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Cabbing machine grits wheels


I have taken a beginner cabbing course at the William Holland
School. Their Genies have a 14,000 grit wheel. I see on the web that
many dealers offer a machine with 3,000 grit as the final wheel.This
is followed by 14,000 grit diamond paste on a canvas disk.

Any opinions on these two different configurations?


It depends on what you intend to cut. The details of which would
require another course. The better choice if available is to use a
club machine before investing your money. There are lots of options.


For efficiency and end result, there’s no contest. Get the 14K
wheel, though I’m sure the other units are cheaper. The Genie is an
excellent machine. It’s over-priced, imo, but so is everything else
in the category.

If you have mechanical inclinations, it’s not too hard to build a
cabbing machine

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ

IMHO Diamond Pacific Genies are overkill and overpriced. You really
don’t need 6 wheels. The only time you would need a 14,000 grit wheel
is when you are cutting agates but then you can get around that. When
I’m cutting agates I grind them to 1200 grit then polish with tin
oxide on a split leather disk. If you can find an old lapidary
grinder with two wheels and an expandable drum you can cut just about
any stone with a 80-180 grit diamond wheel, a 320 flexable diamond
wheel (like on the genie), then an assortment of diamond belts for
the expandable drum (600 to 14,000 grit).

Now-a-days I only use a 100 grit diamond lap to rough out the cabs.
Then finish them in vibratory tumblers. Takes a week or less start to
finish. That’s how all the production cutters are doing it.

Rick Copeland

Hi Mark,

I just got a new set of wheels for my Genie and got the 3000 wheel
this time to try it out. While I haven’t completely broken them in
yet, the 3000 is awesome to bring your cabs nicely to a pre-polish.
Then you can finish the cab off with a polishing pad (canvas,
leather, etc.) and polishing compound. I suppose there are those who
prefer the 14K diamond wheel but it didn’t do much for me so I kicked
it aside long ago.

I got a great deal on my set of wheels from Jason Penn and would
highly recommend contacting him. He’s a professional lapidary and a
Diamond Pacific dealer so can supply you with a Genie as well. His
email address is or 877-988-2737 if you’d rather call. He’s a
nice guy.

As for trim saws…I have a 10" Raytech saw that’s good for small
fist-size pieces of rough, but wish I’d gotten something bigger. Buy
the biggest one you can afford if you plan to cut slabs from rough.
For trimming slabs, the 8" Genie attachment works great & my 4"
Ameritool saw rocks for intarsia.

I learned how to cab from Bill Roberts at William Holland about 5
years ago, what a wonderful place to be! Dick & Gloria’s rock shop up
the driveway was still open then & was an absolute drool fest for

Hope that helps you out, Carol Carter-Wientjes


I recommend you go with a battery of wheels that starts with either
an 80 or 100 grit hard wheel, a 220 or 360 hard wheel followed by
the following soft wheels (I prefer Nova)…a 280, 600, 1200 and a
14K. You do not normally need a 3000. After the 14K I use a cerium
oxide on soft felt or soft leather for all silica based stones,
including opal, agate, jasper (if badly included I will use Linde A
on leather), etc. I believe that at 14K, most stones will exhibit a
slight hazy surface. The cerium give a true glass like surface.
(keep the speed down and keep the surface of the polisher slightly

Cheers from Don in SOFL.

I recommend you go with a battery of wheels that starts with

As all can see, there are as many recommendations as there are
lapidaries. As Kevin for one pointed out, it’s easy enough to build a
machine. Get an arbor for $25 or so, a washing machine motor and
pulley, either buy or build a shield that has a stopcock for water
drip and a tray underneath for drainage, and off you go. It’s easier
and you get a nicer machine to just buy a unit, though. When I had a
large (8 cutters) lapidary shop long ago we had workstations with
individual arbors and hard-plumbed water. The last rig I had used 180
grit and 600 grit crystallite wheels, and glued on sanding disks and
diamond paste grits or other compounds for the rest. And a beginner
especially can get a long way using good old fashioned carborundum
wheels and sanding belts, too, as my 30 year experienced inlay
cutting brother does. The only really important thing is to be able
to change wheels as needed and to have a variety of options. If one
is cutting only opal, or only faceting, then the machinery is
targeted towards those things, but otherwise general purpose is good.
Finally, diamond tooling is great. I went diamond and loved it. It’s
also REALLY expensive, compared to carborundum. It’s also not
necessary - better, faster, yes, but not necessary unless you’re
cutting beryl or corundum. You can set yourself up with carborundum
abrasives for $100 or less and see how you like it and if it pays…

Yeah, John…I went through all of that in the ole days myself.
Built a number of both 6 and 8 inch units. I made flat lap machines,
vertical machines, vibrating machines, etc ad nauseum. Cut with all
sort of wheels and mediums. I first began cutting whilst in Taiwan
and had no access to ‘modern’ machinery. The solution there was to
think something up and go to a local machine shop to have parts made,
then put it all together. Of course one must be prepared to do a lot
of maintaince on a home made machine…seems to always be something

Not necessary today. The modern machines are clean, easily
maintained and will last a long time. They are effieicent and, while
the cost can be high in some cases, make lapidary a pleasure. I
haven’t cut on a SI wheel for nearly 10 years not…no need to.
Diamond wheels are expensive but last a very long time. Can cut
hundreds of stones on them (of course depending on what one is
cutting and how they cut). Another good thing about the modern
machines, such as the Caberet, is they are very light and can be put
away if not needed often. I have 5 such machines at the school and we
routinely bring them out of their cubby holes, place them on the
soldering bench for class and then put them away again afterwards.

We could talk probably for hours about the different requirements
and ways to meet them. But when all is said and done, get a modern
machine, whether a Genie or a Beaver arbor, or a Caberet, or an
’All-You-Need’ or an Ameritool, or whatever.

Cheers from Don in SoFl.

But when all is said and done, get a modern machine, whether a
Genie or a Beaver arbor, or a Caberet 

That’s actually good advise, as is all that Don says on this topic.
What I tried to bring up is that diamond abrasives and modern
machines are “high-tech”. For students or beginners or anyone on a
tight budget who can’t or won’t shell out $2k for a machine they may
or may not use all that much, there are perfectly good alternatives.
Don (and I) are spoiled by the superiority of diamond in every way,
but as he points out, the old ways still work, and especially for
softer stones like turquoise, marble, serpentine, howlite and even
opals - one can do a lot of work on carborundum, too. But yes,
diamond is the best, and the turnkey machines are the best. They’re
just not “the only”, which is good to remember.

I’m overwhelmed and so thankful to all of the kind members who
responded to my questions concerning lapidary equipment.

Honestly, I never dreamed that there were so many options.

Here’s what I finally chose to do.

I came into some money unexpectedly; enough to afford a good, albeit
expensive, machine. I chose to buy a Diamond Pacific Genie with the
14,000 grit wheel.

I have an old 10" slab saw and bought a new blade and some cutting
oil for it.

I purchased a 7" tile saw from Lowes for $88. Thanks to all who
recommended a tile saw. It has a 3/4 hp motor and a 1/2" motor
shaft. I bought a replacement 6" lapidary blade for this saw. I
figured if this doesn’t work I’m not out too much.

By the way I got the Genie from for $1,650. Pretty
good for that machine. Jeanne Ridolfi at Rockpeddler was quite nice
and helpful.

Right now I’m sitting at home shivering in the cold and anxiously
awaiting the arrival of my new toys.

You guys are great and I’m proud to be a part of this group.