(Click one to go dierctly there)
Besides the obvious like food & water, this is all you need to get a good head start or upgrade your tools etc. There are many brands out there but I know one thing: Estwing is the most expensive because Estwings WORK and last until you wear out the sharp bits (You really have to sharpen them using a grinder like I list later on). I can't say that about any other brand. Use all of these with SAFETY GLASSES. I'm not going to list them becasue I don't know what your needs will be. I have a sunglasses style pair. I don't think you really need goggles although you may want to consider them anyway. I think they get in the way too often.
Estwing Geo/Paleopick Simply the best pick for rockhounding along with the pre-WWII pick described below. You won't need a generic pick, which are A) pretty miserable to use and B) relatively ineffective. Do NOT buy an imitation pick - they are so poorly made that I have seen and heard of occasions where the head actually separates from the handle and flies off into space. One time a friend pulled back to really whack on some rather soft rock and the head flew off behind him, over the road and into the woods to grandmother's house :(
Estwing 12" 22-ounce Rock Pick The most used piece of equipment I have. You'll use it every time you go rockhounding. If it says "Masonry hammer" then it's not hard enough for banging on rocks.The edge will melt away in no time. DON'T USE CHEAP OR NAIL HAMMERS! They will send hot steel splinters at your eyes! (I am going to say this over and over again since I don't want anyone to go the hosiptal using the wrong tools)!
Estwing 12" 22-ounce Rock Pick Long Handle. I have this and absolutely love it. Gives you a much harder swing which I need quite often!
Estwing 12-ounce Rock Pick Chisel heads are great for splitting fossil shales, and taking chips out of a rock. Great for the kids and people with less arm strength than me :) Again DON'T USE CHEAP HAMMERS!
Estwing 24-ounce Rock Pick I need to get me one of these! Simply a brute. DON'T USE CHEAP HAMMERS!
Estwing 3 pound crack hammer The only hammer you will need. These are made specifically for bashing on rocks and hardened steel chisels. DO NOT use a cheap sledges, they will shoot sharp splinters of hot steel at you when they get brittle!
Estwing 4 pound crack hammer A little meatier than the 3 lb., I use this one. Takes a bit more stamina but is faster.
18 inch Estwing Rockhound's Gad/Pry Bar If you forget everything else don't forget this. The most useful tool for working tough stuff like agate seams and obsidian flows. I have 2 in case I lose one :) Keep all your chisels sharp using a bench grinder like the one I list below.
Estwing 7, 8, 9, and 12 inch rock chisels I use these all the time. DON'T USE CHEAP CHISELS! They will also send hot steel splinters at your eyes!
Estwing 24 ounce Rock Chisel The brute of rock chisels, great for getting into wide cracks in agate seams. Mine has lasted practically forever.
Estwing 8-Ounce Rock Chisel Nice for medium duty work, again I have one and use it regularly.
Heavy Duty Rocker Bar (aka a pry bar) This is just about essential if you are into digging the big stuff. Without it, it's extremely difficult to move big boulders or slabs of rock. A 'steel ripping bar" may be useful for the small stuff but I really don't know if it can take the punishment. Nail and demolition bars will bend or break, guaranteed. I have this exact bar and I wouldn't leave home without it. And this cost half what I paid for mine, I can't believe it's so cheap!
Wells Lamont 1124S Work Gloves There are many styles of gloves you can pick from but these are what I use. Real leather gloves can be pricey but these are a decent value. I would not use anything other than reinforced leather gloves, cloth gloves disintegrate fast and don't protect your hands as well. Garden gloves are downright dangerous and should NEVER be used for rockhounding! PS. If you are a Costco member they sell these by the 3-pack.
Custom LeatherCraft G361 Professional Ultra-Flex Gel Kneepads I have tried them all and these are by far the best I have worn. They don't fall apart like the cheap ones. Not an essential but really nice if you are kneeling all day.
Extra thick kneeling pad I need to replace my beat up one with this. If you're not moving around much they are incredibly helpful, especially when you're working around sharp rocks like agate and obsidian. I use them when I'm digging obsidian needles (ouch!).
These are either generic tools or can't be found at retail websites. I highly recommend all of these if you are doing any serious digging.
Truper 31198 Tru Pro 48-Inch Round Point Shovel, Fiberglass Handle, 10-Inch Grip
Truper 31199 Tru Pro 48-Inch Square Point Shovel, Fiberglass Handle, 10-Inch Grip First and foremost are a good spade type and flat type full size shovel. I like the fiberglass handles with a soft grip but any sturdy shovel will do. If you can bend the shovel head even a tiny bit, don't even consider it, you'll break or bend it someday. In addition to the pry bar above, I have a "railroad bar" that I lucked into which is super long and super heavy duty. A surplus US Army trenching shovel (see below) is also useful for moving dirt in tight spaces or throwing into a backpack. I usually have one in my pack.
Sturdy work boots - Wearing sneakers is a smashed toe waiting to happen. Mine are heavy all-leather Timberline work boots and ancient but they weren't cheap and have lasted 25 years. I won't link to any because there are so many to choose from. Stick with the high tops for maximum support and to keep the dirt out. You might want a lighter pair of boots for hiking, I have an old pair of Nike's that were relatively cheap, they have been discontinued but their "vintage retro hiking shoes" are similar.
WWII US Army Pick and Folding Shovel - These are my favorite tools for light digging, in fact I take the pick everywhere in my backpack. I consider it to be essential if I plan on touching the ground :) Don't be fooled by the later models (Korean War and later). I have seen the heads and shafts break numerous times. Once someone next to me in a thunderegg bed took out a brand new recent "Army surplus" pick, worked the tough rock for 5 minutes, and the head broke in half around the shaft and hit his wife behind him pretty hard. You could see that it was made of very cheap metal, not steel. Sadly the only place I can find the good picks online is Ebay, and you will pay a premium for the genuine article. If you get really lucky you can get the set with the belt sheath and the trenching shovel. Click here to search; keep bidding until someone else misses one. Buying the head and handle separately can be a good idea; I have three that I paid more than I wanted for, but less than $40 (that's right, I have two spares plus two spare heads). If you can, find out if it is stamped "US" or has a date before 1946 stamped on the underside of the spade end. Later picks usually don't have either of these, and many that have the US stamp are fakes. The prices keep going up and up as the supply dwindles. Keep these sharp until the end wears down to a short stub to get the maximum mileage. Finally the 1960s and later combination trench shovel/pick models are junk.
Gem (Treasure) Scoop - Kingsley North sells these or find one at one of the many rockhound supply sites or a rockshop. The old Estwing model is best but they are out of production (you might be able to find it on Ebay). A great back saver if you are picking up shiny rocks :) I take mine to the beach for agate hunting; I bought it for under $30 at a rock store on the beach :)
A good backpack - Mine isn't all that great but it's a fairly sturdy hunting pack. Pay less than $50 for a pack and it will rip apart after hauling rocks around a few times. You don't need a big pack, mine is pretty compact and I can stuff it with all the rock I can carry. I got 70 lbs. in it one time and it just about killed me getting it 1/2 a mile up a steep hill back to the road!
WATER - free from your tap :) Anyone leaving their car without water is inviting disaster. I have a couple cheap insulated bottles with clips to go on a pack. A good trick is to freeze the water bottles from the grocery store and throw them in your pack, then you will have the coldest water and make everyone else envious.
Lortone Model 3A 3 lb. capacity Rock Tumbler (This link leads to a page where you can select any of the Lortone models) Simply put, Lortone tumblers are the only ones that are reasonably priced, work well, are hassle-free, and last a long, long time. All the cheaper tumblers have major issues and you'll go through several of them before you wish you had bought a Lortone. If you don't abuse these tumblers all you will ever need to replace is the belts (which last a long time anyway), or the barrels (which last a long, long time). This a a really good price by the way.
3-pound Replacement Barrel for Lortone Tumblers I strongly recommend having two barrels for any tumbler - one for silicon carbide grits and one for pre-polish and polishing compounds. Getting grit stuck in a barrel, no matter how tiny an amount or small a grit, will ruin your polish, especially with softer rock like obsidian, opal and anything with calcite in it (for example onyx). I never put grit into a finishing barrel. You can find extra barrels for the higher capacity Lortone tumblers on their website.
Lortone Lapidary Model 33B 6 lb. capacity Double Barrel Rock Tumbler Same as above, except twice the capacity. Plus it lets you tumble two batches with two different grits at once (for example, coarse and fine grit). Also, if you do two kinds of rock with very different hardness, for example agate and obsidian, you really should do them separately. The softer rocks will get worn away to pebbles by the time the harder rocks have finished. A real time saver at a decent price.
Lortone 45C Rock Tumbler 4 Pound Capacity Same as above, except for the capacity. It's up to you to decide how much you want to tumble in a batch - personally I think the bigger the better up to a point. Also a decent price.
Lortone QT-6 Rotary Rock Tumbler Same as above, except twice the capacity in one instead of two barrels. If you're into tracking one batch as opposed to two, this is a good mid-capacity model.
Lortone QT-66 Rotary Rock Tumbler Same as above, except two barrels. For doing bigger batches with multiple grits, or just two batches at a time.
Lortone Professional Rock Tumbler Qt12 12 Pound Capacity Same as above, except four times the capacity. If you want to get serious about rock tumbling, the 12 lb. with a 10-sided barrell (on the inside) does batches faster that the 3 lb. round barrels. Also a decent price.
Lortone C300-12 Series Rotary Rock Tumbler Same as above, except three times the capacity in 3 barrels. The be-all and end-all of rotary tumblers. They simply don't get any better than this model.
As usual the good stuff ain't cheap! I can't recommend bariagn priced cheaply made vibratory tumblers because they simply don't last, are a constant headache to maintain, don't work nearly as well, and rarely have replacement parts available. There are VERY similar tumblers out there that appear to be identical - they are not. Those are for tumbling jewelry findings, rifle shells, and other metal parts, not rocks. You can't use rough grit in them at all, and I'd be wary of using even 120/220 grit.
Raytech 23-001 TV-5 Standard Vibratory Tumbler, 0.05 cubic feet Bowl Capacity I have had both rotary and vibratory tumblers, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. But in the end, I like the vibratory models better becasue they work faster than rotary models. As in 10 times as fast or more. The reviews for this aren't all that good, but problems are almost always due to not reading the manual or doing something stupid with it. These should, and will, last a long time if you follow the instructions exactly. A barrel for polishing and pre-polishing is strongly recommended.
I do recommend getting a rubber liner for the barrel. I took mine to a shop that sprays rubber linings in pickup truck beds (it was called Rhino Linings) and had them coat it for a few dollars. Email me if you want the details. I really do wish I knew how many pounds 0.05 cubic feet is but I'm guessing at least 3 lbs. like the Lortone 3A above. Finally, you can find knockoffs of these (I have one, see below), but at least mine is nowhere near the quality and I've had to repair it a couple times (no parts are available for mine or for all I know any of the others).
Raytech 23-009 TV-10 Standard Vibratory Tumbler, 0.10 cubic feet Bowl Capacity Same as above but double the capacity.
Raytech 23-024 AV-18 Standard Vibratory Tumbler with Drain, 0.18 cubic feet Bowl Capacity Almost twice the capacity of the above tumbler and honestly built to a much higher standard. I can highly recommend these. Having a drain is immenselt useful, you don't have to take off the barrel, clean the rocks and the barrel, and reassemble it. Just shove a garden hose in it and wash it out until the water is sparkling clean and you can see no evidence of leftover grit.
Raytech 23-019 AV-25SS Heavy Duty Vibratory Tumbler with Discharge Port, 0.22 cubic feet Bowl Capacity Virtually identical to the above model except for the barrel size and the drain design. I have a knockoff of this tumbler which I bought because it was a lot cheaper. Those are dead and gone, and this is the only similar tumbler. Plus I have had to repair mine twice (hence the price). As advertized, I really can shove at 50 pounds of rocks in mine. That is the tumbler I got the barrel lining for, they are virtually identical to mine.
Diamond Pacific MT-4SV Mini-Sonic 4 lb. Capacity Vibrating Rock Tumbler The ultrasonic tumblers are very useful for many lapidary tasks like cleaning and burnishing jewelry findings, doing small batches of rocks, especially small, expensive, and soft rock. I clean a lot of rocks in mine as well, they're great at getting the polishing compound from tiny crevices in finished tumbled rock. Also great at getting deposits, like clay or iron oxide (rust) from small pieces you are using as is, for example a drop pendant, or a mineral specimen. If you are using grit, don't even consider the really cheap "sonic cleaners", they are meant for very soft pre-polish and polishing media or burnishing with walnut shells, etc. You'll destroy the barrel if you use grit. Comes in many sizes up to giant professional models; this one is good for 3 lb. batches from a rotary or vibratory tumbler.
(The Amazon link is dead, search for it) 10 lb. capacity model, you can get one or two 5 lb. hoppers.
(The Amazon link is dead, search for it) 14 lb. capacity model, you can get one or multiple hoppers.
6" Hi Tech Lapidary Trim Saw (with blade and vise) I'm not one to play favorites but this machine is a good option if you don't have the cash to spend on a brand new higher end model like Lortone, Covington, Barranca, Highland Park, etc. trim saws. The reason it costs less is probably the body is plastic, but I think you would just have to take it easy on the saw and don't abuse it. Just ignore their instructions to use water and use rock cutting oil. Water destroys rock saws, additives or no additives. BE CAREFUL looking around for this saw - there are sites rebranding it as their own and charging a much higher price!
4/5"" Hi Tech Lapidary Trim Saw Same as the 6" but better for small stones, opal, and faceting stones. No blade included. Get an thin opal cutting blade. Good choice if you're on a budget.
10" Hi Tech Lapidary Trim Saw (with blade and vise). Same as above except a bigger blade and cabinet, beefier motor and construction. Again it depends on your choice, I think a 10" is a better value, because many people who stick with lapidary work for years wish they had bought a 10" trim saw in the first place (including myself). I am guessing the blade is a little thick for slicing up slabs, but a good, thin blade isn't that expensive. I suggest either MK or UKAM blades.
CAB King 6" Lapidary Rock Grinding Polishing Cabochon Machine You can spend a ton of money on a cabochon machine, or not very much. My personal opinion is that the more you spend, the more you get, up to a point. I bought a Diamond Pacific Titan 8" diamond model almost 20 years ago, when they were somewhat affordable. I probably would have been better off saving some money and getting this practically identical machine. I particularly like the splash guards on this one, my Titan soaks my T-shirt :( The pump to keep the wheels wet recycles water from the tray so you don't need a separate water supply. Again my opinion is that machines that come with Silicon Carbide wheels, while cheaper, are a huge hassle and take forever to cut a cabochon. You will replace the wheels so often you will wish you had bought a machine with diamond wheels. I would avoid carbide wheels like the plague.
CAB King 8" Lapidary Rock Grinding Polishing Cabochon Machine Same as above, and I strongly recommend that you carefully weigh the advantages of an 8" unit over a 6". I don't have a 6" machine and I don't miss having one. These wheels are wider and spaced farther apart and an 8" wheel gives you a lot more room to make larger cabochons, and making smaller cabs is much easier than on a 6". If you make cabochons this is the ONLY machine you need to buy in my opinion.
Hi-Tech Diamond 6" All-U-Need Rotary Flat Lap - A good starter flat lap, it does essentially the same thing as a Cabking only on a budget. Plus you can polish flat slabs which is what I would use it for.
Hi-Tech Diamond 8" All-U-Need Rotary Flat Lap - the 8" model. I'd use this to give myself some more room.
Hi-Tech Diamond 8" Slant Cabber I've heard good things about these. Supposed to be more ergonomic for making cabochons.
Gryphon C-40 Band Saw - This saw makes it easy to do intarsia and inrticate slab work, which is tedious at best without a band saw. You can cut any conceivable shape by rotating the piece around the blade. Cuts up to an inch thick rocks. I had an earlier model but I just didn't use it enough; it worked flawlessly.
Gemini Taurus 3 Diamond Ring Saw - These are very popular among jewelry artists and they handle small slabs and intarsia well.
6" Bench Grinder This is what I have. Essential for shapening your tools. Dull tools not only don't work worth a darn, they are dangerous because they can bounce and slide around on hard rock and fly out of control. I am continually amazed at people I see on rock digs who are using tools that are so dull they don't have more than a rounded stub for a point. Talk about making more work for yourself! DO NOT SKIMP ON A GRINDER. You are flirting with serious injury with a $50 grinder.
4-1/2 -Inch Angle Grinder Angle grinders are very useful for all sorts of tasks, especially grinding down rough rocks for sphere making, wet polishing, getting a rock to securely stick in a saw vise, and more. The 4 1/2" models are the best becasue you can use the cup wheels on them and other tools like the wet polishers. I can' think of an advantage to the larger sizes, and larger disks will be harder to find. This one is a good budget model; I would stay away from cheaper grinders, and expensive ones aren't necessarily better.
4-Inch Variable Speed Wet Polisher and Grinder If you ever wanted to do wet sanding/polishing of large pieces like this 35 lb. petrified wood round and didn't want to pay $400 for the commercial tool, you need this instead. This is one of the rare times I know that the cheap tool is better than the expensive one. From what I can tell that tool is made from the same body as this one, with different hardware and water supply lines. This one has a huge advantage in that the speed is adjustable. You simply cannot polish a rock with the tool running at 4500 RPM without tremendous effort and a lot of wasted expensive polishing compound. This one adjusts down to 500 RPM which is more than slow enough to achieve a mirror polish without wasting a lot of polish. Don't get the kit, it comes with cheap knockoff diamond sanding pads that will wear off in a heartbeat. The backer pad is sold for a few bucks on Amazon. I strongly urge you to get the UKAM 4" sanding pad set, their backer pad, and a felt polishing pad.
Variable Speed Polisher 4 Inch Wet Polishing Kit I put this here as an alternative, again I wouldn't use any of the pads that come with the tool. I bought the one above so I wouldn't have to pay for pads I didn't want.
MK Diamond Turbo Cup Wheel, 4" This is the best tool for getting a rough piece of rock down to something you can sand as fast as possible. I would also consider the similar UKAM products. My old Barranca came with a brazed diamond flat wheel for preparing flat cut pieces but I can't find one online. There are any varieties of this wheel out there but as far as I can tell they're not much different. My old one lasted me 10 years but I can't find it anymore. DO NOT get the resin filled wheels, they are completely useless for rough shaping hard rock.
Single Row Diamond Cup Wheel A cheaper alternative to the turbo wheel, and much better for flattening cut pieces. This is the one that I use the most. It has also gone for 10 years of heavy use.
Foredom Flexshaft Jewelers Kit The top choice for all sorts of jewelry making needs and carving stones. I have this and I use it often. Really the only good choice for carving fire agate, opal, soapstone, etc. Comes with a huge assortment of diamond and carbide burrs and attachments to get you started and additional burrs and tools are available at many websites. Any of the Dremel attachments fit this machine. By the way the Dremel rotary tools and Foredom knockoffs are totally unsuitable for carving, you get exactly what you pay for, in this case a toy. Just my two cents. They are useful for metalwork however, but if you have a Foredom you don't need one anyway.
Flex Shaft Motor Hangers, Bench Clamp Model Incredibly handy for putting your Foredom out of harm's way and taking the strain off holding the tool. I wouldn't consider carving without it.
Dremel Engraver Not really for lapidary work (although I suppose it has its uses), but if you want to clean up small fossils this is the cheapest and best tool for the job. Essential for exposing the Wyoming fish fossils. You can get a longer stylus from PaleoTools.
Dremel High Performance Rotary Tool Kit This is incredibly handy for all sorts of tasks, lots of people use it to drill holes with the drill stand attachment. You'll find 100 uses for it. I love mine. If you're serious about carving get the Foredom.
Donegan OptiVISOR Headband Magnifier This is first on the list becasue you simply shouldn't attempt to make any kind of polished rock or cabochon without one. If people see my how I do my lapidary work and ask about how I do it (or even if they don't sometimes), I say "Do you use an Optivisor? I do!" I use one and it's on my head from start to finish (well not when I'm using my slab saws LOL). There are a few choices of GLASS lenses - get what suits you - you can always return it and try another set. DO NOT GET THE PLASTIC LENSES, for obvious reasons. Plastic and rock chips or dust don't mix well. Get the magnifying loupe attachment while you're at it. hey even have a little LED attachment but if you need it then your shop should be better lit!
Eclipse 902-109 5" Diameter Magnifier Workbench Lamp For when you need something to work under, incredibly useful for fossils and agate carving. Much easier on the eyes than looking through an Optivisor for hours at a time. I tried several and this one is perfect for my needs. Mine has the really heavy base (probably cost mroe than you would pay) so I can move it from bench to bench.
Lortone Abrasive Tumbling Kit Don't mess with other, cheaper tumbling grit kits - you get what you pay for, and Lortone knows what works best for lapidary materials. Those usually have badly graded grit which will leave scratches and low quality pre-polish and polishing compounds, so your rocks will look hazy or dull. You wouldn't believe how many people have tumbling nightmares because they used toy store garbage.
99.9% Cerium Oxide Polishing Compound I sell this on my lapidary materials page for one simple reason: You can't trust any Amazon seller to give you the genuine article. Don't mess with other, cheaper polishing compounds. In my experience nothing else gets the high mirror-like polish that cerium does. Anything cheaper that $50/pound has some to a whole lot of impurities - they make the polish a lot less effective. You can tell becasue the are yellowish to almost pink, and cost a lot less than the high quality stuff. Still a great value since you have to use so litttle of it, a pound will last me years and I do a LOT of polishing.
MK Diamond 153692 MK-303 Professional 6-Inch Diameter Lapidary Blade by .020-Inch wide by 5/8-Inch Arbor Amazon carries just about every MK Diamond lapidary saw blade and I highly recommend the MK-301 and MK-303 series. The 303 blades are heavier duty, thicker, and have a lot mroe diamond than the 301, but I use both depending on the size of the saw (303's for the larger saws over 16"). This is just one of them, there are too many to list here. There are many debates about cheap blades vs. expensive ones, some people swear by cheap ones. I think that as usual you get what you pay for, in the long run you can either buy 2 or more cheap blades for every high quality blade. My 301's and 303's last a minimum of 5 years of heavy use. A good alternative is UKAM, they're essentially the exact same blades (they're all made by one manufacturer) and the price may be a wee bit cheaper (or a lot more expensive for their "specialty" blades). Their website sucks though.
Tumbling Beads Essential for getting a good pre-polish and polish. They move the compound around and get it into all surfaces of irregular shaped rock. This is a steal compared to rock supply sites, by the way.
Ceramic Tumbling Media You need the cubic or triangular ceramic media for the coarse silicon carbide grits. I have used both and ceramic seems to to a lot better at cramming coarse grit into crevices, and plastic works best in the polish and pre-polish stages. Make sure it's really ceramic, the cheap stuff is porous and you do NOT want that. BTW don't buy the Raytech media. It's the same stuff at 10x the price.
Opticon Fracture Sealer & Hardener If you make cabochons you need this, period. Good for many tasks but the #1 use is to seal tiny fractures that may break when you start thinning out the slab on the grinder.
Epoxy 330 Water Clear Adhesive If you make cabochons you also need this, period. Also good for many tasks but the #1 use is to mount cabochons into a setting, it dries so clear you can't really see it. And it stays clear for at least 25 years (I used it to mount my first cab then and I still have it)!
Starbond 2 oz. Thin, Medium and Thick CA Glue & Accelerator I use this for just about everything else. If you have a rock fracture on you then you know the feeling. All is not lost, this does a good job and is infinitely better than any epoxy and a lot cheaper than 330. I use all 3 types, each has its uses. Use the accellerator if you're in a time crunch but be aware that it does weaken the bond. One neat trick is you can use the super thin to seal up fractures so they'll hold then put Opticon on the top that you can grind down as you work the piece. Opticon by itself won't seep down into a deep hairline fracture without a vacuum jar.
Hard and Soft Diamond Cab Machine Wheels (this links to the complete set) Please please PLEASE do NOT buy the cheap wheels! You will regret it, I promise you! They will rust like crazy, and wear out faster than more expensive wheels. You'll pay more but get 2 to 3 times the use for a good wheel in the long run. Stick to reputable, high quality wheels like Crystalite Novas. I won't even mention silicon carbide wheels, they are a waste of time and money. I've seen photos of tears in a new dirt cheap resin bonded wheel after a minute of use. Wonder why that would be? This set is exactly what you need for a 6 wheel cabochon machine. When you get really good at polishing you can safely ditch the 3000 and add a waffle or textured wheel on the left side. It's very nice to be able to rip through a rough piece to beat it into shape. I go straight to cerium on felt from the 1200, and for softer materials like calcite and obsidian straight from the 600. You have to be really good at sanding to do that :)
Inland Lapidary DopStation Dop Wax Melter and Stone Heater - You need to attach the preformed slab to a dop stick with hot wax so you can grind and sand it on a cabochon machine. So this is great for keeping your dopping wax melted and pre-heating your cab preforms. I use wood dowel cut to length from a hardware store for dop sticks - so no need for the (expensive) aluminum sticks. Wax doesn't stick especially well to metal anyway and you cab can easily pop off the stick. Only melt what wax you need, as it sits around the shellac will evaporate off and it won't stick to much of anything.
Dopping Wax I really hate the green wax so I won't link to it, it's just too soft if you use the correct pressure on the resin bond wheels (hint: PUSH HARD). Red is what you need to get a strong bond that won't sag if you heat up the cabochon.This is a great price by the way, cheaper than green wax. Takes longer to melt but it's worth it.
CRL 7" x 7/8" 320 Grit Sanding Discs - 50 Pack - These are for overhead dry sanders to sand slabs and flat cut pieces, the sanders aren't easy to find (Richardson's rock shop is the only place I know where you can buy a new one). The disks are very hard to find online but buying in bulk saves you a lot of money (even at $2 each. They last a long time). I use 60, 80, 120, 220, and 400 grit disks. You really only need 80, 120, 220 and 400 unless your saw cuts perfectly smooth slabs, then you can get away with 120. NOTE: You can also find cheaper MERCER brand disks on Amazon. STAY AWAY FROM THEM! They are poor quality and won't last nearly as long as CRL disks! Other brands I have had good results with are SunGold and Norton (impossible to find online). 3M are the gold standard but also practically impossible to find. They are also the most expensive by a long shot.
6 X 1 1/2 Expandable Rubber Drum for Belts - Great for sanding if you have an arbor for cabachon making and have room for one sanding wheel. Belts are below.
8 X 1 1/2 Expandable Rubber Drum for Belts - for 8" arbors
6" 360 Grit Diamond Lapidary Faceting Flat Lap - For a 1/2" hole flat lap machine with a spindle. Comes in many grits for 6" and 8" machines. Some machines use magnetic laps so check yours first. These are cheap because the don't last all that long. But they aren't for everybody so get a cheap one to see if you like it. Note: this is not a faceting lap but is suitable for any other lapidary work. Actual faceting laps start at 4 times this price.
(4) 6" X 1 1/2" 100 Grit Silicon Carbide Sanding Belt - Fit thre expandable drum sander, this is a good value. Comes in many grits for both 6" or 8" drums.
6" X 1 1/2" X 18 15/16" 8000 Grit Diamond Sanding Belt for 6" Expanding Rubber Drum - Fit the expandable drum sander, comes in many grits for both 6" or 8" drums. These give you more for your money but you have to be extremely careful - run them dry or gouge them and you end up with an expensive hatband :(
TEMO 12 pc 5 gram syringes diamond compound polishing paste - For flat lap film disks (placed over a blank master lap), and uncharged plates used on cabochon machines. The different meshes are for various polishing steps. You decide what works for you (you may want much smaller mesh paste for very hard material like Topaz or Sapphire; 6 micron is good for agate), then get one mesh or the set for a better value. Oil based so the paste doesn't contaminate other disks.
Gryphon Black Diamond Blade Twin Pack for C40 Bandsaw I put this here because I was astonished I could find them. They are rare as hen's teeth.
Lortone Lapidary Templates - Use this to mark a slab you want to trim and make a cabochon from. A brass or aluminum marking pencil is necessary to trace the outline onto a slab. There are also templates for many different shapes, but these are the standard shapes that fit jewelry settings. I strongly recommend aluminum templates, plastic and agate do not get along well. These will last a lifetime.
Silicon carbide grit - (this links to the tumbler pack). If you are doing more than a couple tumbler batches a year you are better off buying grit in bulk. For tumbling I recommend 60/90 for the first step, 120/220 for the second, and 500F for the third. A slash like in 60/90 means the grit is between those two sizes and is called ungraded. Graded grit is the exact listed size, i.e. 60, 90, 220). F means "and finer". I use only graded grit for sphere making, ungraded for tumbling. Expect to pay about $2.50/lb. to $3.50 for 25 lbs. of 60/90 to 500F. You can pay a LOT more so shop around.
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