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 254 - Sat 12/18/1999
2. NEW: Marking Stones for Sawing and Cabbing
3. NEW: Homemade Diamond Laps-Is There a Way?
4. NEW: Gathering Pietersite Info
5. RE: Whale Wax
6. RE: Whale Wax
7. RE: Cyanoacrylate for Doublets & Triplets
8. RE: How to Apply Cerium Oxide to Leather
9. RE: How to Apply Cerium Oxide to Leather
10. RE: How to Apply Cerium Oxide to Leather
11. RE: How to Apply Cerium Oxide to Leather
12. RE: Tumbling Corundum
13. RE: Cyanoacrylate for Doublets & Triplets
14. BIO: Ryan Kolter
15. RE: Need Sphere or Sphere Maker
16. FS: A Machine to Grind & Polish Large Surfaces
17. FS: Dentist Drill for Stone Carvers


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No 254 - Sat 12/18/1999

Will ask again: One message = one topic!! Sign your name!!

Sherry Pauley writes: {If you would like to look at some
totally awesome images of knives and points, made by all
the top knappers, go to: . I have
this calendar and recommend it. It would be a great gift for
rockhound friends and family!}... and they are awesomely
beautiful!! Go look at them!!

I have had some severe family problems which have kept me
from publishing this sooner. They have softened, so we will
try to put out two issues a week, again!

If I don't see you again before Christmas, have a Most
Joyous Christmas time. I don't have to tell you now, do I?
In case you don't know by now, tell your loves that you do
love them -- and tell them how much they mean to you. If
that isn't Christmas, I don't know what is!!



Subject: NEW: Marking Stones for Sawing and Cabbing

Just recently I started using a pen which applies oil based
waterproof paint which dries quickly. After years of using
brass scribes with mixed results I find that this pen works
better for me. Its biggest advantage is that the marking
is luminous.

The pen is named "Painty Twin" and it applies silver paint
at one end and gold paint at the other. It was purchased
at Hobby Haven for $4 plus. Guess what - Made in Japan!

Lou Harms
Independence, MO

Subject: NEW: Homemade Diamond Laps-Is There a Way?

Hello all,

I have a question that someone might be able to answer that
I have been mulling over in my head.

For some time, I have been trying to come up with a way to
make my own diamond faceting laps. I can't figure out how
they plate the lap with the diamond compound. If they
electroplate a metal (nickel?) over the lap (copper or
aluminum, say), then they must sandwich the diamond powder
or paste between the base and the electroplated metal. But
then you run into the problem of the plating metal not
sticking to the diamond, only to the areas where there is no
diamond (metal to metal) just like when you drop a piece of
jewelry in a plating solution and the plate does not stick
to the stone.

Then you have the other problem of keeping the diamond on
the surface of the lap while submersing it into the
electroplating solution. Maybe the answer is having the
diamond in solution and it being attached to the lap along
with the plating metal? I really have no idea how this is
done, but paying $100.00+ for a good diamond lap is
ridiculous to me, especially when you add up the price of
the materials separately and find such a huge difference.

Any help in this area would be greatly appreciated, and my
apologies to you if the answer is obvious and I'm just
having a major brain failure.

Durnings Rings & Things

Subject: NEW: Gathering Pietersite Info

I am trying to gather more information about Pietersite for
my site. I just started doing lapidary work recently and
have been cutting cabs (yes, Pietersite). I have a few
people find me a little crazy because I like to work with
more expensive materials (Lapis, Sugilite, Purpurite,
Pietersite, etc..). Anyway, I am currently focused on
Pietersite. I have been gathering what little info I can
about the mineral/stone. You can see what I have so far at:

I would like to get data from anyone who has information
about Pietersite. Most of the info I have is about the
Chinese Pietersite. If there is something you think I
should add, tell me.

I have been asked to write about how I cut it. I am pretty
new at this so I am not sure that I know best. But, I think
I am doing pretty good for just starting :-). I will
probably put that on my web page after the holidays.

I like cutting freeform cabs.. I call myself the
"Unconventional Lapidarist". I took some classes and tried
to get people to teach freeform cutting. Couldn't find
anyone.. so I did it myself. Amazingly I have sold some of
the work I have done. You can see my current work at:

Kind of verbose link, I know. I will try to fix that in the
future. I just put up my web site recently. I have a lot of
work to do on it.. and a lot more cabs to cut. I have a lot
of Pietersite, Purpurite and other goodies to cut.

You can email me and send me any info you want or chat or
complain, whatever. I always like chatting with new people.


james carpenter


Subject: RE: Whale Wax

Hale, The only stone I have used the whale wax on is Lapis
but the directions suggest any soft stone. The wax by
Griegers is a synthetic and I think it is not widely known.

I know others have used paraffin or clear shoe polish. It
does melt around 150 degrees. It provides a great look on
the rough pieces of lapis I have used it on. Like all
things natural the real whale wax worked much better but it
is illegal to use these days.

I have a supply that I bought years ago and don't know what
I would use today.

One good substitute may be jojoba wax, made from the oil
pressed from the jojoba berry. The largest US producer of
this material is the Desert Whale Jojoba Company; see their
website at I have
asked for a sample to try on soft stones, and they are
sending me a small sample. Depending on the amount received,
I will be glad to share it with you, Michael. We can both
test it. Also, whale wax is still sold in Europe (see the
URL = for a
Company in Athens, Greece. Just some trivial information..

Jojoba is a leathery-leafed shrub in Buxaceae family native
to s.w. U.S. and n. Mexico desert regions; seed capsules
yield jojoba oil, similar to sperm whale oil. Stiff-branched
plant cultivated for hedges; grows to 7 ft (2 m) and is
long-lived; also grown for oil, particularly given scarcity
of sperm whale oil; used in cosmetic products such as soaps,
shampoos, and hair conditioners, where it is believed to
have restorative effect, as well as to lubricate
machinery and stabilize penicillin products. (from Compton’s
Interactive Encyclopedia)

Would still like to know why current lapidary books don't
mention the use of wax in polishing soft stones. Anybody
know why it went out of favor? hale

Subject: RE: Whale Wax

Hello Hale and all the rocking hounds!

Want to put my 9 cents worth in this pot about Whale wax. I
have used whale wax for about 35 years and in the beginning,
it was made from the Whale and it was used for lot of other
things that I will not elaborate on. It will bring out the
color on lot of stones, even on some agate. However, Kiwi
light tan shoe polish will do the same thing and do it

Nub Said.

Subject: RE: Cyanoacrylate for Doublets & Triplets

<<Does anyone have experience using Cyanoacrylate in glueing
opal doublets & triplets? What are the advantages and

Hi Hans,
One of the main reasons for not using this type of glue
is that it is not permanent. Cyanoacrylic glue is great if
you only want to glue something for a limited time. I use it
all of the time for dopping opals. But I have noticed that
if I leave them sit for a time like maybe two or three weeks
many of the opals will fall off the dops while I am
polishing them. If I polish right after they are dopped they
almost never fall off.

Also if you sand the opal or the backing too fine the bond
will fail.

Another reason is that this type of glue will fail if you
soak it in water.

The best glue that I have found for doublets and triplets
is a UV glue called Crystal Clear. There should be
something in the archives about this.

I hope everyone has a Safe and Happy Holiday Season,


Subject: RE: How to Apply Cerium Oxide to Leather

Hello Hale and all the rocking hounds!

Now Cerium Oxide is great for polishing Agates or any thing
in the Quartz family,

I built a polishing dish long ago, about 6" in diameter and
about 1-1/2" deep I soaked a piece of buckskin in water for
three days or so and stretched it across the dish. Then I
nailed one side down with a short roofing nail and put
another nail 180 degrees across. Then to other side and did
the same thing all around till I had 12 nails in it, and
every time I put a nail in, I stretched the wet hide. Let
it dry for a day or so, and put it on vertical shaft. Mix a
little c-ox, or t-ox and smear it on buckskin, squirt a
little water on it and polish your cab. I also use it to
polish Opal as buckskin works better than cow hide.

BTW I built the dish out of 3/4" and an Aluminum backing
for 1/2" shaft and the pan was a wash pan like us country
folks had setting on a shelf on the back porch along with
a bucket of water. Can you remember those days, Hale?

That's all...

Subject: RE: How to Apply Cerium Oxide to Leather

<<Instead of using soap why can't one use car wax or
something like that? What is special about using soap?>>

I don't know that car wax wouldn't work, I know that it
has been used with diamond to polish jade but the polishing
action with diamond, I believe, is different. The
difference, if there is any, would be in the effect on the
surface tension.

I wish I could convince Ken Fitzgerald to get on the net.
He has done a lot of research on polishing compounds (he is
a retired research chemist) and his knowledge would be of
interest to us all. He believes that lowering the surface
tension improves the polishing action and that one of the
compounds in Ivory Bar Soap does the best job of that, of
the soaps he tested.

I have tried it with aluminum oxide, and while it works,
I found it hard to get use to. The "feel" of the action is
very different. As the number of answers to this thread
indicate, there are many ways to get good results and
the best way is to try as many as you can to find what
works the best for you.

Dick Friesen

Subject: RE: How to Apply Cerium Oxide to Leather

After reading all the excellent comments on polishing with
cerium oxide, I felt compelled to chime in. It's my favorite
polishing medium, particularly for most all chalcedonies.
I have long suspected that that cerium works better at
slower speeds because I could never get a good polish in the
club shop using their polishing pads which are driven
directly off the grinding wheel shafts. At home, I use a
leather pad glued to a wood wheel that I attach to my little
Hi Tech unit. It works better because I can control the
motor speed. On the other hand, chrome oxide seems to work
great in the shop at higher speeds. Go figure?!?!

I also read where someone was going to convert an old
faceting machine into a polisher, exactly what I have in
mind. I was given an old, old, heavy steel unit
manufactured by some long gone company in Glendale

It's always reassuring when you are considering doing
something a little different and you find out that someone
else has a similar idea.

Terry Vasseur

Subject: RE: How to Apply Cerium Oxide to Leather

Someone wrote:
<<If you must, glue a leather pad on the disk to polish
with cerium. In general, the Pixie rotates way too fast
to get a good polish with cerium. >>

And someone else responded:
<Please define "too fast". I have been using cerium oxide
on an 8x3 drum with a leather belt running at 1150 RPM.
The results have been less than stunning!>

I don't know but I would guess the Richardson's buffer goes
at about 350 RPM on the edge. My Titan goes about 1100 RPM
or so and is "way too fast". My old Lortone Beaver arbor
was also too fast.

Tim Fisher, 1995 President, Pacific Fishery Biologists
Ore-ROCK-On Rockhounding Web Site
PFB Information

Subject: RE: Tumbling Corundum

I successfully tumbled corundum in a rotary tumbler. I
loaded it with coarse grit and a lot of small garnets that
I happened to have on hand. I threw them in just to fill up
the load. I then forgot about them.

Here's a handy hint for tumbling: back in the 1980's
everyone had impact printers for their computers. An office
full of those things sounded a lot like machine gun fire,
so all the printers were housed in these nifty insulated
cabinets, complete with vent fan. Once ink jet and laser
printers became all the rage there was no need to contain
all the noise, so most office companies got rid of the
printer cabinets. They are just the thing for running
tumblers. I had four going at once and never noticed the
sound. Which is why I was able to forget about the corundum
and garnets.

When I finally did pull them out, the grit had pulverized
to the point that the garnets were already polished and the
corundum had a pretty good shine, too.

Giovanna Fregni
Minneapolis/St. Paul

Subject: RE: Cyanoacrylate for Doublets & Triplets

Cyanoacrylate says to me, "superglue" of one sort or other.

My experience is that these glues are very unforgiving on
the placement of the objects you are bonding. You have to
get it right the first time because they set up almost
instantly. That could be a problem if you are putting the
quartz cap on an opal triplet and you get a trapped bubble.

The two part epoxies work well. If you don't quite get it
together the way you want it initially, you have some time
to adjust it. The price you pay for that is having to wait
over night for it to cure. I've also experienced pieces that
have moved during the cure process. (You have to make sure
they are setting on a level surface, experience,... one of
life's greatest teachers!)

Terry Vasseur
Terry: I use modified clothes pins to clamp the two pieces
together overnight, and they don't move! An additional plus
is that they are in more intimate contact as the epoxy
polymerizes. hale

Subject: BIO: Ryan Kolter

Hello all!

I'm a systems consultant (read this as, a computer guy who
makes his money telling companies they did things wrong),
up here in Cleveland, Ohio.

I've wanted to collect gemstones since I was a child and
got fascinated with crystals, but it hasn't been until the
last year or two that I've had the extra cash to actually
do so. Having collected for awhile, I'm starting to become
really interested in making gemstones, and subscribed in
the hopes of getting some hints, tips, and tricks.

I haven't gotten any of the hardware necessary to do cabbing
yet, but have started to read up on it (figuring if I'm
going to spend a good chunk of cash on the tools, I ought
to first have some idea what I'm doing).

My coworkers think I'm insane, but that's not new. I'm
hoping to show them a nice stone come late spring, with
many thereafter.


Subject: RE: Need Sphere or Sphere Maker


We manufacture four sizes of sphere machines. A marble
maker/refinisher at $249.00. One that makes up to a 3 inch
sphere at $349.00. One that makes up to a 5 inch sphere
at $449.00 and one will make up to a 7 inch sphere at
$549.00 (plus shipping on all of them). If you need more
information send me your mailing address.


Joe Adams>

Subject: FS: A Machine to Grind & Polish Large Surfaces

I have a lens grinder/polisher in storage and it is eating
me up on fees. Would there be any interest in this?

A four spindle lens polisher/grinder made by Elgin tool
works formerly of Chicago Illinois. The capacity is 16
inches per spindle. It was built in the late forties and we
used it to polish large flat lenses. There are two spindles
running with 220/110 motors, the other two have 440 volt
motors easily changed. Along with the machine are adapters
for all for spindles, and a 12 inch Meehanite grinding flat,
and another to polish.

If there is an interest contact me at <>
I am located about 70 miles NW of Minneapolis near St. Cloud
I can arrange for shipping. The price is $1500.00

Bob Aurelius


Subject: FS: Dentist Drill for Stone Carvers

A friend of mine has an old style dentist drill unit for
sale, you know, one of those white enamel, floor mounted,
electric motor driven, articulated arm things. I just looked
at it briefly today. It looks impressively immaculate, clean
and complete. The overhead light is there on its swinging
arm, (and works) the porcelain water basin is there, the
chair is there. You can carve in comfort, under perfect
lighting and with water at your elbow. I can't give any more
details than that right now because I won't see him and it
again until next weekend. He says there is a whole bag of
tools also.

Anyway I thought someone on the list might be interested.
Asking price is $500 Canadian which translates to
approximately 300$ US; shipping not included. If interested
please email me off list.

Hans Durstling
Moncton, Canada
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