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 268 - Sat 3/25/2000
2. NEW: Heat Treating Carnelian Agate for Color?
3. NEW: Anti-Rust Additives for Water in a Saw
4. NEW: Spencer Opal
5. RE: Diamond Compounds for Polishing Agates
6. RE: Another Way to Clean Saw Oil
7. RE: Another Way to Clean Saw Oil
8. RE: BIO: Dennis Merrinac
9. RE: Expanding Drum Problem
10. RE: Suggested Mentoring Program
11. RE: Suggested Mentoring Program
12. RE: Suggested Mentoring Program
13. BIO: Jackie Paciello
14. BIO: Chris Nocera
15. BIO: Ken Ferrell
16. FS: Show Display Cases


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No 268 - Sat 3/25/2000

Anyone know Sam Todaro? I need his e-mail address, so send
it, if you know it, please.

I had mentioned a Mentoring program, but I'm putting that on
hold for a while. Thanks for your responses (see below).

There is an address in our maillist file which is wrong, and
I have not been able to find it. So some of you may again
get duplicate copies of this, for which I apologize. I am
trying to find it and delete/change it, but so far, no luck!

Spring is gorgeous here. Azalias in garden court in full
bloom, the ones outside will be out next week. 75 degrees
today! (What the @%&&* am I doing in the house?) It is the
kind of weather that you go with the whole family to the
park or the gardens. Some have written about beautiful
'collecting' weather. Anyway you do it is OK, just get
outside with those you love and build memories.

And don't forget -- have FUN, you guys!!


Subject: NEW: Heat Treating Carnelian Agate for Color?

Does anyone know the actual times and temperatures for
heat treating carnelian agate to bring out the red and
orange colors? I know that it can be done, but every
reference that I have been able to find only talks about
the procedure without stating the temperatures and times.

Thanks for any help you can give.

Dan Ice

Subject: NEW: Anti-Rust Additives for Water in a Saw

I just had a look in my trim saw tonight and found an alien
life form growing. I guess I forgot to empty it out last
week. This is the second time this has happened to me.

I have a 6 inch Hi Tech trim saw, designed for water. I
started using Lube Cool 4800 as an additive a year ago. It
seems to improve the cutting but it really promotes the
growth of some nasty looking organisms. There's been a lot
of discussion about petroleum based lubricants but not much
on water additives. I would like to be able to leave the
water with the cutting additive in the sump, but at $7 a
pint, I kind of hate to throw it out after only trimming a
couple of cabs. A few teaspoons of bleach would probably
restore order but at what price?

Terry Vassseur
There are several brands of additives: Lube Cool, Tool Cool,
etc. Anyone else have a growth occur in their tank? What
additive were you using then? Anyone have a reasonable
solution to growth in the tank? I have asked one mfgr. and
hope we get answers from them. Terry added - and I agree
with him: "There's something about saw mist with living
organisms in it that bothers me!" hale

Subject: NEW: Spencer Opal

Lapidary Digest members:

I recently purchased, at a bargain basement price, almost
40 pounds of Spencer Opal rough and would like to start
making triplets. I have looked through the opal and can
see bands of color in almost every piece. Now I just need
to know how to get the most out of what I have.

I have been making cabochons for about four years, and
have a used 10" flat lap. It came with a master iron lap,
but no other grinding disks. Are there any Lapidary Digest
subscribers who have made triplets from Spencer opal? I
hope someone can offer suggestions about processing the
rough into finished cabochons. I would also appreciate
help on equipment needs. I have a 10" flat lap with an
iron master lap, but don't have any diamond disks yet.

I’m on a very strict budget as I have not been able to
work for the last eight months due to CFS, so funds are
limited. How much will I have to spend to get the proper
diamond laps? Are any of the less expensive diamond laps
any good? Can I use silicon carbide disks and achieve the
same results?

Best regards


Subject: RE: Diamond Compounds for Polishing Agates

In LD#263 msg-4, I closed with a note for the future:

<< Now, here's for another day- What do the facetors swear
by that the cabbers can't afford (beside diamond).. how
about the classy grades of Alumina like the Reynolds
polishes... or how about Linde-A? Will all of these load
these belts like the diamond compound? When/where will any
of these out-perform diamond. How about the oxides,
themselves. Will they likewise load? >>

Well, I got curious and tried some of these oxides and
found the belts accepted loading just like the diamond grit.
Linde-A polished really well as did cerium oxide but neither
as bright as the 100,000 mesh diamond. Tin oxide was fair
to good but reflective images just didn't seem as bright as
the others. My test rocks were jasper, flint and agate.
The quality rank may shift with other rocks but we're
talking liquid image here and it's hard to cut the
comparison too fine. The 100k diamond polished surface
remained just as bright when the oil was washed away and

George Butts

Subject: RE: Another Way to Clean Saw Oil


I have found that in the past (if you're not in a hurry)
the best way to clean your used cutting oil. Firstly fill
several old (clean) milk jugs with your dirty cutting oil.
Let these jugs then stand for several weeks, or until the
cutting sludge has settled to the bottom of the jug & the
oil has all floated to the top. The longer you leave it
the clearer the oil becomes. Approximately 1/4" above the
water or sludge line punch a small hole in the jug. If you
are fast enough you might even get a small aquarium hose
shoved into the hole. (less messy).

This will allow the floating oil to flow from the jug into
a clean container. Try not to tip the jug or move it during
this process if at all possible. So it is best to place the
jugs were you want then first. There will be approximately
an ounce or two of old oil left floating on top of the
sludge, but at least you recovered the majority of it. It
won't be as pure as the filtered method but it will be
better that what you have to work with now.

John Ratcliffe
Kamloops, BC. Geological ~ Paleontology Tours

Subject: RE: Another Way to Clean Saw Oil

Hi Hale,

I guess every lapidary hates the job of cleaning the saws,
I know I do. So I decided (like many others before me) the
best way was to keep the oil clean in the first place.

What I did was place a water pond pump into an ice chest
where three sediment traps filter the oil. I used a newer
plastic ice chest and a new "gold fish pond pump". New ones
so I didn't have to worry about the plastic disintegrating
from the oil as much as the older plastics, it may still
anyway but it's been going two years so far. The oil from
the saw drains down into the sediment trap through the drain
hole which I surround by aquarium filter wool in the saw
basin. The oil is pumped back onto the blade (through the
same drain hole) to be placed on the saw arbor at both sides
of the blade where centrifugal force carries it to the rock
surface. This cools the entire body of the blade instead of
just the part that normally rests in the tank reserve so it
may increase the overall life of the blade I don't know yet.

This setup runs in my 18" saw, average 12 hours a week over
the past two years, and all I've done is change the
"aquarium wool" a few times and the saw still looks clean.

My total investment including the pump and Ice chest is
less than $90 and since it used to be a good half day job
to clean the saw every other month, I've saved twelve days
of miserable saw cleaning for that investment and consider
it well spent.

Most lapidaries could probably duplicate this with the info
I gave here. If someone wants a more detailed plan or a
bill of material list drop me an email.

Sky Paxton
Monterey, Ca

Subject: RE: BIO: Dennis Merrinac

Nice to meet you, Dennis
There was a Federation Show one year where one of the
winning cases had every stone in it made from the gleanings
from the discard pan next to the trim saws in the workshop
of the exhibitors home club.

Rose Alene McArthur

Subject: RE: Expanding Drum Problem

I have a 3x8 expandable drum with 45 deg slots mounted on a
Lortone polishing unit that was given to me on loan for some
time. The unit was purchased in 1981. I bought some SiC
belts from Kingsley North and they fit just as advertised.
They slide on and off with a minimum of effort and do not
slip. I do not know the history of the machine before it
was moved to my shop.

Thanks for a great letter and continuing to remind me that
all is not rocks but the other 5% consists of trees and


Subject: RE: Suggested Mentoring Program

I think that the mentor idea is truly a wonderful one. One
idea that popped into my head would be to also include the
area of the world that you live in. This was if these new
people wanted to find someone close enough they could
perhaps get some "hands on" mentoring. I know that when I
started, if I had not had the benefit of a great teacher
then I may not have stuck with it.

As far as my willingness to help, yes by all means sign me
up. I have been making cabs since 1979 and there are not
many rocks that I have not tried. I guess though that my
area of expertise would be cutting "Spencer Idaho Opal." I
grew up not far from there. I do mostly triplets (for
obvious reasons) but have made many doublets and "naturals"
as well. I have even experimented with various backing
material and colors to add or change the play of fire in
the stone. (try green flash with a piece of red slag as
backing for an eye popping sight) Anyway let me know if I
can help out in any way.

Val Davies
Ridgecrest, CA

Subject: RE: Suggested Mentoring Program

Well, Minnesota is at least a month ahead of it's average,
so while we aren't in full bloom yet, the crocus are
starting to flower and the lilac buds are swelling and
ready to bust open. I'm going to plant my early early peas
as soon as I'm done writing here.

Besides all that, I'd like to volunteer as a mentor. You
could put me down for cabbing, cutting, jewelry work (I
know it's not a part of the Digest, but some folks would
probably want to know something in that area). I'm drawing
a blank on other things I could include, I don't do much
carving and I grumble far too much when I have to repair
someone's channel work. I suppose you could put me down for
working with unusual materials and also (I'm not sure how
to phrase this) working with collected materials. Many
times, working with material you find out on field trips
is a lot different than working with something that is
cleaned up and ready for sale in a shop or at a show.


Subject: RE: Suggested Mentoring Program

I would be willing to help newcomers who are interested in
polishing petrified wood. Was fortunate to know a number
of elder members of our club who trained me.

Have also collected material to explain what certain woods
mean as the climate they represent, rarity, etc. Would have
problems with identification as never had the time to sit
down and do the reputation to determine types, but have
material that can be used by the individual for

Will Morton

Subject: BIO: Jackie Paciello

My name is Jackie Paciello, and I've been peeking in on the
Digest for a couple of weeks now. I'm new to lapidary arts,
having started as a flat glass artist, going into hot glass,
wire wrapping and sculpting. I've been fusing my own
dichroic glass for a while, and a bit ago discovered the
beauty of natural minerals. I'd been buying cabs and some
faceted stones at gemshows and eBay, but was pretty
dissatisfied with the same old, calibrated ovals and
rectangles. I decided to begin creating my own shapes and
bought an "all in one" wheel polisher and a Hi-tech 6" trim

I've been collecting rough slices for a while, mostly
different picture jaspers, lapis, charoite, tiger iron,
agates...I love the unusual, and hope to work more in
rhyolite and stromatolite. I've had limited success with
what little knowledge I have, so on the advice of a friend,
my husband and I have signed on to take a week of cabbing
at the William Holland School in Georgia at the end of
April. I'm going to take a class in opal cutting and
cabbing from Joe DiPietro, and my husband's taking a
beginning cab course, figuring we'll exchange info.

I love the idea of a mentor, and would welcome any
suggestions anyone has. I look forward to the digests, and
know I'll learn a great deal from all the expertise that's
obviously out there.

Jackie Paciello
Jewelry and glass artist
Visit "Pretty Wilde Designs" at
Jackie: You will like Joe; he is a really nice guy. And he
is on this list, so hopefully he is reading this. His wife
teaches dichroic glass (I'm signed up to take that or bead
lamp working at Wildacres in May) I once spent a week at WH
cutting new shapes and designs I had made up or never cut
before. Had a ball! When you get some new shapes developed,
why not share them with the list? and ...Welcome!!! hale

Subject: BIO: Chris Nocera

Hi there.

My interest in "rocks" came early vacationing as a child in
the White Mountains of NH However, as a city boy (NYC), I
was never really able to pursue that course of dreams. Years
passed, but the desire still lingered. And then I discovered
eBay! There was no stopping me from getting all different
types of materials, trying to find the right niche that was
just for me. I was going to start to carve as a hobby, but
then the pull of the Opal was too overpowering.

Unfortunately, I am the only one in my family who feels this
way. To them, a rock, is a rock, is a rock. I count myself
lucky that this digest found me. I now know I'm not alone.

My health is not the greatest, and I only leave the house
to go on doctor's visits. I don't mind too much, because
I've made a few friends out of people who have started out
as just dealers. I've also yet to cut any opal, being too
afraid that I'll ruin a piece. Also, I have neither the
room, nor the money for any size of equipment. Someone here
mentioned Lortone's Stroker Kit, so I'll be getting that to
cut the traditional Aussie Opal. I'll keep you all informed
on the progress I make on that. In the meantime, between
some ingenuity and one of those "Dremel-type" machines, I'll
start on blocks of Boulder Opal.

I love collecting opals, as well. I guess because of the
situation I am in, I like to momentarily get lost in their
colors & fire. I have a nice, small collection with opals
from everywhere except Arizona and Hungary. I'll be going
on a strict gov't income soon, so all the collecting of cabs
and buying of rough will have to stop. I guess it will force
me to put more effort towards actually working on the Opal
itself. It's funny, but when I found out about the gov't
income, I had no choice but to ask my creditors to split up
my payments. The true rockhounds, without hesitation, said
it was no problem. The one "businessman" in the bunch gave
me a hard time.

In the end, it's just very comforting to know that there
are others out there that share my interests, and
appreciate the beauty of a simple "rock".

Many thanks.

Chris Nocera

Subject: BIO: Ken Ferrell

My name is Ken Ferrell, I'm 56 years old, and have been
involved in lapidary and jewelry since 1975, I was a rock
puppy before that, I grew up in Nevada, My father worked in
the copper mines and I spent countless hours in the tailings
piles, around Tonopah, at that time I used to get 5.00 for a
coffee can full of turquoise. But then 5.00 was a decent
days earning for a 10 year old. Now my wife and I do
commercial casting at our shop in Tennessee, which happens
to be a state nearly free and devoid of rock shops. This
presents a slight problem in obtaining new material, Thank
Heaven for online auctions.

I learned Cabochon cutting and polishing, at the Vallejo Gem
and mineral society, and faceting there as well under the
tutelage of a wonderful, and very talented gentleman, Cliff
Hiener. Clubs are another thing in short supply here in the
sticks, there are some attractive flint and cherts in our
area but they are better suited to knapping arts. I have
taught casting and jewelry fabrication during the early
1980s at the Vallejo club, and wish there were a club near
by, but the nearest is a bit over 150 miles away. If there
are any Rockhounds or Lapidaries in the west Tennessee area
please give me a holler I'd really like to get a club going
in the McNairy, Hardin County area


Subject: FS: Show Display Cases

A small club in New Orleans has become inactive after
sponsoring a show for many years; it has about 25-30
2'x2'x4' display cases in good condition, with a sloping
front glass. Anyone interested in buying them, contact:
John Lacroix at: (504) 466 9824.
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