Edited and Published by Hale Sweeny
Web Site:
Associate Editors: Geo. Butts, JR Shroeder, Steve Henegar,
Margaret Malm, and Sam Todaro

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No 274 - Sat 5/6/2000
2. NEW: Removing Dye from Stones
3. NEW: Problem with Polishing in Tumbling
4. NEW: How to Use Archives
5. NEW: How to Remove Tin Oxide
6. NEW: Source for Black Onyx
7. NEW: Hand Trimming Opal Rough and Other Materials
8. NEW: Pages Missing in "Master Gem Polishing"
9. RE: My Saw Blade Won't Cut With a Water Coolant
10. RE: My Saw Blade Won't Cut With a Water Coolant
11. RE: Koroit Nuts
12. RE: Making and Using Laps with Diamond Compounds
13. RE: Williamsite
14. RE: Williamsite
15. RE: Williamsite
16. RE: Williamsite
17. RE: Williamsite
18. RE: Williamsite
19. BIO: Mike Jackson.
20. SHOW: Franklin NC Museum Opening
21. SHOW: Houston Gem & Mineral Show
22. SHOW: Maine Mineral Symposium, May 12, 13, 14


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No 274 - Sat 5/6/2000

Steve Ensor wrote: "My hat's off to James for a great
idea." (Plexiglas tabletop to narrow the slot 'tween blade
and tabletop) Please extend my thanks to him for something
I also had been having a problem with." So, THANKS, James!

Hans Durstling wrote and said that he would be at the Maine
Symposium and looked forward to meeting other Digest
members. If you go there, look for him and introduce
yourself.(See last item below)

I will be going to Wildacres this coming week with EFMLS,
and will be back on about May 18. So don't expect another
issue for a week and a half, or so.

This is the largest Digest we have ever put out and if you
have trouble with its size, please let me know about it.

You guys take care of yourselves, and take care of the ones
you love. Life is too short to live in anger; live it in
peace, in love and caring.


Subject: NEW: Removing Dye from Stones

Hi all
Is there any safe and effective way to remove dye in tumble
polished stones? Someone gave me a vast amount of dyed
stones and I am not pleased with the results and looks of
these stones. I've tried a simple "soak them in water over
night " and have removed some of the dye, but now they look
even worse. I'd like the original stone color to return.

Thanks for any help.

Sandy: I'm sure you need a solvent of some kind, but the
kind depends on the dye used. Can you ask the people who
gave them to you which dye they used? Hopefully some members
will have better suggestions. hale

Subject: NEW: Problem with Polishing in Tumbling

Starting almost a year ago, I have been having problems with
getting even an adequate polish on tumbled stones of all
types. I thought the problem might have been my old rotary
tumbler and bought a new vibratory tumbler. It was no
better. Everything goes well through the pre-polish stage.

I then change drums (now bowls) for the final polish. I
have tried titanium dioxide polish, cerium oxide polish,
dry and wet Linde A polish, and straight aluminum oxide
both wet and dry as well as spray diamond compound. All
will sometimes give some polished areas on agates or
petrified wood but only a little. I have tried adding
various recommended chemicals with no luck.

Has anyone else had this problem? Tumble polishing used to
be a breeze but even stones from the same source previously
easily polished are giving trouble.

Denney L. Wilson

Subject: NEW: How to Use Archives

Hi Hale,

I really do not know how to access the archives. I did send
an email with one word "Dir" but did not receive anything
back. A lot of my rock baby problems are no doubt
addressed in the archives and I could get some benefit
without asking the same old questions again and again.

Thanks Hale.

Larry Bruce
I understand the problem, Larry and will work to make life
easier for you and others. It'll take a little time, but we
will work on it. hale

Subject: NEW: How to Remove Tin Oxide

Hi Hale,

I can find no one to tell me this, not even the nice lady
at Diamond Pacific when I was in Barstow this week.

How does one get the white crud off a rock after lapping it
with tin oxide for a couple hours. I can't seem to brush
the stuff off, scrub it off or anything. Is there a fluid,
like acetone or paint thinner that would remove it. Do I
have to soak the rock for a couple weeks or what.

Thanks Hale.

Larry Bruce

Subject: NEW: Source for Black Onyx

Hello fellow lappi-dappies.

I am in need of some help from you. I am looking for a
source for black onyx. I need 2 or 3 slabs of 2 MM thick
and 1 or 2 of 5 MM thick.

What I am looking for is the black agate that is used in
high quality gold and diamond jewelry. It must be solid
black and carvable. You can contact me off list if you

Thanks in advance for your help.

Chester Ferrell
Panama City
Republic of Panama.

Subject: NEW: Hand Trimming Opal Rough and Other Materials

Some folks just don't have a trimsaw, but don't let that
stop you. Just buy yourself a jewelers sawframe and some
diamond blades. These are on eBay all the time, some kits
selling for under 10 bucks; these have a frame, 1 or 2
diamond blades, and 100+ other blades.

If you use a hand saw, its advisable to build a small wood
work rest. Take a piece of 1x4 and cut a V shaped notch at
one end. Clamp this down on your work table so the notch
is jutting out from the table into the air. Make sure its
solid and firmly held. Keep your blade in the V as you're
cutting. Remember that you're not really cutting so much
as grinding, so keep things wet.


Subject: NEW: Pages Missing in "Master Gem Polishing"

I recently bought a copy of Gerald Wykoff's book "The
Techniques of Master Gem Polishing" from a guy at a show.
I bought it as a new book, not used. It wasn't until
sometime later that I found that the book is missing
several pages. They haven't been removed - the book was
defective from the printer/publisher.

I've tried to contact the publisher, Adamas Publishers, in
York, PA, but can't find them using the online yellow
pages/phone books. There's no website.

Which leaves me here. The book is copyright 1994,
softcover, from Adamas Publishers. It's missing pages 153
through 184. That is, the page on the left is 152 and the
one on the right is 185. If someone could copy these
pages, I'd be glad to pay copying and mailing costs. Or
if you have a copy you're not using (with all the pages), I
might even buy it.


Bob Lombardi W4ATM in Melbourne, FL (ex-WB4EHS)
Visit me at
I believe Adamas is Wykoff's private publishing company -
all of his books seem to be published by the same company.
I don't have his address or e-mail address, but hopefully
some of our members might! Also, I hope someone from the
list will copy these pages for you... hale

Subject: RE: My Saw Blade Won't Cut With a Water Coolant

Hale is correct on the water base coolant. (See 272-4)
Besides not cutting well on hard stones, you will end up
with rust in your saw.

A couple of other things.

Is your blade sharp? A sharpening trick I got from Johnny
at Richardson's Ranch a few years back works wonders. You
use an old 10" or so file. Use the narrow edge of the file
and tap the saw blade all around the cutting edge. Mark
the start point with a pencil and go all the way around.
Make sure, and this is very important, that you are tapping
the blade square. If you are pounding at an angle, you will
end up with a blade that cuts like a cheap steak knife, a
curved cut which the saw won't like. What happens is the
file teeth square the edge of the blade providing the least
surface area and therefore less drag. It also provides a
knurled (spelling) surface which exposes more diamonds. The
neat thing is if the saw starts slowing down on a cut, shut
it off and do the sharpening without removing the rock from
the vise.

Is your vise tracking the blade. Make sure the travel of
the vise is exactly parallel with the blade. If you have
runout in your vice, it will cause binding and damage to
the blade.

Last, go to your local Shell distributor to get your Pella
or the Texaco distributor for Almag. Both of these oils are
light machine oils with a very user friendly hazards sheet.
You will be pleased with the price.

Remember though that although the oil may not be bad for
you when you pour it into the saw, after cutting there is
bound to be some chemical reactions with the rocks you are
cutting and the heat generated. It is always a good idea to
wear heavy duty rubber gloves and a mask when you are
working around the saw. There is a lot of oil vapor in the
air and it can't be good to inhale. Neither is water for
that mater. Both the oil and water mist will have fine rock
dust in it and that will cause some serious lung problems
over time.

Don at Campbell-Gemstones.

Subject: RE: My Saw Blade Won't Cut With a Water Coolant

Dear Mr. Sweeny:

I just returned from vacation and found a print out from
the Lapidary Digest in our E-mail. I would like to respond
to one of the letters, but am not sure after following it
through exactly who is looking for this information, so
perhaps you can figure it out and get back to them. On the
print out I believe the question begins at MSG4.

Our solution to the problem with the Pella oil by Shell, or
the Almag made by Texaco is our Roc-Oil. The product has
all the performance advantages of an oil, but because it
is a food-grade mineral oil it is non-toxic, non-hazardous
and non-flammable under normal conditions. We have been
marketing it for a couple of years now and our customers
have been most pleased with it.

This product is used undiluted, like the oils, but sells
for only $16.75 per gallon, less in case lots. To order
you may call Diamond Pacific direct at 800-253-2954 or
contact any of our dealers.

Jill E. Durbin
Diamond Pacific
Customer Services
Jill: I am sure you know Bill Ritter, as DP has just bought
several companies from him and others. Bill suggested, in
his paper: "MY SAW DOES'T CUT", four coolant qualities to
look for: Safety (No Carcinogens), High Flash Point, Very
Low Viscosity, and Low Odor. If it is food grade mineral
oil, I know it is safe. Also, food grade should (usually)
have very acceptable odor. Can you send me information on
Roc-Oil's Flash Point and its Viscosity? Can you also
send an MSDS for Roc-Oil? I'd appreciate getting them.
Thanks hale

Subject: RE: Koroit Nuts

(I asked in Issue #272 for any information on cutting and
working Koroit nuts and received a personal letter from
Dennis with his experiences in working these nuts. It was
so good, I asked permission to publish it, and here it is.)

Hello Hale,

I get my Koroit nuts from Frank Timms, of Queensland,
Australia. Frank is a member of the Digest and has a great
wealth of information on any Australian opal, but I find
that he is very strong in the ironstone matrix opal of the
Queensland area. He has probably cut a few thousand pounds
of this opal, and is always happy to email me or even call and
answer any questions.

Koroit opal is similar to a type of Yowah nut material. The
Yowah opal field is 160 kilometers west of Cunnamulla while
the Koroit opal field is 85 kms north of Cunnamulla which
itself is located in the Southwest corner of Queensland

The opal in this area is loosely referred to as boulder
opal, commonly found in a belt of cretaceous sedimentary
rock commonly known as the Winton Formation which extends
from Hungerford on the NSW border, up through Cunnamulla,
Quiplie Longreach, Winton and finally to Kynuna (real
waltzing Matilda Country). A distance of approximately
1000 kilometers. The reason I am so sure of these locations
is because I am getting it out of an Australian Gold Gem and
Treasure magazine (Oct 95), which is the only information I
have available on geographical differences relating to Yowah
and Koroit.

Here are a few quick notes:

The Koroit material when cut produces dust that is brick
red so expect the same out of anything in the vicinity of
any water spray to become brick red in color. It washes
out of my clothes without staining them and soap takes it
off the skin with no problem. However, it may stain

The Koroit nut is similar to a type of Yowah nut with veins
of opal running through sandstone. I believe it is much more
stable than Yowah because although it has some sand stone on
the outer skin it is mainly ironstone bonded to the opal.
The areas to be careful around are pockets of sandstone that
are soft which sometimes divide a solid mass of individual
nuts. A thin slab of this grouping of nuts has naturally
weakened areas with sand and or voids. This is where an
Opticon type of treatment would be beneficial. I have found
that most nuts seem naturally to be an optimum size for

Some of the opal sections or seams are thick. If a thick
section of opal is encountered it is best not to use a
coarse belt or sanding disk for shaping because it will
almost always produce a crack from the heat. Diamond wheels
and continuous water are the best ways to shape the thick

If a really nice piece of opal is found I do some rough
shaping on the cabbing machine and then switch to 4 sheets
of wet or dry paper 400, 600, 800 and 1,500 grit with a
sanding block and water to complete the stone by hand. I
polish with tin oxide and expect some voids in the matrix

The Nut has a real nice skin of opal at the least. Once you
determine where the center of the nut is you can sneak up
on the skin or center if one exists and expose a nicely
domed section of opal. This is one of the best ways to
show the inner hidden beauty of the Koroit nut. It also
forms the top of the cab and all that remains is to shape
the perimeter and polish the top. A fully rounded opal
from a Koroit nut void of any matrix is said to be of very
high value.

That is about it for now. Have a great day!


Subject: RE: Making and Using Laps with Diamond Compounds

Hi Folks,

Once again, a request for information and wise advice on
diamond use.

Co-incidentally, James Hutchison's post on diamond charged
cheese boards appeared in the same Digest as my question
about substrates. And even more co-incidentally, two days
earlier, I'd just bought four hardwood cutting boards (from
each of which I can cut 2 6" disks) at the flea market.

The recuperated fine diamond from the sintered wheels, as
it turns out, cuts with a fineness approximately
corresponding to 240 mesh. This grit I've charged into a
bronze disk. The 80/100 grit likewise.

I did have some known, fresh. new, non-recycled 1,200 mesh
in Vaseline. This I charged into one of the maple laps,
after first grooving it in approximately 1/4" reticulation
and coating it lightly with olive oil. It does indeed cut.

Question -
While metal diamond embedded wheels or disks or standard
silicon carbide wheels are kept cool and clean with a water
drip of some sort, what, if anything, do you do to flush
the debris away from a diamond in wood lap? And for that
matter keep the heat down?

Likewise I had some grease-based 14,000 mesh diamond paste
with which I charged a similarly grooved flat maple disk.
It polishes, yes, but not very well. Particularly in the
case of flat stone surfaces, it wants to etch the patterns
in agate for example, into an undercut relief. I think I'll
try touching the polish up with cerium oxide or aluminum
oxide, maybe on leather, but maybe also on a maple flat
lap. That's for experimentation - when I get back from the
Maine Mineral Symposium next weekend.

Question -

Would anyone care to describe their own polishing
experiences with 14,000 (or similar) grease-based diamond
on a flat hardwood lap? Is diamond notorious for
undercutting flats? By way of additional information I
might just add that that same 14,000 grease-base diamond on
a hard felt wheel is my preferred polish for agate and opal
cabochons. You need to be careful of the heat but oh my
what a polish!

Cheers and thanks for any info, advice, comments.

Hans Durstling
Moncton, Canada

Subject: RE: Williamsite

Williamsite is a beautiful, translucent, green serpentine.

One location that is (was?) well known is the State Line
Pits just north of the Susquehanna River near the Maryland
and Pennsylvania state line. This location is described in
the 1967 edition of "Eastern Gem Trails" by Floyd and Helga

The State Line Pits are actually an old Chrome mine, long
since abandoned. Williamsite makes beautiful jewelry and
display specimens. The better pieces rival Wyoming Jade. It
is more translucent and in some pieces the inclusions add
to the beauty.

If anyone wants specific directions to the State Line Pits,
they may email for more information.


Subject: RE: Williamsite

Williamsite as I know it, might be a trade name, is a gem
variety of Serpentine. It looks a little like Siberian
Jade, highly translucent to transparent, black spots,
Manganese? Hardness is a Serpentine around 5. It is found
along the Maryland Pennsylvania border.

Mark Liccini

Subject: RE: Williamsite

Williamsite is a gem variety of serpentine, ideally
translucent in a bright green color, often with the dark
inclusions. It is found in the serpentine belts of
Pennsylvania and Maryland. It is one of the three gems being
considered as the possible state gem of Maryland.

Cathy Gaber

Subject: RE: Williamsite


Williamsite is also often called "Royal Serpentine". The
primary source is in the area of Rock Springs, MD just above
the Connowingo Dam. The oldest source there is in a corn
field (privately owned and as of a few years ago - not open
to the public any longer) around the lip of an very old
chromium mine. My friends and I from the Pautaxent Lapidary
Guild visited this mine a number of times back in the mid
'80s when it was open to limited collecting. By digging
around the lip of the mine shaft, we could find lumps of
very nice Williamsite the size of baseballs. Once the Guild
visited an active rock quarry in the vicinity and a couple
of us found a seam of Williamsite about 10 inches wide X 2
feet deep and about 4 feet long. We took at least four
buckets out with pieces weighing nearly 4 lbs.

I have heard that there is also a source somewhere in TX
(according to Gerry Wykoff who mentioned it in an issue of
the American Society of Gemcutters several years back) but
never learned the specific location.

As far as I know, these are the only two locations in the

Williamsite is rare and occurs along with serpentine, pink
to purple kammererite, actigorite, picrolite chromium and
several other minerals of the antigorite (serpentine)
family. A.F.L Deeson's Rocks and Minerals, Page 270 calls
it "Impure apple-green lamellar variety of antigorite".
In Gem Stones by Cally Hall, page 127, it is described as
the rarer Sepentine twin to Bowenite (less green and less
included but not as interesting - my view).

Williamsite ranges from a deep translucent green to a bright
green that is nearly transparent. Most of it has spots of
chromium, some small, some larger. It is a relatively soft
stone running about 5 to 6 on Mohs scale. Most of it
cleaves easily though some of the more amorphous chunks
stays together very well.

When sawing, I like to cut about 45 degrees to the long
grain...that lessens the possibility of a broken stone.
This takes some experimenting to get it right and there is
no perfect way to saw it though.

When cabbing, use a light touch and lots of water.
Polishing goes well on either soft or hard leather with
chrome oxide. Cerium oxide may be used on solid pieces as
well. I have faceted a few pieces of the more transparent
pieces and the facets take on a nice vitreous polish. Be
careful when setting it as it will cleave or mar easily.
Nonetheless, it makes a stunning piece when finished.

Where to get it now? I still have a (very) small supply,
if I can find it in this mess. E-mail me and we can talk
about parting with a few pieces.


Gerry Wykoff screwed up! The other location for Williamsite
that he refers to is the town of Texas, in Lancaster County,
Pennsylvania - and NOT somewhere in the State of Texas!(sm)

For those interested, details about Williamsite are given
serpenti/serpenti.htm hale

Subject: RE: Williamsite


I saw the question about Williamsite from Irene Corbett and
believe I can supply some info. Yes, it is a rock. It is a
type of serpentine found near Rock Springs, Maryland. It is
described in Gemstones of N.A. by Sinkankas. It came from
an old chrome mine (black specks are chromite) and he
considers it the finest in the world because of its pure
color. It is very rare now.


Subject: RE: Williamsite

Hale and Irene:
From the description, what you have is Williamsite, a
translucent to transparent variety of Antigorite, usually
found adjacent to Chromite ore bodies. The locality I am
most familiar with is the Line Pit, near the
Maryland-Pennsylvania border.

This used to be leased by the Gem Cutter's Guild of
Baltimore and was an annual field trip for the club. For
current information on that locality contact Carolyn &
Steve Weinberger (

Ray Prater

Subject: BIO: Mike Jackson.

This is the short bio that you said all new members were
requested to send.

My name is Mike and I have been a rock hound for most of
my life. I have only been introduced to cabbing in the last
year but I have become pretty good at using most of the
machinery such as the Titan, Genie, Pixie, All-U-Need, and
the Cab Mate thanks to a local gem and mineral society.

I love working with Opals so if anyone has any tips for
cutting Opals or making doublets feel free to drop me a

Thank you for the opportunity to be part of your news

Mike Jackson
One Man Alone Cannot Fight The Future.

Subject: SHOW: Franklin NC Museum Opening


The OLD JAIL GEM AND MINERAL MUSEUM, operated by the Gem and
Mineral Society of Franklin, North Carolina, Inc., opens for
the year with an open house Sunday, April 30, 1 to 4 P.M.
The museum is located at 25 Phillips Street, just below the
Courthouse, in Franklin. It will be open Monday through
Saturday, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M., until October 31. Come and see
our extensive collection of gems and minerals from all over
the world and our outstanding fluorescence display.
Admission is free.

Charlie Ramer
If you are going to the Franklin Gem and Mineral Wholesale
Shows, the Jail Museum - right in the middle of Franklin -
is well worth visiting. hale

Subject: SHOW: Houston Gem & Mineral Show

The Houston Gem & Mineral Society will host its 53rd annual
show on May 19-21 in the George R Brown Convention Center
in Houston, Texas. This year our theme is "Texas Treasurers
for the Millennium." We are giving away Texas tektites to
the first 200 kids each day. All are invited. Check out
our web page for a 2 for 1 coupon:

Robin Pascal
Show Chairman 2000
Houston, Texas

Subject: SHOW: Maine Mineral Symposium, May 12, 13, 14

If any of you are going to be in Maine the coming weekend,
it's time for the Maine Mineral Symposium at the Senator Inn
in Augusta Maine, May 12, 13 and 14.

I'll be giving a slide show and talk on "Gemstones of the
Bay of Fundy" (and minerals) on Saturday and bringing
fistfuls of Bay of Fundy agates and minerals and other
show-and-tell stuff along.

For me that annual pilgrimage to the Maine Mineral Symposium
is, for the moment, my major "getting out" of the year. I'm
in New Brunswick, Canada - and that is many hours drive from
any concentrations of population. So, I'm really looking
forward to the prospect of meeting other Lapidary Digest
members whose names I may know only by email. If any of you
are coming to the Symposium, please do buttonhole me. I'm
staying at the Senator Inn; don't know which specific room

Hans Durstling
Moncton, Canada
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