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Carving fine lines in opals

Hello all. A few weeks ago I saw a small fish that had been carved
out of a piece of opal. The piece was about 1cm tall x 2.5 cm long.
The level of skill was very high. What amazes me about these small
pieces is the fine lines that are cut into them. For example, even
though it was a tiny piece, all of the scales were cut in a
cross-hatched fashion.

I have many diamond tools, but none that will cut so fine a line. I
suspect that the lines and other detail work were cut with a thin
steel disk that was either loaded with a diamond compound or sprayed
with grit bath. Before I did some experiments I thought I would ask
around to see if anyone know how such tiny detail lines are cut in

Thanks for any help,

Probably the carver used a fixed arbor carving machine for the lines
and the actual cutting would probably be done with a finish grit knife
edge, maybe a 600 or in the case of opal more likely a 1200 grit.
That should do the trick.

Derek Levin

dan - regarding the fine lines carved into the opal fish, it was
probably done the same way i carve my opals: with disc topped diamond
charged burs. i have them from 1 mm in diameter up to on half inch.
for other areas with smaller access i use the needle shaped diamond
burs. macaw tools in south florida stopped carrying them & last time
had to buy them from another distributor ($1.00 ea) & don’t have his
card handy; can’t check out rio grande catalog because (i don’t mean
this in a bad way) some pond scum eating, small furry creature
abusing, thieving, inconsiderate, toothpaste-tube-cap-losing,
doesn’t-write-to-his-mother ingrate lost mine. if you can find a
supplier, buy them by the dozens, in all sizes because you will find
they are very useful.

good luck -

  • on the west coast of drought-stricken florida, fresh from sitting
    at my work area window watching, with much happiness, another
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