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About faceting machines


Hi, I realize that there isn’t much discussion on faceting machines
here, but I hope someone might be able to help me. I have seen
pictures in magazines, videos, and other places of faceting machines
with wires coming off them-it looks like off the mast and possibly the
other from the stop screw, going to a box. This box is sometimes a
needle type meter, other times its a series of lights. I am sure it is
used to be able to visually tell where you stopped for your previous
cut, so you can reproduce quickly and accurately. I hope someone can
tell me how this is done. I have researched this many different ways
with no answer. Thanks, Larry Durnings Rings & Things @DURNINGS


Hello Larry,

I don’t know the answer to your question. However, I do have a link
that you will be interested in.
He has directions on how to make faceting machines on his site.

Timothy A. Hansen

TAH Handcrafted Jewelry
E-Mail: @Timothy_A_Hansen



Check the recent (last 3 or 4 months or so) of the archives of the
Faceter’s Digest at There has been an
extremely detailed thread on the installation and use of ohm meters,
including the best type to buy and where. The archives aren’t
indexed, so scan for the word “meter”. There is also an discription
on retrofitting digital readouts to faceting machines for the same
purpose at

Probably more than you ever wanted to know about the subject!



Hi Larry, There is a an email list much like Orchid that is
devoted entirely to faceting and all it’s trials, tribulations and
successes. It’s called “Faceter’s Digest” and it is extremely
technical and also extremely interesting. I am not a faceter but I
love reading the digest for the future. What you are looking for can
be found there I’m sure, but if not, there is a list of email
addresses at the end of each digest specifically for offlist
questions. There is downloadable digests at and
instructions on how to sign up. It’s a great list.

Terry Swift


Hi Larry,

Typically, an ohm meter is connected between a hard stop, insulated
from the rest of the machine, and the portion of the machine that
contacts the hard stop. In some cases, the ohm meter is replaced by a
single ‘led’ or an electronic circuit that controls several 'leds’
that light in sequence.

The meter reading or light sequence is dependent on the time the hard
stop & the machine part that contacts it are in contact. The stone
being cut is in contact with a turning lap (usually 6 or 8 inches in
diameter) on the faceting machine. When enough of the stone has been
ground away, contact is made between the hard stop and the rest of the
machine. Due to slight irregularities in the surface of the lap, some
parts of the lap allow contact to be made before other areas. This
results in the contact being made and broken as the irregularities
pass under the stone.

The result is a varying meter reading. In every meter using a de
arsnoval movement (the type with a needle), there is a certain time
required to move the needle from zero to full scale. If the time the
contacts connected to the meter are closed is shorter than the time
require for the meter to reach full scale, some reading between 0 &
full scale will be indicated. The longer the contacts are closed, the
closer to full scale the reading will be.

Cutting of a stone proceeds at a uniform rate. Because of this uniform
rate, the contacts stay closed longer & longer as more of the stone is
ground away. Thus the meter reading will progress toward a full scale
reading. If the cutting of each facet at a given setting is stopped
at the same meter reading, the facets will be the same.

All of this assumes a perfectly constructed & aligned machine. These
conditions are almost impossible to attain at an economical cost. Some
variations in facet size or placement may be present. However, the
irregularities are all but invisible unless the stone is view under
magnification by an experienced person. When cutting for competition
where irregularities aren’t tolerated, most faceters use the meters
or other indicators to get ‘close’, the final position is determine by
careful examination under magnification (many times as high as 30X).

The contacts used in meter approach may be replaced by a device
called a ‘strain gauge’. This approach is more costly and requires the
machine to be designed for the strain gauge. The hard stop, contact
approach can be retro fitted to existing faceting machines.

It should be pointed out, that the automatic faceting machines used
by large cutting houses are not of this type. Many industrial cutting
machines are computer controlled & cost over $50,000. New faceting
machines used by hobbyist faceters cost (on average) $1,000 - $5,000.



Larry, I am a custom cutter, and do recutting and stone repair also.
You have just about hit the nail on the head. All the whistles and
dials you see on some of these machines are just what you suspect they
are. Mechanisms to allow one to see when he has reached a
predetermined depth of cut without having to look at the stone.

I personally wonder at the accuracy of such devices, but lately they
have become the rage among many faceters. There are folks who are
retrofitting nearly any faceting machines with these devices.

A wealth of about this subject can be found on the
Faceters Digest on the net. There have been many postings on this
subject, and there are personal web pages that contain detailed
instructions on fitting most of the more popular brand machines with
these devices.

If you have any interest in faceting, I would suggest at least a
trial subscription to the Faceters digest. All
the past postings are archived, plus the inventors of these devices
are subscribers also, so you could talk directly to them, plus visit
their web pages.

I personally still cut by the old eyeball method, but suspect one day
there will be a new machine in my life,( and who knows, perhaps a new
dial or two) so I am not one to supply you with a lot of technical
detail about this subject. It is all on the net, and FD is a good
place to start looking.

Bill Ehney


Bill ! How did we ever facet a stone back in the 40s-till now without
all the bells and lights ? I still dont use them. Still want to build
my own unit and above all my own laps Diamond and polishing too with
in .00005 TIR or better. This old Tool Maker know it can be done. Its
just a matter of getting to it Have Fun
Bill D.


Hi Bill, I was talking to Gerald Wycoff G.G. About 4 years ago. He
was telling me that he had invented a very small faceting instrument
that could fit into your pocket. He was just waiting for his patent
on, it then it would be on the market. Does any one know if this
ever happened. Also his book on Master Stonesetting is awsome. Susan



My question is…if a machine can do all the work, have we
replaced art with science to the point that all the fun is gone? I
know that’s a subjective question - but its this very question that
keeps me working on freeform cabs while avoiding faceting. I’d love
to hear a variety of opinions on this subject. Cabbing seems like art
to me…and faceting seems like a combination of science and
mathematics. Tell me I’m wrong. Show me why I’m wrong. I really
would like to know…because the right answer will inspire me to pull
the cover off my Graves Mark I and start faceting. :slight_smile: No pressure



Pete! It would take a book to answer all of your post but you do have
some valid ?s however i have know for many years that machines are
replacing man kind and has been since the 40s ie Ford Motor co.
started us down that path. but at the same time we can not stop
PROGRESS, TECKNOGLY simply because man was Created to Create and i am
a firm believer in Keep Abreast of teknoigly or we are out the DOOR. As
for as the Facet Machine you are right Science and Math however all
these bells,indicators,ohm meters are a bunch of Tommy Rot. So take
the cover off that Graves and learn how to use it. There is more thing
you can do with it than cutting Gem Stones. BTW if you machine is one
built by HENRY it is a good one… I just sold my mark Vl about 3-4
week ago ,it was ok but liked a lot to be desired. My Henry 1 ii sold
about 22 years ago to a cat that had more money than brains, i may be
crazy but i ant stupid .he he Have Fun and get to work. Bill D.


Hello Susan,

From the details given in Gerald’s newsletters the device seems to be
a rather clever high tech jam peg that allowed precise repeatable
calibration and elevation. You have the make speed of the traditional
method combined with the accuracy of a modern western faceting machine
without all the bells and whistles, such as a mast or table,
protractor, index gear, cutting stop :slight_smile:

I believe he claimed a 1ct sapphire SRB could be cut comfortably in
less than 1/2 hour however I can do that with my mast machine, but it
is custom built and has the b&ws optimised for rapid cutting. Many
hobby cutters have the luxury of enjoying every facet on every stone
they cut and endow their machines with whatever they feel necessary to
facilitate savouring the faceting experience.This stone has waited
millions of years for you to discover it’s hidden beauty, it seems
only respectful to try and go for the best cutting job you can. I wish
I had that luxury but as a commercial cutter I do what’s required and
every job is a rush.

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I have seen this thread beat about pretty severely on some other
forums, with, in my opinion, the following outcome. Faceting is both
an art and a science. You can make it as much of either as you want

In my opinion the faceting machine does only two things. 1. It
turns the laps. 2. It allows you to place a stone against the lap in
precisely the same positions multiple times.

The laps do the cutting and polishing, the machine allows control of
the stones, and the cutter determines the outcome. If you choose to
cut from proven published diagrams, then the process is pretty
mechanical and at best a craft. If you like to work with
optics,computers, polishing theory, abrasive theory, etc,etc,etc, then
you can redesign cuts, experiment with all the latest theories,
whistles and bells, and turn faceting into a real science and math
project. If you like to take a piece of Gods own natural gemstone
rough, or some of mans created stuff, for that matter, and visualize a
dazzling gemstone inside, then figure a way to get that rascal out of
all the extra material, and have it perform optically at its best,
then you have to use all the above science at your disposal to create
a piece of artwork of your own design.

Your questions not answered, but at least you know why I think
faceting has something for anyone who feels the call.

Bill Ehney

Cabbing seems like art to me....and faceting seems like a
combination of science and mathematics. Tell me I'm wrong.  Show me
why I'm wrong.  

I can’t/won’t tell you you’re “wrong”, but I can offer my
perspective. Mankind has been faceting gems for centuries without
the aid of faceting machines. For that matter, some people still do.
Faceting machines are just a refinement of the tools of the trade.
Refinement of tools and technique can be seen in nearly all forms of
"art" as we know it – including cabbing. Cabbing was once done by
hand, yet now we use specialized machines and polishing/cutting
compounds to improve the final product – likewise with faceting.
The difference is that with gems the degree of aesthetics is highly
influenced by the refractive index of the particular stone – in that
respect you’re correct in the thought that it does involve a measure
of “science”.

The “art” is in the making. Both cabbing and faceting involve taking
a piece of sometimes otherwise unremarkable rock/mineral and bringing
out the beauty as seen by the artist shaping it. In freeform
cabbing, you manipulate the color, shape and texture of the stone
according to your own sense of aesthetics. Hand the same piece of
stone to ten different cabbers and you’ll end up with ten different
cabs or interpretations of that stone’s aesthetics. The only real
difference with facetors is that the stone’s refractive index
somewhat narrows the approach. However, the same could be said for
those who cast in gold as opposed to silver or bronze or … sometime
the media you choose places limitations.

Personally, I hold a deep respect and admiration for all artists
regardless of what tools they use. I’ll close with a saying I
learned from my junior high art teacher: “Art is like morality; you
have to draw the line somewhere, but it’s up to each person as to
where and how they draw it.”



I am a sculptor, and when I do something that I can go down to the
department store and buy, I sometimes wonder why I continue to spend
the hundreds of hours in chipping away at a rock. The answer I have
come up to myself is that when I am finished, my life breaths in my
sculptors, my heart lives in it and the expression of my soul shines
from it. That is why science and math, will never take the place of
something that we do and express from within ourselves. They can
duplicate my work all day, but what I do from within myself will be
only available during my life. So facet on, as each cut has your
uniqueness in it, and never can be duplicated. John Santos



Gerald Wykoff was working on a Jam Peg faceting machine before he
retired for health reasons several years ago. I think he completed
this project and actually had it on the market for a while.

you might check with Rick Ford at mAgi. Rick purchased the American
Society of Gemcutters from Gerald, and he may know something about the
status of those machines.

I have to agree with you on Gerald’s books. I do not have the
Gemsetting volume, but do have all the others, and to as a faceter, I
am constantly digging through one or another of them for some bit of

hope this is a help.

Bill Ehney


Thanks to all who replied to my question about Art vs. Science in
Faceting. I’m sure you all knew I was somewhat overstating the case,
hoping to get just these sorts of passionate responses! :slight_smile: For the
record, I consider faceting to be both an Art and a Science…and
one of the few hobbies around which requires the practitioner to be
good at both. That makes it doubly fascinating. I appreciate the
great insights! (And yes, my Mark I is an older machine, made by
Henry. Whoever bought it originally never had much chance to use
it…so I intend to give it the good workout it deserves this Winter.
:slight_smile: ) -Pete-



Like you, I prefer freeform cabbing and carving of stone. I bought a
faceting machine six years ago. I was so excited, I just wanted to
see how the machine worked. I grabbed a chunk of amethyst, dopped it
up, got the culet/crown angles from one of my books and went to work.
The results were a pretty presentable freeform step cut triangle
shape. I was hooked! My next few stones were done using
diagrams… not nearly as fun. I still do an occasional cut from
diagrams, but prefer to just arm myself with the culet/crown angles
and then “wing it” (You do have to take lots of notes while cutting
so you don’t mess up and cut a wrong angle). Faceting machines can
also be used as an aid in carving and intarsia - any time you need
precise cuts. I vote you get that faceting machine out and let your
imagination go… You might surprise yourself!

Mark Williams


it is relatively pure mathematics if all you do is follow cookbook
recipes, which exist and which is how everyone has to start. The art
is in designing new patterns and techniques, such as the concave
facets that are being done now.

at least that’s how I see it. with plenty of cabs, freeform and
otherwise “under my belt” and no completed faceting stones (only 1/2
a stone).

thanks again for the forum. gregor


Thank you Bill , for giving me that of Gerald’s machine.
I called his home some years ago and he told me that his books were
now all sold, But his wife so very kindly found one for me in their
basement and sent it to me. Maybe somehow we could get them into
reprint, I’m sure that all the newcomers in the jewelry world would
benefit greatly from such a great man. I hate to see all of his great
work disappear into the archives of history. His techniques were
current and always will be.


Mark, When I began thinking about all the creative possibilities for
precision cutting which this machine gives me I came to that very
conclusion. :slight_smile: Thank you for the encouragement! I think what it
comes down to is that making pretty things out of rough stone is fun -
no matter whether one defines it as art, craft or science. (If
Lapidary wasn’t fun, and didn’t provide a sense of accomplishment,
what would be the point? There are a lot easier ways to make a buck!
:slight_smile: )

-Pete- P.S. I really am a newcomer to the faceting angle (pun fully
intended - feel free to strike at will), so if you have any diagrams,
advice or instructions you’re willing to share I would greatly
appreciate them! My email address is @Pete_Steiner1 ; and my
email program has no trouble reading .jpg files. :slight_smile: