Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

[Help] small stone carving

Hi gang :slight_smile:

I’ve started playing with carving some sunstone and opal with
diamond bits. Stuck them to a dowel and developed some nice
drapery forms. These polished up fairly nicely with a course of
sanding followed by a fabuluster buffing. So far so good for
lacking a proper clue and proper tools. Can you folks suggest
anything more in the way of technique or good stones to work on?
Polishing hints for those tight little folds would be greatly
appreciated. I don’t have access to real lapidary equipment. Just
a normally equipped goldsmithing shop.

This is big fun and a great way to take 10 off from the pile of
xmas special order work.



Hi Jane! There’s a world of material out there to enjoy! If you’d
like to explore harder materials, garnet, beryl, a whole rainbow
of quartzes: rose, yellow, green gold, neon green, smoky,
rutilated… and their cousins agate, jasper and chalcedony. Fire
agate lends itself to sinuous forms. You might get some insight
into freeform carving from my article on fire agate in the May
Eclectic Lapidary (just click on the file cabinet for the
archives) and Rick Martin’s article on cutting fire agate in the
September issue.

I’d recommend Dick Friesen’s series, Introduction to Cabbing
(Feb, March, April, 1997) first, to get an overall understanding
of basic lapidary techniques. Since you’ve already gotten this
far on your own, you have probably discovered a lot of the basics
for yourself. Still, never know which piece of info might make it
all easier for you.

Jade is a possibility, but has its own quirks for cutting and
polishing. Magnesite (aka ‘lemon chrysoprase’) is a softer
material. Some is solid yellow to yellow green and others have
interesting patterns of brown throughout.

For polishing in tight folds… phenolic tips with a Foredom or
Dremel and increasingly fine grits of diamond compound with
extending fluid. (Keep a separate tip for each grit.) For opal,
cerium oxide on a bullet shaped felt tip. Johnson’s M-5 does
wonders for final polish on a wide range of materials.

So welcome to lapidary! Hope some of these ideas are helpful.

| Carol J. Bova @Carol_J_Bova |
| Faceted Gemstones |
| Lapidary rough - Ask about laguna agate special!|
| P.O.Box 5388 Glendale, CA 91221-5388 USA |
| Publisher of The Eclectic Lapidary e-zine |

Jane, while I can’t specifically help you without knowing what
you mean by “stuck them to a dowel”, you have most, if not all,
of the equipment you need to carve stones in your shop. Your
best bet would be to join the Lapidary Digest. To subscribe,
e-mail and type Subscribe on the
subject line. The program will not read your message, just the
subject line. One of the last digests covered your exact
subject and the author of the article has written at least two
books on the type of carving you describe. You can easily access
the archives of Lapidary Digest and many of the threads are
archived so that all responses are pulled up at once. It’s a
much easier to use archive than Orchid’s. Lapidary Digest is to
lapidary (excluding faceting) as the Orchid list is to jewelry
making. Good Luck.

John McLaughlin

Jane - Check out the books on gemstone carving by Henry Hunt.
Basically, it’s a situation where you make it up as you go along,
making appropriately shaped wooden points to polish with, and
using several different grades of diamond compound to clean and
polish. My carving efforts have so far been very slow, but I’m
working on it - I’m much better at manipulating material than
permanently removing it. Have fun!

kara (in wet and windy San Francisco)

Jane - Check out the books on gemstone carving by Henry Hunt.
Basically, it’s a situation where you make it up as you go along,
making appropriately shaped wooden points to polish with,

Bamboo makes a good mandrel for polishing. A common source is
Kabob skewers available in (almost) any grocery store in the us
and much of the world… You can put the skewer in your flex
shaft and sand the shape you need then use your polishing media.
The bamboo will hold the media better than a hardwood dowel.

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is
suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best
friends. If they are okay, then it’s you…