Edited and Published by Hale Sweeny
Web Site:
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. 282 - Sun 2/4/2001
2. NEW: Making Triplets from Meteorite Slices
3. NEW: Bead Mill and Bead Making
4. NEW: How to Identify and Cut Iris Agate
5. NEW: How to Calculate Pulley Sizes on a Saw?
6. NEW: Channel Work Classes by Ed Elam.
7. RE: Need Info on Automatic Lapidary Machines
8. RE: Need Info on Automatic Lapidary Machines
9. RE: Chatoyant or Cats-eye Beryl
10. RE: Drilling Holes in Stones
11. RE: How to Work Copal
12. RE: How to Work Copal
13. BIO: Roger Varvel
14. FS: Raytech 15" Vibratory Lap


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 282 - Sun 2/4/2001

When we restarted, we lost a significant number of members
as their addresses had changed and there was no way to
contact them. I'm asking for your help. Please send or give
the following note to your club bulletin Editor for
inclusion in your club newsletter.....

"The Lapidary Digest is back!! This widely-circulated e-mail
Digest is devoted to queries and answers on Lapidary topics.
Delivered weekly. Subscription is free; just send an e-mail
to and put the word SUBSCRIBE on
the Subject line of the message form."

And remind your Editor that items in the Digest may be
freely published in non-commercial club newsletters without
asking for copyright release for every item. But this
permission also requires that the Editor cite the Digest
and Issue number as the source and credit the authors for
each item published.

I told you about the lapidary material for sale on eBay as
a fund-raiser to cover medical expenses of a fellow
rockhound. They now have some Victoria Stone cabs -- quite
rare, as Victoria Stone is not made any more! And more stuff
of interest to lapidarys. You can see these and other items
by going to and searching for all items for
sale by tsanders1.

Received a note from Ed Elam (see below) about his week-long
channel work workshops this year, and that reminded me that
you might like to see info on other jewelry, lapidary or
related week-long workshops this summer. If so, check out
the following websites:

William Holland School of Lapidary Arts

John C. Campbell Folk School

Arrowmont School of Crafts (summer classes)

Penland School

Wildacres Workshops (Eastern Federation)

Wildacres Workshops (conducted by Southeast Federation)
Wm. Holland Workshops (conducted by Southeast Federation)

For those of you not familiar with the schools put on each
year by the Eastern Federation (EFMLS) at Wildacres and by
the Southeast Federation (SFMS) at Wildacres and at
William Holland Lapidary School, full information may be
found at the URLs given above. Both federations take
students from other Federations on a space available basis.
The cost in nominal. Such lapidary courses as cabochon,
faceting, intarsia, carving, and many courses in different
kinds of jewelry making are conducted.

If you know of other summer workshops which may be of
interest to members of this list, please send the URLs
describing the schools, courses and fees.


Subject: NEW: Making Triplets from Meteorite Slices

I want to make triplets from thin slices of Mars and Lunar
meteorites, but have not been able to find slices of quartz
or backing material. Can anyone point me to a supplier and
perhaps describe the process.

Handmade Knives by D. Fronefield
"Specializing in meteorites and other exotic materials"
Dan: There are several excellent descriptions of how to
make both doublets and triplets in the Archives. Suggest
you search on the word 'triplet'. I'm sure someone here
can suggest suppliers of quartz and backing material. hale

Subject: NEW: Bead Mill and Bead Making

I have acquired a bead mill that has one spring missing as
well as some other parts and the instruction sheets. I do
not know the brand but it is blue and the springs are not
attached as in another bead mill that I am familiar with,
it is also blue. The springs measure top - one inch,
bottom - one and one half inch, height - two inches. Is
there anyone out there that could furnish me information on
what will be needed to make this mill complete and/or
instructions that may have come with it? Are parts still
available for it?

I would also be grateful if anyone could give me some
instructions on how to finish beads in the mill beyond the
rough grinding. The only reference that I have is a Gems
and Minerals article that says to rough grind them until
they are round then put them in a tumbler to complete the
finer grindings. Contact me off-line if you wish.


I would appreciate receiving directions for operating a bead
mill, from start to finish. The last mill I remember seeing
was at a gem shop in Franklin NC about 10 years ago. It did
have a set of instructions from the manufacturer inside, but
I left them there! (smile) I did ask last year who made
them still, but did not get an answer, as I remember it!
Has anyone seen them lately in any catalogues? Anyone know
who makes them now? Where to buy them? hale

Subject: NEW: How to Identify and Cut Iris Agate

I have a question about Iris Agate. We collected at a well
known Idaho site, and when we got home I came across an
article saying there was iris agate there, besides other
interesting things. Well, now, I know there wouldn't be an
interesting pattern in the iris agate. So the next time we
visited the site, I picked up a lot of plain chalcedony.
And, you know, I still don't know how to identify the most
likely candidates for cutting.

I know that I have to cut it at a right angle to the base of
the formation. Can anyone give me any more clues as to what
to look for? I am wondering if the tracing of little fine
lines radiating upwards on the broken surface is what I
should look for, or is it something else? Hate to just
randomly cut all those little blobs.

Thank you,

Rose Alene McArthur

Subject: NEW: How to Calculate Pulley Sizes on a Saw?

My saw has a 1750 rpm motor, a 14" saw blade, and a 7"
pulley on the saw blade shaft. What size pulley do I need
on the motor shaft for optimum cutting speed?

Is there a formula for calculating this should I decide to
use larger blades on the saw?

Rita Wright

Subject: NEW: Channel Work Classes by Ed Elam.

I will teach two channel work sessions this summer.

My first one week session will be May 7-13 for the Eastern
Federation at Wildacres near Little Switzerland, NC. Full
information may be found at

My other session will be at John C. Campbell Folk School at
Brasstown, NC, July 8-14. Information:

Both locations offer a wonderful experience at a reasonable
cost plus they are both located in what I suppose is my
favorite place in this old world: the mountains of North

Ed Elam


Subject: RE: Need Info on Automatic Lapidary Machines

<<Where can I buy a cameo copying machine which can make
cameos like a key copying machine in hardware store? Also,
is there a lapidary slab saw on the market which can
work automatically in two directions ...(snip)...>>

To do your cameo's you will need an ultrasonic drill and
you are going to have to carve the reverse core bit, you
can't buy that.

A company way back in the Heisi bead days(25 years ago),
I think they were called Sunbell, in Albuquerque, NM was
doing this. But they only got a couple passes with each
core bit, as I recall. For the Drill, try Imahasi a Japanese
equipment manufacturer, or look up drills in the Thomas
Register. But Imahasi's makes a line for stone drilling.

The saw you want is made, likely only made to order these
days, in Idar Oberstein, Germany. The companies I know about
are Edus, Winter and Lux. Used to be you could buy American
made gang saws. But that just cut multiple slabs.

I am a little slow to get to it, but I am putting up at my
website scans of the catalogs of all the Equipment makers
who make advanced Lapidary Equipment. I have photos here of
automatic operations, and some international factories.

Mark Liccini

Subject: RE: Need Info on Automatic Lapidary Machines

<<Where can I buy a cameo copying machine which can make
cameos like a key copying machine in hardware store?>>

Copying keys is a much simpler problem, since there is only
one contour to transfer. A cameo can be thought of as a
series of hundreds of contours stacked side by side, all
different. In the early 1900's pantograph-style machines
were developed that automate the process somewhat, using an
articulated tracer arm which reduces a larger pattern.

The modern way to do this would be to make a digital model
of the relief, either by making a 3d scan of a physical
model or by constructing it directly in a CAD program, then
using a program which generates a "toolpath" from this, and
using a 3-axis CNC milling machine to do the actual carving.
I have all this gear (I sell it through my website at and have been meaning to try it
on a lapidary project, but I'd need to work out a method to
keep coolant on the work and abrasive grit off of the
working parts of my machine. One advantage would be that
polishing could be done automatically with the same
toolpath, eliminating a lot of tedium.]

<<I wonder if there is a professional saw which can
take a big chunk of stone and cut it automatically like a
loaf of bread without any operator involvement?>>

It would be more efficient to set up a series of saw blades
parallel to one another (a "gang-saw"), with spacers to keep
them the correct distance apart; then you could cut multiple
slabs simultaneously. You'd need more power, but it would be
lots faster.

Andrew Werby - United Artworks
Sculpture, Jewelry, and Other Art Stuff

Subject: RE: Chatoyant or Cats-eye Beryl

In LD Issue No. 281, you wrote:
<<In that case, Mark, maybe you could arrange to high-grade
some of the pretty-colored pieces? Big chunks of unflawed
material for low prices would be nice. ..(snip).. By "moon",
I assume you mean a spot of light that tracks the
beam? I notice this in the rough, but as the polish advances
the effect seems to disperse, for some reason. If one cuts
for the best moon on a spherical piece of rough, would that
be the "eye"?

I have a stock of this silky Aquamarine at Lot#5.
Yes, moons is a moving spot of circular light. I would
expect you can first make the roughs into a marble or ball
shape. If it has an eye direction, that is the sure way to
find it. Most of them don't have enough parallel lines of

Hate to break the news, but there is very, very little
natural occurring Golden Beryl. What you see for sale is
usually irradiated in a Colbolt 60 lab. It does occur. For
example in Brazil, the Nova Era mines produce some small,
almost always included dark Orange and Yellow Beryl. There
was supposedly large deposits on the Russian border with
Afghanistan. A fantastic Canary yellow. But my associates
inform me that it was irradiated. There is no way to
separate or identify Beryl irradiated in a lab or one which
nature irradiated.

Mark Liccini

Subject: RE: Drilling Holes in Stones

The Rio Grande company in Albuquerque New Mexico has a new
tool catalogue that has numerous diamond drill bits in it..
I like the ripple drill it is a standard drill bit coated
with diamond. Gives cleaner holes and gets the coolant where
it is needed.

Phone 800 545 6566. Ask for a catalogue.
Bob Aurelius

Subject: RE: How to Work Copal

<<I was told to not polish Copal, but to dip it in Muriatic
acid, then rinse well. Has anyone heard of this?>>

Sounds like the treatment for calcite. The acid attacks
the surface, especially any raised spots that are more
easily accessible. Pretty soon there aren't any bumps and
the surface is smooth. I wouldn't expect it to work on
copal, but maybe you could use some kind of organic
solvent. Maybe lacquer thinner or acetone would dissolve
the surface.


Subject: RE: How to Work Copal

In New Zealand, we call copal: Kauri Gum. To work it:

..Remove the rough material with a sharp knife by a
scraping action.

..Use wet and dry silicon carbide paper 180, 360, 600 to
finish shaping and smooth it off.

..Use a soft cloth and "Brasso" to polish the material.
"Brasso" is a liquid we use in NZ to polish brass.
So any similar liquid should do. Silver polish
does not work.

All of this can be done by hand. No machinery needed.

Craig McGregor

Subject: BIO: Roger Varvel

Good morning everyone,

I'm Roger Varvel from Shawnee, Kansas. Although I'm just
getting started in the field, I have found the best source
of information is the people that have already been down
the road.

We do gem and mineral shows in the Midwest area and since I
just retired, we will be doing more this year. We wanted
to shift our merchandise to more of a "we made it" instead
of purchased items.

My bride does faceting and we are planning a workshop in
which to create our masterpieces.

I have a ton of slabs and am building my equipment. That
way I can make little rocks out of big rocks. Don't you
normally have to go to prison for that?

Have a Happy

Roger Varvel

Subject: FS: Raytech 15" Vibratory Lap

I have a Raytech H 15" model Vibratory lap for sale. It is
in mint condition and just taking up space. Can be shipped
UPS anywhere in U S A. If you want or need one, this is a
good buy.

Leo Kusher
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