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Carving gemstones

i want to start carving gemstone, i have been carving wood,
acrylic, bone for 30 years and i want to do it in jasper, quartz,
dino bone, agate etc. I am very good at carving cabachon shapes in
these materials, and even better at simple abstract asymetrical
facetting. Do i need a genie or titan machine by diamond pacific to
do this??? I know i need a slab saw and then a smaller slab to cut
the cabs before grinding. Does anyone have any info for me regarding
this, or any of these tools for sale,


I have been using a Genie for the past year and enjoy this unit. As
far as a slab saw think of the cost and how many rocks your going to
possible slab.

I feel it might be best to just buy cut slabs.

I have bought many slabs to nice for me to even think of cutting. I
also buy rough rocks to cut. Any left over or small pieces of rock I
use a Rock Thumbler 15 lb rgh. I sometimes preform some of the rocks
for the Thumbler.

I use a small tile saw but read about safety issues for fingers, and
eyes. I also have used other methods of saws to cut rock with. Be
safe and protect yourself and others. Visit The Rock Tumbling Forum
and read further in threads and ask.

Enjoy and be safe.
Have A Great Holiday Weekend,

i want to start carving gemstone... 

I noticed Orchid member Hans Meevis has some info…free tutorials
and some info for sale.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.

Hello Dave,

In my website I have put some for gem carving and the
materials to use.

Also in following page I have the machine and the diamond tools’
pictures. I also use a lot
my flex shaft and diamond burs to carve small areas. For faceting and
cabochon cutting I use Facetron machine.

Kind regards,
F. Oya Borahan GG. FGA. DGA.

I do some simple carving on my genie…using the edges of the wheels
to shape the grooves on the stones…but it’s nothing fancy. I think
a lot of the carvers use something more like a dental drill set up,
which is like a flexishaft with water…so that could be something
to watch out for on an estate sale or ebay. You can also do hand
carving with diamond needle files and flex shaft burs, then sand it
down with wet dry sand paper, then polish it using felts buffs
(dremel or other motor system) and the appropriate polishing

here is a link to one of my hard chrysocolla cabs I ‘carved’ on the
genie…like I said, nothing elaborate…basically slightly curved
lines. I just did some thulite that way, but I don’t have pictures
of those yet.


The larger the stone you are carving, the larger a machine you may
need. I myself have a DP Titan - it can be too fast for small soft
stones (virgin valley opal) and not big enough for the larger pieces
(30 + pound sculptural pieces in agate)

saws are essential, for many reasons.

  1. they are themselves a carving tool, same as a grinding wheel,
    albeit one with a very narrow profile

  2. essential for doing long, thin parallel cuts,

  3. for smaller stones, you have to get rid of the outer material that
    is fractured

as you carve, you will notice that a) you will spend time making
smaller rocks out of larger ones, and b) larger fractures out of
smaller ones

a faceting machine is also a great carving tool, for flat surfaces,
certain symmetries, and in the case when you have to have exact
angular relationships, for example in various intarsia forms.

a carving is nothing more than a cabochon, anyway, with maybe a few
more curves.

looking forward to seeing your work

Mark Zirinsky

I’ve done a little abstract carving in chalcedonies and quartz. I’ve
used the edge of the wheels of my cabbing unit, using the novas to
sand and the edge of the leather disc to polish.

But what I now use is a flex shaft with a #30 handpiece mounted
horizontally. I drip water onto whatever point I’m using with either
a sponge or brush against it to even out the water and keep down the

I have a drip pan with a narrow shield that together cover 360
degrees of the splash, the shield needs only to be a couple inches
wide. This gives you both hands to hold your work against the points.
I start with around 180 grit to get my rough shape, clean that up
with 600 grit points, then use the tiny nova points to sand through
14,000, polish with little leather discs punched out and put on
mandrels or use felt bobs with cerium.

I can email you a photo of my setup or if there’s enough interest I
could figure out how to post it here. In my etsy shop I have listed a
couple of the carvings done on my 8" wheels and one carving done with
the flexshaft.


In my website I have put some for gem carving and the
materials to use. 

I found a lot on Oya’s website, but it was a little difficult to get
around, to me. There’s been a few things posted on this thread, but
most seem to be assuming what is meant by “Carving gemstones”.
That’s my first question, “What do you mean by carving?” It’s no
different from sculpture or wood carving, in the end. You can do
wood carving with a chain saw, or you can do it with microscopic
chisels, it all depends on what you mean by carving.

Rough to fine to finish, as in all things. First you need saws to
cut up your rough, then you’ll need larger wheels to blank out your
shapes, whatever they may be. As some others have said, you can do a
certain amount of carving with the corners of large grinding wheels.
If you want to do something more like relief carving or sculpture,
then you’ll likely want small wheels and points. Oya shows something
like 100 on his site - it all depends on what your needs and
preferences are, and those are things you accumulate over time, just
like files and burs at the bench…

For sanding and polishing, again, you do whatever does the job. You
can use standard sanding disks if they fit, and if they don’t you
use whatever DOES fit. Carvers tend to make their own sanders -
wooden wheels, dowels, skewers. Even toothpicks work better than you
might think. All of which are charged with compound or grit.

I used to do a lot of it - after I got my blank cut, I’d work with
my flex shaft over a Cool-Whip container. That’s any wide, flexible
container you can get your hand into. Flexible so it doesn’t trash
your hand as you work.

It all depends on what you mean by carving - cameo cutters use
little tiny tools and little tiny sanding wheels…

Diamond Pacific is planning on showing a new product, a carving
arbor and water shield in their 2011 catalog. It is sized for jewelry
sized carvings and they hope to have a “beginners took kit” available
also. The carving arbor is designed around the Foredom bench lathe
with a Jacobs chuck adaptor, this is the same chuck that is used in
the #30 handpiece. The tool kits (there are two) may not be what many
would prefer but it is a set of tools they already stock and is
better than a beginning carver trying to figure out what to start
with, I don’t know of any two carvers that use exactly the same tools

Like any new product, there could be some changes between the plan
and what shows up in the catalog but I know they are trying to meet
the printing deadline with it.

Dick Friesen

Hi Dave

I have constructed a number of coolant systems which are very
portable and work well using a Foredom Flexshaft and diamond burrs
for the free hand carving of gemstone. With an Optivisor #5 - #10 as
eye protection it is pretty easy to do small carvings (ring or
pendant size). Proceeding thru the sanding steps from rough out- thru
a number of routes. Being very repetitive- it is not for everyone!
The results can be worth it/a lot of perseverance.

It would also work for any machine; requiring coolant you can fill
in the sink.

You may look it over here:

Good luck,

jeanne, was looking at your work tonight, going through old
emails, you are totally great, your filagree and stones are
superb, i think your slightly carved stones as you put it, are
awesome, a large percentage more than plain non carved, i am the
wood jewelry guy that contacted you last year or so