Saturday, 30 May 2020

A Tour of the Lap of Lapidary

Well, I have finally managed to get all the machines up and running and have decided that the shop name had to be changed. Since it now has everything I need- including a sound system- I thought it should be called "The Lap of Lapidary"!

New Sound System
To create the sound system, I had to get a signal booster so as to access the internet and now I can listen to music all day!

In order to show you everything in the shop, we created four videos and to make it realistic, I did them from the standpoint of taking a piece from a rough hunk of rock to a finished piece.

The first video takes you through the sawing of a large rock to produce a slab or slice.

Then we take the slice through the process to a finished, polished piece.

And then we take a look at a few special machines used to create specific effects in the finishing process.

And finally, I show you how I keep track of all the rock I have cut for future reference and possible use.

I hope that you have enjoyed the tour and if you have any questions about the process or a specific machine, feel free to ask. At some point I will be doing specific posts on individual machines to show them in action.

And if we ever get out from under this virus shadow, come and take the tour in person!

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Why I Hate Using U.P.S.


Recently I had occasion to buy a large item from a company in the U.S. Because of past bad experiences, I usually will refuse to accept shipping from UPS but the company informed me that this was the only carrier available so I plunked down the money for expedited shipping and hoped for the best. I knew that with customs and the Covid virus I wasn't going to get it as soon as promised but thought it won't be much later.

On Friday, May 15th my shipment of four boxes started its road trip in Chicago and winged its way eastward. I received confirmation and tracking numbers but they showed nothing until Tuesday. That is when I got a call from a nice lady in New Brunswick who told me that UPS was making a delivery the next day and that because the amount owed for tax (there is no duty) was over $500 and because, due to the Covid virus the drivers can't process any payments, I had to pay in advance. I could do so by phone or via their web site. Since I had phone in hand I tried that alternative- several times! In fact, I was still trying when my wife Vickie, who was sitting beside me said, "It's all taken care of. I went on the web site". Great! All paid for and it's coming Wednesday- sometime before 9 PM! Since I live in the far reaches of the province, I assumed late in the day but since I couldn't take any chances, and since the tracking now showed the packages in Dartmouth N.S and in transit to me, I changed my plans to go food shopping in town and waited.

The next morning, tracking showed all the packages in transit to me from Dartmouth. But at around 11:30, I received two emails saying two of the packages had been delayed at customs and would be a day late. Bummer, but at least I could check the first two. I needed at least 3 packages to be able to assemble the machine.

At 7:30 that night, I received two more emails saying that the other two boxes would not be delivered and when I checked the tracking, it said that customs was holding them because the fees (that had been confirmed paid a day earlier by UPS) had not been paid yet.

That was a little worrisome so I decided to call UPS (no small feat in itself!). Eventually I found a number and the nice answering machine said that because of the virus, the delay in speaking to an operator might be in excess of 25 minutes. 

She was spot on! An hour and 17 minutes later, a cheery voice picked up the phone at their end and started talking, unfortunately in a language with which I am unfamiliar. But after many attempts (try conveying a long tracking number when there is a language barrier) she was able to update me on the tracking. She confirmed that three of the packages had been released by customs and would arrive today (Thursday). Unfortunately, the 4th package had been "mis-sorted" and had gone to parts unknown but no worry, they would re route it and, while it wouldn't be coming with the others, it would arrive soon, probably sometime the following week.

I said, "So you lost one of the packages." to which she replied, "No sir it was mis- sorted!" So I learned something new. UPS don't lose packages, they "mis-sort" them.

At this point I must have sounded somewhat displeased because she said that she could reduce the shipping charges (remember I had paid 2.5 times standard rates for upgraded shipping) and when I didn't sound pleased enough she doubled the reduction. It is supposed to be processes through my PayPal account in 7-10 days. I'm not counting on seeing a dime!

So I went to bed comforted by the thought that most of my shipment (and hopefully all the machine components) were safely tucked away in Dartmouth N.S. a mere 2.5 hours from my home and would be in my possession by 9 PM tonight. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

I awoke with high optimism and over coffee decided to track the packages to see if they had moved from Dartmouth N.S and, indeed, it appears that they did because in the early morning hours the three were now in Dieppe, N.B.! And the 4th package? well, it was now supposedly sitting in Dartmouth!
So now once again, I wait to see if anything arrives and, if so, what?

Did I mention that I hated using UPS

UPDATE: 30 minutes after I had finished the original post, I got four emails from UPS telling me that the delivery on all the packages had been pushed back a day to Friday, sometime before 9PM. This item is actually an anniversary gift and since my anniversary is actually Dec. 11th, the darn thing just might make it in time!

Friday, 8 May 2020

Big Cab King News!

Since I moved to Nova Scotia, I have been using some very old equipment. How old, you ask? Well, one of my 10 inch saws and my grinding/ polishing arbor were made by a company that went out of business in the late 1960's!

Over the winter, I did a lot of research on what are called "cabbing machines". These are used to grind and polish rocks in order to make jewelry with them. There are many options available but my research tells me that the best machine for quality of build and value for money is the Cab King. Since most of my readers would not be interested in the details, I won't post them here but if you read this and are interested, I would be happy to answer any questions.

Here is the Cab King machine.

It has 6 wheels and two more pads on the ends and what makes it even better is that it can convert to a rock saw using the same motor. I bought that attachment as well.

I can't wait to show you pics of what I can do with it!

So now I have to find some buyers for a few of my machines I no longer need but that should not be a big problem as this hobby is really hot right now.

If you are in the area post Coronavirus, stop by and I'll show you how it works!

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

The Voyage From Rock To Pendant

I have been doing a lot of cutting recently and have produced some slices with real potential. So I thought I'd give you a little insight into how these things get transformed frrom rough rock to a shiny pendant.

Here is a beautiful piece of brecciated (broken) jasper as it came off the saw.

And now I've defined a shape that I want to work with and did a rough cut of the shape with my smaller trim saw. Sorry for the lousy lighting.

Here's another really interesting cut.

So I cut a slice from one of the sides and defined these two smaller shapes that I have now rough cut.

And here's a piece I cut earlier that I am hoping will become earrings. I have done the final shape on one and now have to match the other.

So in the upcoming posts, I'll follow these pieces through their development and we'll see how they turn out.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, 2 May 2020

The Rewards of Lapidary.

Since the weather has been lousy and we can't really go anywhere because of good ol' Covid 19, I've been able to cut some of the local rock in my shop and have had some pleasant (and in some cases interesting) results. If you want to see amazing detail, just click on the picture.

 Take, for instance this unassuming rock.

This humble little rock was found on the shores of St. Mary's Bay. It appears to be a highly altered granite and its structure suggests that it might have been carried by the ice sheet from just west of Saint John, New Brunswick! If correct, imagine how long that journey took! (Thank you Rob Raeside, Acadia U. for the insight)

Then there's this little gem.

The exterior structure suggested that it might have an interesting core and, voila!

Just imagine the time (and chemistry) needed to make those beautiful linear patterns!

Here's a piece that offers a real contrast- simple on the outside:

And amazingly complex on the inside!

The central band actually changes composition from agate to amethyst (the purple area). Again, the patterning is amazingly complex when looked at in detail.

The following is interesting because of the colour.

The area that appears black is actually an indigo blue and the blue becomes more apparent when it is cut thinner. It is stunning up against the red haematite bands!

This next piece has it all!

The red areas are haematite and there is even a little  bit of fortification agate (white)

Did I save the best for the last? You be the judge. Again. it didn't look all that great on the outside.

But on the inside, oh my!

The patterning is amazingly detailed and I really like the lemon yellow sections!

Agates have to be one of the most interesting types of rock around and we have so many varieties in Nova Scotia. What I like is that all the beauty is really caused by chemical impurities that cause the colour variations. Without that, we would have just plain quartz!

By the way, all these were cut on my Hi-Tech 10 inch water cooled/lubricated saw. It does an amazing job!

I hope that you have enjoyed looking at these and if you ever want to see them in person, drop by my lapidary shop at The Artist's Mark on Digby Neck!