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Removing wite out from stones

Lapidarians and others, I need your thoughts. I have been using water
based Wite Out to coat stone while grinding. It works very well for
showing which portions of the stone still need to be sanded and it
doesn’t gunk up the wheels or dye them like marker does. Also it’s
kind of fun to watch the little pockets explode. During the final
polishing stages the Wite Out becomes trapped in any pits still
present and I have not been able to find a way to remove it. Yes, I
know, there shouldn’t be any pits. But on occasion on the bottom or
side of the stone it happens. I have tried polish remover, alcohol
(for me - just kidding), Bon Ami, paint thinner, and a special
cleaner which is supposed to remove correction fluid called This
Stuff Works. I’ve also tried hot water, which has done the best job
so far.

Does anyone know of a miracle remover or another type of substance
that can be used instead of the Wite Out?

Thank you! Liz

Liz, I do not quite understand why you are using Wite Out, or any
other material such as markers? When cutting a stone, there is no
need to mark the surface except when doing the shape/outline
(geometry). We usually use either a brass or aluminum pencil for

Instead of coating the surface, learn to hold the stone up with a
light source opposite and the light glancing off the surface of the
stone will tell you where high/flat spots, ridges, etc will be. Learn
to remember these spots and just sand across them, always working
towards the top (crown) of the stone.

That way you will not end up with foreign matter in any pits that may
develop. At times you will still get some polishing powder in such
spots but that will usually either wash out with a tooth brush or put
the stone into the ultra-sound (providing it is not a stone sensitive
to such handling) for a few minutes and that will shake it out. Hope
this helps. Cheers from Don in SOFL.

Try Lighter Fluids, Stephen W

Stephen Wyrick, CMBJ

Hi Liz, try a stiff toothbrush and hot water. Instead of using white
out or any other marker I just take the time to dry the stone and
make a visual check. When the stone is dry any areas that need work
or scratches are obvious. It works for me.

Good luck, Jim

You might try Bartenders Friend - it is like Bon Ami, but contains
Oxalic Acid. Is supposed to help get rid of left over polishing
compound that might be left in druzies. Just passing on the
suggestion about it and the druzies.

I bought a can, but haven’t taken the time yet to try the stuff. I
have three pieces of thin turquoise that I bought several years ago
in Tucson and the guys said to use Oxalic Acid to remove the "crust"
on them.

Rose Marie Christison

Liz, if I were you I would try the This Stuff Works product in a
small container, in an ultrasonic. Or have you done that already?


Usually, any of the citrus based cleaners do the job. Goo gone,
Orangeglo, Orange blast off, etc. I’ll use a tooth brush w/ the

I do not quite understand why you are using Wite Out, or any other
material such as markers? When cutting a stone, there is no need to
mark the surface except when doing the shape/outline (geometry). We
usually use either a brass or aluminum pencil for that. 

Actually I find that using a black permanent marker and completely
cover the area you are sanding allows me to do a better job. This
helps especially when going from grinding to sanding. I do not have
to go back to a previous sanding stage as often, and it is much
faster. It seems to be easier when I am teaching lapidary for the
student to know when they have sanded properly. This does not
replace careful observation with reflected light, it makes the stages
prior to polishing go faster. Also as I age, helps make it easier for
me to see what I am doing. My standards have not diminished with my
ability to see as well what I am doing.

Richard Hart G.G.
Jewelers Gallery
Denver, Co.

Thank you for the great suggestions! I will experiment with the
substances. Please keep the ideas coming! Jim, you are a more
talented cutter than I! I spent a year trying to sand evenly and
never did get the hang of it. But having the wite out on the stone
really helps a lot! The polishes are coming out extremely well.


Wonderful! More ideas. Thanks so much.

The reason I use wite out is because it helps me see tiny pits and
cracks that I have missed in the past when not using the substance.
It helps me ensure that all areas of the stone are sanded before
moving on to the next wheel. I sand the stone completely twice on the
final wheel and then finish on a flat lap. The polishes have been
much improved since I started this. Also, to me, sanding rocks is
gratifying at the end but more boring than doing taxes during the
process. Using the wite out helps make it more fun.

Several lapidarians have wondered why I would use this and I’ve
gotten lots of great advice. Perhaps it’s considered a crutch or
cheating? Yep, sure is a crutch. But like I said, it’s a lot more fun
to sand now. Will keep you posted on the best methods to remove the
wite out. Maybe a solution will also work on polishing compounds.


I second Richard Harts comments, ie using a marker, I don’t
personally use it now but found it a great help in opal carving and
is now a great way to teach my students to see scratches, that is a
skill in itself.

Recognizing scratches and knowing what a good polish is is something
that is learned and takes time to get your eye in,

By putting marker all over your piece is a good way of ensuring that
you don’t miss any part of of the piece, especially helpful if you
get an interruption.

Christine in the Ridge

The term ‘lapidary’ refers to the person who cuts stone and also the
place where the cutting is done.

It helps me ensure that all areas of the stone are sanded before
moving on to the next wheel. This got my attention. Let me see
whether I am understanding right. You are painting Wite Out on the
stone, and it remains in areas that need more work, making it
easier to see if you're done? I've used Sharpie for this, but it
is hard to see when the piece is wet, and also seems to come off
before too easily.

I don’t have time very often to cut stones, but I enjoy it-- except
when I have to go back and re-do because I missed a spot. I’ll take
all the “crutches” I can get (and I have no money to spend on
tumblers that I guess would do the tedious part on their own)!


Hi Noel. Yes, that is exactly what I’m using the wite out for. The
markers were harder to see and it was too easy to miss spots. Also
they would stain the wheels. The wite out does a great job of
showing where more grinding is needed. Try it and let me know if you
like it!


OK, Ok, ok…I’ve read all the reasons why to use wite out,
sharpies, etc on stones when cutting cabs and now I want to give two
cents more.

As I said earlier, I use a light source opposite the stone to show
areas needing more work. Does that sound like more work? I doubt it
elst we wouldn’t be having the discussion of how to remove remaining
wite out after finishing a stone. By the way, remaining wite out in
natural pits and pithy areas will not help make them better
unless,… unless you grind/sand them out!! As opposed to whiskers,
ridges, flats, buff marks, over/under cuts, etc which are the result
of normal cutting/sanding. So what the wite out really does is
emphasize natural faults that usually cannot be easily changed. Will
it hilite the other faults. Sure, but so does the light source.

Noel, I certainly would not consider the surface coatings as
’crutches’…I consider it as just unnecessary work. And going back
to re-do a missed spot is a normal function of cutting.

Having taught cabbing for many years to about a thousand students,
my experience is that with proper instruction, a student will learn
to identify surface problems of any nature very quickly and will also
learn what to do about them. Developing a truly practiced eye to
identify very slight problems might take several years, but usual
cutting errors, blemishes, and most natural faults can be easily
identified by reflected light.

So…my point is, why do something that requires effort to put on,
then take off (including removal from remaining pits) It is a real
time waster and just makes more unnecessary work. Take the little
extra time to learn how to do it right and same a lot of time.

Its a little like dopping. I rarely ever dop…only when cutting
very special stones or under special circumstances. It too is a waste
of time. I cut most all my stones freehand whether geometric or
freeform. In this way (granted this is after thousands of stones) I
often cut a stone with barely a glance because my hands know exactly
where they and the stone is relative to the wheel. This is another
time saver.

I certainly would never argue against something that allows someone
to do things better or quicker. But, there usually are STILL right
ways and wrong ways to do things. Take the time to learn the right
way, even if it is a bit cumbersome at first and, in the end you will
be much happier.

Cheers from Don in SOFL.

It’s interesting to see what people think of this procedure. I think
of the wite out as a tool, like using a magnifier to see your metal
creations. It only takes a few seconds to apply, so time is not
really a factor, and in the end it can save time and effort because
you don’t have to go back to previous wheels to correct things
you’ve missed. I invite you to try it and then let us know how it
worked. Place a dab of water based wite out on the stone and use a
wet finger to smooth it over the stone. For reference purposes, I am
working on a Genie. I don’t use the wite out on the initial grind,
but do use it on the next 5 wheels. I then repolish on the final
wheel and move onto a final polish on a flat lap with cerum/tin
oxide. I don’t use the wite out on the flat lap. I’m betting you’ll
get a better final result. Prove me wrong!


For shaping stones I use ZIG Painty for everything but light stones.
It works a lot better than a sharpie. Sharpies don’t last long. I
use ZIG painties for etching on silver too. That’s how durable it is.


Liz…I want to say “wrong” but as I said earlier, if it works
use/do it!

However, using wite out is nothing like using a magnifier! It is in
the eye that makes the difference. One person can look through a
magnifier and not see a thing. Another will see all sorts of
’animals’. Time IS a factor whether cutting for profit or pleasure.

You have a stone in your hands. Look at it under an optivisor with
opposing light. A trained eye will see everything. Whats that take,
5-10 secs? You have a stone in your hands. Reach for your wite out,
put on the dab, smooth it around with your fingers (hopefully making
it smooth so it will show something…anything), let it dry, look at
it again (probably with your optivisor) and find the problems. Work
the stone and (whoops, there is that little buff mark or whisker
that the wite out was covering) go back to the previous wheel, etc.,
etc. That all takes time. Believe me…I have been there!! (:-).

I have used Genies many times, also my own home made machines,
Cabmates, 6 Wheelers, and machines made before most of us were born.
Right now I cut on a predecessor to the Graves Caberet. As far as the
wheels are concerned - exactly like a Genie. Do I ever have to go
back to correct a problem. Of course. We all do, wite out or not. But
there is nothing wrong with that if it will produce a better stone.
Much of the time, I don’t even use the 14K wheel but go directly to
polish (cerium/tin/ etc) because I am able to get a beautiful
pre-polish on the 1200.

I don’t want to belabor this point more, but believe me…wite out
or another surface treatment just to see cutting flaws just ain’t
worth it. Learn to do it the simple/right way. If you would like to
know how, stop in at the Boca Raton Museum of Art School some Tues PM
and I’ll show you.

Cheers from Don in SOFL