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Stone inlay answer?

Hi Kara. Good question! Opal crushed small enough to fit the
channel is good. White mother of pearl will also work. Be sure
that bits of mineral are small enough to fill channel and cover
the bottom of the channel. If the pieces are too big, you’ll see
through the inlay to the bottom of the channel. Procedure I
learned in Albuquerque in the 80’s (one of the centers of ‘chip
inlay’) goes like this: We used to use 22 guage sterling to
pierce for inlay. Set up ring so it won’t shift positions while
you push gently on it, channel oriented ‘up’. A ring mandrel
works pretty well. Mix an epoxy which takes a while, at least 15
minutes (an hour is better) to set up. If the epoxy is thin and
takes a while to set up, then air bubbles have a chance to work
their way to the surface and dissappear after you’ve finished
your inlaying. Use a tooth pick to dab ‘a little’ epoxy into the
bottoms of the channels. ‘A little’ is just enough to make the
bottom and sides of the channel sticky. If you put too much epoxy
into the channels at this stage, the epoxy drips down the sides
of the ring after you’ve crammed the chips of mineral into the
channels. Which means you have slightly more cleanup to do. And
it’s hard to get the chips to stay put. Next, roll some of the
crushed stone onto the sticky end of the tooth pick. Place the
tip of the tooth pick into the channel and roll the mineral off
the end of the toothpick into the channel. When the channel is
full to just above the top, roll more epoxy onto the end of the
toothpick and dab it onto the chips. Pokeing around in the chips
helps the epoxy to flow to the bottom of the channel. The epoxy
soaks in, cures, and then you can grind and polish, level to
your metal work. Be sure that your epoxy is easy to polish with
something like Zam. It works good on the softer stones - Mother
of Pearl, turquoise…hmm, I’m not sure about Opal. I don’t
remember trying it. I used Cerium oxide to polish opal cabs and
don’t know what it will do with the epoxy. Any advice from folks
inlaying opal chips these days?:slight_smile: Chuck Hunner

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