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!
Charlotte, NC (USA)