Tips & Tricks or "More lapidary, less money"

Since it's been forever since I wrote a blog entry (life, eh?) I thought I'd make up a quick "cheat sheet" of tips & tricks I've found helpful for different lapidary tasks.

  • When you find a new rock, take a photo of it with a piece of paper showing the name, date, and place it was bought (and where it's from if not the same).  This way you won't be lost trying to figure out what you bought or where. 
  • Always keep a couple pairs of rubber gloves around for tasks like emptying tumblers, grabbing slabs out of the saw, washing tools....always good to protect your hands! 
  • There is never such thing as too many pails.  
  • Also invest in a good hand cream that works for you (NOT lotion, but cream).  You can thank me later.
  • When cutting softer material or opal, you want to use water, not oil. 
  • To expose more diamonds on your saw blades, cut through old silicon carbide grinding wheels or red bricks.  
  • Look for ways to use every day household items to make your hobby more affordable!  The Dollar Store is your friend. 
  • Wide rubber bands are an inexpensive way to prevent rocks from chipping each other  when putting them on a vibra lap. 
  • Acetone (nail polish remover) is a great way to remove Krazy/Super Glue after you're done dopping a stone. 
  • Cheap kitty litter or oil absorber is a MUST when you're cutting slabs in larger saws.  Use a cheap shower squeegee to get the oil off, and put the slab in a container with enough kitty litter to cover it.  It dries up the oil and can be reused over and over until it turns black.  Then soak the slabs in hot water & Dawn dish soap for 24-48 hours.  Voila! Clean, non greasy slab.  
  • If you're grinding or cabbing a rock and want to avoid flat spots, color the whole surface and then grind away.  The marker will disappear as you grind and help you avoid flat spots.  For larger slabs I think Pro Sharpies are amazing but any permanent marker or even pencil will work. 
  • Short pieces (4-6" long) of 2x4s and a bottle of Water Glass (sodium silicate) are a great combination for cutting oddly shaped rocks that don't quite fit in a vice.  Glue rock to wood, wait 24 hours, mount in vice & cut away.  Once you've got all the slabs you can, soak the wood in a pail of water overnight and it should easily come off.
  • Acetone (nail polish remover) is also a great way to get old rubber coatings off polishing heads.  Set the head in a shallow disposable dish, face down, and add 1-2" of nail polish remover.  Wait 24 hours.  WEAR GLOVES and lift it out.  All the rubber/foam should be easy to remove by hand or melted into a thick sludge and you can get the rest off with Dawn & an inexpensive scrubby (these are *amazing*!). 
  • You can put fractured or round rocks into a milk carton & cover with plaster of paris to make a nice brick to cut.  Just be aware it's sometimes a real pain to get the plaster off.  Soaking in water for a couple days usually works for me. 

What sort of tips & tricks do you know of? Comment below! 

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