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Flat Lapping WIthout a Machine

from the Glacial Drifter, March 2003

The process of flat lapping is so simple that anyone can do it even if you don't have a flat lapping machine. So go to it and polish the bookends you want, or that clock face. Just get a piece of aluminum about 12-14 inches square. (Larger for larger pieces.) Place it on a flat surface. Take a teaspoon of 120 grit (or even 90 grit if you have saw marks on your slab.) Mix your grit with Vaseline or water. (I like Vaseline because it holds the grit better, doesn't dry out and doesn't splash.)

Now take your slab to be polished and dop a piece of wood to it so that you have a handle and can hold it down on the grit. Just keep twisting it over and around on the grit. Be sure that your grit is always under the slab. Don't run it over dry aluminum. Move the slab in any pattern you wish, adding grit as you feel necessary. Keep at it until all the saw marks are well gone. Wash the stone and aluminum between grades of grit using progressively finer grits as you go. The slab should now be ready for polishing.

To polish, use a piece of leather about 12x12 inches. Stick it to a board and keep it for polishing only. Don't tack it down because the tack heads can scratch. Put your favorite polishing mix all over the leather and start polishing your stone. This is the oldest way to polish slabs and it still works well, if slowly. In answer to the statement that it will take a long time, a question, "What else would you be doing?"