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. 290 - Mon 4/2/2001
2. NEW: Upgrading a Slab Saw
3. NEW: Make or Buy Equipment?
4. RE: What is "Ivoryite"?
5. RE: What is "Ivoryite"?
6. RE: What is "Ivoryite"?
7. RE: Rock from Brazil
8. RE: Tumbling Times and Concentrations
9. SHOW: Columbus, Ohio, 3/31-4/1
10. WTB: Slab Saw Oil
11. BIO: John Braun
12. BIO: Becca


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 290 - Mon 4/2/2001

I have received two items on working black coral, and would
like to put out an entire issue just on working coral - all
types of coral, except fossil coral. If you have experience
in working coral of any type, please write it up and send it
to me in the next month, for inclusion in that issue. If you
have ideas of other items which should be included in a
"Working Coral" issue, please send those ideas too.

Giovanna <> sent the following news
item: "Boulder opals made some news in the Twin Cities
yesterday. A woman was indicted in a $2 million fraud scheme
involving the sale of distributorships for boulder opals.
People were paying $10,000 to $96,000 for a distribution
territory. It turned out that the stones that they paid
$45.00 per carat (!) were doublets worth about 50 cents to
$1.50 per carat." Anyone out there want an exclusive
distributing territory in NC?

It's hard to believe that it's almost time for the EFMLS
Wildacres Workshops to begin. Session 1 (5/7-13) with Bob
Jones as the guest speaker is about a month away and Session
2 (9/4-10) with Steve Chamberlain is on the horizon. If you
haven't made reservations yet, don't delay one more day.
The list of classes will be in the next issue, hopefully!
Registration for either session costs $260 which includes
room and board, all the talks by Bob Jones or Steve
Chamberlain and all the fun, sharing and learning that the
week can offer. I'm going and I look forward to seeing you
there this spring or fall. To register, send your name, address,
phone, e-mail and club affiliation, along with your check for
$260 (payable to EFMLS) to Tom Milligan, Registrar, 1107
Ivory Foster Rd, Owego, NY 13827-4324

If you haven't been to the Dremel Website recently, see the
link below and go back to visit now! Choose 'North America'
and enjoy!!

Spring progress report: In our atrium, my red azalia’s buds
are popping into blossoms, and outside, our dogwoods have
put out their buds and are straining to burst into bloom.
What a glorious time of the year to be alive!! And DUKE
beat Maryland last night!! Life is GOOD in the ACC!!!

Take care, guys ...


Subject: NEW: Upgrading a Slab Saw

I was thinking about upgrading my slab saw to a larger one.
Do you folks know of any plans to use possibly a cooler
and what do you use for a table? I will also need plans
for a vise and power feed if possible.

I have a 10 inch slab saw which I was hoping to gut for
parts and possibly use an old cooler with a hole drilled in
the side to put the arbor through. Then possibly get a
table made by a friend. I want to go to at least a 14" if
not bigger. Any suggestions? Any help will be greatly

Thanks folks, and happy rockhounding!

Robert Redden

Subject: NEW: Make or Buy Equipment?

At 05:48 PM 3/25/01 -0800, you wrote:

<<We need new lapidary hobbyists if the hobby is to grow.
But youngsters just don't have the money to buy new
equipment. This is why I am so hot on getting good plans
for make-it-yourself lapidary tools, and publicizing them.>>

The thought that comes to mind here is a quote: "time is
money". If you have an unlimited amount of time on your
hands, then the pursuit of creating your own equipment is
attractive. If you have a limited amount of time, as most
of us do, could that time not be spent more productively in
cutting the stones than making the equipment to cut stones?
Most of the modern lapidary equipment, although the designs
are decades old, are the result of engineering a better
machine to do the job at hand. Sure a plywood box with a
pipe shaft turning a steel disk cut from the top of a 55
gal drum that has water and silicon carbide dripping on it
and that has a couple of slides made from 2x4s coated with
bee's wax carrying a wood tray that a rock has been glued
to, using pine pitch, can be used as a slab saw. It might
even cut two or three rocks without a problem. Thirty years
ago, a company called Hyland Park built a series of special
saws for cutting rocks. They were among the best. They are
highly valued today as a good saw to own. They cost more to
purchase today than they cost new 20 years ago. Why? Well
they did the job they were designed to do, and they did it
well. They were easy to use. They didn't require a lot of
maintenance. They lasted. They will last for another 20

Now then, can you say that for the home made equipment?
When I was in the business of selling equipment, (and buying
used equipment to sell) I would be called into give a bid on
equipment that "uncle Fred" had made. In most all cased,
the equipment was a package that was built for the location
it was used in and was not easily transportable. It might
have been a big lap made from a washing machine, a grinder
made from wood blocks and an old motor. It took up great
amounts of room. It was great for the location it was
designed for, and for occasional use, but was worthless to
a second owner. On the other hand, when I received a call
from Uncle Leroy's niece saying she had a "Hyland Park,
Frantom, Diamond Pacific, Lortone, Crystalite, Star Diamond,
etc" for sale, I was interested because it was a known piece
of equipment designed for lapidary use and was expected to
have a considerable life expectancy. That is, it had market
value. It could be used for years and still have value when
the owner was ready to get a better setup.

Now doesn't it seem that your time is better spent using the
200 hours you have available to build machines and the $500
you have to spend on making your own machines, to spend it
on equipment that is ready to use and will do the job at
hand, rather than making some equipment that you can't get
rid of when you want to "up grade". I would rather take 80
or 100 hours of the two hundred and work at McDonalds for
$6.50 an hour and couple it with the money I had to spend on
the home made equipment and then I would have an additional
100 hours to spend on the hobby that is the reason I wanted
the machines to begin with. You have to ask yourself, Do I
want to cut rocks or do I want to make machinery?

I'm sorry if I am offending anyone but this is a question
that I have had to answer. Do I want to cut stones or do I
want to design and build machinery? It has been a difficult
decision as I truly like to make machines, and I am not sure
I have made the choice yet But as long as you know the
answer, then your time is well spent in either effort. You
just need to understand that unless you have unlimited time,
you can't do justice to both.


Subject: RE: What is "Ivoryite"?


I once purchased an "ivoryite" too and wondered what it was.
The shop owner was woefully ignorant of what the material
was. I have heard it is magnesite, so your reader might
want to start investigating in that direction.


Subject: RE: What is "Ivoryite"?

I do not know what Ivoryite is. If you lived here in
central Idaho, you would find that there is much common
opal that color. However, I understand that opal and
opalized wood are bad news for intarsia work, that they
tend to chip when you don't want them to.

Sincerely yours,

Rose Alene McArthur

Subject: RE: What is "Ivoryite"?

The following info comes from a sheet passed on to me titled
"Nature's Bounty" New and Unusual Materials for 2000. This
may have been intended to be a dealer's stock list but since
no prices are indicated, I am not sure. Most of the info on
it seems to be fairly accurate but I can see a number of
items I would question .

In any event, maybe this will help. "Ivoryite: Creamy-white,
smooth texture and satin luster. Excellent ivory substitute.
It is a chemically precipitated sedimentary rock composed of
magnesium (magnesite), calcium, silica and oxygen. H: 5-5½.
Cut with oil or water. Arizona."

Ed Elam

Subject: RE: Rock from Brazil

<< Does anyone know anything about a rock referred to as
window crystal from Brazil?>>

Dear Hale,

I wouldn't dispute Mark Liccini's version of the above
stone, but.....I am afraid that a more commonly seen version
of this curio is that of rock crystal cobbles which have
been windowed and polished so that one can peer inside the
otherwise frosted exterior. I bought some of these while on
gem buying trips to Brazil during the nineties. More
recently, while dealing at the Tyson Wells Early Show
earlier this year I found a Brazilian dealer with a
substantial quantity of these. Interspersed amongst them
were also some Amethyst and Rose Quartz cobbles. This led
me to believe that some enterprising Brazilian was creating
these cobbles by tumbling low end Quartz rubble. The
original "Window Rocks" were produced from large pieces of
optical Quartz which had been mined from alluvial deposits
in the State of Goias (not to mention Diamantina ) This
recovery was aimed at producing optical Quartz for the
American defense industries during World War II.

Welcome Back Hale !

Five other answers, essentially the same as the one above,
were received from:

David Horn,
Dave Woolley,
Alan Silverstein, and

I appreciate receiving your answers but just do not have
room to present what is essentially the same answer six
times. hale

Subject: RE: Tumbling Times and Concentrations

<<... any advice about using the same tumbler for polishing
metalwork with wood or steel shot?>>

If you use the same tumbler for metal polishing as for
tumbling rocks, you should get a second (separate) barrel
and dedicate it to metal polishing. The SiC grit for rocks
can get embedded in the barrel and scratch the metal. I
think separate barrels are a must!!

I also think you should use separate barrels for different


Subject: SHOW: Columbus, Ohio, 3/31-4/1

Best Show in the Midwest, the Central Ohio Mineral, Fossil,
Gem and Jewelry Show 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, March 31, and
11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, April 1. Veterans Memorial North
Hall, 300 W. Broad St., Columbus, Ohio. Admission: $5.00
adults, $2.00 Children 6-18, Under 6 free.

Theme: "Quartz and Its Varieties." 38 dealers, Lectures by
Si and Ann Frazier, Bob Jones and John Medici. I.D. Booth,
Demonstrations, Exhibits by institutions and individuals,
Silent Auctions, Swap Area, and special Childrens Area with
auctions, games, identification and free specimens.

Sponsored by the Columbus Rock and Mineral Society and the
Licking County Rock and Mineral Society. Net income from
the show goes to scholarships for Ohio students attending
Ohio colleges studying the earth sciences. E-mail me for

Mary Lindner

Subject: WTB: Slab Saw Oil

I am wanting to see if anyone knows where to purchase oil
to use with the 10" slab saw I purchased from a digest
reader. I would like to find it in the Tampa, St. Petersburg
area of Florida. Orlando is ok too. I only know of places on
the west cost to purchase it and I would LOVE to find it
closer to save on shipping. I would also like to thank all
of you kind rockhounds who sent me emails when I was looking
for my saw I really appreciate all your help.

Subject: BIO: John Braun

Hey Everyone!,
My name is John. I'm 42, married with 2 kids. I've always
been fascinated by the lapidary arts and have finally
decided to take the plunge!! You know that "do what you
love and the money will follow" adage. Well, being artistic
and creative and having a love of stones I've decided I'd
love to design and make jewelry! I just purchased a used
Graves diamond polisher and am looking for cabbing
equipment. Mostly a trim saw and an arbor setup. Perhaps a
Cabmate or a Lortone combo unit? I really appreciate any
advice and or recommendations. I'm looking into classes
offered by a woman (kulicke) in Sussex, NJ. I'm from Scotch
Plains, NJ.

My wife is out of work and her disability is coming to an
end (fibromyalgia), so the little boost would help (really
just doing it for the satisfaction of creating something
beautiful). It seems like I've waited forever to get started
and now that I've made the decision I can't seem to get the
needed items fast enough! I'd love to try intarsia and would
appreciate any advice on it. I have so many questions and am
afraid to start without help (looking for a local club) I'd
hate to destroy something because of impatience!!

I guess I'm rambling now, so I'll depart by saying this site
seems to be a wonderful resource and I'm sure I'll send a lot
of time here! Thanks so much for the time you put into this,

John Braun

Subject: BIO: Becca

My name is Becca and I have been rockhounding about two
years now. I have a seventeen year old son and live in
Florida. We really don't have many different rocks but we
do have tons of shell fossils in limestone. I have always
liked finding rocks as a child but now it is an "obsession".
Everywhere I drive I am constantly looking for places to
stop and look for rocks. I used to work in a photo shop and
in the nursery (plants) business. The town I live in does
not have a rock club that I know of. I have been looking but
so far nothing. If anyone is in the Crystal River area of
Florida knows of a club closer than Ocala PLEASE let me

I started out with rock tumblers. I just purchased a
vibra-lap and a 10" slab saw trough contacts with two
Lapidary Digest readers. Thank you kindly. I will be getting
a genie one day I hope. This list just keeps on going. I
wish I had gotten into this while I was still working so I
could afford more "toys". I am selling off my science
fiction collectibles now to pay for the toys I have gotten
so far. I have found, to my delight, that 99.9% of all
rockhounds I have met are just as "crazy" about collecting
as I am. You gotta love it!

I will be in North Carolina for the summer and I am
interested in any information about gem and mineral shows
in the western half of the state. I will be there the entire
months of June and July. North/Western Georgia and eastern
Tennessee will be viable destinations as well. I would also
be interested in any information on sites to dig other than
the Franklin area, which I love, that would be good for the
novice. Thank you in advance for your input.

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