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Cutting and Shaping Amber


#1

Hi Craig,

I really want to cut and shape round and oval cabochons to begin
with - any ideas for info about this?

Thanks,
Sarah
@Designconsultancy


#2

Hi Sarah,

Amber would probably be best suited for cabbing. So you want to look
into how to cab. There will be a nominal investment of equipment and
time to learn the methods used to make nice cabs.

I don’t cab so it’s hard for me to say exactly what is required or
what to buy (other than the general ‘a cabbing machine, and the
laps’).

Not to sound negative but my experience has been that round/oval cabs
are almost as cheap to buy as they are to cut after factor in the
cost of time and materials.

Craig
www.creativecutgems.com


#3
    I really want to cut and shape round and oval cabochons to
begin with - any ideas for info about this? 

I’m not Craig, but maybe I can help. A relatively inexpensive (~$US
20.00) book called Introduction to Lapidary by Pansy Kraus opened
the door to lapidary for me. I’m still learning, but the
in this book got me started well. There are several
sections where she discusses how to handle soft organic materials
like amber.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL
@Ron_Charlotte1 OR afn03234@afn.org

Introduction to Lapidary (Jewelry Crafts)
By Pansy D. Kraus

Price: $14.93

Media: Paperback
Manufacturer: Chilton Book Company
Release data: 01 August, 1987


#4

Hi Craig,

Thanks for the info. I am completely new to cutting my own stones
and live in Botswana, Southern Africa so as well as
equipment and materials, is difficult to get here. What is a ‘cabbing
machine’ and ‘laps’. I have checked out the Rio catalogue but can’t
find anything in the lapidary section about cabbing.

Thanks for your help.
Regards,
Sarah
@Designconsultancy


#5
What is a 'cabbing machine' and 'laps'. I have checked out the Rio
catalogue but can't find anything in the lapidary section about
cabbing. >> 

Here is a site that has lapidary supplies with pictures of cabbing
machines and laps.

Tom


#6

I must be missing something here. Doesn’t anyone think that lapidary
equipment is a lot of overkill to cut something with the consistency
of aged plexiglass?


#7
    I must be missing something here. Doesn't anyone think that
lapidary equipment is a lot of overkill to cut something with the
consistency of aged plexiglass? 

I cut my amber with a jewelers saw and shape it with sandpaper.
Final polish with toothpaste.

Elizabeth Schechter
RFX Studios


#8
    =A0 =A0I must be missing something here. Doesn't anyone think th=

at

lapidary equipment is a lot of overkill to cut something with the
consistency of aged plexiglass? 

It is. And from everything I have heard, You are much better off
with some sandpaper and just doing it by hand. Put that sandpaper on
a motor of any sort, and if you get a little heavy handed you could
melt the amber very easily.

Mike


#9
    I must be missing something here. Doesn't anyone think that
lapidary equipment is a lot of overkill to cut something with the
consistency of aged plexiglass? 

You are correct. Unless you have a pretty light touch, beyond the
roughing out stage, power tools are way overkill for amber.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL
@Ron_Charlotte1 OR afn03234@afn.org


#10
I must be missing something here. Doesn't anyone think that
lapidary equipment is a lot of overkill to cut something with the
consistency of aged plexiglass? 

How else would you get a nice cab?

I thought she was also interested in cabbing other stones as well.

Craig
www.creativecutgems.com


#11
   I cut my amber with a jewelers saw and shape it with sandpaper.
Final polish with toothpaste. 

That’s what I’m talkin’ about … I polish with Grey Star & rouge
(any color).


#12
    How else would you get a nice cab?  

Pressing amber into a heated mould?

Bill Bedford


#13

Cutting and shaping amber is really very easy since it is indeed
about the consistency of plastic. I guess it would depend on how
much you wanted to cut as to what would be the best method. If a
person is going to do a fair amount, a cabbing machine is extremely
useful. If you’re just going to cut a few pieces and time is not so
important, there is every reason to avoid the cost of a machine.
I’ve got several pieces of amber cut at http://www.gemmaker.com

Derek Levin


#14

I’ve been trying to catch all the replies here in hopes of figuring
out where I’m going wrong try to polish amber once cut and shaped.
I’ve had a piece from the beginning that I’d drilled and was giving
that smirk of success when the end popped off . So I reconfigured the
design to cap the section I’d repaired but for some reason have not
been able to get a polish back on. It’s been riding the vibratory
tumbler while I’ve gone on to bigger things but I hate leaving
something undone.

Lisa in NY where the lilacs are blooming.


#15

I don’t make jewelry yet so I have to ask, why would you use
something so soft and apparently ‘fragile’ as amber in jewelry? It
has a moh’s hardness of 2-2.5 which almost anything could
scratch/damage.

Craig
www.creativecutgems.com


#16

I too am not a jeweler yet, but I have had several people ask me
about cutting amber at some point. There is definately a certain
market for it. Some like it for the color, some like it for the
interesting inclusions that can be found in it, some like it for the
metaphysical properties it contains, and some want it for its
"magical powers." I know someone who practices witchcraft, and she
has an amber ring that she says has something to do with that(I
havent talked to her in depth about it) apparently if you practice
wicka, once you reach a certain point, you need to have an amber ring
for some spells you might cast…

Amber isnt very practical as a ring stone, or very practical in
jewelery, but there are quite a few people out there who want it for
various reasons. It dosent really matter why they want it. If they
want it, then someone has to make it.

Mike


#17
       I've been trying to catch all the replies here in hopes of
figuring out where I'm going wrong try to polish amber once cut
and shaped. <snip> It's been riding the vibratory tumbler while I've
gone on to bigger things but I hate leaving something undone. 

I’m just a lowly hobbyist, but I get a good polish on amber with
good old tin oxide on hard felt pads, sometimes on skin-side leather.
If you try to apply power tools, go light and slow.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL
@Ron_Charlotte1 OR afn03234@afn.org


#18

From a practicality standpoint it seems a bit odd putting something
that can melt into metal jewelry. Put your amber ring to close to a
flame or hot oven for awhile and see if it deforms. Guess you could
always make money selling a new one. Problem is I don’t think the
average person realizes how soft, or heat sensitive amber is… They
see it’s a pretty yellow/orange color and buy it. Question is, why
not use a nice madera citrine or something along those lines (or even
a nice spessartite…)…

Anyway, I guess it’s just another medium… Although, I’ll leave it
to someone else to cut.

Craig
www.creativecutgems.com


#19
           I've been trying to catch all the replies here in hopes
of figuring out where I'm going wrong try to polish amber once cut
and shaped. 

One point I would like to make. Amber is easier to polish than
copal. My experience is that acetone will make copal soft. Use a
q-tip, if it gets sticky, it is copal. Copal gets messy if you polish
it with a buffing machine because of the heat. If you are really
careful, with a light touch, you can use the compound that polishes
plastic watch crowns. That is what worked for me.

Richard Hart


#20

I understand where you are coming from Craig, about the fact that
amber is so soft, but unfortunately it seems to be what my customers
want. Thanks to everyone for all the and advice that I
have been given on this topic. I have learnt a huge amount and have
some great leads on books to order.

Thanks,
Sarah
@Designconsultancy
Botswana