuff from
Madagascar(?) is also Laboradorite but it also is sometimes
a gem version and sometimes not. Very confusing, and I
haven't helped a bit! (smile) hale

Subject: RE: Black Onyx

You didn't do anything wrong. It's the stone. Almost all
the black onyx available starts out as ordinary gray agate
and is either dyed or heat treated with sulfuric acid. These
treatments go just below the surface, so when you cut into
the onyx you grind away the surface treatment, revealing
the original color of the stone underneath.

Giovanna Fregni

Subject: RE: Collecting Oregon Sunstone

The last issue of Rock and Gem had an article re: a NW Rock
Safari. The author said that one could only surface collect
at the public sunstone locality and that all the nice
colored material would require digging. I have friends who
were there last month. They got plenty of little bits of
clear material as float. Afraid it must be true.

Carson City, Nevada

Subject: BIO: Norm Bulmer

I live in Brisbane, Australia and have been actively
involved in lapidary for nearly 20 years. Way back then I
joined a local lapidary club where I was taught the basics
and still am a member. I now look forward to furthering my
knowledge from the Digest.

Main Interests:
- Cutting and polishing agates on a vibrating lap;
- Cutting wood and polishing (great for book ends);
- Not much cabbing now as I took up faceting a couple of
years ago;
- Tumbling;
- Fossicking for all sorts of material (agates, jasper,
sapphires, topaz, zircons, garnets, quartz and other
odd things can all be found within a days drive).

Lapidary Equipment:
- grinding wheel, polishing disk and saw;
- 15" vibrating lap;
- tumbler;
- faceting machine.

Norm Bulmer
Norm!!! (Sounds like the opening of Cheers, doesn't it?)
Welcome!! And since you are an ol' timer, we look forward to
hearing from you and to your contributions! Hope it will be
mutually beneficial!! Enjoy! hale
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