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. 299 - Sat 6/2/2001
2. NEW: Which Polish to use in Tumbling Fluorite?
3. NEW: Where to Find Good Tumbling Rough
4. NEW: Tumbling E-zine
5. NEW: Vibratory vs. Rotary Tumbler Differences
6. NEW: What Grits to Use with What Stones
7. NEW: Need Tumbling Instructions or Recipes
8. NEW: Looking for Bookends and Bookend Maker
9. NEW: Value of Agatized Golden Palm Onion
10. RE: Tumbling Rocks in a Vibratory Tumbler
11. RE: Aqua Aura
12. RE: How to Make Ammolite Doublets or Triplets
13. RE: What is 'Steel Grit'?
14. RE: Source of African Pietersite Rough
15. RE: Who Bought Highland Park Company?
16. RE: Who Bought Highland Park Company?
17. FS: Used Lapidary Equipment


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 299 - Sat 6/2/2001

There are a large number of queries about tumbling in this
and the last issues, and that means that tumbling is a
subject we should concentrate on for a while. Tumbling
is and has been a very low tech operation, using a hard
material (like Silicon Carbide) to scratch away unwanted
parts of rocks, at first with hard materials of a large
size which gives large scratches, and then continually
decreasing the sizes of the hard materials to give smaller
and smaller scratches, until the surface looks smooth and
finally reflective. I am especially inviting queries and
responses on tumbling over the next several issues. Let's
build up a good amount of archived information on this.

The LapDigest received two warnings this week - and I got
one myself - about a virus which was supposed to strike on
June 1; the warnings recommended erasing a file. Turns out
that file is a regular part of Windows and so anyone with
Windows would find it in their machine. Also turns out that
if anyone did erase it, the machine would continue to work
until very long file names became corrupted -a rare
circumstance. If you erased yours, don't sweat it. But the
warning was an especially insidious virus in itself!
If you get such warnings in the future, DON'T send them on
without checking with virus software maker's webpages. They
will have the straight poop!!! AND DO NOT EVER SEND SUCH

May! The weather is warm, and everything is verdant green!
It is a great time to be outside. I'm finally going away
this week for a week or so - either to Charleston or to the
Beach! (Last time I planned to take a break, I got sick!!)
So the next issue may be a few days late!!

Enjoy the outdoors and the weather! And have FUN!!


Subject: NEW: Which Polish to use in Tumbling Fluorite?


I'm tumbling some fluorite and can't find any references to
what polish is best to use. I think it would probably be
best to use plastic pellets in the polishing step to
prevent spalling, but so far nothing I've used gives a
respectable polish. I've seen highly polished tumble
Fluorite for sale so I know there's something that works.
Just haven't found it yet.

Criss Morgan
There was something about this recently in one of the Rock-
hound mail lists. Would someone who takes that list please
abstract and send a summary of any significant results from
it to the Digest? Would appreciate it! Would also want any
opinions or information any of you have on tumble polishing
fluoride. hale

Subject: NEW: Where to Find Good Tumbling Rough


I have been interested in reading your Lapidary publication
recently. I am neither a faceter/cutter or lapidary. My
interest is mainly in tumbling gem stones. I find it a
never ending learning process. No two batches work or
handle alike.

I would like to find true sources for gemstone rough. Not
eBay or little old ladies that found 55 gal. drums of rough
in their great uncles garage, or rough found in old dynamite
boxes in an abandoned mine.

"Mine Run" by definition should mean rough found in a mine
after it is chipped or broken loose. What you get usually
are pebble sized pieces obviously swept up from a cutting
room floor with saw marks on them. There are a lot of sand
sized pieces of dirt mixed in.

I would appreciate hearing from you if you have any of this
information. (More questions below.)


Ron Riley
Ron: Mail lists have a hard time handling multiple queries
in a single letter, as these different queries all start
different threads of discussion and we use the Subject to
define the threads.. The letter from Ron had four topics. I
have broken your letter into four letters and am including
the other three below. hale

Subject: NEW: Tumbling E-zine

.. I would like to find a good, interesting ezine even
partially as good as yours but specifically involving

Ron Riley

Subject: NEW: Vibratory vs. Rotary Tumbler Differences

..I would love to see a good and lively discussion of the
differences in "Vibrating" and Drum or "Rotating" tumblers.
I have several opinions on this subject.

Ron Riley

Subject: NEW: What Grits to Use with What Stones

..I would like to see recommendations on what grit to use
for what stones. Definitions of grit size to define what is
used in each stage of any level of stone hardness. Specific

Ron Riley

Subject: NEW: Need Tumbling Instructions or Recipes

Hi, Hale. I have just spent a lot of time in the Archives
and was looking for tumbling instructions. I did not find
any. There were a lot a interesting threads but I want to
start from scratch and go to mirror finish. We have a four
pound vibrating tumbler and a ten pound Thumblers tumbler
(rotary). We went on a field trip to collect Boley Agate
and found some great pieces.

Thanks for a great digest.


Subject: NEW: Looking for Bookends and Bookend Maker

Hi Hale,

Glad to you are having some fun in your life!

I'm looking for bloodstone bookends and can't seem to find
them. Also looking for someone with rough stone and the
equipment to made bookends. Don't know if you would publish
this in the Lapdigest but thought I would ask.

Gloria Hoover
Jewelry, jade, quartz, decor items, bookends

Subject: NEW: Value of Agatized Golden Palm Onion

Hi Hale,

I was referred to your web page by Mike Sielaff. I want to
determine the value of a 57 lb. agatized golden palm onion
(the palm root ball at the base of the tree). I wish to
trade it this summer for agate rough. It could be cut up as
palm root rough but these balls are rare and would make a
better specimen. Our rock club has a 198 lb specimen; mine
is only the second one I have seen. Thanks for any help.

Gene Healy
Austin, TX

Subject: RE: Tumbling Rocks in a Vibratory Tumbler

Dear Theresa,

Since vibratory tumblers do not "tumble" it is important to
realize that you cannot get the same effect from a vibratory
tumbler that is traditionally associated with conventional
rotary tumblers. You can NOT get good shaping with a
vibratory tumbler. If you start with an angular piece, you
will end up with a polished, but still very angular piece.

The best approach to this problem is to let each method do
what it does best and start out with a rotary tumbler in
order to get a nice rounding of the rough and then go to the
vibratory tumbler to effect a rapid polish. (assuming, of
course, that you go through the usual progression of grits.)

You might consider doing a week to ten days in the rotary in
order to get the shape that you need and then go to the
vibratory to accomplish the other three steps. If you have
any choice, you might avoid using the octagonal barrels that
many rotary tumblers have and use the smooth sided type
barrels. The octagonal barrels are not as efficient as the
smooth sided ones and have a tendency to "over transport"
the rough and then drop it, thus resulting in impact
fractures. (Those of you who have had experience with
tumbling will recognize impact fractures as those
semi-circular cracks that occur on the surface of gems that
typically have a conchoidal fracture......agate, obsidian,
opal, etc.)

Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.

Subject: RE: Aqua Aura

Dear Hale,

Aqua Aura is quartz with gold and is light blue in colour.
Titanium Quartz is quartz with titanium and has bright
metallic rainbow and gold colours.
Cobalt Quartz is quartz with cobalt and is similar looking
to Titanium Quartz except it is predominately deep blue in
Ruby Aura is quartz with palladium and ruby red in colour.
Opal Aura is quartz with a finer layer of gold giving an
opalescent effect to the outer layer of the quartz.

We do not have very many in stock at the moment. The prices
are fairly similar, say, £7.99 GBP for smallish points to
£30.00 GBP for a largish point, and around £19.00 GBP to
£23.00 GBP group plus shipping from United Kingdom.

If you have something specific in mind and would like more
information please ask.



Gloria Goff and David Martin
Merlin's Cave - Tintagel
Thanks very much for this information. Do you know how they
control the thickness of the layer of gold to make Opal vs.
Aqua Aura? Are these the entire range of metal coatings
used? Any other information would be appreciated. hale

Subject: RE: How to Make Ammolite Doublets or Triplets

There's a good article on Ammolite on pages 4 thru 25 of
the spring issue of Gems & Gemology. A check with a local
jeweler or gemologist may produce a copy you could use.

If that's not possible, copies of this issue are available
from GIA ( or 800-421-7250 ext.7250. I
believe copies are $17.50 ea.

Another note with the same information was sent in by Ivan
Saddler G.G.(GIA), and we thank you, Ivan. hale

Subject: RE: What is 'Steel Grit'?

<<A friend sent me a lot of grit for my tumbler, but didn't
know what it all was as it belonged to her late husband.
In addition to SiC grits, there were several cans of "steel
grit". I've asked locally and no one knows what it would
be used for. Can any of your readers help?>>

Steel grit is the most common abrasive used in enclosed
'blasting' machines for industrial scale cleaning of metal
surfaces. It is very recyclable, but has a high initial
cost. It is generally not used in water environments because
it can rust.

Steel grit can be used with a 'tool' to (very) rough grind
glass and other brittle materials. Its surface of
non-rounded edges is effective with pressure and
motion/rotation at breaking out small chips quickly.
Cutting oils can be used instead of water for
cooling/lubrication; I believe it is also used dry.

I have also seen steel grit referred to as forged steel
grit and crushed steel grit. With very long repeated use
steel grit tends to make small spheres and become useless.

I've never heard of using steel grit for tumbling rocks, but
the above uses would suggest it for rough or maybe pre-rough
work, dry stage, on rocks that have a conchoidal fracture.
Recycle with a magnet (blow the dust off it).

Kreigh Tomaszewski
Please visit our family web pages at

Subject: RE: Source of African Pietersite Rough

Rick asked: <<I am currently looking for a good, reliable
source for African Pietersite rough.>>

This is another example of the value of searching the
Archives. I did and found:

Joe Dugan reported: "I notice that Goodnows in Texas sells
the rough up to $100/lb." and

In Issue 272, Andy Parker added: "Hannes Kleynhans at mines the material - US$50 per kilo,
last time I asked."

Hope this helps


Subject: RE: Who Bought Highland Park Company?

To: Rikki & Luther:

Contempo Lapidary bought Highland Park back in 1986 which
was one of three major companies that it purchased to make
up Contempo Lapidary. In Oct 1998 We sold Contempo to
Diamond Pacific Tool Corp. Since then they have done a fine
job continuing the production and support of most of the
old Highland park equipment. Depending on your needs they
can help you. Their direct phone number is 1-800-253-2954.

Bill Ritter (Founder of Contempo Lapidary.)

Subject: RE: Who Bought Highland Park Company?

For all of the Lapidaries out there, I will try to give a
little information on Highland Park and some of the other
older companies. In October 1997, Diamond Pacific Tool
Corporation of Barstow, California bought out Contempo
Lapidary of Sylmar, California. Contempo had previously
purchased equipment lines from Highland Park, Beacon
Engineering (Beacon Star), and Frantom. They also purchased
part of the Scott Murray tumbler line. (Lortone purchased
the other part of Scott Murray.)

Diamond Pacific is still manufacturing some of the equipment
much the same as it was, and some has been upgraded.
Contempo made some changes in the equipment over the years,
particularly in the large slab saws. The current Diamond
Pacific saws are an upgraded version of the Contempo saws,
which were a consolidation of the Highland Park, Beacon and
Frantom saws.

In May of this year, Diamond Pacific acquired Custom
Technology. We are presently in the process of installing
the manufacturing equipment which we moved from Iowa to
California. We plan to continue manufacturing the complete
line of Mini-Sonic, and Vibra-Sonic tumblers, as well as the
Vibra Dry line of polishing compound.

You may contact Diamond Pacific Customer service for
additional assistance or information by calling our toll
free number: 800-253-2954.

I hope that this information helps, especially those of you
with older equipment.

Jill E. Durbin
Office Manager
This completes the history of these companies, and I thank
Jill for the complete history. Also thanks to Addy DePietro
for similar information, which was not published as it
duplicated the information above. hale

Subject: FS: Used Lapidary Equipment

Hi, Hale

I have some used equipment for sale:

Lortone 8 MaxPro BASIC arbor like brand new, this is the
BASIC arbor as seen in the Lortone catalog, cost $425 sell
$225 plus shipping.

Star custom 8" arbor, custom stainless steel shaft with 6
6" Diamond Pacific wheels 80-160-280-600-1200-14000 with at
least 50% cutting life left. Made with 2" spacing between
wheels (twice that of a Genie) which makes working so much
easier. Right end tapped for buffing pad, custom aluminum
splash guards and spitter, 1/2 hp motor 115v single phase,
mounted on laminate covered base. Ready to plug in and use.
Cost over $1000 to build, $575 plus shipping.

Bill Mason
Semmes, Alabama
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