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General Shop Hints

Plume agate undercuts easily since the "plume" is softer than the agate. This problem can often be remedied by reducing the speed of the sanding and polishing operations. If you can reduce the speed to about one half of normal, this can be eliminated. Also, it is suggested that you use cerium oxide on leather for the final polish. Avoid excessive heat.

Experiments have shown that it is possible to polish almost any material with a high polish in a tumbler—even stubborn apache tears—by mixing cerium oxide with dry cornmeal for a final polish. Use 1 pound for a 12 pound tumbler. Use dry. Tumble three days. (Both hints from The Rockytier 9/04)

Lipstick as a Metal Cleaner If you want an excellent cleaner for gold, silver or other metal, try lipstick—any shade. Use a soft cloth to apply and another to remove it and then buff. The results are unbelievable. It also works on copper and brass. (via The Geode 11/99)

Listen to your diamond saw. If it slows down or stops during a cut, turn it off right away. Place a finger on the motor to see if it is warmer than normal. If so, back the saw out of the cut. Check the blade to see if discolored by heat (blue/black) or metal damage to the diamond layer. Check both sides of the blade for shiny spots that might indicate that the saw is not cutting true or the material has shifted in the vise. If OK take a look at the coolant—may need changing.

Use a modern cutting agent - use proper amount - follow recommended cutting speeds from blade manufacturer. Cut a brick or a piece of fired ceramic every so often when you cut really tough stuff like jade. Leave saw closed for five minutes after a cut is finished to cut down the amount of oil mist in the shop. Save your lungs!. ( adapted from a hint in the Tumbler Aug/2004)