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The Art of Gem Carving (Video)

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Author Topic: The Art of Gem Carving (Video)  (Read 3989 times)
3rdRockFromTheFun
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Arfzzz...


« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2012, 09:14:03 am »

Ah... well I knew it was somebody who was a superb carver which made me trust the advice!

Unfortunately I cannot afford a foredom (I tried but I cannot stop buying rock so I am broke each month - no complaints though!)
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pete
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« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2012, 05:10:57 pm »


I would definitely save for whatever Kurt or Daniel uses if you don't have one yet... probably Foredom.


Hello...


Don't you use a foredom Pete? I thought I saw you mention a dremel once too (perhaps it was in a cursing sort of manner...) ??
I probably mentioned dremel because it's a household word.
I started with a cheap copy of a dremel which lasted quite a while then earlier this year it finally gave up the ghost so replaced it with a dremel. I got the dremel because I thought it might have better accuracy at the tip, which it does, but the mandrel collar is proprietary so all my old collars won't fit. Unfortunately dremel parts are overpriced I think.

I also use a Strong Micromotor which is what the opal carving pro's use. The collar can't be changed quickly and easily so it's set up for 3/32" burrs and the dremel for the larger.

I don't use high speed on either. about mid speed and a bit lower. I don't like the sound of the dremel screaming at 35,000, it's not very musical! The Micromotor is very quiet.
Thanks Frank
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3rdRockFromTheFun
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Arfzzz...


« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2012, 07:19:11 pm »

Well I stand corrected Helen - seems it's split on the equipment but most do seem to like the medium to higher speeds.

And my mind is blown now after seeing Pete's latest work knowing he uses a dremel - wow!
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helens
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« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2012, 07:34:02 pm »


I would definitely save for whatever Kurt or Daniel uses if you don't have one yet... probably Foredom.


Hello...


Don't you use a foredom Pete? I thought I saw you mention a dremel once too (perhaps it was in a cursing sort of manner...) ??
I probably mentioned dremel because it's a household word.
I started with a cheap copy of a dremel which lasted quite a while then earlier this year it finally gave up the ghost so replaced it with a dremel. I got the dremel because I thought it might have better accuracy at the tip, which it does, but the mandrel collar is proprietary so all my old collars won't fit. Unfortunately dremel parts are overpriced I think.

I also use a Strong Micromotor which is what the opal carving pro's use. The collar can't be changed quickly and easily so it's set up for 3/32" burrs and the dremel for the larger.

I don't use high speed on either. about mid speed and a bit lower. I don't like the sound of the dremel screaming at 35,000, it's not very musical! The Micromotor is very quiet.
Thanks Frank


(LOL! What a messy quote:P. Too lazy to clean it up tho:P)

Hi Pete:)! I bought some of my dremel bits here: http://www.widgetsupply.com/category/dremel.html

They are VERY VERY cheap and have lots of sales making stuff even cheaper:).  I got lucky I think because when I went to get some rubber dremel bits (to spray grits in my face more easily) they had a sale, and I think I spent about $40 for a 2' long box of dremel stuff (including a hanging arm so I could hang up my dremel instead of dropping it on the floor every 10 minutes, when I moved the flex shaft), plus a bunch of spare tweezers, assorted other things I'm sure I'll never use but looked interesting to try:P.

I thought they must be horribly cheap tools because the prices were so low... but after spending around $8 each for real NOVA bits, frankly, I don't see a big difference. My $1.99 set of 6 rubber bullets don't seem TOOO much worse than the single $8 NOVA bits (but of course unlike the NOVA, do not come impregnated with diamond).

Note: I have NOT carved much!!!! That means I do not have long experience with any of the bits at all. As mentioned earlier, I get splattered, get very tired of it, ran inside, and didn't go back out to try again for another week... LOL!

Another thing I experienced was bit 'creep' for lack of a better word. That is, I'd put the bit in the chuck, hand tighten, and as soon as the dremel turned on, that bit started creeping out of the chuck, and I'd have to shut down the dremel and push it back in and tighten again. This was definitely not a measure of the cheap bits, the NOVA crept the worst of all of them.

I will definitely try carving again, but I have to work up the desire to play in the mud first:P. Again, I have nothing but admiration for carvers!!
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lonelygems
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« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2012, 06:04:28 am »

Helen....the big different between cheapo bits and reliable trademark one (usually more expenssive) is tm one will last longer than cheap one if we used it right way with water and cut smoother so we can sanding more easy after cut a perform. Good one is also more centered, it won't whacking on your carving piece.... to avoid loosing bit from chuck, you must used the right bit shank with whatever your chuck or for easier use an adjustable handpiece chuck, it can grip on any shank.....i hope this will help yes
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helens
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« Reply #20 on: August 16, 2012, 08:27:14 pm »

Yah, I think I was just not tightening it enough... the cheap bits did that less than the expensive bits!!! I need to try it again:).
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Debbie K
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« Reply #21 on: August 17, 2012, 07:25:44 am »

I use brass bits that I've shaped with a file with the bit spinning (and handpiece clamped down, a makeshift lathe) with diamond and oil to carve with. I buy the rod in varying sizes at a hobby shop (it's used for making models). I also use toothpicks, pins, needles, nails and pieces of wood dowel. Whatever you make, make the same bit for as many varieties of grit you have. I know a guy who swears by lexan (hard plastic) with oil and diamond, I've never used it.
 
I used a Dremel for years because it's capable of even higher speeds than a Foredom. I'm poor, so I never bought a Foredom. I know they're quality machines, but I bought a 1/10 hp Grobet with a flex shaft and stand for about 1/4-1/3 what a Foredom costs. I've gone thru 2 Dremels and am on my third, and still use the Grobet all the time. I also got a Wecheer 1/4 hp for big jobs, and built a point carver out of an old polishing arbor with a 1/4 hp motor. I also made a couple of those stands out of 2x4's that clamp on your workarea and on your handpiece and let you use both hands to hold the piece. I have found that the lower speeds and pressure cut hardstone better, and the high speeds and a light touch are best for softer stones; completely counter-intuitive.

The Grobet adjustable handpiece (and Wecheer) is great for all sizes of bits, including handmade ones, but too large for me to hold comfortably for long periods of time. I got a pencil handpiece from Wecheer for about $30.00 (as opposed to $100 for a Foredom) and it works great.

Helen, go to OfficeMax or Staples and ask them for the Plexiglass stands that you can display brochures, etc, in; they're L shaped and small enough you can work behind them without getting hit in the face with mud.

Lonelygems is right about the bits; I've found that the dremel ones last a long time, but they don't have many shapes. I personally don't care for sintered bits; I've had quartz's chip and crack using them. I prefer the cheap ones from Harbor Freight for roughing out. Woodcraft carries a set of bits that have 4 grit sizes from apprx 120 - 600 that costs about $31.00 (4 boxes with 20 per box). I really like them, I can start finishing the piece without all the black gunk that the brass, oil and diamond gives you.

I started making polishing/grinding wheels from felt wheels, epoxy, fumed silica and diamond grit recently (to use with water). I have found that they get too hot for the sensitive stones like opals, but good on other things. I still haven't perfected the technique, when I do I'll post. My local gem and mineral society has been recoating their diamond wheels like this for many years; but the problem is that the epoxy they use (which is really special, never totally hardens) is expensive and you have to buy it in large quantities. They are similar to Nova wheels.

Debbie K
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« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2012, 07:47:40 am »

Oops, forgot to mention hand carving, the most important part. I use diamond files and bits to file with, and tungsten carbide chisels on things softer than 7 - 7.5. The chisels are made out of some broken tungsten carbide drill bits I had that I stoned down to chisel points.

I use stones, and have them ranging in grit from 80 - 40,000. On Donn Salt's advice (the pre-eminent jade carver), I got the moldmaker's stones from Gesswein. They conform to the shape of the piece, so it's hard to keep a sharp edge. For those situations, I use sheet-rock knife blades with oil and diamond (one for every grit) to get into nooks and crannies. I also like popsicle stick with diamond and oil for some situations.

Diamond scribes can come in handy, and they're cheaper from the electronics folks than from jeweler's supplies. I found out recently that you can make these yourself if you have any diamond bort by flooding the tip of a brass rod with solder, putting the diamond with flux and more solder on the tip and heating it until the solder flows. The chances are very good that the diamond will remain intact, but it seems to me that it might be difficult to orient the diamond correctly.

I have tried everything to polish carvings; sandpaper, jeweler's abrasive and polishing wheels, jeweler's compounds, lapidary compounds, etc. Some things work better on some stones than others, for example Zam works well on soft stones like turquoise. Good luck getting it off, as the ammonia which cuts the Zam also might etch or dissolve the stone (ask me how I know).

For some of the softer stones, a light coat of Renaissance Wax can really make a difference. This is a really high-grade wax that doesn't discolor (musuems use it, it doesn't even affect paper) and is sold at fine wood-crafting stores. If it doesn't work, it comes off easily with lighter fluid.

Debbie K
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3rdRockFromTheFun
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Arfzzz...


« Reply #23 on: August 17, 2012, 07:51:09 am »

Debbie, I think I just learned more from your one post than I have in an entire year - thank you!

I'm curious about the polishing wheel makeup you mention in the final paragraph. Can you explain in more detail how you do this? Could this technique be used with grits as low as 600 for use in small shapes (I'm thinking pre-polishing discs in the 7/8" to 1.5" range)? I've never heard of anything like this - I'm dying to know your recipe, even if it's still in the works! Finally, what about pitch rather than epoxy - they use it for lens grinding - ? I've never used a nova wheel but I can guess by what you're saying that's it's an impregnated wheel that wears to expose new grit as one uses it?

Also, I had never thought to use brass (don't know why - it makes perfect sense) - is it soft enough that it charges well with diamond?

Thanks so much - you're a veritable walking talking encyclopedia of beefy useful information!
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helens
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« Reply #24 on: August 17, 2012, 08:11:57 am »

I second what Frank said! Thank you so much for the info Debbie!!! I'm not quite ready to run out and try it again... first I have to come up with WHAT I want to carve (both piece and pattern), then I'll run out and attempt it. I'm still one track mindedly trying to finish cleaning up the slabs I do have for display, which is taking up the bit of work space I have for the rocks. Once I get done with that, I may brave trying to carve again, armed with a whole lot more knowledge:)! Thanks again, and please add anything else you can think of:P. The problem with not being good at something is not knowing what good questions to ask too!!
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3rdRockFromTheFun
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Arfzzz...


« Reply #25 on: August 17, 2012, 08:39:18 am »

Helen has a glass empire to run - I don't  teaseme2 -- I'm ready to rock!
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lonelygems
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« Reply #26 on: August 17, 2012, 08:54:19 am »

Hi Debbie.....cool explanations on what you used for carving, many of it i never thought before and i will find out what is good to improving my skills, THANK YOOOOUUUU.... yippie
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Daniel
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« Reply #27 on: August 17, 2012, 09:38:05 am »

Frank,

My local club uses Loctite 9430 Hysol adhesive 2 part epoxy: for every 7gms of epoxy use 23% hardener, 7 to 15 carats of diamond powder, apprx 1 tbsp of fumed silica, and dye if you wish to distinguish the grits. You want the consistency to be like peanut butter; if it's too thin, add more fumed silica. The fumed silica can be gotten at woodworking shops like Woodcrafters. The Hysol epoxy is VERY sensitive, you need to have a really good set of scales. My admix was off the last time and the stuff never set up. You really need a scale which goes to .00 carats; I don't and I paid the price. I tried the old superglue trick for unset epoxy and it did make the surface set up, but not underneath.

I also made some of these with regular 30 minute 2-part epoxy and they worked okay, but I could smell the epoxy when grinding with them. Not happymaking. I used felt wheels from 1/3" about 1 1/4"; knife-edge, bullet-shaped and wheels, and they all worked pretty good. Mount the wheels on arbors or toothpicks and after putting the goop on, stick them in a piece of styrofoam where they don't touch each other. Even when you use these with water, they get the stone hot FAST. I cracked more than one opal, and now I don't use them at all for opals. I'd stay away from clear quartz too, it seems to be more adversely affected by heat.

IMPORTANT TIP: Always start with the finest grit and go to the coarser. That way if you cross-contaminate, you're only getting fine grit into the coarse wheels, not the other way around.

The brass carving points hold the diamond okay, and they don't bend as easily as the copper ones do. Just know that regardless of them being copper or brass, you have to keep charging them with diamond. I cut down the sides of dose cups and put the powder in one and the oil in the other. I used to use olive oil, but have switched to mineral oil because I'm not crazy about the smell of ransid oil. The wooden tools absorb the oil and after a year or so... Anyway, I dip the point in the oil and touch the stone where I'm going to carve to get the excess oil off the point and then just touch it to the diamond powder. Before I turn the tool on, I smear the diamond around the places I want to carve, otherwise you just throw it off the tool when you turn it on.

I've used a piece of brass tubing with diamond and oil in a drill press to drill a 1/4" hole through about 1 & 1/4" of jade. You have to stop every now and then and redress the end of the brass tube (cut little slits with a jewelers saw) and continually add oil and diamond, but it worked surprisingly fast. That lavender jade goblet on my Picasa page has a piece of green jade in the middle and this is how I drilled this hole, mostly because the commercial diamond bits were too short. Be aware, however, that the tube will eventually bend and break off, so always turn the drill off with the tube in the hole, this helps to slow down that process and also cuts down on sharp pieces of metal being flung at your face.

Necessity is the mother of invention, isn't it Frank? I can't tell you how many hours I've searched the internet for tips on carving. People act like alot of this information is proprietary, which I think is silly. It's just technical stuff, and why should anyone be threatened by sharing it.

Debbie
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3rdRockFromTheFun
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Arfzzz...


« Reply #28 on: August 17, 2012, 11:15:44 am »

>>
People act like alot of this information is proprietary, which I think is silly.
<<

You are SO not kidding!

Debbie you are not only a master at your craft (which is always the choice one wants to make when taking advice) but you're one of the most generous and sharing people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Thank you so much for imparting what I know is a lot of very hard earned knowledge on myself and others who read this.

With the utmost of gratitude -
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lonelygems
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« Reply #29 on: August 17, 2012, 11:19:26 am »

 yes yes yes
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Daniel
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