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Messages - Lowjiber

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Fossicking Locations / Re: Mogumber Amethyst
« on: May 01, 2020, 11:08:23 AM »
Thanks for the link, Bucket.  While I live in the US, I have friends in Oz.  I tweeted the link to my followers. beers

Ask a "Silly" Question / Re: Unknown Brand/Model of faceter
« on: March 24, 2020, 01:14:21 AM »
 beers I'm hardly an expert, but it looks to me like that lever just in front of the index gear would lock the protractor.

There is a very nice book by Tom Herbst that lays out faceting techniques in an easy-to-read style.  I don't know if Aussie Sapphire (forum sponsor) sells it, but here's the Amazon bookstore description of the book... link below.

I actually learned to facet several years ago by using that book and several on-line YouTube videos.

Here's the link...

Happy Faceting,


Ask a "Silly" Question / Re: Laps kit for cutting sapphire
« on: March 09, 2020, 12:14:43 AM »
@goltzy75... Since your original post dealt with sapphire, @MakkeyBrown and I have commented on using diamond to polish.  However, as you broaden your range of stones to be faceted you'll likely find that many of your fellow-faceters use oxide polishes for stones that are Mohs 7, or below.

For example, a piece of quartz (Mohs 7) will polish perfectly using Cerium Oxide (CeOx).  Oxides use water, vice oils, as a lubricant.  The two most popular are CeOx and Alumina Oxide.

The forum's sponsor, Aussie Sapphires, sells a wide range of GearLoose laps.  One of the best for using oxides is the famous DarkSide lap.  If you'll go to the link below, there is a lot of information from GearLoose regarding use of the DarkSide laps.

Just food-for-thought...


Ask a "Silly" Question / Re: Laps kit for cutting sapphire
« on: March 08, 2020, 12:53:12 AM »
As you know, Sapphire is hard (Mohs 9).  However, that makes cutting easier in my opinion.  Just the "standard" range of grits is all one needs.

I recommend grit sizes of 600, 1200, and 3000 (pre-polish).  Polishing laps are pretty much a matter of preference, but you'll need diamond... either as a powered (bort) or the Pandemonium sticks by Gearloose.

The Pandemonium sticks are becoming very popular.  After a pre-polish with your 3000# grit disk, use 8,000 & 60,000 sticks.

Polishing disks widely vary from person to person.  I like Gearloose polishing laps... Batt Lap, Zinc+.  Visit the Gearloose webpage where there is a lot of info on various polishing disks.

Lubricant for polishing also varies... from Snake Oil to WD-40 and everything in between.  You'll find that everyone has a favorite.  I generally use Snake Oil on the Batt Laps, but that's just me.

While I'm rambling, let me suggest "learning" to cut with something cheap and hard like CZ before getting busy with the more valuable sapphire. beers

Gemstone Faceting / Re: UltraTec VL
« on: March 07, 2020, 03:35:13 AM »
Here’s what I think after cutting one stone on the VL…

Let’s get the one Con out of the way first… There is no splash guard for the splash pan! As you can see from the picture in the Gallery, the “traditional” rubber-like splash pan has been replaced with a solid plastic one. The new one still uses the same “funnel” as previous Ultra Tec machines (V2 & V5). The pan fits well and is easy to install/remove… no issues there. However, there is a 4.5″ wide area to accommodate high angles… girdles, etc. There is no removable splash guard for this area! I sent an email to Rob at UT saying that they need to provide a removable guard, as swarf at any angle of cutting can still get on the mast assembly, and he said he would “forward the suggestion to the UT engineers”.

Now, any faceter in his right mind can fix that. I simply attach a flexible piece of plastic sheet to the splash pan with small clips. My point is that such a device should be included with the machine… Something one expects from UT in my opinion.

The list of Pros is a mile long…

Let me just summarize and say that everything is perfect. The machine is really “tight” from a tolerance perspective. The DAD is far superior to my other digital machine in the shop (Polymetric). As one can see in the above pics, I had UT add the dial depth-of-cut indicator to my VL… Not a necessity, but a matter of personal preference (One could accurately cut just using the DAD.)

Mast control is excellent when compared to other non-UT machines I’ve used. Everything is smooth and accurate… this old engineer checks everything. LOL

I’m particularly impressed by the speed controller. I put a digital light gauge on the lap and found the controller to be as advertised… Liner from 0-700 RPM and slightly exponential from 700-1850 RPM. Since the machine does not use a drive belt, one can simply flip the switch to “Off” and the controller will return to the previous setting when turned back “On”. That may raise an eyebrow or two, but a belt-driven machine can throw a belt off if the controller is not turned to zero slowly… You’ll only do that once. LOL

The machine comes with a 30 page user’s manual. Now, an experienced cutter really doesn’t need it, but only an idiot would not read it. A beginning cutter will find it quite thorough as every aspect of using the machine is well detailed.

The cheater (excuse me the Index Adjuster) is very tight. I’ve had cheaters slowly move out of adjustment with other machines… something that can be troublesome at best.

Like previous (V2/V5) models the quill on the VL is short… That’s why the previous machines provide a “handle” to control the cutting. I was surprised that the VL does not have that handle. It doesn’t bother me as I’m a lefty who controls the cut by holding the stone with a right-masted machine anyway. For a right-hander, the addition of the “traditional” handle would be nice… I expect UT to make one available as some cutters will demand one.

A word about the indexed dops… I’ve never trusted them. For years, I’ve used a hodge-podge collection of non-indexed dops. The VL comes with twelve assorted indexed dops. I decided to “get with the program” and ordered an additional set of thirty indexed UT dops. The transfer fixture that comes with the VL is well-built and will accommodate the index alignments. Of course, I didn’t trust it, but after transferring my first stone (read the instruction on that LOL), I found that the index worked perfectly… no “cheating” necessary.

The UT dops themselves are very nice. The cone dops have an extra deep hole drilled at the bottom of the cone to protect those sometimes delicate culets. Nicely done.

That’s my “report” for now. Bottom line is that I’m very pleased with VL.

Happy Faceting  beers


Gemstone Faceting / Three Pro Faceters Interview
« on: March 04, 2020, 02:06:19 AM »
I found this quite interesting and decided to share because one is an Aussie.

This interview is from the recent Tucson 2020 show in the US.



Gemstone Faceting / Re: UltraTec VL
« on: March 03, 2020, 03:59:04 AM »
@MakkyBrown... The horizontal rotation is much like the older Facetron mast assembly, but much more robust.

I posted a pic in the Gallery that shows the mast in the facet direction (pointed toward the lap) and rotated horizontally 90 degrees. beers

Gemstone Faceting / Re: UltraTec VL
« on: March 01, 2020, 11:46:30 PM »
My order was delayed, but the machine arrived yesterday afternoon.  I posted a pic in the Gallery.

The machine is built like a tank and comes with a 30 page, spiral-bound manual.

I haven't cut anything with it, but she sure looks pretty.

Gemstone Faceting / Re: Problem cutting very steep angles
« on: February 27, 2020, 12:00:32 AM »
@Ghost's suggestion above should work well. Just use very gentle pressure on the quill when bringing the stone to the lap.

I've also used a table adapter.  However, getting the gem properly realigned at the correct index(s) can be more trouble than it's worth.

Gemstone Faceting / Re: Magnetic toppers for Master laps
« on: February 19, 2020, 10:56:22 PM »
I use my share of toppers (8" & 6"), and have never seen the need to use a magnet or the PSA backing that is optional on some toppers.  I just "drop" the topper onto the master lab and start working.

The only exception to above would be when using a Lightning Lap topper.  Per Marsh's instructions just apply a fine mist of water on the master before installing the LL toppers.  Of course, you'd want to use an aluminum master, as steel masters wouldn't like water applied directly on them.


Gemstone Faceting / Re: UltraTech VL
« on: February 03, 2020, 12:33:35 AM »
I spoke at length with UT's owner, Joe Rubin, earlier this year, and he said UT was planning the official debut at the Tucson show Feb 13th thru 16th.  That's why my pre-order will be sent on Feb 8th.  (I only live 260 miles from the UT factory in Santa Ana, California so my machine should arrive just before the show begins.)

Tell Us About Yourself / Re: Hello from Las Vegas USA
« on: February 03, 2020, 12:06:58 AM »
Glad to see another facetor here now Lowjiber. Do you have a favourite stone for faceting?
I think my favorite is Oregon Sunstone.  The "common" variety is clear and champagne colored, but once in a while one can find a piece with just a tiny internal touch of red or blue-green.  By orienting the cut to put the color as low in the pavilion as possible, the entire stone just comes alive with color.  Those really catch the buyer's eye.

Gemstone Faceting / Re: Fred W Van Sant Star Cuts 1-6 Wanted
« on: February 02, 2020, 02:38:42 AM »
Steve... I'm new at posting images here, but am gonna try. beers

Here is the text of the READ ME file and an attached PDF of the list of the decompressed files that are included in Wyman's download.  (Crossing fingers that this works.)



This is just a short note about the files on the disc.  The Early Computing and Early Design Work 1 &2 are just included in case you are interested in glancing at some of the huge amount of work Fred and others did in the “old” days. 

The Star Cuts Master contains all of the work copyrighted by Fred, sold to Jeff Graham, and now owned by me.  They are the designs I’m slowly getting up on the site.  You will also find a number of designs that I either wasn’t able to make a decent GemCad diagram out of or didn’t lend themselves to that.  For example, FVS-24, Marquis; and FVS-28, Oval cover methodology rather than just a single stone.  I would encourage you to browse through all 483 designs at your leisure and enjoy some of the information that is hidden here and there.

Early Star Cuts includes Vol. 1 through 3 and what would become Vol. 4.  I’ve included it mostly for background, but it has a few designs that were changed in the later edition.   

The Novice series contains PDFs of Fred’s 13 Novice designs that were on Bob Keller’s website and printed a number of other places.  They’re relatively easy to cut, produce a very nice stone, and are good to use whenever you are trying new laps or polishes or just for fun.  I’ve also included the Mini Barions and other designs by Alec Wolkonsky and Fred Van Sant.

I have noticed a few typo’s in the Star Cuts diagrams.  For example,  in FVS-21, Spoke, the crown tier set 3 doesn’t work and results in a much larger table than using the angle in tier 4 (same index numbers).  FVS-242 shows pavilion tier set 7 to be a repeat of tier 1.  I’m trying to keep track of these issues and will send out an errata sheet when I’m finished with entering the designs up on along with posting it on the digest.

Keith Wyman
PO Box 424
La Conner, WA 98257

Gemstone Faceting / Re: Fred W Van Sant Star Cuts 1-6 Wanted
« on: February 01, 2020, 05:40:43 AM »
If you want to obtain the complete works of Fred Van Sant, contact Keith Wyman who bought the rights from Jeff Graham's estate... Jeff had bought the publication rights from Van Sant's estate.

I contacted Keith via email at:

He quickly responded and I paid him $15 US via PayPal for the complete set.  I had the file downloaded within two hours of first contacting and paying Keith.

Gemstone Faceting / Re: UltraTech VL
« on: February 01, 2020, 05:02:51 AM »
I have one coming on February 8th.  I'm currently cutting with a Polymetric machine.

I haven't "handled" one, but they come highly recommended by a friend in the business.  I ordered one with the digital protractor and the dial gauge... I'm on old "dial watcher" :)

I'll take a few pics when it arrives and post some impressions after I've cut my first stone with it.

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