Rock Tumbling, Flat Lapping and Slab Sawing
For our May program, We take a detailed look at the simplest of the lapidary arts, the one that got many of us started in the hobby at a very young age, ROCK TUMBLING! If you did not talk your parents/grand parents into getting you a rock tumbler at a young age, you’ve probably purchased or at least considered the purchase of a tumbler for yourself as an adult.
If you haven’t, You should!
You can always tell everyone, “It’s for the kids (grandkids).”
Tumblers are used for more than just tumbling stones, as if stone tumbling is not worth every penny a nice tumbler sets you back. I use my Lortone 33B double barrel tumbler (A gift from my Grand parents in about 1970) to tumble stones, polish cabbed pre-shapes for inexpensive cabs, making frosted “Tumble glass”, and most often as a final step in metal polishing, burnishing and work hardening wire wraps, chain mail, cast and fabricated pieces. When I think about my shop processes, the tumbler is one of the hardest working, most versatile pieces of equipment I own.
To get really good results, there is more to the “Art of Tumbling” than simply filling the barrel with stone, grit and water and letting it run. If you were dissatisfied with your first try with a hobby store tumbler and grit kit and many people are, Do not give up, come to the meeting and learn how to do it right. Experienced GCLFS stone tumblers will pass on their secrets for achieving that perfect “wet” look with your tumbler. In the first portion of the program we will take a detailed look at the steps involved for successful rock tumbling, how much stone fills a barrel, what grit stages do you use, can all stones be tumbled together, how long does it take, what types of tumblers are available, Suppliers, cost ranges and supplies; where to purchase Grit and the most asked question - Can you make the tumbler quieter when it is running!
The second portion of the program will extend the stone polishing techniques we learned for stone tumbling to the flat or vibrating lap. The process is very similar but instead of rounding and polishing the entire stone, flat lapping is used to polish a flat face on a slab or a stone like a geode or other patterned specimen that is cut in half in preparation for it’s display.
Before we flat lap, we need to cut or “slab” our stone/specimen to have a flat surface that is worthy of polishing. So we will touch briefly on slab sawing basics including securing your stone, cutting lubricants, tuning your saw and clean up.