The Lapidary process
Rock Hounding is a fun way to acquire rocks. Rocks are all over the place but if you have a good guide and know what to look for, rockhounding is a like an outdoor treasure hunt! The other way to get rocks is to check out a rock shop or rock/gem show where you can find rocks and minerals sourced locally and from around the world.
Cutting the rock to a workable size
Using small rocks requires less preparation but if the rock is big then it has to be cut down to a workable size. This usually starts with a big saw with a big diamond blade that will cut slabs from the large rock that are usually from ¼” - ½” thick. These flat slabs can then be cut with smaller trim saws so they are easy to work with.
all sorts of shapes and sizes can be made with flat and round surfaces. Many people like to make a cabochon which has a domed surface and a flat back that can be easily set into jewelry. To make something like this you would draw that shape on a flat slab of rock and work around it, trimming the edges/ and then taking off material with diamond wheels/discs then with sanding discs. Working with rocks is always a wet process. Water or oil are used when the tools are running to eliminate dust and keep the rock and tools from getting too hot.
some recent stones that have been hand formed and faceted .
Finishing a stone
After the rock is shaped with diamond wheels/ discs, a series of rough to fine sandpaper wheels are used to get the rock smoother and smoother until all the scratches are gone. Then it is time to polish them which gives the extra shine and brings out all the details and colors.
If you live in the Portland area and are interested in learning Lapidary or just like rocks, check out The Mt. Hood Rock Club!