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 275 - Thurs 5/11/2000
3. NEW: Does My Blade Need Redressing or Replacing?
4. NEW: Polishing Boulder Opal Ironstone
5. RE: How to Remove Tin Oxide.
6. RE: Removing Dye from Stones
7. RE: Williamsite
8. RE: Making and Using Laps with Diamond Compounds
9. RE: Problem with Polishing in Tumbling
10. RE: Problem with Polishing in Tumbling
11. RE: Problem with Polishing in Tumbling
12. RE: Problem with Polishing in Tumbling
13. RE: Problem with Polishing in Tumbling
14. RE: Mineral Oil as a Cutting Lubricant
15. Re: William Holland School


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No 275 - Thurs 5/11/2000

Not much news this time. I am at Wildacres and will return
on Monday. You guys have a great weekend and I'll see you



We all have an idea of what pneumonia is. Medically, it is
described as an inflammation of the lung. However, you may
not know some of the things that can cause it. Pneumonia
can be caused by a virus or bacteria, as you probably know.
It can actually be caused by over thirty different things,
pretty much anything that gets into the lung that is not
supposed to be there.

Chemical pneumonia is caused by the inhalation of a liquid
or gas. Some common chemicals notorious for causing this
malady include mineral oils and kerosene. Others include
formaldehyde, swimming pool chemicals, bug sprays, gasoline,
many organic solvents or any irritant gas, fume or vapor.
People have also gotten chemical pneumonia from aspirating
vomit when throwing up. If the pneumonia is caused by
aspirating a hydrocarbon, such as kerosene or a solvent, it
may also be called hydrocarbon pneumonia.

Inhalation of some these chemicals can also lead to
fibrosis, a build-up of fibrous tissue in the lungs, which
can reduce your lung capacity.

In many cases, aspiration into the lungs occurs when someone
who has swallowed one of these chemicals throws up. For this
reason, vomiting is never induced in someone who has
ingested an organic chemical unless advised to do so by a

The pneumonia does not commence for hours or even days after
aspiration. Symptoms may include any or all of the following:
coughing, choking, gagging, breathing difficulties, rapid
heartbeat, nausea, fever, bluish finger- and toenails and
skin, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, fatigue, dizziness
and difficulty walking. Depending upon the severity,
hospitalization may be required. Of course, the worst case
scenario results in death.

Of concern to us lapidaries is the possibility of inhaling
cutting oils from saws. The rotating blade can put a fine
mist in the air which, if inhaled, can lead to the disease.
Water based cutting fluids are less likely to cause a
problem than a hydrocarbon base. A good blade guard will do
much to reduce this mist. Common sense will also aid in
reducing the danger. A dust, mist and fume respirator may
also be a good idea. They are inexpensive, often available
at Wal-Mart or other discount or hardware stores, and not
uncomfortable to use.

By the way, a comment was made in #272 that a new fluid
being used smelled better and was probably therefore safer.
Please don't let a pretty smell lull you into assuming that
odor relates to danger. Some pretty safe stuff can smell
awful, while a nice smell can be deadly. Many of the organic
solvents, such as toluene, actually smell rather pleasant.
As another example, carbon monoxide is completely odorless.
There are several chemicals that smell absolutely dreadful,
yet are relatively safe - unfortunately, my mind has gone
blank and I can't think of a single one!! When I do, I'll
pass them on. By the way, in the case mentioned in 272, you
are probably right. The new fluid, "Aqua-Oil" is cut 10:1
with water, and probably is safer.

By for now. Play safe.


Subject: NEW: Does My Blade Need Redressing or Replacing?

I just purchased a used Lortone 10" Slab Saw with the
automatic feed. How will I know if my blade needs to be
redressed or replaced? If it quits cutting, will it tear
up the auto feed on my saw?


Subject: NEW: Polishing Boulder Opal Ironstone

There's been some good suggestions on cutting Karoit matrix
which is of course often very hard and glasslike, and thus
quite easy to bring up a good shine. This is not quite the
same with a lot of matrix and ironstone from the other
Queensland fields such as Winton and Quilpie. Most cutters
can get a reasonable shine on this by finishing on worn 600
sandpaper and 50,000 diamond grit. Some say 15,000 is
better, but from my experience it still leaves something to
be desired.

I have seen some boulder cutting from HK which looks like
a mirror...does anyone know whether they are giving it some
special treatment before cutting...or is it simply in the
cutting process.. would be interested to know.


Subject: RE: How to Remove Tin Oxide.


Larry said: <<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.>>

I gather that you are doing flat lapping on a vibrating flat
lapping machine that automatically grinds/polishes while
vibrating one flat surface of the stone slab on grinding or
polishing grits (tin oxide polishes). Consequently the top
surface of the slab and the perimeter sides need to be
coated with Vaseline to attract surfeit tin oxide, which in
turn upon finished polishing can be removed with a solvent.

This clean up applies only to the flat lapping process. I
usually apply the Vaseline coating to the perimeter sides of
each slab before even beginning the lapping process with the
80/100 grit, and maintain that coating through the 200, 600,
pre-polish and finally the polish stage.

Joe Bokor

Subject: RE: Removing Dye from Stones

I would try various solutions of acids. Most lapidaries
will carry various acid's, like oxalic and hydrochloric.
Have a talk with your lapidary about the dangers of
acids, how to mix, store, and use.

Since all dyes are essentially organic, a hot acid bath
should remove them. But not all stones that looked dyed
are dyed. Some are treated for color and such treatments
are quite permanent. For a very good detail on how to
treat agates, read:

Have fun and hope you get it all out.


Subject: RE: Williamsite

In LapDigest 274: Hale's reply to Don listed a link for
Williamsite. The link to pictures from there shows a more
pure specimen and the "Chunk of a Serpentine (Chrysotile-
variety Picrolite) vein" specimen.

One of the places to find the Picrolite variety is listed
as Gila County, AZ. I can confirm a small hill with many
scorpions and slightly-larger-than-basketball" sized
boulders of the light lime-green color and black speckled
material. I also noticed a slightly weathered exposed vein
of the same, 3/4 of the way up the hill (from which came
the boulders), which has 3/4" - 1" streaks of the
translucent jade colored material. I have cabbed a few
small pieces from this site and am pleased with the
results. I guess I will be making another trip there around
the middle of August to pick up some more.

Shelf quality specimens of lead and Wulfenite may also be
obtained in the area. (Lead, asbestos and scorpions... what
a great place) BTW, pay attention to the web links' info
about the relationship of asbestos to Serpentine.

PS - too bad it was Texas, PA and not ??, TX.

Dirk Holland

Subject: RE: Making and Using Laps with Diamond Compounds

Question: Flushing a hardwood lap.

Since there is no heat problems with hardwood laps, one can
cut dry. But, the term dry simply means you dont have water
or coolant dripping on your lap. You still need to use an
extender. This can be purchased from anyplace that sells
diamond compounds, or you can use gasoline, kerosene, or
Naptha. I opt for just buying extender fluid myself. While
polishing, just dribble a few drops around the lap and work
it in. As your moving the stone around the lap, flushings
will lift into the extender fluid and you can push it off.
The nice thing about hardwood cheese boards is they normally
always have a little trough cut into them all the way around.
If you feel things are getting dirty, and your polishing is
hurting, just add some fluid, push your stone around to get
a slurry thing going, and shove the buildup into the groove.
You really dont need to worry about loosing your diamond,
when you apply the compound, it is carried in a form of oil
normally. This will open the pores of the wood and
literally suck the diamonds into it. When you add a bit of
extender fluid, it also tends to soften the wood a bit, and
expose more diamonds.

I used to polish opal flat in doublet form using this
method, hand power and a hardwood lap. I would generally
go from 14K to 50K though. I find that I get a great
polish, but under 200x magnification I can certainly see
scratches. Today, I find I get my best results on darn
near anything I cut using Raybrite A. Which, as I
understand it, is ~50K mesh size. I find the price I'm
paying of around 8 bucks/lb quite attractive as well. I
mix it into a pancake like slurry with a drop or two of jet
dry, and charge into a leather pad.



Subject: RE: Problem with Polishing in Tumbling

In Issue 274, Denny Wilson said: <<Starting almost a year
ago, I have been having problems with getting even an
adequate polish on tumbled stones of all types.>>

When I develop problems with getting a good polish on
tumbled stones I suspect some sort of contamination of the
polish. Even one or two grains of coarse grit in the polish
will mess up the polish. From scratches on the stones to a
cloudy or foggy appearance.

Go back a step. Do a complete wash of the stones with water
and dish washing detergent -- like Joy for several days.
Then do a pre polish with 600 grit for several days then
run the stones through a another wash of water and dish
washing detergent for a couple of days. Then clean
everything extra clean and run the polish cycle for about
a week. Run again in a water and detergent wash, rinse in
clear water and allow to dry in the sunshine.

I don't know what it is about sunshine but it helps to
bring out the shine.

Good luck.

Dixie Reale

Subject: RE: Problem with Polishing in Tumbling

Hello Denny,

There are a few things that come to mind. Are you putting
in the right amount of water with your polishing equipment?
Sometimes too much will give problems like you show. Also
check the speed of the barrel. What I mean is check the
belt for slippage. They get worn and will slip and turn the
barrel at too slow a rate to polish. Sometimes you may not
have enough small stuff in the tumbler to circulate the
polish into smaller areas. I always raid the trim saw for
tiny scraps to add in the whole process.

I use a different polish. Maybe you could try a mix of tin
oxide and aluminum oxide. About 50-50 works in the tumbler.
When I get to the polish stage I rinse the rocks and barrel
carefully. Then I rinse in as hot of tap water as I have.
I leave enough water which is less than grinding, probably
less than half the height of the stones in the barrel. Add
your polish and close while still warm. This warm water
helps to counter any gas that builds up. I give it 10 days
in the polish stage. I'm in no hurry.

Steve Ramsdell

Subject: RE: Problem with Polishing in Tumbling

You can get the mottled polish from overfilling a tumbler.

You can get the mottled polish from grit contamination,
either from inadequate cleaning between grades, or from grit
that is contaminated with coarser grit (and it could just be
a batch of poorly graded grit).

You can get the mottled polish from inadequate coarse
tumbling. This can also occur with bad grit that breaks down
to finer stuff too fast, especially in the coarse stage.

Kreigh Tomaszewski
Please visit our family web pages at


Subject: RE: Problem with Polishing in Tumbling


I find that I get the best polish by tossing in something to
hold the polish, as well as stop the stones from bumping.

I find the best is the old standby my lapidary taught me,
to use scraps of leather cut into small strips. You can
buy bags of leather scrap at most hobby stores for under
5 bucks. They usually come in all sorts of colors, so you
can buy a particular color for a particular polish compound.
Cut the leather into small strips and odd shaped bits, and
mix with your stones at around 3 parts stones, 1 part
leather (by volume). Then add your polish compound and go
to town. When your done, you can lay the leather out on a
screen and let it dry, bag it up and use it again next time.

I have also found using things like corncob, walnut shell,
strips of wood, etc., all work well. My lapidary also sells
little plastic pellets that work nice to at least keep the
rocks from hitting each other too much. But, I have not
had much luck in recovering these pellets. They float nice,
but get kinda sticky after polishing and seem to be more a
pain then good.

Some papers written on polishing indicate that you also need
to watch the pH of the polish compound, as well as the
surface tension of the compound. So, for this reason, I
have gotten into the habit of always adding just a drop or
two of jet dry (found at the supermarket with the
dishwashing soap) to the polish compound as I mix up a
slurry. To handle the pH issue, you can add a bit of
vinegar for quartz.

And finally, after polishing, a thin film of crud might be
sticking to your stones, for this, just add a bit of
detergent and water and some clean leather/whatever. Run
this for a few hours and it should rid the stones of the

Good luck


Subject: RE: Problem with Polishing in Tumbling

Read about your problem, and have a suggestion. I polish
obsidian, and anything else I can get my hands on, I have
both types of tumbling machines. I had a lot of trouble with
obsidian, everyone told me to give it up, couldn't polish in
tumbler, but have got it whipped, and it is beautiful. The
agate, jasper and other stones come out great too.

Here is how I do it, in rotary tumbler pack the stones as
full as you can get it, keeps them from chipping and
spalling. Use whatever grit it takes to shape stones, I
start with Med. grit on obsidian, run for 8-12 days, rinse
well, run in soap for 1 day ( I use grated Ivory soap)
rinse again, run with 600 grit for same amount of days, run
thru soap process again, then go to tripoli, same amount of
days, rinse well, run thru soap for 1 day, then run with
just soap for 8-9 days, and behold, beauty.

I know this will work on other stones too, as sometimes I
mix agates, jaspers, and other stones with my obsidian.
Everything I have read tells me this is not the thing to do,
but unless the other stones need a really lot of preshaping,
it works great.

I do the same sort of polishing with the vibratory tumbler,
but it doesn't have to run as long in each step, and since
it is open tops you have to keep an eye on the amount of
water that can evaporate, and add as needed. I use saran
wrap over the open tops on vibratory and hold down with
rubber band, and then put lid on. Helps keep the moisture
in better. As you know nothing works great on flats, but on
odd shaped or cabs, this is easy. Sounds like a long time
for each stage, and maybe you will want to check oftener
than I do. I just put it on, and let it run. I use some
kind of plastic filler with my stones, I cut up some
plastic tie wraps, like used in hardware usage, and fill
that rotary as full as you can, and lessen the water. The
directions in the book are not all that swift.

Hope this helps, if not, just trash this and try something
else. Am off for the cooler parts of the northwest (CA-Id)
for the summer. Too hot here in Tucson.

Have a good one.

Willa Kleymann

Subject: RE: Mineral Oil as a Cutting Lubricant

If we're not tired of this topic yet, those of us in
southern California can buy light mineral oil for $15 for
5 gal. The Shell distributor Dion and Sons (Long Beach,
Van Nuys, Fresno, & Santa Paula (?) sells their house brand
"Amber Light" for just $3/ gallon. (They charge another $5
for the pail, so take your own). I bought 10 gallons -
what luxury!

While it is not "food grade", the health warning for
ingestion says "Do not induce vomiting. In general, no
treatment is required unless large quantities are ingested".
There is a very slight motor oil smell. On the stinkometer
it is a 3 (Pella is 10, Baby oil is 2). There is less
misting than with Pella, though more than with Baby oil,
but it doesn't stink. Sludge settling is slow, same as
baby oil.

Those of you buying Brand-Name oil from a distributor might
ask if they have a "house brand" mineral oil. It was the
guy in back that told me about the Amber Light after the
front-desk guys had already sold the Pella ($5.40/gal).


Subject: Re: William Holland School

I just got back from William Holland School, where I took
opal cutting and cabbing with Joe DiPietro. What an
experience!! Not only did I learn an incredible amount
regarding opals, but blades, saws, polishing, glueing...the
man is incredible, and an endless wealth of knowledge!!!

I successfully made doublets, triplets, epoxy mosaics, and
brought more than several rough opals to a 50,000 grit
mirror finish!! Plus, I talked with a good many of the other
instructors and soaked up the knowledge on cabbing other
stones as well. I even bought a Pixie, to add to my
"all in one."

Took some time to go ruby and sapphire screening in
Franklin with limited success. No big honkers there, but
enough small, 3-4mm sized stones to make it a happy

W Holland's a great place, and I'm hoping to return next
year as an instructor in advanced wire-sculpting or glass
fusing. Now I'm looking for good opal rough!!

Jackie Paciello, jewelry and glass artist
visit "Pretty Wilde Designs" at
To unsubscribe from the Lapidary Digest, send a message to, with the word UNSUBSCRIBE DIGEST as
the subject of the message. Other commands you may use are:
SUBSCRIBE DIGEST to join, HELP to receive a page of help
instructions on the use of the list, and DIR to receive a
list of names of all files in the Archives.

The command <GET filename> may be used on the subject line
(without brackets, of course) to obtain a copy of the file
named "filename". Type filename exactly as it appears in the
directory, including the extension txt. Do not cut-and-paste
filenames into the subject line.