It is with great sadness I'd like to announce Dr. Hanneman passed away on December 12, 2020. His legacy will live on forever!
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 Post subject: Re: Interested in the hobby, greetings and questions
PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2020 3:55 pm 
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ThomasW wrote:
So I've seen some comments about toppers and based on a quick look at prices, it sounds like a master lap + toppers should be relatively cheap and allow me to get a more granular range of grits (260,325,600,1200) for an equal price to my previous list.

Does anyone have any quality topper brand recommendations? Is this a bad idea?

Regarding Dominatrix, I am a bit leery of doing a banded lap first starting out because I think it would make it too easy to slip up, given the 4" radius. Perhaps I'm overreacting, but it makes me nervous that I'll ruin a stone. Is that unjustified?

Thank you,
Thomas


I used to keep in stock some I found reliable, but do not any more. Kingsley North, Diamond pacific, Hi-Tech Diamond offers to grades. I found over the years you get what you pay for, a lot of re-sellers buy bulk from overseas and place there own labels on them, so it can be hit or miss. I probably not the best to offer suggestions here as I do not use them faceting and haven't purchased any in awhile. These are just a few places I used to get them and many other products for my lapidary work. I have purchased some of the $30 dollar ones off ebay but didn't find them very consistent in the cutting a bit rough and aggressive for the mesh stated.

Yes your like most new to this overthinking everything, but that's not a bad thing. I think most who venture into this are a more careful, mechanically inclined somewhat person who has seen the faceting machines and wasn't extremely intimidated by it and wants to move forward. The dual zone laps are not all that hard to get used to, but if your planning on cutting door knob sized stones than probably not the best choice. Your not going to ruin the stone beyond just some re-polishing but pushing some of the pre-polish into the inner polish zone is cross-contamination. But with carefulness and attention, I never have, I love them makes polishing a stone a breeze.

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 Post subject: Re: Interested in the hobby, greetings and questions
PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2020 9:05 pm 
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Because I have never found a supplier of topper who can consistently provide them with consistent grit, and consistent acceptable flatness, I stopped buying them decades ago.

Why bother when a Crystalite standard lap is going to last you decades, and provide a flat, constable cutting tool. Penny wise, and dollar foolish in my opinion to use toppers.


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 Post subject: Re: Interested in the hobby, greetings and questions
PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2020 6:17 pm 
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If you are looking to save some money, I would go with a cheaper roughing in lap. Kingsleynorth sells some no name laps for $54. I have one of the 260 grit. It cuts very aggressively and is great for preforming or roughing a stone. For finial cutting I would recommend a better quality lap.

Another way to save some money is when you buy your BATT lap, ask Jon to cut a groove in it so that you can use it with dual charge. 8000 on the outside and 50,000 diamond on the inside. With this one lap then you could polish most anything except quartz and a few less popular stones.

I charge all my diamond polishing laps with diamond powder. In 20 years I have never had a contamination problem, and I'm not really that carful, I cut fast.

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 Post subject: Re: Interested in the hobby, greetings and questions
PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2020 7:14 pm 
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Many of the new cutters I have seen in our local clubs are far far from being at your level Precision Gem, that includes me as well. I have seen them wonder from machine to machine rubbing and touching everything in their sight, from their 260 grit quartz swarf to another persons polish lap as they are learning to polish just to see how it feels and ask what are you using on there sure feels smooth. I have not ever seen one of your actual stones in person, but I have seen your posted pics over the years and it is truly hard to compare too, so the actual stones are probably amazing.

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 Post subject: Re: Interested in the hobby, greetings and questions
PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2020 9:29 am 
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I order my toppers from https://thk.hk/ as well as the master lap.
Don't buy 3000 toppers, better us a Zinc+ and 3000 or 8.000 for pre polish.

For polish I would recommend the Matrix along with the oxide sticks. Use as spray to dampen the lap and give it a wash from time to time with soap.

Get started and enjoy.

Martin


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 Post subject: Re: Interested in the hobby, greetings and questions
PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2020 10:43 pm 
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You sound an awful lot like me when I first got started faceting!

The biggest difference here was that I simply didn't have the cash available to buy the equipment I wanted! I bought an old faceting head on ebay, a few very cheap topper laps, some oxide polishing powder and I pieced the rest together from some components I had laying around the house/garage/workshop, and made parts as needed. I already had some beginner quality rough on hand, so I was off and cutting for about $150 total.

I learned a LOT about the mechanics of what works and what doesn't work pretty quickly. I had 1 speed(FAST) on the machine, and getting facets to line up required "cheating" by pushing(bending) the mast a little in the required direction lol.

I goofed up & lost a couple stones in the very beginning, but then decided to give a nicer stone a try(I had a good feeling!) The first stone I completed was a beautiful 12mm deep purple amethyst with blue/red flashes from deep within the stone. I took it to a local jeweler to see about having it put in a setting, but ended up selling it to him instead for more than I paid for my entire faceting setup! I do still sometimes wish I had kept that 1st stone, but the quick sale had me hooked on the possibility of being able to make some money while having fun too.

I then spent a year or two cutting stones and investing all of the proceeds on rough material. I'm VERY happy that is where I spent most of my money. The rough market today is not nearly as good as it was back then, and I'm still cutting from some of the material I purchased when I was just getting started.

Eventually, I decided it was time for some new equipment as I was tired of fighting my machine on every stone, so I bought a much better quality machine & laps... and that was the step that made it possible to cut a stone much more efficiently and much more accurately. It probably reduced my cutting time(and headaches) down to about 20% of what it previously was. That is when I turned faceting into a part time business (my main employment was seasonal, so I 100% cut stones during the off season). I don't do as much faceting as I used to... but the biggest challenge now is sourcing new quality rough at reasonable prices without the quantity discounts I used to get when I was cutting a lot more.

The advice everyone else has posted here as far as lap selection goes has been very good. I now primarily cut on sintered laps, but good plated laps should get you through MANY stones before you wear them out. I also have a wide variety of polishing laps that I use for various materials, but the suggestions here have been good "all around" options. As your experience grows, you can purchase different laps as needed to get faster results for specific materials based on how you cut (I think I still cut/polish at much higher RPM's than what many other people do... but It works for me!)

Regarding the 600 on BATT: I have one of those too. I have not had any issues with contamination caused by this lap (yet), but I don't use it very often. Where it really does do well is with sensitive materials. It is much less aggressive than a 600 plated lap. It cuts about like a 1200 plated lap(maybe a little faster?), and seems to have a "softer" feel to it that is less likely to cause cracks or cleavage planes to grow. It did take a LOT of diamond powder to get it fully charged to where I like how it cuts though. Initially, I was charging it heavily more than once a stone, then once a stone, then once every couple stones..... and now I only add a little diamond every 5-10 stones or so(depending on type and size of stone I am cutting). I don't think I've used this lap since I switched to sintered laps though.... so I probably wouldn't go this route again unless I had a BATT lap that already had some sort of contamination and was not useful as a polishing lap anymore.


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