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Cabbing combo unit


Just thought you might like to let Santa know that Bombay Bazaar
lists a Diamond Pacific, six wheel unit called a Pixie (Diamond
Pacific’s smallest unit). They had the best price when I got
mine a few years ago. I use it for the same kinds of projects
you indicated. I love it, and I have enjoyed having this bit of
lapidary freedom so much that I almost wish I had gotten their
biggest unit, the Titan. Just could not justify the expenditure.
I know a few Lapidaries that use the Pixie as their traveling
unit. It has the same wheel set up (however, smaller wheels) as
the larger units but is not as powerful. I wouldn’t usually
favor less power, but for my limited need, I don’t even notice
the difference. Hope Santa is “listening.”


Just thought you might like to let Santa know that Bombay Bazaar
lists a Diamond Pacific, six wheel unit called a Pixie


You read my mind! I was just today drooling over the Genie with
trim saw attachment and showing it to Santa (hubbie). This was
my next question for Orchid too, so here it goes: I am
interested in getting a cabbing unit, I guess a combo one with a
trim saw (are trim saws necessary? really convenient?). What is
a good but affordable one? Is there anywhere that sells them
used? What are good features to look for? I would be using
this to make a few interesting stones to use in my one of a kind
jewelry, no production or selling the stones themselves. Any
thoughts are greatly appreciated. I know there will be some good


 (are trim saws necessary?  really convenient?). 

Absolutely! Using one to ‘rough out’ the outline of a cab will
save lots of time when going to the wheel. Imagine a 50x75mm slab
that has a beautiful pattern i n the center. By careful
positioning you can get a 20x30mm cab out of the center. All that
outside material has to be cut away! You can grind it away, but
that’s not efficent, time (or wheel wear & tear) wise. It’s
quicker & cheaper to cut the excess off with a trim saw.

You’ll probably want a ‘slab saw’ also if if you get into
serious cab making. Rocks in chunks are a whole lot cheaper than
rocks that have been slabbed. Some saws can conveniently be used
for both jobs. I got a used 6 inch slab/trim saw for $75.00 from
a rock hound who was selling his equipment.

Watch the want ads or better yet, run one.

Sometimes local rock or lapidary shops/clubs provide a slabbing
service. Work is usually charged by the sq in plus a set up fee.
If you go whole hog & buy new equipment, I wouldn’t get anything
smaller than a 10" slab saw, it’ll cut rocks about 4in thick.
For a trim saw I’d stay at 6 in or larger (unless you’re cutting
facet material, then a 4 in is big enough).


Hi Jill & Laura,

Thom Lane, who is a professional lapidary and member of Orchid
(recently reported as AWOL), has given me a lot of advice in
setting up my cabbing operation.

Let me preface this by saying the Genie is a great piece of
equipment. I’ve spent many hours cutting on one, and would have
one in a second, if it wasn’t for the price. I was almost able
to buy two used Genies a couple years ago, but someone else beat
me to 'em. The only time I’ve come across used units in the
several years I’ve been looking.

Anyway, what Thom recommends is 8" expanding drums with
interchangeable diamond belts. The drums would most likely be
mounted on a dual wet arbor with hoods. The expanding drums
give you a resilient surface, easily yielding smooth curves as
compared to the relatively rigid wheels on the Genie.

Thom actually has 50 grit belts custom made for roughing. He is
a dealer for the belt manufacturer (Crystalite?). The belts
aren’t cheap, but the whole setup ends up being much less
expensive than a Genie. You could use silicon carbide belts,
which would be much less expensive than the diamond.

You would definitely need a trim saw. I can’t comment on the
all-in-one units, as I haven’t used one. It seems to me you may
end up spending a lot of time reconfiguring the machine unless
you did all your sawing at once, then finished your stones in a

My sweetheart stunned me in June by giving me a diamond bandsaw
for my birthday! Really great for cutting preforms out of
slabs, but I still need my trim/slab saw for slicing up whole
rocks. As a beginner you can save yourself a lot of time and
wasted material by buying your rough already slabbed. This also
allows you to hi-grade (taking the best slabs) and try a variety
of different materials.

Let me know if you have any questions!


Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio
Charlotte, NC (USA)

Jill and Laura:

I have cabbed a while and agree with Dave, the expanding drums
are MUCH easier to work on than something hard. I have had
occasion to use my faceting laps for a cab and I have a wooden
spool unit (if you know what I mean) that seemed like a great
thing when I got it, no water mess, quiet, use it while watching
TV with the family, but both of these approaches take a loong
time compared with at cabbbing unit with drums. The diamond on
wood, running through six grit sizes does a very good job,
particularly on materials which are very hard or which undercut
or which are soft and go fast. OK for opal, sapphire, did a real
good job on lapis. However, have to keep the piece moving all
the time, very tiring. Also hard to find a problem spot and just
fix it by bearing down in the right spot. With the expending
drums (I have an old Beacon Star 8" unit with two silicon
carbide grinding wheels, two expanding drums and two polishing
pads on the ends) I can rough out on the grinding wheels (the 50
mesh diamond belt would be better) and the go to a 220 silicon
carbide belt and then to 600 belt and polish. If I need an
intermediate step I use a sandpaper pad on one end of my
machine. However, agates and similar go 220, 600, polish and do
fine. My Beacon Star is not portable, but is very sturdy and
came with a little rough from an older hobbiest whose wife had
health problems and needed his attention, for $200. Sometimes
you can pick up wet sanding arbors or old units used cheap. I
have a homemade unit I made from a hardware store arbor fgifteen
years ago that uses one grinding wheel and one drum. I changed
wheels and belts each time. I also have a Lortone arbor that is
similar with a polishing pad which I got for $5 at a garage sale.
You have to do some looking, but if money is a problem, you can
find something real cheap. You could look into building a
horizontal lap with a washing machine motor and a V-belt. Just
use rubber backed pads.

Anyway, the expanding drums are great. Just bear down some and
the rubber conforms to the curve of the stone.

In sum, many ways to go at it, but don’t feel you have to have a
Genie unless you can afford it and will justify buying it in the
pleasure in ease of use or the need for diamond for hard
material. The silicon carbide will do most materials and is
loads cheaper. If you need info on homebuilt, E-mail me.

I would appreciate what you could send me on
homebuilt equipment. 15434 Rio Plaza, Houston, Tx 77083-2440.
Thanks Ed Katz, G.G

Anyone have any thoughts on the Lortone Combo Unit? Looks like
what I need and at a price I can reach, especially if I get a
used one. Not sure if it comes with the expandable drums,
though. If anyone has any good or bad comments on it I would
appreciate it.