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Stone cutting recommendations


Andrew

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My tool collection is only setup for bone carving. I have some pieces of Agate that I would like to cut to fit into some new bone pieces I am working on.

Can anyone provide suggestions on what to use? Currently I am using a fiberglass cut off disc that cuts well enough but leaves burnt edges.

Thanks

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hi :-) ... i have carved some pieces in agate, and to my knowledge best is to use diamond tools, like rotary burrs in a flex shaft, and very important, cool work with water while you work. agate is very heat sensitive, and it takes easily harm by too much of it, though sometimes its only much later visible... i had 2 times pieces crack, after they were almost finished. so, please work slowly, and cool very well. dipping in water the stone, and keep it wet suffices... hope this helps.

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i do everything on agate with diamond tools, grinding, sanding, and polishing. in small sizes, like about 2inches, you can easily do every grinding with damond coated wheels put in flex shaft. tiny diamond saws, with diameter about 1 inch speed up shaping process. for larger pieces bigger equipment is necessary, like big wheel, and because agate is very tough stone, i would recommend diamond coated here too.

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It is so interesting! Thank You, Stonecutter! I also have a piece of agat or opal, it is very beautiful stone, but I don't know what to do with it! :(

I'm going to work with stones, I need to do dew-drop, but it is only dream! What do You say about rock crystal?

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It is so interesting! Thank You, Stonecutter! I also have a piece of agat or opal, it is very beautiful stone, but I don't know what to do with it! :(

I'm going to work with stones, I need to do dew-drop, but it is only dream! What do You say about rock crystal?

 

Agate and opal are completely different beasts so first thing is to figure out what it is.

 

Opal is softer, far more heat sensitive, and unless you have a very valuable piece, it's unlikely that the fire goes all the way through the stone. It's very easy to grind past the fire in most opal.

 

If it is opal, you can work it with hand tools. The flat diamond hones made by EZE-LAP aren't too expensive and will shape opal relatively quickly. Opal can be sanded with wet or dry silicon carbide paper and and polished with cerium oxide on soft leather. Another good choice for dew drops is moonstone. This is a feldspar, is relatively soft and easy to work, and has a blue adularesence.

 

With agate you could theoretically do the same, but it's going to take a long, long time. Same with rock crystal.

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Hello all,

 

You may want check out this web site for a wonderful selection of top quality diamond tools that Musket turned me onto. They are rather expensive, but pay for them selves quickly. mountain Mist

Natasha - when you start adding in some gem carving to your work it will give you a pallete of permanant colors and new dimensions of translucency and light - I think it would be a delight!

Magnus

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yes, all musket says i agree totally. ... opal is much softer, and therefore as a stone more difficult to cut. agates difficulty is the toughness, since that requires a lot of patiences. and the heat building up from rotating tools need to be totally controlled if you not want risk damage your work. ... i add al link to a thread i had here, where i explained a little more on agate carving

http://www.thecarvingpath.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=633

rock chrystal is quartz, same as agate, but agate is much tougher. rock chrystal, to me, carves easily.... agate, and rock chrystal polish easily, when well sanded. for a dew drop, i would choos a very light colored agate, or yes, as musket say, a moonstone. these also work easily, and have extra nice i think. agates are more resistant though due to bigger hardness

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Natasha, You can see the blue adularescence in a moonstone cab I cut, in the thread I started about the Snowcap hummingbird over in Show and Tell. I arranged three of them on the base of the "tree" or whatever you want to call it (the leaf btw is the Monarch Rosa Noble I mentioned above). It's a fairly subtle effect and as with the fire in most opal, directional in that it depends on where the light hits the stone.

 

Opal is wonderful stuff but godawful expensive. It has doubled in price every year for the past two decades. Back in Lalique's day, it was considered a common material. No more.

 

If you plan to buy any, I would stick with Australian opal from well established opal fields. There are other sources but stability can be a problem with most of them. You will have an advantage in that you can use very small pieces of rough (for accents and embellishments that is-- forget about doing a complete carving in opal unless you are very well off indeed), so I would buy Lightning Ridge for preference.

 

The best opal for water droplets is either black opal or crystal opal. Black opal is almost all Lightning Ridge and is incredibly expensive. Most crystal is also Lightning Ridge and is expensive too but less than black, and you can get exactly the same effect as you'd get with natural black by backing the crystal with black jade or onyx, thus making what is called a doublet. Or even just painting the back with waterproof India ink.

 

You can also buy superlative pre-cut doublets and triplets and reshape them as you will. They are not expensive in small sizes. In terms of stability, triplets are by far the best bet. They consist of a very thin layer of crystal opal backed with a black material, often onyx or black agate, and then topped with a rock crystal cap.

 

Another material that makes nice water is blue chalcedony. Here's a piece of botryoidal blue chalcedony I'm going to use one of these days as an element in a sculpture, to suggest a pool of water.

 

post-333-1162073967.jpg

 

I'd certainly be curious to see what you'll do with lapidary materials in your work.

 

As is, it already leaves me speechless.

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When creating the doublets and triplets, what is used to join the pieces together? This has been an interesting burst of information, about the stones. I love fire opals, and have included tiny ones in a couple of pieces, as well as moonstone water droplets too, a while ago.

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When creating the doublets and triplets, what is used to join the pieces together? This has been an interesting burst of information, about the stones. I love fire opals, and have included tiny ones in a couple of pieces, as well as moonstone water droplets too, a while ago.

 

Any really good quality CA, or epoxy. Most lapidaries who go with epoxy use Hughes 330. You have to watch it with pinpoint air bubbles either way, but it's pretty easy to avoid them. I use acetone to keep things clean and handle the components with tweezers afterwards.

 

The real prob with making your own triplets, or doublets for that matter, is that you really are gonna be spending hours flattening out the backing material if you are using black nephrite or black agate, unless you have a motorized flat lap (I use my faceting machine). That being said, no reason why you can't use a soft material like jet as long as it's solid black.

 

The gluing surfaces really do have to be lapped flat, and I mean flat, whether by hand or machine.

 

I know it's a somewhat heretical suggestion, but I see almost no reason to fabricate triplets. Doublets, yes. I've made both. But commercially available triplets are so nice, and so reasonable, that I see little rationale for making your own unless you just wanna have fun. It'd be kinda like making your own mokume versus buying it from Shining Wave. Just start with the triplet and shape it to suit.

 

Janel, if you like fire opal, check out this sculpture by Michael Dyber-- almost 300 carats. Yoicks.

 

Dyber Vortex

 

Michael's entire site is worth checking out if you aren't familiar with his stuff. He's just about the only American gem carver who's considered to be in the same league as the Idar-Oberstein carvers, especially in the more geometric, Deco style he usually favors over this more "organic" piece. He uses the most superb gem material I have ever seen in person.

 

Very nice cat, he does demos every year at the annual gem and mineral show held at Sunapee State Park here in NH, about 25 miles from my home.

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"I know it's a somewhat heretical suggestion, but I see almost no reason to fabricate triplets. Doublets, yes. I've made both. But commercially available triplets are so nice, and so reasonable, that I see little rationale for making your own unless you just wanna have fun. It'd be kinda like making your own mokume versus buying it from Shining Wave. Just start with the triplet and shape it to suit. "

 

Musket,you are fairly new here and probably don't realize the talents of some of the people who post on the forum. commercial triplets can lack the depth of fire and personal accomplishment of a homemade opal triplet. there are a few of us who can also make mokume as well if not better than Phil Baldwin,so why buy when you can make it.

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"I know it's a somewhat heretical suggestion, but I see almost no reason to fabricate triplets. Doublets, yes. I've made both. But commercially available triplets are so nice, and so reasonable, that I see little rationale for making your own unless you just wanna have fun. It'd be kinda like making your own mokume versus buying it from Shining Wave. Just start with the triplet and shape it to suit. "

 

Musket,you are fairly new here and probably don't realize the talents of some of the people who post on the forum. commercial triplets can lack the depth of fire and personal accomplishment of a homemade opal triplet. there are a few of us who can also make mokume as well if not better than Phil Baldwin,so why buy when you can make it.

 

Oh no, I'm well aware of the talents of people here. I understand what you're saying. As I said, the only reason to do it from a practical standpoint is for fun, which is just my codeword for personal accomplishment, or if your personal philosophy of working demands that you make everything yourself from start to finish. Which is a whole different subject.

 

That being said, keep in mind that top quality crystal opal rough with blue or blue-green fire is currently running somewhere around $150 a gram.

 

Optical quartz is also starting to get pricey (I have no idea how much the alternative, a very hard borosilicate glass, costs as a raw material). The only component of a really well made triplet that remains inexpensive is black agate.

 

Much of the best seam opal for triplets never makes it out of Australia. Many of the miners make triplets as a sideline, opal mining being a pretty unforgiving business. Actually this is getting to be more and more of a problem with all kinds of gem rough. It simply isn't getting past commercial cutters anymore.

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Hi Guys .... Interesting thread is right.

Natasha, one of the most crucial aspects to your question of stone and the working techniques there of is the size of the piece/pieces you will be working on.

Cutting small to tiny pieces of stone need not be difficult or expensive. An indication of size and shape would be useful to set you on the path.

 

The scale of your work is relatively miniature and I would imagine a dew drop to be of a similar size to the head of a match. At this scale many stones would loose their colour and the irridesence of moonstone would almost be lost.

 

One of the most striking materials I've seen which was used specifically for this purpose and worked extremely well was mother of pearl. Not very much different to some stone to work. All the irridesence, glow and life essence captured the eye irrespective of being only a couple of mm round.

 

This post illustrates Doug's skill with mother of pearl.........

http://www.thecarvingpath.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=236

 

The accomplishment of 'First Breath' is just awesome......... congratulations are inadequate............... The piece itself expresses more than words have the power to ............. The old quote 'A picture shows more than a thousand words' is even more so in 3D !!!

 

Cheers to you all..... Donn

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Yes, the iridescence of MOP has the advantage of being omnidirectional, and MOP is inexpensive.

 

The adularesence of moonstone varies with the quality of the rough but is always dependent on the light source. It's the same with most opal, which must be oriented to take full advantage of the fire.

 

I have more small pieces of crystal opal on hand than I will ever be able to use, and if anyone here would like a few pieces to experiment with, contact me by email.

 

I can't give the stuff away and don't want to sell large amounts of it, because opal is better than money in the bank, but will part with some of it by the gram for a very reasonable price, plus reimbursement for shipping.

 

The fire is predominantly blue-green and multidirectional, though it will still be most intense with proper orientation. Most will require some kind of black backing to fully bring out the fire but somewill be thick enough to cut as a solid, without needing to be made into a doublet. I also have plenty of very thin pieces for those who would like to make triplets.

 

Here are a few representative examples, atop a piece of black nephrite with water, to show the fire as it would appear when polished. For reference, the big oval piece is about 8 x 11 mm. This is very good to top quality from Lightning Ridge, purchased seven or eight years ago in a large parcel.

 

Not a great photo, doesn't do the stuff justice but I only have a 4 MP camera and opal is notoriously difficult to photograph. The light source is directly above the stones. In jewelry these would probably be used for ring stones but they maintain their fire well at an angle too.

 

post-333-1162307842.jpg

 

I also have some that is a dazzling electric blue, but that'll be more expensive (the most costly fire color in opal at this time is red).

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Donn,

 

You are so right about the mother of pearl - there is also the color afforded by black lipped oysters to be used in other effects than a dewdrop - I have found glorious sunset colors in these - also beautiful flesh tones and greys. I have heard that shells can be toxic and was told to work them wet - does anybody have more info on this aspect?

Magnus

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Donn, thank You! For good words and information! I have no idea how to hold such tiny pieces! I only beginner! The dew-drop will be done fron acrylic glass, the size will be also comfortable, but it is not seriouse work, it is an experiment! I already know my mistakes, so good lessons! :)

About any stones, I live in Moldova, there is no tradition to work with opal, agat, the lokal jewellers are awful, I don't like their work, if to be frank it is not professional work. That's why to find a needed stone, gold leaves are almost impossible. <_< So, I'm searching any information with my computer, Internet is the best Institute! :)

Thank You, I only gather all information, as soon as I'm ready for a step, I'll use all information and links!

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