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Cutting Jade/stone With A Rotary Tool


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I have been carving bone as a hobby for the past couple of years. I went to the Tucson Gem Show a couple of weeks ago and came home with some Jade and Jasper with the thought that I'd like to try carving it into some basic shapes, like a hei toki or a basic hook shape and see what it's like. I have a Foredom rotary tool and bought some diamond burs in 80, 150 and 220 grit. I've done a youtube search for info on Jade carving with a rotary tool and came up empty although I did find plenty of stone cutting videos that used large, stationary equipment. I also did a search in this forum and didn't get any hits.


My workbench is set up for bone carving so no running water. I have a diamond cutting wheel that should do for cutting the stone, but how do I cut and shape a pendant out of stone if I don't have the running water that I've seen in the stone cutting videos? Is it even possible? Any and all suggestions and ideas will be appreciated.

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I have been a lapidary for 33 years, the only thing I use a large ammount of water in is my diamond sawing machines.


I have attached an image of the thing I use every where else when I need water(made from a garden sprayer), the nice thing about this water system is that you have precise control of your water flow. I have found over the years that you need an extremely small amount of water on most everything, thus you keep yourself far dryer using this setup over a large water flow.


All my best ...... Danny



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Make sure that you use a flexible shaft with the rotary tool. You don't want the water anywhere near the motor. The set up Danny has is nice, I have something similar for bigger stuff. But it might be all you need is a small, low basin of water. You can dip the stone in the water occassionally. I have a toothbrush in the basin to brush off the rock slurry. Some people use a drip system, a container of water with a valve to let water drip one drop at a time.


Good luck and have fun.


Debbie K

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the thing about the water is that it is used to keep the diamonds on your tool bits cool otherwise you will burn all the diamonds off in seconds and your tool bits would be rendered useless.

Some equipment using diamond blades to cut jade Ive seen are operated with a dish of water underneath and the flat cutting surface on top of it with a slit cut in it to allow the diamond blade to be in the water while cutting unfortunately I dont have any photos but if I do I will post

personally I work with bone but if I ever have enough money I would love to work with greenstone(it can be quite expensive)oh and if your drilling use a slow speed drill press with plenty of water and take plenty of time because if you rush it the stone can heat up and fracture and going slow will help your diamond bits will last longer

There are alot of competent jade carvers on this site who may be able to offer some more advice but I hope that my advice is helpful


Kia ora



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Thank you everyone. I'm learning exactly how little I know about cutting stone!


Danny, that's an interesting setup you have with the garden sprayer. If I end up enjoying the stone carving as much as I enjoy bone carving I'll definitely have to make a setup like that. It sounds, though, like all I need to get started is a small container, maybe like a Tupperware container, with a little water in it.


Should I keep the stone totally submerged in water when I'm cutting and shaping it? If so, I was thinking of putting it on a kitchen sponge in the water container and using that as a work surface. Has anyone tried something like that or is that overkill? Do I just need to keep the stone and bur moist as opposed to submerged when I work?


Maha, there is a very active group of bone carvers on facebook. If you're interested in being part of that community please come over and join us. Search for the "Bone Carvers in Exile" and "Bone Carving" pages and join up.


Thanks again.



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Kenneth Neaves one of the carvers on the forum has carved stone dry for over fourty years, he tells people that this is not the best way to go but that is how he started. All you need is enough water on the piece to keep the burr cleaning itself as you work, if it is doing this of course it is keeping the piece your working on cool.


All my best .......... Danny


P.S. Do a search and check out Kenneths work you will be impresesed

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