Associate Editors: Geo. Butts, JR Shroeder, Steve Henegar,
Margaret Malm, Sam Todaro, and Ed Elam

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No 279 - Sat 1/13/2001
2. RE: Field Trip to Australian Opal Country
3. NEW: Chatoyant or Cats-eye Beryl
4. RE: Info on How-to-do Stone Mosaics/Pietre-Dure
5. RE: Glueing Stabilized Turquoise
6. RE: Problem with Polishing in Tumbling
7. RE: How to Remove Epoxy
8. RE: How to Remove Epoxy
9. RE: Designing a New Lapidary Workshop
10. RE: Designing a New Lapidary Workshop
11. RE: Designing a New Lapidary Workshop
12. RE: Designing a New Lapidary Workshop
13. Re: Designing a New Lapidary Workshop
14. BIO: Lee Einer


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No 279 - Sat 1/13/2001

SEND ITEMS TO THE DIGEST YET!!! Do not reply to any of the
items below!!

This issue was ready to go when we quit, and since it has
Margaret's last letter about her trip to Australia, and a
few other good items, we thought it should be published.

I am not yet ready to restart actual publication as the
mailing list is still being updated. Please don't send me
anything yet!!

Here is our issue 279 and it will be archived as Issue 279:

Margaret is HOME!!! ...and her fan mail continues to come
in. Her latest fan letter from Sue: "Hi Hale, just tell
Margaret that we all love the reports and are totally green
with envy. I expect to see her later this summer and will
get a chance to drool over her prizes in person, nyah, nyah.
Sue opaleyes1@webtv.net" We have one more dispatch from
Margaret, printed below.

(To New Members: Margaret Malm is an associate Editor of the
Digest, who went on a tour of Australian opal country with
Barbra McCondra. She sent us periodic reports describing her
adventures, and this is the last installment.)

And Roz and Dale Miller (http://www.ccia.com/~rozdale) wrote
to tell all that they were asked to have their jewelry shown
on an episode of "Friends" about the wedding of two of the
principal characters; it was shown on the May 11 show. Way
to go, guys!!!! Congratulations?!!!!


Subject: RE: Field Trip to Australian Opal Country

OR: An American Opalholic in Paradise; Part 4

G'day, all!

OK, I promised to tell you about Len Cram's opal-growing
process. We began our visit with the usual offer of coffee
or tea, and "bikkies" (cookies to us); and a little
informal chat. I don't really know whether that is the
traditional way all opal-sellers greet the (commercial)
opal buyers, or just traditional Aussie hospitality. And
then, after that, the opals come out. And he has some real
dandies. then he led us out to a rather small shed in the
yard -- tin, of course; the termites eat wood up in jig
time. And there, along one side, were shelves with row upon
row of jars sporting a thick layer of opal in the bottom;
every test he has ever run, each carefuly labeled (in code)
with just how it was done. Everything from plain potch to
some really gorgeous stuff.

His first experiments were done during 1960-75. It was not
until 1975 that he achieved color, and it was "just by
accident" that he achieved just the right composition, and
the right amount of LIGHT. He started first with a small
opal "seed" (of Coober Pedy-type opal), plus silica, a
little aluminium oxide (since Aussie opals contain 1.5-2%
of this), and "some electrolytes". The nature of the
electrolytes is, he said, the secret to it all, and of
course he is not telling what they are! And of course there
is more to it than that.

This same shed contains his cabbing equipment, and he set
the jar aside and sort of forgot about it. One day some time
later he just happened to spy it as he was doing some
cabbing, and, he said, "I was astounded!" It had turned to
a whitish gel. He removed the top, and poured the leftover
water off. Over time it developed mud cracks, then became
color-layered, and then finally white potch. This, then, was
the starting point for the rest of his experiments. And he
found, in essence, that while the atoms are identical, the
structure is different. In agate they're a hodgepodge; in
opal they are very regularly arranged.

But how to get such an arrangement? He next tried a process
where, instead of using an opal "seed", he started with
local "opal dirt", finely ground. [Opals in Lightning Ridge
are found in a shale layer.] Add water and shake, then add
the electrolyte. He ended up with patches of opal all
through the dirt. Siphoned off the water. After a few months
-- lookie! it's ALL opal! He said, "I broke off the glass
and just gazed at it." then, "I took it to my wife, and
said 'I've just turned dirt into opal!' And she looked at it
and said, "Oh. It is a bit different, is it?'"

To achieve the color, he experimented a bit with organic
(alcohol-soluble) dyes, as he heard Gilson was doing that in
their man-made opals. And he had some success. but he
decided that he wanted to find out how to do it without
dyes. If Mother Nature can, why couldn't he do it?
Naturally? And he wanted to make the famous Lightning Ridge
BLACK OPAL. And he has succeeded!

Someone (Leigh, I think) asked a question about "cracky"
opal, which brought out more very interesting information.

He studied "mountain" - i.e. "volcanic" - opal vs
sedimentary opal; they are entirely different. Why doesn't
the really dry ground just suck the soil out of the opal,
which has many times more water in it than the ground?

Because of the temperature it formed at, it requires a temp
of 600-800 degrees C. to start moving the water out of the
volcanic opal; but only about 60 degrees C. for the
sedimentary. But water won't keep "cracky" opal from
cracking. electron microscope studies show the interstices
of volcanic opal are full of "material", yet in sedimentary
opal it is only maybe 20% volcanic opal has the color IN it.
Sedimentary opal has the color ON it. And, opals are not
solid, they are liquid.

It is actually an ION EXCHANGE PROCESS. LIGHT is what cracks
crystal -- or, actually, atom migration; atoms moving around
to achieve balance. A process catalyzed, in this case, by
light. It is a slow process; it takes time to achieve
equilibrium, but GRADUALLY the natural "vibrations" slow
down. Which is while the opal does not crack immediately. He
has been able to get the atoms to re-migrate, and even
"heal" the cracks, but it does leave a little potch scar.

So, the more you handle "cracky" opal, the longer it will
last, (presumably because the alternations of light and dark
keep the "vibrations" going.)

He also said that you should put the "cracky" opal in
mineral oil; after 5-6 years he figures it will probably
become stable. And BTW, the "store your opals in mineral
oil" recommendation seems to be the general one I've heard
in australia. Not in water, not in glycerine; in MINERAL

I asked him about whether the opals he grew needed to have
darkness (they are in a rather dark shed). He said they
would probably grow faster in the dark.

"So, how do the 'nobbies' form?" ['Nobbies' are the
Lightning Ridge opal] First, we must know that millions of
years ago, there was a vast sea covering most of Australia.
His theory: there were cavities left in the seabed, and
water containing 120 ppm silica seeped in. There was a dry
period, followed by another sea. And more silicaceous water
seeped into the cavities. And so on. It gradually built up,
and filled the cavities.

Any "rubbish" left behind would have been in the bottom of
the cavity. It gets distributed around by molecular action.
But not always equally. The more rubbish present, the
"higher" in the spectrum (towards reds) the color will be.
Less rubbish yields blues.

And, he says, there is only a certain amount of electrolyte.
Once it's used up the process stops. The spheres in the red
layer are also larger (1/300 millionth) than those in the
blue (1/600 millionth), so they tend to settle and the blue
ones to rise.

A bit more of Len's Lightning Ridge geology: (and Lightning
Ridge actually is on a ridge, and was so named when a
sheepherder, his family, and herd of sheep were caught hp on
top in a lightning storm and all killed) -- the ridges are
like a really huge chasm that was filled. And the opal
occurs only in these ridges. [Their bore goes down 3400 ft.
to water, is only 400 yards from opal country, but in the
"black soil" -- not the Ridge]. The opal country runs 500
non-stop miles, by 300 mi wide in some places; and also
includes Coober Pedy, Andamooka, and White Cliffs.

He thinks that MOST of Australia, or at least the western
part, is underlain by opal. But is now tied up in "native
claims". (This is a big "give the land all back to the
Indians" type process Australia is going through now.)

Len's secrets will die with him. The main reason he has not
continued his research is that he firmly believes that he
would've eventually been able to make (man-made) opal that
could not have been distinguished from the native opal. And
this would, of course, totally wipe out the opal industry
in Australia.

He is now in the process of writing quite a number of books
about Australia's opals, illustrated with photos he has
taken of a lot of the really gorgeous and famous opals of
Australia. they are becoming collectors' items; I hear some
sell for as much as $800 nowadays.

He showed us his photography setup -- he uses a copy stand
with 2 hard lights on each side to get completely flat
lighting, plus a smaller hand-held one used to eliminate any
shadows. The opal is placed on a glass plate, positioned so
that the "flow" is left to right ("that's how our eye and
mind work"); and cloths of various colors (whatever he
wants for the background) are spread far enough below to be
out of focus. He occasionally shoots out of doors too, using
Velvia Professional; this film gives super-saturated colors
and is not for "normal" photography. Adobe Photoshop to
"massage" his scans..

And his recommendation for a polish for the "nobbies": equal
parts of Tin and Cerium oxides plus a little borax, on

If you want to contact him for further info, or autographed
copies of his books, address is 8 Pandora St.; Lightning
Ridge, N.S.W. Australia 2834.


They have some really funny signs in Australia. The one I
liked best cautioned drivers to PLEASE DROP YOUR DUST BEFORE
ENTERING TOWN." On a dirt "track", of course. Aimed mainly
at trucks, and refers to the big boil of dust that follows
behind a vehicle in the vacum it creates, especially a large
vehicle. So, they are to stop and let it settle, and then

In some towns (mostly the smaller ones), when angle-parking,
you back in! Great idea, we should do it that way too, as if
you have to back out you really can't see what's coming
until it's too late.

Many houses are built up on stilts. this is not mainly in
case of floods (although in some cases it does come in very
handy that way!). It is mainly for ventilation underneath,
and some insulation from the hot ground; and protection
from the snakes. they have many different kinds of snales in
Oz, and most of them are poisonous. And I mean
kill-you-really-quick poisonous! Some of the most deadly
ones in the world. In Yowah, we encountered a few homes
with the door threshold built up, up to 2 feet high, that
you had to step over to enter.

At Trafford's house (Barbara's friend and partner), he
showed us a snake (actually two of them) in a jar, that had
been found lying between the screen door and door, and which
had prompted the construction of the snake barrier.
Second-most poisonous snake in the world! And not all that
big, either. And on the road, nearly in front of Barbara's
home, we saw a Brown snake that someone had prudently run
over. And it kept getting flatter and flatter every time we
saw it! Very very deadly.Ah, well. There's always got to be
SOME drawback to Paradise!

And then there are the "bindies". Oz has a lot of deserty
plants, many quite stickery, and they do get into your
socks, and shoes. Usually, in Yowah at least, when you go
into someone's home you remove your shoes first, to leave
the bindies outside instead of in the rug. Gwen (Barbara's
friend and helper, miner, and seller of lots of great Yowah
Nut cabs to all of us) has a little dog named Bindy. Cute.
Loved to be scratched. And would lay down on its back (or
stomach) on the rocks and skootch back and forth to scratch.
And get rid of the bindies. It also helped her mine, of

Sometimes they encounter serious drought conditions in the
Bush, and the forage all is eaten and does not regenerate
with no water. So some take their herds (now mostly cattle,
very few sheep any more) to the "Long Paddock" -- the
shoulders of the road. This is entirely legal. And they may
go hundreds or even thousands of kilometers along the roads,
with their drovers (herders) following along. Barbara told
of one time seeing a fancy wagon for the drovers that was
being pulled by camels! (Yes there are some camels in Oz,
and they are wild ones!). they pulled over and got out to
take a picture, only to be shooed back in by the drover,
"that one up there in front is not well trained, he can be
very nasty!"so they went on. A few days later they read in
the paper that the camel driver had been arrested for
"driving a camel while drunk"!!

I forgot to mention earlier that the newest field in
Lightning Ridge is Mulga.

If you're looking for the best prices on opal at Tucson,
etc., look for a roving Aussie. Without a booth. He will
have the best prices, as he doesn't have to pay for the
booth, and staffing and so on.

We were not able to get to Koroit, due to road conditions.
But we did find a few Koroit slabs at one place in Yowah.
It is considered boulder opal, rather than nuts, but to my
inexpert eye it looks enough like the Yowah nuts to be
indistinguishable to me. It does generally have some small
pits in it, but they are generally not too noticeable, and
they can't be ground or polished out without also grinding
away the opal. So it is standard procedure to just ignore
them. He said that when polishing it, it should be done
with 15000 or higher diamond, as things like Tin or Cerium
oxide end up in the pits, and cannnot be removed -- and it
makes them very noticeable.

Rumors spread VERY fast in the Bush. When we got to
Lightning Ridge we went, first thing next morning, to the
office where they register the claims they've "pegged", in
order to get some information folders that they had inside.
We arrived a little before they opened and stood and waited
for a few minutes before it opened. this offis is NOT in
downtown Lightning Ridge. Yet within a day or two Barbara
was picking up rumors all over town of a new "rush" -- and
all attributable to us!. The person was very insistent:
"New rush somewhere around; Eskimo Nell has brought in a
whole mob of people to peg claims for her!" This jumped-at
conclusion probably dates back to the time when a man
actually did do just that; he actually put ads in the papers
for people to peg claims for him, and brought in a busload
to do so.

And when we arrived in Yowah, the Bush Telegraph very
quickly spread the word all over town; "Eskimo Nell is here
with a new mob, and they look like good ones!"

And were all eager to meet us.

The open pit mines in Yowah are generally started by using
a big backhoe to dig a trench about 1 1/2 ft wide. they keep
going down until they reach a layer of nuts, and the mine
then spreads from there. The trench may be as much as 40 ft
deep. You can usually still see the trench at one end of
side of the pit.

In Lightning Ridge, the" Wyoming" field (named for the
"station" is was located on), was where the nature of opal
prospecting changed. Up 'til then, they had been boring the
3 ft diameter shafts (that you go down via a ladder to get
into the mine) when prospecting. Then, with Wyoming, someone
came up with the idea of using a 6-8 inch drill for the
prospecting. this makes it easy to outline the deposit, so
you know just where to peg and then go in and register it
and sink their shaft and go. Much faster, much less
expensive, much more accurate.

Lightning Ridge black opal is not always really black;
certain darker shades of gray can also legally be called
black. But the gray ones mostly look sort of faded, to me.
There is other precious opal found there, too. And also
non-precious opal; in the jars of "rough" I bought there is
a plentiful amount of a crystal opal with blue blotches in
it. We were shown how putting a black backing on it makes a
really lovely cab, although without the "fire". The opal is
found in a layer of a sometimes rather clayey shale which
can be fairly hard stuff.

In Yowah, Koroit, and, of course, the Queensland boulder
opal fields, it is found in an ironstone. And they have to
be cracked open (like nuts, hence the name, I suppose) to
find out whether or not there is any opal in it. (seldom is!
You generally crack hundreds of nuts before finding one.) On
many that I cracked, I found that milliions of years ago it
did have opal, and probably very pretty. But it had entirely
dried up into nothing.

We arrived in Australia right after the summer rains had
finally stopped. The rivers in the bush were flooding. The
Australian bush country is VERY very flat. The Paroo river,
which kept us from Yowah and made us go to Lightning Ridge
first) was 4.5 meters over its bridge. The bridge in this
case is a fair distance above the river (maybe 5 feet). But
that 4.5 meter depth spread out several MILES on each side
into a large lake. It took the flood boat Barbara came out
on (to meet us) 30 minutes to get across. And the water
level was just staying the same; not going down, although
it was no longer raining up "above". Problem was that there
was so much water down below that there was no place to
drain to. Lake Eyre, a usually dry lake, was such a sight
that they were running small plane flights for people to
admire this spectacle.

But when the Paroo finally started dropping (the day we
headed over there) it went down so fast it must've looked
like the water running out of a bathtub.

Our weather was great. Sunny, just the right temp. A bit
chilly at night.

Guess that's about all. Ta!



Subject: NEW: Chatoyant or Cats-eye Beryl

I'm wondering how many people have seen chatoyant or
cats-eye beryl. I have some I've been cutting. I've read
in some places that's it's rare, but I'm wondering just how
rare? Are people familiar with it? What colors have you
seen? Any other info would be appreciated. I can tell you
that as far as cutting, orientation is difficult.



Subject: RE: Info on How-to-do Stone Mosaics/Pietre-Dure

Pietre Dure, according to John Sinkankas in 'Gem Cutting',
is just another name for Intarsia. You will find a good
explanation there and in several articles written in the
Lapidary Journal over the years.

Basically, you are putting together pieces of slabs of
stone, about 1/4 inch thick, to make a picture. The pieces
represent color variations, and are fitted together tightly.
The shapes are not square as in some mosaic work. This is
a rather quick rundown of what I remember from being in
class. I have not done too much work, but I have several
old magazine articles that I can refer to to answer

The design can be very simple, such as a few geometric
shapes or vases, up to something that resembles a paint by
numbers canvas before painting...for instance, a picture of
a man's face with all the shadows in the flesh tones.
(picture commissioned in Italy of Mr. Lizzardro who created
a Midwest rock museum).

The design is first drawn out and the different areas
planned for cutting. For instance, a little pink pig might
fit together more simply if each leg, the head, and the
body were different smaller pieces of material
(rhodochrosite?) to be ground and fitted together
independently. You can get some idea of that from looking
at stained glass work.

Materials will polish better if they are fairly near the
same hardness. Obsidian and opal tend to chip along the
edges and are not recommended. Do not use transparent

Take your master drawing and put it on top of some white
contact paper (leave the backing on for now). Between the
contact paper and the drawing put in a sheet of graphite
transfer paper. Go over your design and transfer it onto
the contact paper. Cut your contact paper on the lines to
make shape patterns for all the pieces. As you put your
picture together, you will work on the surface of a sheet
of glass. The master picture will go under the glass and
you will put your shaped pieces of stone with the contact
paper on them on top of the glass face down where they will
match the master picture.

By putting them face down, you will insure that the surface
of your intarsia will be flat. The slices of rock will
vary some in thickness and that variation will be on the
back of your picture, not the face that is next to the
glass. Is that all as clear as mud?

Anyway, take each little puzzle piece that you have made
and find an appropriate slab of rock to cut it from. You
will find that much stuff that you would consider too blah
for cabochons will do just fine in intarsia. In most cases,
you will want a very plain solid color for your background.
The background may be pieced in several sections. Now, on
your other pieces, the colors are not the only thing you are
utilizing, but the patterns in the rock as well. You may be
able to find naturally in one piece of rock a transition
from light to dark that you need for shading...or a bit of
Mexican lace agate that would be perfect for a lady's
petticoat, or striped rock for a tiger, petrified coral
that would make good bird feathers, or brown and white
streaky petrified wood that would make great collie dog

When you have the exact orientation of a piece planned,
remove the backing from your appropriate contact piece and
stick it onto the rock. Roughly saw out the piece of stone
leaving a little extra around it as you go. Preliminary
shaping can be done on lapidary grinding wheels. The final
shaping will be done with a flex shaft or a hand held Dremel
tool. Use a drip system, such as a used IV setup to drip
water on the area being ground. Protect the insides of your
tool from the water by putting a collar cut from plastic on
the shaft. Those little tabs on bread sacks are about the
right weight of plastic you need.

Saw the outside edge of your big background pieces as
accurately as possible. Then grind out the areas where the
other pieces are to fit in.

If I remember right, you will usually start fitting in one
upper corner and work down, fitting in the pieces and then
gluing a section together with epoxy before you go on to
another area. Grind one piece at a time down until it
mates in with the rest. You may be able to mark with a
lead pencil or an aluminum one where there are areas that
need to be ground down more. When a piece fits well, you
may epoxy in in, being sure to place your design face down
on the glass. Some feel it is better to grind the pieces
so that they fit together on the front surface and angle
just a little apart towards the back of the pieces, thus
giving a little more area to be filled by epoxy. One word
of caution, if you are planning to enter intarsia in
Federation competition then you may not use any coloring
agent in the epoxy.........with the exception of rock
powder. So you might want to save a little powder from
grinding in case of a little gap. Also, for competition,
details like eyebrows and mouths cannot be painted on.
They should be part of the rock, or a tiny added bit of
contrasting rock. You would be surprised what you can find
in the rocks, though. Polka dot agate has great animal
eyes already installed. Of course, if your intarsia is
merely for your own enjoyment, it is your own choice to
embellish with paints and such.

As to the process after the pieces are all fitted together,
I am a little bit vague on at this point. I think years
ago it was backed with cement. Later, with using pieces
with a big variation in thickness, bout a half inch of
casting plastic was poured onto the back to anchor the bits
in place (this involves a frame to work in and a razor
blade to clean off any getting on the face of the picture.).
The latest I have heard, with more or less uniform 1/4 inch
pieces the pour of plastic may not be necessary. But the
back probably needs some more epoxying to make it stable.

The picture is held together carefully in a temporary
wooden frame while the face is polished using a flat lap
and an appropriate gradation of grits and polish. Then
frame. No need for glass!

Hope this helps.

Rose Alene McArthur

Subject: RE: Glueing Stabilized Turquoise

A vital piece of information was missing from the problem
description: what was the adhesive?

My suspicion is that it was some form of "super-glue". I
have read many of the articles on inlay and intarsia; every
one in the recent past (10 years or so) has specified using
one of the cyanoacrylate adhesives. I never use it in this
type work, and don't expect to in the future.

Yes, it most likely bonded with the polymer which was used
to "stabilize" the turquoise. The solution to this problem
is to use a fast epoxy, or perhaps one of the UV-curing
epoxies. Sudden sticking isn't the only problem possible
here: superglue is hygroscopic, it not only draws water
from the air, but it also swells and breaks down over time
if exposed to water. Epoxy 330 does not have this problem,
and will even allow you to move pieces around for at least
5 minutes to work out any air pockets or bubbles.

In short, my preferred solution is using a different type
of bonding agent.

Jim Small
Small Wonders

Subject: RE: Problem with Polishing in Tumbling

(Issue #278)

Hi Hale,

Regarding the comments about glass beads from the previous
edition. The glass beads are easy to find. Just locate a
place that sells supplies for sandblasters. You will also
find that this is a good place to get your aluminum oxide
grit. You have to buy 50 lb. sacks, but the price here in
California is less than $0.60 per lb.

I tried using the glass beads in my tumbler and ended up
with a sludge resembling Portland cement. What did I do

Keep up the good work,

Bob Braun

Subject: RE: 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?>>

Hi Randy,

I haven't had to remove opal from a 14k setting before but
I do facet opal & use epoxy to hold the stone to the metal
dop. I assume that the opal is a solid opal & not a doublet
or triplet. If it is a triplet or doublet DO NOT try this
method, it WILL RUIN the stone.

The good thing about epoxy is it can't stand heat,
unfortunately neither can opal, but there is a work around.
Try placing the setting in a double boiler with luke warm
water. Raise the temperature to a boil. When it's boiling
steady lift the setting out with a tong or pliers & peel
the epoxy away from the stone. wrap the stone in a dish
towel or just hold it in your hand until it cools back
down to room temperature. That should work. I've never had
an opal crack while removing it from the dop with this

Good luck,


Subject: RE: 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, you can use acetone (slow), Attack (much faster),
or MEK (available at the hardware store). I use a large
mouth glass jar such as a Salsa Jar. Stuff some paper towel
in the jar and soak it with the solvent (one of the above).
Plop your piece in and check it the next morning. The stone
should now be loose.

One caution though. If you are working with something like
an inlay, you will almost always damage the stone when
removing it. The reason is that as the epoxy softens it
swells. It starts softening from the outer edge an in effect
starts prying up the opal. I have seen a large inlay
fractured into a series of parallel stones as the edge
progressed along. Looked like slats of a blind.

If the stone is more of a normal cab dimensions, there
should be enough mass to withstand the pressure of the
epoxy. Not guaranteed though. The thicker the stone the
better chance of success.

If the stone assembled with a very tight fit, and therefore
very little epoxy, it can be almost impossible to remove. I
assembled a doublet of quartz and synthetic corundum and
later had a need to separate them. I had cut them flat with
a 3000 lap then coated them with epoxy 330. Clamped them
and then put them in a vacuum to reduce the bubbles. It took
me almost a week to get them separated. An opal would never
have stood up to the torture.

A last resort is heat. The Epoxy 330 will release at
somewhere around the boiling point of water. You might start
SLOWLY boiling the piece, bringing it up to temperature over
a couple of hours. This will eliminate some of the stress on
the stone. After it is up to temp, take it out of the water
and attempt to separate it from the mount. This is tricky
though because you will need waterproof insulated gloves to
work with the piece and it will cool very quickly and allow
the epoxy to harden again.

One more thing, if you can acquire an "orange wood" stick
like the dentist used to use, you can file it down to a
knife like shape. This will allow you to have a tool to
work the stone out of the mount with without having metal
to stone contact. Just a little more insurance.

Good luck. Let us know how it turns out.

Don at Campbell Gemstones

Subject: RE: Designing a New Lapidary Workshop

I see that Gerry has gotten a lot of really good ideas for
the shop, I just want to bring up storage, (cardboard
doesn't hold up!) so plan some heavy duty shelving for easy
access, and also think about security and plan for solid
locks and bolts. As long as your putting in the couch, you
might as well put in toilet facilities and a fridge, since
your wife will probably never see you again after it is
done! <grin>

Just envy speaking, I am a wife and want the shop you are


Subject: RE: Designing a New Lapidary Workshop

Hello Gerry,

If you are scratch building your benches and work desk their
height must determined by your equipment. You want the work
area of the wheels to be at your optimum, and you want your
laps comfortable. No reaching or stooping. Some equipment
stands higher or lower than other brands and an inch or two
can make the difference between an enjoyable lapidary
experience and antiphlogistine (sp.)

Although I am average height (6'4) the rest of the world
seems to disagree with me and makes a lot of small stuff.

Anthony L. Lloyd-Rees

Yeah!! You're of average height just like I'm of average
weight!!! hale

Subject: RE: Designing a New Lapidary Workshop

If you are using water and electricity in close conjunction,
make sure to equip these circuits with GFI (Ground Fault
Interrupter) breakers. These are required for bathrooms and
kitchens by US building code, and I'm sure they'd be
required for lapidary areas if they'd thought of it. These
devices sense a short to ground (like through your hand to
the wet floor) and shut off the current immediately. They
aren't expensive, and could save your life.

Andrew Werby

Andrew Werby - United Artworks
Sculpture, Jewelry, and Other Art Stuff
We have several items in the Archives on GFI, most of them
were written by Mickey Broadway, a fellow club member and a
master electrician. For more information on GFI, search the
Archives. He's convinced me!! hale

Subject: RE: Designing a New Lapidary Workshop

A couple of items from my experience in designing/building
my new shop which was finished about a year ago.

Counter tops height: my counters finished out at 37 inches
and that works well for me (My height is 6 feet.)

At my soldering bench area, I put in a slide out tray to do
my soldering on. I have a vent fan over the soldering bench.

Since my plan called for a island counter to hold cabbing
equipment, I put two electrical outlets in the ceiling for
that eqipment.

To store a large stock of slabs, I found plastic shoe boxes
at Wal-Mart. I discarded the tops and made shelves wide
enough for the shoe boxes. I put a 1/2 inch square strip of
wood on the front edge of the shelves and tilted the front
edge of the shelves down about 15 degrees. That gives a
good view of what is in each box.

Finally, while I was framing up the building, I bought a
window type air-conditioner. My plans only called for two
windows so I framed up an opening for the AC, up high
between the door and a window.

I also framed an opening for a vented gas heater under one
window but when I got in the shop, I found that with a
tight, well insualted building, all that was required for
heat was a portable electric heater.

Hope these thought help.

Ed Elam

Subject: Re: Designing a New Lapidary Workshop

Don mentioned the need to waterproof your workbench top -
how about using Marine epoxy?

West Marine makes a superior waterproofing epoxy that is
designed for use on boats. We are planning to use it to
refinish a high-use table-top that frequently gets wet. We
know someone who uses it to build wooden boats from scratch
- both strip canoes and plywood sailboats. It seems that if
it is good enough to keep a boat from sogging it should
keep your workbench safe.


Subject: BIO: Lee Einer

Hi, everyone--

I am a newcomer to this digest. I have an old, Highland
Park lapidary unit which along with a dremel moto-tool
contstitutes my entire collection of lapidary equipment.

I live in sunny Phoenix, Arizona, which is a great place
for a rockhound to be. I have been cutting stones now for
5-6 years. My particular passions are Yowah Opal, agates
(including fire agate) and copper minerals. I also

Lee Einer
Welcome, Lee!! Glad to have you!! hale
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