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 247 - Tues 11/16/1999
2. NEW: Materials for Intarsia
3. NEW: Carpet Tape, an Alternative to Dopping Wax
4. RE: Storage of Cutting Materials
5. RE: Storage of Cutting Materials
6. RE: Storage of Cutting Materials
7. RE: Storage of Cutting Materials
8. RE: Storage of Cutting Materials
9. RE: Notes from Lightning Ridge
10. RE: Cutting Small Cabs
11. RE: Grit Feed on a Sphere Making Machine


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No 247 - Tues 11/16/1999

Our list member, Peter Brusaschi (, has
written a book on opals, and has put it on a CD. He sent
a prerelease review copy and tells me that it will be on
sale on his website soon. I will do a review of it in an
upcoming issue of the Digest. (Reading it was fun - you
always learn something new!) Thanks for the advice of what
types of messages to defer.

You will note below that some very short submissions have
been added as post scripts. This saves a lot of space and
allows more messages to be accommodated. Several messages
were rejected, as they did not fall within the scope of our
Digest -- asking about hotels in Tucson, repeating answers
already given, etc.

Take care of yourselves, drive defensively, but do have fun!


Subject: NEW: Materials for Intarsia

This past year my wife and I took an intarsia course at
Wildacres. We have made several pieces since then. Now we
am running out of raw material, particularly white accent
material---the material we used in class was called
prystene but I can't find that in my reference books.

I'm also looking for a nice deep solid red---we used
reconstituted coral in class. I would rather have natural
material but I can't seem to find a source.

Can anyone tell me what the prystene really is and where I
can buy some more of it and/or a good red material?

Tom Wilkie

Subject: NEW: Carpet Tape, an Alternative to Dopping Wax

I have been out of town a lot this summer so I missed out on
the original question about Dopping Problems, but here is an
alternative to using dopping wax, I hope this isn’t a repeat.

My father use to go demonstrate his Genie a lot at shows &
found dopping wax a royal pain. Then someone how to use
cushioned carpet tape (I don’t know if this is the same as
the double sided cushioned tape you can get at most
department stores), it must be the cushioned tape though.

He would take some copper plate & solder it to a copper
tubing or put a nail in a wooden dowel rod. Then cut the
plate a little smaller than the stone, so there is a little
clearance between the stone & plate when the tape is put on
(you don’t want your grinding wheel to hit the plate but you
also want as much tape stuck to the stone as possible). Put
the tape on the plate, wrapping the tape around the sides.
There you have a dopstick that can be used again and again.
Eventually the tape will get dirty & lose it’s stickiness,
but all you need to do is pull out your pocketknife and
scrape off the tape & put on new tape.

To put the stone on all you do is stick it on, yea sure,
occasionally the stone will fall off while cutting, but all
you need to do is dry off the stone & stick it back on. When
you are done all you need to do is pull the stone off. Dad
preferred the cushion of the tape over the solid hold of the
wax, and after he made a few sticks he never melted dop wax

My dad preferred working large stones so I don’t know how
well this works on smaller stones & I have never tried
dopping wax so I’m not a good source of which is better,
but I hope this might help someone.

Happy Cutting!
Dennis Chapman

Subject: RE: Storage of Cutting Materials

<<Wondering if any of you have any ingenious ideas for
storing all those rocks collected on field trips (keepers?).
It sure would be great to have some way to find the one I'm
looking for without having to move around boxes and open up

I am using some surplus store shelving, metal shelves that
hook into rectangular upright supports. The supports are
anchored to the rafters in my basement, and to one wall.
I've managed to put shelves on both sides of the rack, and
now use cardboard boxes from the grocery to store massive
quantities of rocks. I label top, and 2 sides with contents,
and make an inventory list. Now it only takes hours to find
a particular pile of rocks instead of the days it used to

Of course if I lived in an apartment I would have to find
an alternative .. say a small warehouse close by.

Forest City, NC

Subject: RE: Storage of Cutting Materials

Hello Steve,

I just bought a complete lapidary set a few weeks ago and I
also got a lot of rough with it. I built a storage rack
where on the bottom was big bins where I put the bigger
quantities in and then above them I made smaller bins for
different materials. Each type has its own place and I can
go right to that shelf where it's at. If it's a small
quantity I have 1 gal. jugs for them and label it what's in
there and put them under my work bench. Hope this helps you.

I also want to thank all of you for your great reply's to
my question. It helped me out a lot. I still have a lot to
learn myself.

Warm Regards
Carl Mauritz

Subject: RE: Storage of Cutting Materials

Hello everyone,

Here is an idea for organizing and keeping track of your
rocks/gems. It's not an idea for how to store them (in a
special box, drawer, or closet), but rather a way to store
them wherever and however you want and in an instant, know
where the stone is that you want. It will take a little
preplanning on your part though, but it's easy.

Buy an inexpensive new address book, the ones with the
tabbed A-Z listings, not too small, though, you want to be
able to write easily in it. Make sure that in the back of
the address book there is a section for "Notes". Behind
the individual letters, you can make notations of where a
particular rock/gem is stored. For instance, under "S" write
in Sunstone, Box 1. (or bag 1, or sock 1). Remember, this
was from the trip to Oregon last year? <big smile>

But where is Box 1, you ask? That's where the Notes
section comes in handy. In that section, write: Box 1-1997
Rogue River, OR (Gold panning) - Under bed (my bedroom).
Yep! That box is full of gold nuggets. (giggle!).

Of course you have to make sure you label those boxes with
a big black felt marker, Box 1, etc. or simply "1" and make
it known to all that share your home that the boxes need to
stay in their locations.

Hope that helps. I sure do enjoy this forum. Great tips
from everyone! Thank you Hale, for doing such a great job
too. I know it's a lot of work! BTW, both my uncles were
in WW2, one in the Navy and the other in the Army. They
have both passed on to the other side of the dimension a few
years back, but I do remember them fondly, even though I
wasn't even a twinkle in my papa's eye when they were
fighting. I'm thankful to all the other US war vets too.

Jan-Marie (Portland, OR)

Subject: RE: Storage of Cutting Materials

One of the best storage units that we have been lucky enough
to find is an old 4 tiered nail bin carousel from a
hardware store! I don't know where one would find a new
one, but we do watch all hardware store 'going out of
business' sales, just in case another one shows up. It
does, how ever, take up a fair amount of floor space.
We look forward to more good ideas. Thanks for bringing
up the subject .

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: Storage of Cutting Materials

Hi Hale,

I've been using the plastic shoe boxes you can buy in
department stores for storing some of the materials I find.
They seem to be about the right size for a days worth of
pickin's from the agate piles along the Mississippi River,
they're pretty clear so it's easy to read a card taped to
the inside identifying contents and they also let in a lot
of light when you're inspecting your material. They also
stack well.

For larger amounts I use sweater boxes or Rubbermade tubs.

For smaller amounts I like the new sandwich size ziplock
plastic containers that are like Tupperware but cheaper.

I watch for frequent sales of all of these and also find
them in "Dollar" stores.

Chunk Kiesling
Short reply from Leon Kusher ( I get
tomato cartons with lids (clean ones not leaked in). That
size usually fits behind the front seat and the front of
the rear seat and they stack well in the garage. Leon

Subject: RE: Notes from Lightning Ridge

hi folks, just finished work, 1620 hrs local time on a
sunday. looking forward to a cold one as it has been warm

my garden wants everyday attention now, and when it hits 45
degrees celsius (or more) only the stuff in the shade house,
the chilis, melons, punkins and cucumbers will survive
(maybe tomatoes). if you want to see what has been keeping
me so busy click for
a look.

i have had a few queries as to cost of a trip here and would
say that on top of you fares expect cost of living to be 20%
higher in general. if you are coming for more than a week,
a longer term rental would help stretch the budget.
accomodation is cheaper here than the usa, but fruit,
vegetables, beer and gasoline are more expensive. meat is
cheap, the food is excellent quality, and the wines
exceptional world class prize winning and cheap to boot.

a lot of younger people from europe find their way here,
some stay for a few weeks of noodling and often do ok in
terms of the money they earn.

backpackers usually stay at the tram motel or come here with
ando's tours, and they get by on about usd 35/day.

cheers, james

Subject: RE: Cutting Small Cabs

Hi Folks,

No-one has yet mentioned the fact that the wax itself can
be shaped into a small dop. This is how I've seen it done
in Idar. Simply gather up a gob of hot wax on the dop stick
in the usual way, then with wet thumb and forefinger twirl
the soft wax out into a cone shape. Let it harden enough
to maintain its shape, touch it to the hot small stone,

Such a wax cone tip can be molded to any size, with
cautious heating the stone can be leveled out and centered
(can't do that with crazy glue!) and the stone doesn't
need to be flat bottomed.

However to do small flat bottomed cabs in multiples and in
predictable sizes I'll often use a number 4 flat head
slotted brass wood screw held in a pin vise. Screw heads
straight from the package may not be perfectly flat and may
need to be touched up on a fine file. Using crazy glue, glue
up quite a number at a time, and then insert one screw after
another into the pin vise. It's quite quick. If you grind
into the screw head the metal may burr up and pop the stone
off, so the screw head should be lightly beveled. The slot
in the screw head aids access of acetone to dissolve the
crazy glue later.

Quick PS for James Dumar - Yes, that's exactly how I'd
describe Craig White's chrysoprase, "looks like there's a
light on inside."

Ecclesiastes 10:19

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: Grit Feed on a Sphere Making Machine

<<Does anyone have tips on grit feed for a sphere machine.
I am bottle feeding right now and would like to wander off
from the machine.>>

I watched a man selling the machines at a KC show. He had
3 loops of brass chain that drooped into a bowl of grit
slurry. The chain he used was approx. 6mm by 10 mm flat
links. As the sphere turned, the chain would feed itself
through the grit and onto the sphere.

Steve Wright
Tim Fisher <> suggested that you contact
the makers of commercial machines and ask if they would sell
their grit feed mechanisms separately. He said Richardson's
machine had an automatic grit feed and gave their number:
800 433-2680. hale
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