Lapidary Lap Wheels.
Using hard stone and soft stone what to use . Find out about grits. What Lap Wheel to use.
Deciding on what to use, cost comes into it. There is a lot of different lap wheel grits out there. The lower the number the more stones/rock comes off with that grit. So the hardness of the stone the low grits are used, the softer the stone the higher the grit. Start at around 600 grit, your in a safe grit, you wont loss as much of the stone.
If you have a really hard stone, say it is a piece of ribbon stone. This stone told me how hard it was under the cutting wheel. Took a long time to cut. You should cut your stone first then use your grinding wheels. Using wheels to shape this stone, you would start at a low number grit. As it takes shape you would move up to higher grits. You are looking to get it very smooth with no marks on it. I found with this stone, after cutting a few pieces, it was easier for me to ,smash this stone into pieces and put them in a tumbler to get the polish. Ribbon stone is a very hard stone and the last thing you want to do is ware down your wheels.
Opal is sand stone and very soft and crumbly.
Cut your stone first , use a very thin cutting wheel, Shape and polish your stone ,you would start on a high grit like 600-800 grit. Using only three grits to get to polish. 800 will clean your stone, shape and get most of the flaws out. 1200 grit will get it smooth with a bit of shine, no marks left. I will go to a different flat wheel and use 3000grit wet and dry sand paper to do that final polish. Read more about polishing a stone.
Most of the Lapidary Lap wheels below are for faceting gemstones I personal don’t do much faceting. So far I have did three stones.
When Faceting a gemstone you have be very careful, it does not take much to lose your stone. I have done it. When learning how to facet try using a piece of Quartz a couple of times first.
Buy your self a faceting book that will guide you through each cut.
Now for some Lapidary Lap Wheels you can buy. Some of these Lapidary Lap Wheels are Not Cheap.
60 Diamond….(extra, extra coarse) – this lap. It is just too aggressive for most faceting rough, it will cause large chips and fractures. This you can use, If you are just trying to shape a stone fast ready for the tumbler. The tumbler will clean and round your stone.
100x Diamond….(extra coarse) – that most people have this lap, eventually. It is ideal for taking a lot of material off of a piece of rough gemstone fast. But while it will leave some chips (especially when new), it does not tend to chip excessively like some coarser laps do. If you are on a budget or not cutting larger stones then you can probably do without this lap, at least when starting to facet.
180 Diamond….(medium coarse) – Some people like them. This is kind of in between the 260 and the 100x and while it is not a bad lap, I prefer the other grits… I find that a worn in 260 lap is much better.
260 Diamond….(coarse) – This is a standard roughing in lap. Recommend this for about everyone. I like this lap especially when it has worn in a bit, it works much better than a 360 lap. It cuts fast but leaves a nice, although coarse finish.
360 Diamond….(medium coarse) – I do not own one of these laps and do not really recommend one. Some people like them, but I generally find that once this lap has broken in a bit, it cuts too slowly for my taste. I prefer a worn in 260 lap it’s much better.
600 Diamond….(medium) – recommend that most people use a 600 lap. it mostly for cutting Quartz and Beryl (to be honest), and then use a 1200 Nu Bond composite lap for a pre-polish. On other materials (like Tourmaline and Garnets) I generally go right to my worn 1200 steel lap, skipping the 600 lap.
1200 Diamond….(fine) – This is all around working lap, when new they need to be worn in a bit, steel laps start out a little coarse. recommend it for almost everything With the exception of Quartz and Beryl, I use a Nu Bond 1200 for them.
3,000 Diamond….(extra fine) – 50/50 on this lap, it is useful and the 1200 Nu Bond has been difficult to get from the factory, so yes it is recommended.. It has been my experience that the plating on these laps is not of sufficient quality and will not wear well unless treated carefully. Heavy handedness will ruin this lap fast
Note: If you need a 3,000 grit pre polish lap. recommend you buy a Zinc, Tin, or Copper lap and charge it with 3,000 grit diamond bort.
8″ Sintered Metal Bond Laps These are steel laps that the cutting diamonds have actually been imbedded into and through out the metal the lap is made from. These laps are very expensive and while worth the money in the long run, not worth considering for the average or new facet hobby.
6″ or 8″ Polish Laps
Aluminum…. do not recommend this lap for most people. These are a specialty lap and to be honest not used, at least I do not know anybody that uses one.
Brass…. Ido not recommend this lap for most people. These are a specialty lap and to be honest not used, at least I do not know anybody that uses one.
Bronze…. do not recommend this lap for most people. These are a specialty lap and to be honest not used, at least I do not know anybody that uses one.
Ceramic…. Love them or hate them. somewhere in between, although I must admit that I very seldom use one. I have always had mixed results with a Ceramic lap (some people love them) and find that I usually prefer other laps. recommend that a new cutter buy one when starting. They can always get one later if they want to.
Copper…. This is basically a left over from the old days before plated laps, when people used to charge/make their own laps.
Guide to using COPPER LAPS.
Following the Diamond Laps a Copper Lap can be used as a pre-polish . Load the copper lap with 3,000 grit polish using a small amount of oil as lubricant (sewing machine oil or INOX works well). NB: you dont need to score a CU Lap. Polish facets already cut. Light pressure is all that is needed. Get rid of all fine scratches – the better the polish you can achieve now will make the final polish easy. You only need to polish on a slow speed of about 2 or 3 (depending on material). Once all facets are pre-polished give the stone a good clean with water and detergent. NB: no water coolant this stage.
Always clean your stone and your hands with water and detergent between laps. All work areas should be kept clean to prevent contamination. All laps should be stored separately and carefully to avoid contamination. Cleanliness and good housekeeping of the machine and work area is very important.
Tin…. recommend a tin lap to everybody. A tin lap charged with aluminia oxide is one of my favorite polishing laps for Garnets and Tourmaline. I would not be without one. I also use tin laps cherged with 8,000 and 50,000 diamond for polishing harder materials.
Fast Lap….(Raytech) – A composite lap, similar to the Last Lap… I really do not use or recommend this lap. I have used one, it heated the stones more than I liked (caused some wax shifting if I was not careful) and while I got it to work, the results were just so, so… I prefer other laps for polishing.
Phenolic Lap…. I really do not use or recommend this lap. I have used them with decent results, they do heat your stone quite a bit. I find that other laps work better for me. Some people like them, they are a bit flatter for polishing some materials like Quartz.
Lucite Lap…. I really do not use this lap, but some people do, I prefer Spectra Ultralaps. I have used them with decent results, they will heat your stones and sometimes cause odd smear type polishes on some facets if they are too dry during polishing.
Wax Laps…. I really do not use wax laps, they are mainly used for very soft stones, which I almost never cut. Most of the materials that you need a wax lap for are non commercial materials.
These are basically a thin plastic sheet of film coated with a high grade of polish on one side. The only one I recommend is the Spectra Ultralaps. They work the best and you can do about any material with them. No need to buy all of the other types, save some money.
If you don’t understand what laps are and what to use , please feel free to ask any question.
Deciding on what to use, cost comes into it. There is a lot of different lap grits out there. The lower the number the more stones/rock comes off with that grit. So the hardness of the stone the low grits are used, the softer the stone the higher the grit. Start at around 600 grit, your in a safe grit, you wont loss as much of the stone.
More Information. On Nubond Lap.
600 Nubond Lap Nubond laps are made with a different technique than the more common plated laps. The result is a lap that cuts like a plated lap that is much finer. Once broken in, the 600 Nubond lap cuts more like a 1500 grit lap. It provides an excellent prepolish for garnet, peridot, feldspar, opal and tourmaline.
NuBond 6 inch (15 CM) lap 6mm thick 325 grit are superior grade grinding laps manufactured by Raytech . Multilayered they have a higher concentration of friable, self sharpening diamonds bonded directly to an Aluminium base. FSPN6325.
NuBond 6 inch (15CM) lap 6mm thick 1200 grit are superior grade pre-polishing laps manufactured by Raytech . Multilayered they have a higher concentration of friable, self sharpening diamonds bonded directly to an Aluminium base. FSPN61200
Greenway a 6 inch Chrome Oxide polymer-Just Add Water lap. Modified for exceptionally high oxide loading. Good with tourmaline, Beryls including emerald, quartzes, peridot, garnets, and feldspars. Not for Spinels, CZ or Corundum.
As I Learn More I will add it to this website, so you don’t have to do all the home work.
Have a great day.