Black rocks: What does it take to drill these damn things?

Questions, answers, tips & tricks for newbies and veterans alike
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HughMungus
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Post by HughMungus » Sat Nov 06, 2004 11:19 am

AntiM wrote:I do know it takes all day to tumble things and hard stones with very shiny finishes are a major bitch. Days even for those. This is mostly ancient recollections from working for my brother and a jeweler in the 70s. I do have one of the cheapies from HF sitting in my workroom awaiting some semblence of wellness from me to go to town on it. The grit they sell goes for about $10 a box, but I have no clue what quantities will be required for different materials.

I bet glass will tumble quite nicely. I have a box o' rocks waiting for a trial run.

As I remember, even quality tumblers are noisy and vibrate madly. This is a basement project for me. Right next to the bread mixer.
Yeah, I would love to tumble some of these myself but I geekster was gracious enough to try it himself so we can see how they turn out without me making a huge investment of time and money. And yeah, I don't think I could run a tumbler anyway -- I live in a loft and I have neighbors. The drill press, though, is blessedly quiet...
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DokktorWho222
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Geology Theme Camp...

Post by DokktorWho222 » Sun Nov 07, 2004 12:04 pm

Where is Rockology Camp when you need them?

Are they rock stars? You brecchia.
"The Lord is my shepherd...I shall not want for nothing. He makes me lie down in the green pastures. He greases up my head with oil. He gives me kung-fu in the face of my enemies. Amen."
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Spokes
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Post by Spokes » Thu Nov 11, 2004 8:37 pm

Tumblers are not necessarily noisy and not difficult to operate. They are just a small motor turning a rubber drum. The rubber dampens the noise of the rocks and mostly it’s just the sound of the motor. I used to run one in the garage and I couldn’t hear it in the house but it was a small drum. It doesn’t take much to operate one. Just go through a few changes of grits and let it do the work in between. You could also unplug it at night if you wanted.

I found a piece of andesite Tuesday in a small box of earplugs that came back from the event. I don’t remember seeing the rocks on the playa, if I picked it up or if somebody gave it to me. But I knew what it was when I pulled it out of the box because of your project. I think it looks perfect just like it is.

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HughMungus
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Post by HughMungus » Fri Nov 12, 2004 7:18 pm

Thanks for the info. I was wondering how loud they are (and not wanting to disturb my neighbors). I might get one to play with...right after my new drill press arrives. :D
Spokes wrote:Tumblers are not necessarily noisy and not difficult to operate. They are just a small motor turning a rubber drum. The rubber dampens the noise of the rocks and mostly it’s just the sound of the motor. I used to run one in the garage and I couldn’t hear it in the house but it was a small drum. It doesn’t take much to operate one. Just go through a few changes of grits and let it do the work in between. You could also unplug it at night if you wanted.

I found a piece of andesite Tuesday in a small box of earplugs that came back from the event. I don’t remember seeing the rocks on the playa, if I picked it up or if somebody gave it to me. But I knew what it was when I pulled it out of the box because of your project. I think it looks perfect just like it is.
It's what you make it.

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geekster
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Post by geekster » Wed Jan 19, 2005 11:05 am

Okay, after much delay, a couple of false starts, loosing and finding again the needed equipment and getting through the holidays, your playa stones are in their final polish phase and will be finished next Tuesday!

I still have the return envelope and if the address is correct, I will be dropping them by return mail next week.

I must say that the tumbling process brought a lot of color out in the rocks that was not at all obvious when it started. The crystal patterns of greenish and brownish streaks in the black rocks looks pretty cool. I am also tossing in a few extras that I threw in there for having waited so long.
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theCryptofishist
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Post by theCryptofishist » Wed Jan 19, 2005 4:06 pm

After all this I ended up buying a tumbler--a child's plastic toy model really but it was what I found and I've done one load of glass through the first tumble. Now I'm frustrated that the directions aren't very good--all for rocks and nothing for glass. glass is softer and probably needs less time. I found 3 sets of three (course, fine, finest) for $10 and my guess is with some shopping around on the web you could beat that. (Shipping added in, I don't know.) I think I would be happy just using the course, but no idea of where to buy that. Also, the instructions tell you not to pour the gritty water down the sink, but give you no decenst instructions on how to clean up.
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geekster
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Post by geekster » Wed Jan 19, 2005 11:38 pm

use some kind of strainer and a garden hose. A colander works great. My tumbler is from tri-square metal products in Auburn, WA

Mine came with Course, Fine, Pre-polish, and polish. This is a little different than I used to get from Sears years ago when they had a lapidary catalog.

Anyway, one key is to tumble stuff of basically the same hardness. Glass is the same as quartz ... it isn't all that soft at all. Also, on the polish cycle use something as a cusion. Some people use sawdust added to the drum, Sears used to have plastic pellets included in the jewlers rouge final polish mix. In the final tumble you dont want the stones to bang against each other too much.

Do a google search for "lapidary supplies" and you should find quite a bit of stuff.
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HughMungus
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Post by HughMungus » Tue Jan 25, 2005 6:13 pm

Don't feel bad. I posted about a new set of necklaces being available in...November (?) and I just got around to mailing them today. In fact, I just happened to see this thread and remember the tumbling project. I really appreciate it. Just make sure your return address is on there in case I didn't put on enough postage, etc. etc.

But the way, I finally got my new drill press together. This new one goes down to 250 RPM which is perfect for what I'm doing with the carbide bits (though they do break pretty easily because they're so britlle). I think my "thing" next year will be just bringing the drill press out there, telling people about the rocks under their feet (most don't know about them) and drilling holes and letting people make necklaces.

Thanks again!
geekster wrote:Okay, after much delay, a couple of false starts, loosing and finding again the needed equipment and getting through the holidays, your playa stones are in their final polish phase and will be finished next Tuesday!

I still have the return envelope and if the address is correct, I will be dropping them by return mail next week.

I must say that the tumbling process brought a lot of color out in the rocks that was not at all obvious when it started. The crystal patterns of greenish and brownish streaks in the black rocks looks pretty cool. I am also tossing in a few extras that I threw in there for having waited so long.
It's what you make it.

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HughMungus
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Post by HughMungus » Tue Jan 25, 2005 6:15 pm

Oh, and geekster, I forgot to ask: How long did the actual process take?
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geekster
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Post by geekster » Wed Jan 26, 2005 9:28 am

Okay, they are done but the quality isnt what I had experianced from the Sears tumbler and grit kits I have used in the past. This one took 3.5 weeks. One week for the course grit, one week for the fine grit, three days for the "pre-polish" and one week for the "polish".

In the older Sears grit packs, the polish consisted of jewlers rouge and plastic pellets to act as a cousion to keep the rocks from banking each other. This kit didn't have the pellets and as a result some of the stones chipped late in the tumble run.

Also, the "polish" used in this is a VERY white ... almost titanium oxide white and it got into the stones and is damned near impossible to get out. This is mostly due to the large grain structure of the rocks. Some finer grained stones that went through on the same run (that I will be including in the return shipment) are as smooth as glass with no polish permeating the surface. My gut feeling is that the andesites would probably stand a little time on a buffing wheel with some rouge ... but that is just me. They might just be too hard and too course grained to really do much with them. I am just a bit disaapointed with the white polish impregnating the surface a little too much. Laundry detergent will probably get some more of it out. I tumbled them about 3 hours in soap and water and it got a lot of it.

They DO look much different than when there were first tumbled, though. You can see the grain structure and streaks of different minerals like olivine and such in some of them.
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Kristines
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Be a friend to Curtis

Post by Kristines » Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:50 am

I don't know how many of you are friends of Curtis Coleman. He is fighting squamous cell carcinoma and is really in a bad place because he has no health insurance.

There is a big FUNdraiser coming up on March 5 and I am on the auction/raffle team. I would absolutely love to have something any of you make. Playa rocks would make great necklaces (hint, hint), and I would be willing to wrap them in silver wire to make them into pendants if you are too busy or just don't want to futz with it.

We will take your items and put them in the silent auction. ALL (100%) of the proceeds go directly to Curtis. If you want to know more about curtis go to www.friendsofcurtis.com If you have items of any kind to donate, pm me for details on how to get them here (FUNdraiser is in SF).

Thanks!!

Kristine

pm me if you need/want more info. I am also working on a quilt to raffle off for him and it would be cool if you could participate by making a square or simply contributing your handprint to be appliqued on the back. You would just trace it on a piece of paper, write your name/email address on the palm and get it to me somehow -- fax, scan/email or snailmail or invite me to a party <grin>. Looking forward to your help.

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theCryptofishist
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Re: Be a friend to Curtis

Post by theCryptofishist » Wed Jan 26, 2005 11:29 am

Kristines wrote: There is a big FUNdraiser coming up on March 5 and I am on the auction/raffle team. I would absolutely love to have something any of you make.
I can get you a pound of crocodile beads if you like.
The Lady with a Lamprey

"The powerful are exploiting people, art and ideas, and this leads to us plebes debating how to best ration ice.
Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri

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