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 238 - Mon 10/11/1999
2. NEW: Need Help With Polishing When Tumbling
3. NEW: Help Selecting Lapidary Equipment
4. NEW: Food Grade Oil as Lubricant
5. NEW: Saw Lubricant
6. RE: Saw Lubricant
7. RE: Notes from Lightning Ridge
8. RE: Home-Built Tumbler
9. RE: Garnet Changes Colour
10. BIO: Don Migliozzi
11. BIO: Guy Clark
12. BIO: Terry
13. BIO: Tom Nuchols
14. RE: WTB: Rough in Minneapolis
15. RE: WTB: Rough in Minneapolis


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No 238 - Mon 10/11/1999

We received a request this week asking that if you send a
buy or sell note, please include your location.

I am writing up a detailed description of how to search the
Archives on the Web, but it will not be ready for the next
two or three issues.

Next Issue should be Thursday.

Have a great week, and be sure to HAVE FUN!!!


Subject: NEW: Need Help With Polishing When Tumbling

I have a problem which is probably as old as time itself.
That can I get the stones to shine? First, let me
tell you that I am an absolute beginner. (See BIO below.)
I have been practicing on Apache Tears, Onyx, Clear Quartz
Crystal, inexpensive Jaspers and Agates. While I watch my
supplies, I am not miserly. I generally course grind once
or twice to get a rounded stone using 60/90. I then use
straight 220 grit for the smooth grind. If the stone looks
smooth, I then detergent wash overnight and use the 600 grit.
I will tumble at least a week. I then use cerium oxide for
up to one week. The stones often have light dust (Cerium
Oxide?) in them and more washing does not seem to help and
I am very puzzled.

I am willing to start all over again with the second
stage if some kind hearted soul will take pity on a beginner
and share their secrets with him before he gets too
frustrated and quits. I use plastic pellets, but only use
new ones on the pre-polish and polish cycles.

Many thanks for your help,

Subject: NEW: Help Selecting Lapidary Equipment

Good morning,

Presently I am a working wire artist and a beginning
silversmith. I would like to add a touch of lapidary arts
as well. I have lurked on this list for some time as I
really cannot contribute to it, but am thoroughly impressed
with the knowledge I see here and am hoping some of you
will share it with me.

Can anyone please recommend the least expensive tumblers
and other equipment that I will need to start, as well as
any publications that might be of help to me?

Thanking you all in advance,


Subject: NEW: Food Grade Oil as Lubricant

I'm new to the list so I don't know if this has been
discussed before but someone told me I could use food grade
hydraulic oil as a saw lubricant. They said it would clean
up better and have no odor. Does anyone have any ideas
about this? Will it work without damaging my saw blade?


Subject: NEW: Saw Lubricant

Wasn't it on this digest that I found out about the dangers
of using Antifreeze for a saw lubricant, and a
recommendation that one use the material used for
winterizing mobile homes instead, as it is supposedly safe
to drink from the pipelines after they are drained, and
therefore not as toxic as automobile antifreeze?

Anyway, after reading this message, Keith drained his trim
saw, and started using the new stuff, and it appears to be
doing a very good job. He has to cut lots of cubes in
order to make his marbles, and has been using if for a
couple of weeks now, satisfactorily.

I am now suggesting that he get rid of the antifreeze in his
big (18") saw. He has used antifreeze for the past 26
years with no problems, except that we cannot let the
animals in the shop for fear of poisoning them. After I
read the warning about what it could be doing to him, since
he usually holds his slabs by hand to cut his cubes and has
his hands in it a lot, I became concerned. Now I would like
to know whether to insist on the additional change, or wait
awhile to find out how the new lubricant works. He doesn't
get his hands in the antifreeze nearly as much when using
the big saw.

He is definitely not interested in mineral oil or the other
materials currently being discussed. And judging from the
disadvantages being listed, that seems to be a good decision.

Thanks for the help with the sludge question. It is staying
out of the garden!

Keith and Ann Berger
Round Rocks Etc.
765 E 1st Ave.
Colville, WA 99114
(509) 684-4082
Check our site for GREAT hand made marbles

Subject: RE: Saw Lubricant

Dear Becky
The oil you need is one that mixes with water (e.g. Soluble
cutting oil),and I would suggest you contact a Machine shop
(e.g. lathe work shop), and use the same cutting oil they
use. It is a cooling lubricant and also prevents rust, and
also works well.



Subject: RE: Notes from Lightning Ridge

hi Hale and Friends,

My isp being chronically "down" really gets me. We are kind
of remote here, and this is my lifeline to the world!

There are a few cyber surfers out here who agitated to get
us this service; I still have my USA attitude though without
point as you can't switch to the competition coz there aint

I am conspiring to make "floating opal" pendants available
again. They are gem chips, in a polycarbonate sphere, filled
with glycerin, capped with an electroformed bail. Sounds a
bit daggy but they look great. they are cheap to make and
are great gifts not to mention potential to make money.

On this same cheap thrills subject, I saw some 6x4mm
triplets from Guangzhou made with around 15 flat lapped
mosaic pieces of opal! (what diameter dopstick?) the price?
US$ 3.50 each. Humbling fact aint it? You could hardly see
a LINE where they were joined. I heard of a jewelry factory
in Guangzhou where 10,000 people live and work in a

I am fantastically lucky to live under an open sky where the
stars visibly fall each night to puddle up underground as

This place is an open secret.



Subject: RE: Home-Built Tumbler

In my first post I covered the traditional tumbler that has
the barrel rolling on its side supported on shafts that
support and drive it. This posting will cover the more
difficult 45 degree tumbler. With this tumbler you can use
an open top barrel making it great for schoolrooms (add some
Plexiglas guards over the moving parts for safety in a

In this type of tumbler the shaft is attached to the bottom
center of the barrel, and the barrel and shaft as a unit are
tipped to a 45 degree angle, shaft down - open top of barrel
up. The shaft is supported by a base block. The motor shaft
has a small wheel on its end that rides on the bottom
outside edge of the barrel to drive it. It can be made to
spin faster by moving the drive wheel closer to the center
of the barrel bottom or enlarging the size of the driving

The barrel and shaft are really a single unit. For a small
tumbler you could use a large plumber's helper (plunger) -
the type that is shaped like a wine glass instead of a
cereal bowl. For a big tumbler a steel shaft with a floor
flange on one end, a circular plate attached to the floor
flange, and the barrel base attached to the top of the
plate. Fastening a holder (large bucket?) container that
your bucket just fits into on the top of the plate is an
easy solution and makes the barrel removable for cleaning.
The plate will be used as the drive surface. For the
plunger you need a washer shaped plate and a floor flange
that you can slide down the handle and fasten on. It is
important that the drive plate be at right angles to the
drive shaft and be rigidly attached (and thick enough not
to flex) - plywood works.

Get a motor, wire, plug, and switch so you can hook it up,
plug it in, and start or stop the motor. You need to be
able to fasten a small wheel to the end of the shaft.
Alternately, the wheel can be on one end of another shaft
that is pulley/belt driven by the motor - and this actually
helps since most motors you will find are probably a little
fast unless your drive plate is larger than the barrel by a
few inches. The drive wheel and the plate make a pulley
system, so you can figure a reasonable speed ahead of time
and make your drive plate large enough, or reduce the speed
with pulleys by using drive from the second shaft.

The end of the barrel shaft is going to support weight and
needs a thrust bearing. The top end of the shaft can use a
regular bearing. If you are making the plunger type you
might be able to do without a bearing if you drop a large
marble or ball bearing in the support hole before putting
in the shaft (and lubricate the shaft with bar soap). Make
sure the barrel shaft is long enough to support the barrel
weight; its a lever and probably should be near the height
of the barrel.

We're going to need a large cube of wood. Your shaft will
need to be about the length of the diagonal of a face.
Stacked 4x4s with side bracing can be used in place of a
block of wood. For something large, you might want to use
a concrete base with a 4x4 imbedded where the shaft will
go. This base block will be fastened to one half of a board
twice as long as it is wide (and at least as wide as the
support block). The barrel will hang over the part of the
base not covered by the block, which is there to keep the
whole thing from tipping over.

With the base assembled, the shaft/barrel assembled, and a
motor we're ready to put it together. One side of the cube
rises up from the base at its center. At the top center of
this edge we're going to drill a hole 45 degrees downwards
to the center of the bottom edge that is at the outside of
the base. Don't drill all the way thru if making a plunger
tumbler and make sure the shaft just fits the hole;
otherwise drill a hole large enough for the shaft, mount the
bearings (thrust bearing at the bottom, regular bearing at
the top), and line them up with the shaft. The drive plate
should be a little ways above the block when the shaft is
inserted. If you are not using bearings, make sure the hole
is smooth and closely fits the shaft - drill a smaller pilot
hole first.

Mount the motor so that the wheel on the end of the drive
shaft pushes up against the bottom of the drive plate at
its edge. The axis of the drive shaft on the motor should
point at the center of the barrel shaft. As the drive wheel
turns, friction against the base plate makes it turn.

Hook up the motor, put on the barrel, and start tumbling.
Don't fill your barrel too full or it will splash out the
top. If the barrel has a small neck, like a wide mouth mason
jar, that is a good thing.

Hope this helps.

Kreigh Tomaszewski
Please visit our family web pages at

Subject: RE: Garnet Changes Colour

<<Can someone please tell me if it is possible for Garnet
to change from its usual red brown to purple blue just by
being cut and faceted/made into a cabochon?>>

Hi Janice,

There are color-change garnets from several sources, but the
change is not a result of cutting the stones. A number of
gems exhibit the phenomenon before and after cutting. The
most famous is Alexandrite (chrysoberyl) with a change from
green in daylight to purplish-red to red in incandescent
light. There are also color-change sapphires, garnets,
tourmalines and other less well-known stones like diaspore.

The color change is caused by selective absorption of light
spectra by the stone resulting from its chemical makeup.
Incandescent light usually has more red spectra than
daylight, while daylight is stronger on the blue-green end
of the spectrum. Some stones absorb those particular
spectra selectively, and show a strong color change when
moved between the two light sources.

Color-change garnets have been reported from Tanzania,
Madagascar, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Idaho (USA) and a few other
areas. I'm sure more sources will be found. And garnets
aren't "usually" just red-brown in color. That color is
typical of iron-rich almandites, but garnet is found in
every color, from chrome green to ruby red (also caused by
chrome), and every hue in between. (It used to be said that
garnet occurs in every color but blue. That's no longer
true because some of the color-change garnets from
Madagascar and Sri Lanka exhibit blue as one of their
colors). I have a garnet from Sri Lanka that changes from
green to red, just like Alexandrite. Many other colors show
up in garnets with slightly differing chemistry.

Study up on garnets! They're one of nature's most
fascinating minerals with many more secrets to be revealed.
They offer plenty of cutting pleasure for both cabbers and

Rick Martin

Subject: BIO: Don Migliozzi


I've been lurking here the past few months and figured I
should send in a bio. I've been a rock hound most of my 40
years. Dad would take us on rock hunting vacations (what
happened to all those roadside rock shops back in New
England) Anyway I've been picking up rocks as far back as I
can remember.

Now I live in Oregon and we have a lot of rocks here. Last
year I took a jewelry making class at college and then
purchased a rock saw and everything needed to cut polish
and make jewelry. Now this is fun!!

Anyways the Lap Digest is just about the best thing I have
found on the net. The way the archives are set up is great.

Keep up the good work

Don Migliozzi

Subject: BIO: Guy Clark

Hi fellow rockhounds. I just joined the digest and I think
this is a great site because I just love to talk rocks and
rock machinery. I've been very lucky to have found the
exciting field of lapidary and to actually own a rock shop
and make a living full time at it.

I can do almost everything in lapidary, some better than
others, but my passion is cabbing and related skills. I also
manufacture, distribute and sell "Holy Cow" polish and
"Fantasy Opal" a synthetic made of fused dichroic glass.

I look forward to reading the digest and talking to the
members in the future. Thanks and if you wish you can Email
me at in Clearwater, FL.

Guy Clark

Subject: BIO: Terry

For the first time in many years, I find myself with
time for a hobby. Always impressed by natures beauty and
forces, I chose rock tumbling as my starting point. I
researched the lapidary selections of tumblers and,
appreciating quality manufactured mechanical equipment, I
selected Covington's double half gallon tumbler and
Thumblers 15 pound tumbler.

I am planning to move to N. Carolina soon and would like
to hear from anyone in the Hendersonville area. While
reading many books on rock tumbling, I found there no
set-in-stone answers to all questions. I am looking forward
to joining a club in the Hendersonville area and would
appreciate help from anyone who could let me know who to

Many thanks for your help,

Terry: Zabinski has a listing of clubs in NC at
The list has the following for Hendersonville area:
PO Box 6391 (28793), Meetings: 3rd Friday, 7:30 pm(except
Dec.) at Salvation Army located at 239 3rd Ave. Hope this
helps! ...and Welcome to a nice part of the country! hale

Subject: BIO: Tom Nuchols


I have been involved in cutting cabs since 1967 when my wife
talked me into going to a rock shop in Amarillo to buy a
tumbler. The late Gene Choate discouraged us from a Tumbler
but told us if we would buy a slab of rock from him he would
give us a lesson in cutting cabs. About 10 days later I
bought our first Star Diamond 6" combination unit and we
have been involved in hunting and cutting material ever

Tom Nuchols

Subject: RE: WTB: Rough in Minneapolis

There are 2 rock shops worth checking out:

In Edina there is a shop called "The Enchanted Rock Garden"
on the corner of 50th & Penn. The owner is Pete Giagrande
and he specializes in world class mineral specimens, crystals,
fluorescents and finished stones. He caters to the new age
community as well as collectors of top quality specimens the
world over.

He doesn’t have much in the way of cutting material, but the
shop is well worth a stop.

For Lapidary Supplies and cutting rough check out Berg's
Rockhound Paradise in Prescott, WI. It's about an hour out
of Minneapolis and one of the few true "rock shops" left in
this area. They have a web presence, while The Enchanted
Rock Garden does not.

I don't have their phone #'s handy but they're in the phone

Hope this helps,

Ben Hyman

Subject: RE: WTB: Rough in Minneapolis

Hi Hale and listmembers,

You can also find a lot of rock shops listed by George at
this URL:

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