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 278 - Wed 5/31/2000
2. RE: Field Trip to Australian Opal Country
3. NEW: How to Remove Epoxy
4. NEW: Glueing Stabilized Turquoise
5. RE: Designing a New Lapidary Workshop
6. RE: Designing a New Lapidary Workshop
7. RE: Designing a New Lapidary Workshop
8. NEW: Some Experimental Web Stuff
9. RE: Hazards: Chemical Pneumonia


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No 278 - Wed 5/31/2000

The third installment of reports by our own foreign
correspondent, Margaret Malm, is included below. I think
we have one or two more to come after she comes home. Her
fan mail continues to pour/come/trickle in, with the latest
being from (you know how I hate it when
people don't sign their names!!!), who says:

"Many thanks to Margaret for taking us on her field trip!"

Watch out, Margaret, pretty soon you will have a fan club.
(and I will be one the first members!!!)

Also a letter from Denny Wilson, who says: "I would like to
thank everyone for their help with my polishing problems.
I am trying several now to see which work best for me. I
appreciate the help."

Last week someone asked for information about stone mosaics
or Pietre-Dure. If you know something about this, please
send in some information on 'how-to-do-it' for these topics.

I'm leaving tomorrow on a 10 day trip, the last seven being
to William Holland for a class in Glass Fusing. Be back
about June 11 or 12, so I'll see you then. In the meantime
please have lots of spring time FUN!!!

Keep cuttin'


Subject: RE: Field Trip to Australian Opal Country

(Or: An American Opalholic in Paradise, Part 3)

Sigh. Time to, regretfully, leave Yowah and head for the
coast and the end of the trip. Our little caravan steamed
out of Yowah early in the morning; Michael in the lead,
since he has a 'roo bar on his "Ute" (a 'roo bar is just
like the "Bull Bars" you see on some of the pickup trucks
in the western US); the rest of us following in our van.-
- Two leaders, six happy but saddened (to have to leave)
participants, --- and a kangaroo in a laundry bag! ... a
little Joey named "Outback". I told you last time about how
Outback came to be with us. Since this was, admittedly, a
bit off subject, I don't want to take up more space (and
probably bore most of you) with word of his fate. But when
I get home I will write a little story about it on my
computer, and if you are interested just send me an e-mail
sometime after about June 5 and I'll send you a copy.

Our first day's journey was back to Lightning Ridge. We
made several stops, one of which was at a farm where they
grow dates, and make date wine. As we pulled in there, we
saw some familiar-looking (OPAL!) rocks sitting outside,
and a few Ooh!s and Ahh!s were heard. Then Dick's measured
sepulchral tones were heard from the back of the van, like
the Voice of Doom: "We don't need any more!",
which really cracked us up; we were all struggling under
the weight of lots of "trophies", and wondering how we were
going to cope with the airlines' weight allowances. We
stopped at a park and saw a Koala high up in a tree;
almost invisible. We pulled into Lightning Ridge late, as
when the shadows get long you have to travel quite slowly
to avoid a serious encounter with the 'roos, who become
active from then until around 9:00 the next morning. Most
people try to be home by about 5pm, and travel at night
only when it is very

We stayed there overnight and then headed on coastward. The
real "Outback", now very green and pretty because of all
the rains, soon began to look a bit more civilized. Big
cotton fields and the occasional cotton gin. Large
"Stations" which seemed to be growing more cattle than
sheep. And as we neared the coast, big fields of sugar
cane; and they also grow Macadamias and avocados. Would
you believe avocados 6 for $1? And that's about 60 cents,
our money.

Then on to Inverell, a sapphire-mining area. Marilyn was
especially interested in going there, as she is a faceter
and wanted to find some good faceting rough. And we had
planned on doing a couple of hours of screening ourselves.
However, we found that was no longer possible. The local
rockhounds (their club is right next to the tourist center)
were all off at a big show at Lismore. But it seems that
there are several problems. First the (public) "fossicking"
areas are all played out; and all the good places are in
the hands of a large corporation and closed. And the miners
have sort of gone on strike. Seems the buyers (usually
Thais) were demanding to pick and choose only the best
sapphires, rather than buying them in lots as is the usual
practice (necessary in order to be able to also sell the
less good ones); so the miners had gone back to farming
until they could find buyers who were willing to buy in

There were, however, several places there, including the
Visitor Center, that had some very nice faceted ones
(although not the yellow ones Marilyn wanted); most were
multis, and some nice blues. I bought a few that had
especially nice sparkle, as I'm not all that particular as
to color.

The Gem Centre also had a little rough (as well as faceted
stones), and Marilyn was able to find some rough that
suited her needs. She and Dick also bought a large bag of
gravel to screen.

Then up over the Great Dividing Range and down to Grafton
and the coastal area. Stopped there for the night; I felt
right at home, as there is a ghost town named Grafton only
a few miles from where I live in Silver Reef.

We stopped in Ballina for petrol, etc, and I went into
Ballina Opals and Gems. They had some very nice triplets
(the first I'd found; you don't often find doublets or
triplets anywhere in Australia). The lady in the store was
a rockhound, and very interested to hear about LapDigest
and said she was going to subscribe. Welcome, "Rockhound",
if you are reading this!

We stopped in the coastal resort town of Byron for lunch
and a look-around. There was an opal shop that Barbara had
suggested we visit; it is owned by a miner she knows from
Lightning Ridge, and we were able to get some idea how the
price skyrockets as you get away from the field. Looked
like a factor of at least 10 times. Remember that I told
you about June digging out a bit of potch in the mine at
Lightning Ridge that turned out to be a $2000.00
red-on-black opal, that she then bought from them? She had
been carrying it next to her heart in her 27-pocketed vest.
She was persuaded to bring it out and show it to Tony
(the miner); he looked at it carefully, said "beautiful!"
and "very well cut, but cut rather expensive" and then -
- offered her $15,000.00 for it! Nothing like that to put
you into a real cold sweat! (She didn't sell it). We
continued on to the resort town of "Surfers Paradise) south
of Brisbane. We had a little time to explore, and Dick and
Marilyn found a faucet near the beach, up on a little
platform, and I found a piece of bark from a tree for a
trough, and they sluiced their sapphire gravel. They found
several sapphires, but Marilyn said they all would have to
be "treated", and weren't really worth the cost of that.

Then on to Brisbane, and the end of our "tour". Ron came
around and helped us all with advice on our customs
declarations. We all flew down to Sydney to spend a couple
of days, and go our separate ways. I'm now up at a friend's
home in Mt Isa, where the largest underground lead mine in
Australia (and possibly the world??) is located. I will
also make a writeup, when I get home, about this mine and
the area; available to anyone interested by sending me an
e-mail sometime after June 5.

And I will send you one more report, including the visit
with Len Cram I promised earlier, and some odds and ends.

Meanwhile, G'day, Mate!

Margaret Malm

Subject: NEW: How to Remove Epoxy


I need to rework an opal that has been glued into a 14k
gold setting using epoxy 330. Can anyone tell me how to
remove the epoxy without damaging the stone?

Randy R. Aue
Estes Park, CO

Subject: NEW: Glueing Stabilized Turquoise


I ran into a problem with the stabilized Turquoise
yesterday, which oddly enough I would never have realized
if it hadn't happened to me. I was finishing an inlay,
dropped one drop of glue into the space and placed the
turquoise into the space. It instantly stuck, it was glued
as soon as it hit the glue. There was no time loss putting
it in, and, unfortunately I didn't get the stone in quite
straight, a little off, and I could do nothing to get it to
move at all. I am of the opinion that the plastic infused
into the stone reacted with the glue to make an instant

Is there anyone else who has had similar problems? Also,
is there a way to prevent this kind of problem?

Steve Ensor

Subject: RE: Designing a New Lapidary Workshop

Hi Gerry,

One thing I've found very helpful is having an armrest in
front of equipment where I'll be spending a long time. For
instance, my faceting machine has a homemade vinyl pad
bolted just in front of the wheel, about 6" wide by 24"
long and 3" high. It makes a big difference being able to
rest your arms there rather than against hard wood, or
holding them in mid air.

Also, don't underestimate the value of a good, supportive
chair. The type with the gas cylinders give you a little
boost up as you stand, plus you can adjust them for the
proper tilt and back support.

Giovanna Fregni
Mpls, St. Paul
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000 11:46:39 -0700
Subject: RE: Designing a New Lapidary Workshop

Double (at least) the size!

When I built my shop, 24 x 32, I thought I'd never use the
space. WRONG!

I'd opt for bench height at a convenient sitting level
(table height). Put in lots of outlets, 2 duplex every 6
feet minimum. Run 3 wire cable (12-3) & put 2 circuits in
each box. Large saws or tools using larger motors may
require their own circuit.

Have fun.


Subject: RE: Designing a New Lapidary Workshop

Gerry I feel so sorry for you with your problem. Being
cramped into such a small area and all. Or was that FEET,
not inches like most of us have to deal with. __Grin__ I
would love to have your problem. On to suggestions.

1. Electrical outlets. Put them in by the dozen. Make sure
you use enough services. Space them out so you can have a
short run to each piece of machinery. Allow enough for some
extra bench lights, quite a few for the little transformers
that come with everything now. I would, if you could, run a
220V service to a sub panel in your work area and run the
shop from it. I would make this at least a 30amp service,
though 50 would be better. That way, if later need to add
on, it is much easier to tap into the sub-panel. The 220
allows you to balance out the load some as well as being
able to handle the 220 motor on that 48" saw you will want

2. Water. A good deep sink with a sludge trap drain, and hot
water. Allow some workspace around the sink for things like
a steam cleaner and ultrasonic cleaner, etc.

3. Speaking of water, a good drain system to handle the
coolant runoff would be nice. I would run a 4" drain around
the room making sure that there was a good drop in it. This
will allow you to tap in where ever you need to. Make sure
this feeds into the sludge trap also.

4. Lighting. Lots and Lots and Lots of florescent lighting.
You can put the incandescent in the bench lights if you
want both wave lengths.

5. A nice waterproof, and stain proof floor. Light in color
with NO PATTERN. That makes finding those little stones you
drop a lot easier to find. While working on the waterproof
and/or stain proof floor, might as well do the same for the
walls. It will make cleanup a lot easier.

6. Bench height. I am working on that problem myself now. I
have decided that if you want to stand all the time, 36"
height is about right but if you are like me, and like to
have a seat, I think that 30" bench height is about right.
This will be a very personal choice. I found a table for my
facet machine that will adjust in height from about 24" up
to about 48". I set it as low as I can and still get my
legs under it. At times I wished it would go lower. However
for other things like my genie, the 30' height is about
right. For the things I don't use very often, like my small
drill press, rolling mills, etc. I put them at the 36" to
38" height. No need to set if you are only going to be
there for a few minutes.

7. Ventilation. A vent over the grinders would be welcome.
If you are doing any gold or silver work, a vent over your
jewelers bench for soldering and a vent over the casting
area are nice. At least one over the kiln. Heating and
cooling are also nice.

A couple of final items to think about; e.g. construction
of your benches. Stay away from the pressed board. As soon
as it gets wet, you will have problems, even if it is
wrapped in Formica. There is some roofing material of the
chip board type that is supposed to hold up very well to
moisture. I am not sure that it would be very good for
bench tops thought. Sealing the benches with several coats
of varnish or oil based paint will help the life of them a
lot. While you are at the design, a desk area for the PC
would be nice. Give you a short run from Gemcad to the
machine. Hey, while we are at it, how about a good sound
system. Nice to listen to something other than your stones
grinding away. Might as well put in a couch too. By the
time we all get this shop designed, you won't want to leave
it. You will spend so much time in there that you probably
won't be welcome in the main house anymore. I know I would.

How about a photo when you get started and another later on
so we can see your progress and give us something to drool

Campbell Gemstones

Subject: NEW: Some Experimental Web Stuff


Well here goes something interesting. Since I am
always in the mood to create interesting things for
the web I am now asking that people who have any
photos of rock specimens that they are overjoyed with
to send them on to me. I am going to put them into a
on-line education forum if you will detail some of the
interesting things that are out there.

If you want to get involved include a email address,
name, address if you want, a brief description of the
rock in question, make sure the picture is in digital
format, and then let me get cracking with some
interesting web surfing.

The plan I have for this is to include some
traditional web page design but also include flash
animation, vrml (3d for the web) and if I can work it
in some QTVR for the stones (360 views of the stone
in surround picture quality.)

Talk to you guys later.

Sounds interesting, Darren. Just bring it back to Lapidary
so we can include it in the future!! How about a gallery
of cabs of every cabbing material? In 3D? WOW!! hale

Subject: RE: Hazards: Chemical Pneumonia

Re: Issue 277; Ltr from Jim Small

As to the mist reducer from Raytech: I have tried it and
it does work. I have had a serious mist problem until
adding the material, as prescribed on the label. There is
one problem, however, that occurs after you put it in: The
oil takes on a foamy white appearance during cutting and
seems a little less viscous than normal. The foam lasts
for some time after cutting but does eventually disappear.
I had a bad odor from the mist before using this material
but now the odor is all but gone. Maybe it is just hiding
the odor but I do not think so.

Denney L. Wilson
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