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Where is the best place to buy carving points?


chris-c

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I hope this isn't covered somewhere else here, I'm new here, and "did" search for the info I'm after but didn't find it, so please excuse me if I'm repeating anything!

 

Basically, I use cratex grinding wheels and points, mizzies heatless wheels, and a variety of silicon and other rubber point impregnated with silicon carbide to dry shape and pre-polish my opals to the point before the final polishing stages are taken, and I have no real "permanent" or regular supplier for these, having previously purchased them on ebay and a few other retailers online.

 

I am wondering if anyone here can recommend the cheapest and most reliable place to purchase bullet tip polishing points in soft and hard rubber impregnated with grit, or even a diamond product that is soft and in the ranges of 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 3000, 5000 grit, which is usually where I switch to a soft felt tip with diamond powder and mineral oil after those coarser grits. I know the cratex come marked only as coarse, medium, fine, extra fine, and extra extra fine, so who knows what grits those actually equal...LOL

 

Nova tips are out of the question because they are WAY too expensive, and require water, and because I polish mostly Ethiopian Welo hydrophane opal that changes colors when it gets wet, I ONLY polish in a DRY process, and nova points need to be wet.

 

I also try to only use the diamond powder charged oils at the very end of my process, and very sparingly, as they tend to permanently "fog" some of the opals for some reason, and only "some" of them, (really weird, but that's Welo opal for ya!) so I limit the amount of oil that touches the stone, and therefore need to use different grit points for as much of the pre-polishing as possible to bridge the gap between carving and polishing.

 

I do make my own wooden points as well, but there are just some applications that a rubber tip impregnated with grit seems to work best, especially to avoid orange peel effect, so I've spent alot of time trying out what works, and what doesn't work, and feel confident I have pretty much refined my process now!

 

I purchased some from Lasco diamond products, and was disappointed to find they barely made a dent in the SOFT opal, only to find out later via email when I asked WHY that was, that they only recommend their points for METAL. DUH. Nice to have that on their website 50 bucks later!! One would think a silicon carbide impregnated rubber tip would be like any other one....apparently NOT!

 

I am about to order from Australia, from http://gemcuts.ezimerchant.biz/ and before I do, just want to make sure I'm not making another mistake, although they really seem nice to email back and forth with, as I've inquired FIRST this time to ensure the tips meet my requirements!

 

Is there a better and or cheaper place to purchase cratex points and wheels, and those mizzies heat-less wheels, and any other points that will work for my opal?

 

I appreciate the referral if there is!

Thanks!

Chris ;)

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Chris:

 

I use diamond grit with brass points that I make in a variety of shapes with oil to avoid the orange-peel effect. As far as the rubber points go (with the mystery grit) I buy them from a local jeweler's suppy for $5.00 a dozen and the same for the mizzy-type grinders. I forgot to mention two really good gemstone carvers when I responded to you before; Donn Salt and Dante Lopez. Donn is world renown in carving jade and uses stones (which I am a convert to). Dante is like me, he uses anything that works. One of his most recent posts was discussing making rubber points. Look in this category (Tools & Techincal) down to "anyone making their own carving points" and look at these discussions. He is a great carver working in Mexico, his website is "Dante's Studio". Donn's can be found by googling Donn Salt. In Donn's he talks about the use of Gesswein Moldmaker stones, showing the progress of a jade carving.

 

Hope this helps. I don't carve much opal, too expensive and difficult for me to get. But please pay attention to what Dante was saying about silicosis in carving the stones dry. I know Kenneth carves dry, too. I almost always use oil or water, I only carve dry for little tiny details and try to always wear a mask when doing so. I have enough health issues without having one more, and it sounds like you do too.

 

Good luck!

 

Debbie K

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Hi Debbie and Kenneth, thanks again for your replies!

 

I'm already conversing with Daniel on another thread, and actually, I've been aware of his webpage and supplies for some time now, just never got around to ordering. I actually never thought to see if he had "rubber" points there!

 

The thing with carving is as you say, you use what works, and what works with different stones, are different carving media!

 

Opal is a TOTALLY different thing than anything else, when I first got into lapidary, I just thought you could buy a "generic" setup that would encompass every kind of stone there was....wrong!

 

I now have come to realize that this is probably most beginner's mistake, they don't really know what they want to cut and polish before they buy the equipment and try different things, so it's a catch 22, as they usually end up wanting to specialize in one thing or another, and find their equipment really isn't set up for that, at least that was what I found when I first started buying equipment many years ago.

 

I find it's the same with carving, you need a totally different setup for opal than you do for jade for example, and then, to make it MORE confusing, within the opal community, there are a TON of different techniques to attain the same end result, so you have your "purists" in certain techniques that will ONLY do it THAT way, and look down at you for doing it another, even though doing it that "other" way may be more comfortable for YOU for one reason or another. Such is the case when I mention DRY polishing!

 

I get ALOT of negative comments when I mention that I polish dry, and people are REALLY intimidated by the silicosis factor and usually actually TELL me NOT to polish dry, because I WILL get sick eventually, which really is not the case IF your very careful, which I really am! I've even had people call me STUPID or ignorant for polishing dry, even when I tell them the precautions I take. Keep in mind I'm actually polishing one small stone at a time, which creates very little dust, not polishing 6" slabs or anything like some people do dry, now THAT creates alot of dust!

 

I actually wear a certified respirator when I polish dry Welo opals, and not only that, but I have a vacuum extraction system I rigged up, there is a wood-stove vent on my roof that used to have a wood stove connected to it, but "now" has a flexible 8" tube and a very powerful fan, and even a filter so I don't just pump that opal dust out into the air around my house, and that extraction system is not only connected to a hood over and around my flat lap, but it also is run to my desk, so that I polish and carve dry by hand about 4 inches under the 8" tube intake, and I can see every tiny particle of opal dust get sucked up the tube, and I barely even get any on my hands, so I think I'm pretty safe, well, at least I hope so, as I already have only about 30% of my lung capacity as I used to because of my illness, so I take as many extra precautions as i can.

 

I Do really thank you for warning me though, as you would be surprised of how many people do NOT know about silicosis, and once that opal dust is in your lungs, it's there FOREVER!! Thanks for that, nice to know you care ;)

 

Back to the points, I've actually tried making my own with diamond powder, and 330 epoxy, and have also tried many other types of liquid rubber type materials to impregnate with both diamond and silica carbide grit, but they just do not seem to have the same durability or consistency as the factory made points. I finally settled on "buying" these points and wheels because I realized I'm not in the point making business, but rather the opal cutting business, and was spending FAR too much time creating batch after batch of experimental points, and spending alot of money on diamond powders, with not as good results as I wanted to have, so I finally just broke down and said the heck with it, I'll just buy them...lol.

 

I AM interested in hearing about your "brass points that I make in a variety of shapes with oil", what do you mean "make with oil", I'm not sure I understand fully.

 

I actually tried using brass points I made charged with diamond paste, but found that they left brass metal marks on my work, and it was hard to remove, so the only points I will hand make and charge with diamond powder now are made of wood, I even use bamboo skewers for the hard to reach places.

 

Thanks again for everything, and also for directing me towards the masters that you have, i hope i don't come off like I know everything, I hate typing in these forums, never quite get my proper "emotion" across, always worried about offending someone by typing my words the wrong way!

 

I have ALOT to learn from those that are more experienced, as such a large amount if not all are here on this forum, and that's why I'm here, to learn, but with these opals, it's the specific "Welo species" that is SO different from ALL other opals, that I have been forced to do a TON of research by 1st hand experience on what works and what doesn't, and it is SO new, that I myself have actually reported things about this new opal that nobody has even documented yet, so I don't think there really "are" any Welo opal "experts" yet, as we are all finding out about this opal at the same time, and we need to share our experiences and findings so everyone can be up to speed and learn.

 

I participate alot in the forum at the Opal Auctions website where I sell at, and there is a wealth of Welo opal info there if anyone is interested, right now, I'm just wanting to find what I "know" works as cheap and reliably as possible, and also find out as much as I can from all the very knowledgeable people here, especially about the jade that I"m now kinda hooked on! If anyone has done alot of Welo opal carving and has tip, techniques or advice about it, I'm ALL ears as you will NEVER hear me say I know it all!!

 

Thanks again all!

 

Chris ;)

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Chris,

You mentioned a Opal auction/forum site can you give me the address.

 

I purchased about a kilo and a half of the Welo this past year, have carved/cleaned up a bit of it and would like to see what is being said about it. I have been carving on it wet, yes it soaks up the water but right now I'm just cleaning the rough. I think I will continue to cut it wet, where I live it drys very quickly so I can see what I have really soon. I usually orient my Opal prior to cutting so even if it is wet I know what I'm after even if it goes clear while I'm working on it.

 

All my best ..... Danny

 

P.S. The image below is what I use for the desktop on my computer .............. Lambina Opal from around 15 years ago.

post-2604-1293490533.jpg

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Chris:

 

I mean brass points that I make (turn, actually) and use with oil and diamond powder.

 

If you're interested in carving jade, I suggest doing a search here on "jade" and see what comes up. There's quite a bit of info here already regarding carving and polishing, and definitely go to Donn Salt''s website.

 

Debbie K

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Chris:

 

I mean brass points that I make (turn, actually) and use with oil and diamond powder.

 

If you're interested in carving jade, I suggest doing a search here on "jade" and see what comes up. There's quite a bit of info here already regarding carving and polishing, and definitely go to Donn Salt''s website.

 

Debbie K

 

 

Hi Debbie,

I get it with the points, you might actually say "I get the point"....ooohhh...baaaddd I know, haha.

 

Regarding the search, that was the first thing I did, in fact, a broad Google search led me here in the first place, and after reading some of the threads here in Jade, I felt compelled to join knowing that this was a place i would definitely benefit from interacting with!

 

I had to post about the things I did post about however, as they were just particular things that I could not find answers to, hope that was ok.

I know I read one post where someone asked about jade, and the answer to the person was to search here for the answers....lol.

 

It makes sense though, you should always TRY to find the answer at least before you ask, I'm lazy, but not THAT lazy...hehe.

 

So you don't find that the brass rubs off onto your stone at all Debbie? That's the reason I stopped using the ones I had actually.

 

It makes sense that a nice smooth brass surface charged with diamond would work well though. Do you use it for opal, or jade, or other stones?

 

Looking at your work I would say that whatever you do works perfectly as it is so excellent!

 

Chris ;)

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