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Water Wet Shine 2


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After reading all of the thoughts for achieving a “Water Wet Shine” I just have to smile and say OH WELL!!!


The person that has asked this question has had private communication with me regarding this and I gave him the solution, seems to me that they are not willing to follow the advice of someone that has been attaining a water wet shine on literally everything they have wanted it on since 1980.



Amyetrine Bead same as quartz .......... Water Wet



Gemmy Chrysoprase Bead .......... Water Wet



Gem Opal like hardness to Obsidian.......... Water Wet



8 strands Opal beads ........... All water wet


I’ve read others advice such as

I was using cerium oxide with a leather wheel and it wasn't removing the haze until I started really pressing down hard onto the wheel. (I incorrectly said tin oxide before, sorry) When it starting getting too hot, I stopped for a while and let it cool down naturally. It worked for me on the quartz.


The guys here at may gem and mineral club say that the only way to get a really high finish on agate or jade is to get it hot, in other words, let it get warm from the friction of a wheel, be it leather or wood or felt.


Except on softer stone I think leather is one of the last things you should use when it comes to water wet, leather has to much give and on hard stone it tries to do something it cannot, all stone has harder and softer spots (even quartz) when using leather it will seek out the softer spots and ride over the harder spots, thus giving the haze effect. As I have posted before the best way to get the water wet result is by using diamond and oil mix on wood, I will say it again on wood. This oil wood combination will not cause heat of any kind.


You do not want to cause heat build up in any stone and I get tired of all the old timer rock hounds telling people that they need to generate heat to get a proper polish on certain stones, Jade being one stone they usually refer to. Leather and hard felt cause almost instant heat build up so I say these are one of the worst things to use in Lapidary.


Tourmaline is quite hard to polish in the necklace below every stone is again water wet.




If I have offended anyone with this post I assure you I can live with that. I also assure you that this is the last time I am going to spend time telling people something that I have proven to be valid over thirty years ago.


I think the main problem for those that have trouble in attaining the results they are after is the fact that they are not willing to put enough time into something they want to accomplish and then try to find excuses for the problems they encounter rather than work out the soultion to their problem.


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



One last image ....... Fire Agate polished with rotary brush with diamond and oil.

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Hello again Daniel. After reading your advice about diamond powder mixed with oil on wooden bits, that was one of the first things I tried. In fact, I ordered diamond powder from your site. I made my own wooden bits out of dowels from the hardware store and proceeded to charge with diamond. Still, cannot get the haze off the surface of the quartz. There must be something else I'm doing wrong. And believe me, I've spent a lot of hours trying to figure it out now. For some reason, my intuition is telling me that the problem is somewhere around the 1200 grit... and yet I'll spend extra time on the 1200 grit before moving on to the 3000 and then the cerium oxide (I've also tried 50,000 grit diamond instead of the cerium oxide) and still can't get a water-wet polish on quartz or obsidian...


Here is the sequence I've been following:


*Shape with diamond carving burrs (from lopackis website)

*Smooth with diamond carving burrs up to 600 grit (from lopackis website)

*1200 grit diamond

*3000 grit diamond

*cerium oxide/50,000 grit diamond


Still can't get the haze out... I must be doing something fundamentally wrong. I've been using light cooking oil instead of mineral oil to hold the diamond on the wooden bits... could that be my problem?


P.S. And by the way, no offense taken. I can understand why you'd be frustrated with me by now after having explained the wooden bit/diamond powder thing to me like three times... but as I said above, that was one of the first things I tried and it doesn't seem to be working for me. Maybe the dowels I bought are hard wood instead of soft wood, could that make the difference?


I'm thinking about starting over with dowels that are definitely softwood and getting some mineral oil... what do you think?

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Hi Quinn, Danny looks like he has worked out a way to get a good full polish on his stones using the diamond powders/pastes and he has polished a lot more stones than me...I'm sure there are several solutions. I will try his way with the wooden drums and a bristle brush at some stage.


It's basically about a process of sanding, going through the range of grits 400 - 3000 removing all the scratches from the previous grit (clean up the piece and tools after each grit) until a molecular change occurs

where the scratches are so fine you can't see them with the naked eye. Easier said than done he says!! Yep that's right, this is a patience game where skipping ahead won't work what ever method is used.


If you think you have all the scratches out at 3000 diamond you could then try going to 2000 then 3000 grit silicone carbide sandpaper wrapped around rubber drums or sticks, dowels etc to get a pre-polish.

Do this process dry and you will soon have a good shine. (Using a quality face-mask and dust extractor of course as the fine particles from dry sanding are toxic). Water can be used at this stage too.


I don't often like things too reflective and polished, but to get a full-polish I use:


1. Diamond grinding wheel, burrs and point carver for shaping

2. Silicone carbide rubbings sticks to refine shape

3. 3M diamond cloth 400, 600, 1200 with water (sanding in multiple directions) and sometimes diamond paste and hardwood sticks in hard to get places

4. Silicone Carbide (wet and dry) Sandpaper 800, 1200, 2000, 3000 (sanding in multiple directions, wet then dry for the 800, 1200 and just dry at 2000 and 3000 for a pre-polish)

5 Tin Oxide and water slurry on soft leather around drums, with heat and pressure (like Kenneth's but no diamond) when it pulls on the piece it's polished! Just keep moving in all directions until it pulls on all surfaces. The work area and piece must be spotless for this process.


This is probably the old-school way, but seems to work on a lot of different materials. Even though I have tried a lot of the expensive diamond technologies out there, I find I often come back to a simple piece of sandpaper in my hand.


Each stone is a different beast...I have never tried for a full polish on obsidian, but the 3000 grit sandpaper certainly gets it very close. As I have heard said here before some stones just don't want to polish at all or have too many inclusions (hard and soft areas)

so we just have to stop and be satisfied at the stage we think the stone looks it's best. We all also have our rejects pile!!


Good luck in your stone sanding meditations. Jason

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After reading your posts (and everyone's responses) I realize I may have been too glib in my response. I didn't ask you what you were trying to polish, whether the shape was round like Danny's beads or cabochons or something with more complex angles.


For the most part, I do agree with Danny that the problem is most often incomplete finishing of one level of sanding. Something that may help you determine this is an optivisor, something that magnifies the stone you're working on to see what scratches may remain on the piece. Dry the piece off throughly and examine it closely. If I'm working on a hard stone like quartz, agate or jasper, I will mark the scratches with a permanent marker (test other stones such as jade, sometimes the ink will absorb and won't come out) and grind/sand until they disappear. If you start on your next stage and see marks, go back down a level and get them out.


I observed people at my local gem and mineral society polishing stones and it seemed to me the ones with more success (old-timers) bore down pretty hard on the stones when using the water/diamond wheels. The people who had scratches remaining were too tentative, trying to sand with a really light touch. I can't express strongly enough how important it is to get rid of the scratches at every stage, especially up to 1200. I had problems with polishing to begin with and when I started being more agressive, especially at 600 and 1200, most of the troubles went away.


I also realized after reading your post again that I have the added advantage of having a 8000 grit wheel and diamond powder. Most things (in my opinion) look great at 3000, some need the extra push.


When I am polishing jade or agate that is carved with my Grobet and wood and diamond and oil (more complex angles) I will actually begin to smell the wood burn a little. I press down on it hard enough, especially at 600 and 1200, to be removing quite a bit of wood and creating some friction. Maybe you are being a little to easy on the stone. Try more pressure. Or try using brass with the diamond and oil, made from brass rod available at hardware or art supply stores. I have a whole series of brass points that I've made for each level of finish and they work well. I also, like Danny, use the bristle brushes with diamond and oil and have found that this works well for 1200 up.


Please be aware that I'm only referring to the quartz. The obsidian would most likely not survive this kind of treatment.


I agree with Jason that it's possible to get there with sandpaper and stones. I use stones (ranging from 100 - 4000 grit) on alot of my carvings. You begin to see the shine at 1200 - 2000. It's slow but it's sure and it certainly can be likened to a form of meditation. I have even used jeweler's polishing points (rubber impregnated with grit). I especially like using the stones on jade, as it varies alot in hardness and is difficult to get a nice finish on sometimes even using the wood and diamond.


I go to my mineral club today, and will ask around about the odsidian. Perhaps the polish is obtained with Zam, White Diamond or some other compound, since the obsidian is so soft this may very well be the case. I don't claim to know everything about polishing stones, but I'm willing to try to help you in your quest and share what has worked for me. I'm primarily a carver and I don't often obsess about a high-gloss finish, but I will tell you this. If you go back to my Picasa page and look at the catfish that is carved out of Imperial Jasper, each step of sanding took almost one day. I finally gave out at 3000 and didn't want to go any further, I was frankly bored with polishing. For me, the carving is most important thing, the polishing secondary. If it's a bad carving it doesn't really matter how well finished it is, it's still a bad carving. The polish is important, especially in competitions, but as most of my pieces are entered into the fine arts arena rather than lapidary or jewelry competitions, this doesn't often apply to me personally. But as a matter of pride, I always try to get my stone (and wood and metal) polished/finished to a level that is deemed acceptable to a lapidarist/jeweler/carver.


Good luck and let us know your progress.


Debbie K

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It appears you are in too big of a hurry,you need to go back to step one and try something basic and simple.


make a 3/8ths inch thick 20-25mm diameter round cabochon


grind dome


sand with wet/dry silicon carbide paper 220,400,600 sharp,600 well worn.


prepolish with Levigated Alumina on a piece of felt.


polish with cerium oxide on either pellon or the rough side of a piece of leather.


If you don't get a water wet shine,drop back to well worn 600 and continue process till you do.

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quinn,like dan said you are probably getting in to big of a hurry.if you don't get the scratches out a good shine is hard to get.one thing i forgot in my last post is you may be trying to polish at to high of a speed.i ruined a lot of fine tourmaline by trying to polish at to high of a speed.at high speed the tourmaline would only glaze,get hot,and crack.it took me years to learn how to work tourmaline.when i slowed down the machine speed it went to polishing with no problems.not everbody carves like i do and what works for me might not work for you.when you are sure you have a good sand on your carving try slower polishing speeds and see if that helps.best regards,kenneth neaves

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Kenneth reminded me of something I do and usually don't remember to tell people, I run most of my machines for polishing very slow, sometimes as slow as 500RPM. In the image of the Tourmaline necklace, the backs of the cabs in the pendent were polished by hand rubbing them on a copper lap, one step at 1200 mesh and the last at 14000 mesh, it was surprising that this went very fast.


Also Jason mentioned that he always hand sands his projects, this again I forgot to mention. If I am doing a mosaic with multiple type stones, I to always hand sand pre polish with a very worn 600 mesh wet or dry paper, in doing this it gives me a perfectly smooth surface to start my polish steps with the diamond wood wheels. The wheels usually are run very slow, this works because it gives the diamond a chance to bite into the stone and not just ride on the top doing nothing.


Below is an image of a shell mosaic I made many years ago, I used the above techniques for the finish on it.


Here is the text that describes it from my web site.


The mosaic in this shell is by far the most involved of any I'd done. The background is done with the finest orange coral I've ever owned, funny thing being when I bought the coral it was sold to me as possibly no good it was full of worm holes on the exterior, the weight of the piece clued me in that there should be plenty of usable material on the inside, as you can see my thoughts were right.


The lizard is composed of two colors of Damele Turquoise from Nevada, brown for the tail and a light to dark green for the body. The lines in the tail and neck are best Lapis and extremely hard high blue Turquoise from Morenci AZ. For the arrow shapes I surrounded gel Sugilite with the Morenci Turquoise. I finished the eyes in Gem Opal inserted into 14K gold tubing.


To finish the shell into a necklace I made a silver setting that had a separator between the top and bottom pieces of plate silver sheet, this gave me a channel that I then inlaid orange coral, the small strip of coral in the image is not part of the actual shell, it is the channel. I hand made 3/8" in diameter silver beads and also made similar three piece beads with a channel so I could inlay the beads with the various colors of stone I'd used.


Close up of the mosaic.





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

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Thanks for the responses. I'll try taking my time a bit more, especially around the 600 grit level. Another question comes to mind now. I've been using a 300 series dremel with a flex shaft. Do you think the lowest speed on my dremel is low enough to get a good polish? Maybe it's too fast and no matter how much time I take with it, the diamond won't "bite."??

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As Daniel said above, "The wheels usually are run very slow, this works because it gives the diamond a chance to bite into the stone and not just ride on the top doing nothing."


When you say polish by hand with a pie pan, do you mean just put down a piece of leather in a pie pan, coat with polishing compound, and rub the specimen against the leather pad?


Daniel and several others have recommended diamond powder to me, mixed with a light oil, as an efficient means of sanding and polishing stones, but I have also tried cerium oxide with the same results... When I finish the process, the surface still has a subtle hazy look to it. I'm sure the haze is being left behind by one of the grits I'm using. I think the 1200 grit is the one leaving behind the haze. I've been trying to work it out with the 3000 before polishing but still having troubles. I'm thinking a 2000 grit might help. Otherwise, I might be doing something fundamentally wrong, like running the bit too fast...?

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Haha... well I guess I need to go back to grade school. Or perhaps invite over my 10 year old nephew to help me out.


Actually I didn't start thinking very hard about this whole process until after I had spent many hours attempting to get a nice polish on a small piece. I've probably spent well over 10 hours now on a small piece of obsidian and a small piece of quartz, neither of which I can get a perfect polish on as of yet.


Thanks for the link, though, I'll give it a try. I'm willing to try anything at this point. The only thing I don't understand is why doing the process by hand in a pie pan would be advantageous over a rotary tool..? It seems to me that many professional lapidary artists are able to achieve the water-wet polish with a rotary tool. You're the first that has recommended I do it by hand.


I'll post again in a day or two and let everyone know how the pie pan experiment goes.

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Ok, so this is strange. This piece of amethyst I've been working on trying to get a water-wet polish... I worked for several hours today with both wood and felt bits on my dremel. I tried cerium oxide and 50,000 grit diamond and neither would get rid of that ultra-fine haze that is left behind from the pre-polish. Nothing seemed to be making any difference whatsoever. So before resorting to the hand-pan method, as recommended above, I decided to just take the piece to my 8" inland flat lap. I used a felt wheel charged with cerium oxide paste on the lowest speed, and within 5 minutes I had a perfect water-wet polish on my piece. I left a small part of the surface unpolished so I could experiment a bit, knowing now that my problem is during the final polish phase, not a previous grit. So I went back to the dremel and tried harder with the cerium oxide, running it both low and high speeds using both the wood and felt bits, and once again.. nothing. For some reason I can't seem to get a polish using the dremel.. And this is a problem for me because I really want to be able to polish hard to reach spaces for more intricate carvings... Any ideas why the 8" flat lap is yielding results and the dremel isn't?

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I, like you, have no difficulty getting a high gloss polish when using the wheels. Working on complex angles with the Dremel (or Grobet) are more problematic.


As Danny mentioned earlier, you might try bristle brushes charged with high grit diamond or cerium oxide. I've had good luck with this approach for getting a really good shine using diamond and oil.


I always try to do everything I can using my grinder. I have grits up to 50,000 for it, (but rarely go beyond 3,000) and I go back and get the inaccessible areas by hand with the Grobet. That being said, I have found that what I do with the Grobet is never quite as shiny as what I get with the grinder with comparable grit belts. I think that this is due to the difference between convex and concave surfaces. Convex angles are much easier to smooth and polish. Concave angles aren't so easy. I imagine that the concave surfaces of what I carve are never as well sanded and smoothed as the convex ones are, and that as I go on with polishing these imperfections start to manifest themselves. I've gotten more mindful of this as time has gone on and try to address it at earlier stages.


Hope this helps and good luck.


Debbie K

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Debbie is right about getting the same polish inside of hollows as opposed to something smooth or curved. If you go up to the image of the fire agate I posted (all hollow areas)after carving it were finished with 3 1/2 inch three row boar hair brissel brushes in the following steps. Oil and diamond 360 600 1200 1400, if you were to see this stone in person you would be able to see it polished at 14000 all the way down to the bottom of the cuts.


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


Below a few more stones polished in the same way








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