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April 20, 2019, 02:14:45 pm
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Is there a way to cut smaller rocks without particular lapidary tools?

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Author Topic: Is there a way to cut smaller rocks without particular lapidary tools?  (Read 10469 times)
PetraVanilla
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« on: August 28, 2010, 01:43:32 pm »

Just really got into rockhounding with quite a bit of success. However, I have basically no tools, but lots of rocks I would like to cut. A friend cut some rocks for me on a wet tile cutter with diamond blade and  have a Dremel tool with very little experience and no cutting experience.
Any advice on using something I might have or cheap tools (not necessarily meant for lapidary work) to come by relatively inexpensively that work fairly well?
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deb193
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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2010, 01:46:37 pm »

The cheap tile saw for smaller rocks is about as inexpensive as cutting gets. For pebbles, you can get a small cut-off blade for a Dremel, but you are talking about 1/2 inch or so. For breaking up rocks to tumble you might use hammer can hardened chisel form a hardware store.
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Neural
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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2010, 04:10:22 pm »

In the old (old old old old) days, they used twine that, if I recall what I read correctly, had quartz flakes rubbed into it.

This might take a bit of time however.


The lowest cost you can go with Lapidary tools for cutting would be what has been suggested.  Cheaper yet if you are lucky enough to find one at a garage sale (this does, however, take a bit of time and searching, so it depends on how patient you are).  Check craigs list too.
Personally, I would avoid the hammer method unless you know a little about what you are smacking it on.  ALWAYS USE SAFETY GLASSES when hammering!  I had a piece of jade fly off a stone at high speed and leave a nick in the safety glasses i was wearing at the time, right in the line of sight.  (at the time I was using a small sledge to break it up, as I had no trim saw).

If you are also interested in "cutting" the stones into cabochon shapes once you have a rough preform, the cheapest, initially, that you can get is wet sandpaper.  In the long run, you spend a bit on it though, and it might be best to see if you can buy some flat lapidary discs  that are different grits.  It's not as effective as using them on a flat lap, but they *can* be used to cut and shape cabochons.  It's how I started out when I cut my first opals. 

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hulagrub
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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2010, 05:02:26 pm »

The only answer, I have, would be to join a local rock club and use their experience and equipment. Used equipment can be great, but if not in good shape, you are wasting your money. Also, as far as new stuff, cheap=poor quality. And that is frustrating and NO fun.
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Dave, a certified Rockaholic

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« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2010, 05:19:10 pm »

Home Depot has a tile saw they sell for $40.00. I bought a used small tile saw for $25.00 off craiglist but it didnt last long only cut about 100 slabs.
Be prepared to get wet and dirty and have the most fun of your life when you see the beauty in the rocks:)
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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2010, 05:27:47 pm »

Your best bet would be to start at your library and read up on anything lapidary related.  Become familiar with the equipment used and you'll be better able to recognize the used equipment when you see them at yard / garage sales.  I remember a book that showed how to take a pebble from rough rock to finished gem without any mechanized equipment.  It takes a while and makes you aware of how important the right equipment is.  I'll look through my book shelves and get back with some titles that may help.
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Alvin
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« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2010, 06:05:44 pm »

my wife and I joined our local club. for $10. we used the polishers and even an 18 inch cutting saw until we were ready to buy our own equipment.
ALvin
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« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2010, 10:34:24 am »

Here are some links to books + videos on lapidary.  Try to buy used or find at the library.  These links are for information and book titles and are not the cheapest solutions.

http://www.rocksandgems.info/books/books_lapidary.shtml

http://www.rockhounds.com/rockshop/books/lapidary.shtml

http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=lapidary+books&tag=googhydr-20&index=stripbooks&hvadid=4285975645&ref=pd_sl_83qhea1ddl_e

I got some great information just looking at catalogs for

http://www.kingsleynorth.com/lapidary.html
http://www.lopacki.com/
http://www.dadsrockshop.com/lapidary_tools_supplies.html
http://www.covington-engineering.com/lapidary_equipment.htm
http://www.lortone.com/
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MrsWTownsend
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« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2010, 12:58:22 pm »

How about, a Dremel with different grit tips (make sure to keep the stone wet and wear a face mask for the dust) and or sand paper if varying grits?  It would seem to be a long and tedious process but  it would work.

I'm with the rest of the group on joining a local lapidary club and utilizing the equipment available through them.  Maybe there are art centers or colleges or mineral museums in your area who have equipment that ban be used for an hourly rental fee also.
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« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2010, 06:50:17 pm »

I'm in the same boat but so far I have found that yard, estate and used equipment sales are not all that inexpensive. I'm having a hard time judging the quality of equipment that is sometimes 25 or more years old, corroded, dirty and selling for 75% of new, is it worth it? I have looked at various sites that have DIY plans for making your own equipment, this may be fine if you have access to an almost complete machine shop, not many do. The other option of joining a lapidary club can present a problem also due to distance and time of day, night driving is not good for these eyes. I found some classes but they start at an awful time of day, rush hour, and end well after dark. So any suggestions of inexpensive options are more than welcome even if they don't last for decades, just for a couple of years would be welcome.
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hulagrub
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« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2010, 07:22:15 pm »

If you buy used, no matter how dirty, makes sure everything runs true, doesn't wobble and things are not rusted out. Have heard of slabs that have never benn cleaned and were bought for a dime on a dollar, so there are deals out there. I have a 10" trim saw I bought last year that needs rehabbed, but have not spent the time needed to clean it up, put a new blade on etc., but it runs good.
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« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2010, 05:03:37 pm »

Being a novice at this, I can tell a good anvil from a bad, but some of these machines I have looked would be candidates for the salvage yard and others gobble them up like candy, am I missing something here or are there just some really crazy folk out there? I found this 6" trim saw, little thing, $175, burned out motor and I was  hemming and hawing and another guy came up and offered more than was asked for it and walked off it like he had found the hope diamond. I saw that Harbor Freight has a coupon for a tile saw for around $35, is this adequate for cutting out cab blanks from already cut slabs that one sees for sales on various web site?
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DrJoe
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« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2010, 11:09:23 am »

DIY doesn't have to mean a complete machine shops....a screw driver, an allen wrench and an adjustable cresent wrench should do it (an you may be able to borrow these).

Find a 1/3 hp electric motor (craig's list / free cycle / friends / neighbors / family), get an arbor adapter http://www.kingsleynorth.com/skshop/search_results2.php?action=search&keys=9-0320&catID=&Submit=+Search+  ,  and a Expando type wheel http://www.kingsleynorth.com/skshop/search_results2.php?action=search&keys=7-0199&catID=&Submit=+Search+ with some SiC belts of various  grits http://www.kingsleynorth.com/skshop/search_results2.php?action=search&keys=expando&catID=&Submit=+Search+ Make a water shield from a plastic bucket and a drip water system from a 2 ltr bottle and some aquarium air tubing.

There are ways to go cheaper...but they start getting noisy.

Dr Joe

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« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2010, 01:32:39 pm »


Dr. Joe, I like your idea of a water shield from a plastic bucket.....my minds eye is in hyperdrive...gotta go Joe.

TOG
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« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2010, 10:38:12 am »

OK, Now are we looking for a slower RPM motor or a higher RPM Motor? I got a 1/3 HP motor from an old gas dryer but I think it is something like 1350 RPM, is that good enough? I got plenty of plastic buckets and a hand saw around here somewhere, I got a big plastic tray that was used for developing film, got soda bottles too, I think that I got one of those arbor things out in the junk bucket in the garage(it just may be easier to buy a new one you know than spend a week looking for it), and now for the expanding drum, that's a bit of an expense, oh well, it ain't all free, belts aren't all that expensive though. Watch the money and I think this is possible.
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