To the best of my knowledge I haven’t seen any plans for a saw or
sphere machine on the net. I build some of my own equipment so here
are few helpful hints:
First you need some basic millwright/metalwork experience. Second
you will need some metal working tools such as a drill press, saws,
welding equipment, hand tools, measuring equipment (a tape measure
won’t cut for some things) You can design your gear to use off the
shelf components and keep the machining required to a minimum
(machine shops charge a fair bit for one off). Third thing you need
to keep in mind is sometimes things don’t work the way you expect so
really think about the design before you start.
Some hints for the saw: You can get off the shelf flange bearings or
pillow blocks - make sure you pick a shaft size compatible with the
diamond blade you are designing around - if memory serves me - 5/8"
is common for the 10" range 3/4" and 1" for the larger (18"+) sizes.
Ensure your design turns the shaft such that a standard nut tightens
to avoid having to find a left hand thread nut and die to cut it, or
having to use a lock nut. You will have to locate some large diameter
washers to support the blade - sometimes you can find these at
woodworking tool places. You don’t say how large of a saw you are
making - if it is larger you will want to build a self-feeding
vise/carriage mechanism to move the rock through the saw. This has to
be precise unless you like replacing blades (which is the major
cost). A couple of companies used to produce a “kit” - you had to
build the enclosure etc. - haven’t seen them offered lately. Best
advice I can give you on that is to find a local lapidary club and
see if someone is selling a used one - sometimes cheaper than a D.I.Y
project and usually will come with some operating advice.
Some hints for the Sphere Machine: The most common method is to use
three arm direct drive design (check out this picture -
http://www.spiritone.com/~tfish/shop.htm - not sure who Tim is but
thanks for the pictures). The motors come from photocopier machines
or other gearhead motors. You will need to get adaptors made up at a
local machine shop - these are typically pipe cups with a hole
drilled and threaded into them for the motor shaft and a pipe nipple
to do the cutting. Here again - Richardson’s Ranch offers a complete
unit in the $600 range so if you are having to job out the work you
might not find it economical to build your own. If you have lots of
time you can do it the old fashion way - use a single vertical shaft
with a pipe cap and nipple attached to it and a another pipe cap and
nipple with you attached to it applying pressure. It is simple set up
but not much fun.
If you want to build “Really Big” stuff (it becomes a bit more of an
engineering challenge) or would like some other pictures from old
magazine articles contact me off-line.
Island Gem and Rock