Dopping rock

G’day; there has been some comment on holding and removing
rock when cutting slices from irregularly shaped material. When I
want to cut a small very irregularly shaped rock I first take a
cube of 2"x2" wood and give it an ‘L’ shape like this:-

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I then warm one part of the rock and give it a good coating of
dopping wax; coat the side of the wood with plenty of wax then
press the two together. The idea is that the little ‘shelf’ takes
some of the strain off the holding wax. As my (home-made) diamond
sawbench is made to cut vertically down, (through a radius,) I
clamp the wood with it’s rock burden in the right position, and
away we go. It is easy to make parallel slices of any width this
way. I leave the remaining rock on the wood so that it is easy
to cut in the future. I also use the same variety of dop wax to
hold the stone piece on a suitable piece of dowel, or a large
nail head to grind, shape, and polish the stones. But when I
polish nephrite I prefer ‘Super Glue’ to hold thin slices, for
jade has to become hot enough to soften the wax to get a really
brilliant polish. The stone is removed from the dop by placing a
thin chisel-like blade carefully against the stone/dop interface
and giving it a sharp blow. The remainder of the wax is removed
in alcohol. (Meths). Super glue is removed with acetone. I
can only hope my little sketch doesn’t get too garbled in
transmission! Cheers,

    /\      John Burgess
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  / /    
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(_______) Don't do anything I wouldn't.

John, An easier way to remove stones from the dop wax once youve
finished polishing is to put the stones in the freezer. A few
minutes and the stones pop right off. You can even put opal in
the freezer as long as it wasnt still warm from the polishing
and once you take the opal out you let warm up to room temp
before you do anything with it. Michael

I also use superglue to dop my stones on large nails. Rather
than using acetone, I remove my stones from the dopstick by
applying my torch to the shank of the nail an inch or so from the
head. When the superglue on the nailhead gives off a small wisp
of smoke, I pick up the nail with pliers and easily remove the
stone. The superglue softens when heated.

Lee Einer

The stone is removed from the dop by placing a
thin chisel-like blade carefully against the stone/dop interface
and giving it a sharp blow. The remainder of the wax is removed
in alcohol. (Meths).

If you place the finished stone still on the dopstick into the
freezer for about five minutes, the stone may be removed from the
wax by hand; sometimes releasing on touch, so be prepared to
catch it as you pick it up.

Do not try this with opal! :wink:

Pam Chott

on-again off-again dopping relationships: on the occasions i give
my fingers a break & use dopping sticks on the ‘now where the
heck did that rock go’ size stones, i use one of some products
made for stabilizing fossils: PaleoBond. it comes in several
weights from ‘oh, no, it’s all over everywhere!’ on down to
’come on, i haven’t got all day for you to ooze out when you
please!’ there’s a very good solvent for removing the paleobonds
& every other brand of glue i (& a few ‘stuck up’ friends) have
ever used: PaleoBond Debonder Solvent (water solvent). hopefully
the company is still in business: Uncommon Conglomerates,Inc.
1-800-323-4545. for separating wax dopped stones from the stick,
nail, sewing maching needle (the ground-off head of an old s.
machine needle makes it a super dop stick for those 2mm opal
rounds) i just stick them in the freezer for a few minutes &
they snap right off like shrimp heads. ive

ALL: Several problems come up in dopping for cabahon cutting.
Vibration of the grinding wheels, temperature of the shop, and
clean surfaces to dop to all contribute to lost stones. When
all normal dopping procedure fail, try coating the stone with a
layer that will dry to the stone. Shellac is often used as well
as spray paints. Dop to the layer on the stone. This usually

Gerry Galarneau
Galarneaus Gems

The easiest way I have to remove a stone from dop wax is to put
it in a refrigerator freezer compartment for a little while. If
it hasn’t fallen off by itself, a little gentle pressure will
free it. Not sure I would try that with opal, though. A friend of
mine has a little toaster oven in his shop. The slab of rock to
be dopped and a metal plate are put into the oven and heated up
along with some dop, and then stuck together. He has some sort
of an arrangement on the back of the metal plate where he can
change the angle for clamping in a saw.

Rose Alene McArthur

Just thought I’d chime in with some dopping tips…

I use regular dopping wax when cutting stones. I do find that I
get a much better bond between the stick and the stone by
painting the area of the stone to be dopped with shellac or clear
nail polish and allowing it to dry before dopping. This will hold
the stones a lot more securely, especially on cool days. Removal
is accomplished by placing the dop with the stone in the freezer
or into a glass of ice water. The shellac can be cleaned off with
denatured alcohol. I like to use finish nails as dop sticks when
cutting small stones. They come in a variety of small sizes, and
that small depression in the head seems to get a better bond than
a small surface that’s flat. Also, since dop sticks that small
are sometimes a bit awkward to hold, I usually clamp them into a
pin vise. Finally, I use a system similar to John’s for glueing
up rocks to be slabbed. However, I just use a 2’ x 2’ block of
wood and I glue it up with Elmer’s Wood Glue. I let it dry for a
day or two depending on the weather. By clamping the block into
the vise on the saw, I can slab an entire stone without having
to play around with the vise. Whatever small amount remains on
the block can be removed by soaking the wood block in a bucket of
water since wood glue is water soluble.

Michael Howe
Trigon Holding Co.

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