The Cobb County Gem and Mineral Society offers its members well equipped workshops supporting most aspects of the Lapidary hobby from ancient to the most modern. We have been acquiring equipment for several decades and now provide a variety and scale well beyond the means of the average rockhound.
We offer flexible workshop hours for members to use the equipment to work on their projects. The club provides forepersons to open the clubhouse and to provide guidance to the members working on their projects as well as oversee the operations. These folks volunteer their time and knowledge and we are very grateful to have them.
Of course, what good is all of this equipment if you don't know how to use it. So, the Club offers individual and group training on the various equipment used to process your earthly treasures. Some is provided by our Forepeople, some by dedicated individuals and some by organized class sessions with instructors.
In addition to lapidary, specimen collectors can use the facility for removal of excess matrix, reshaping of the the rock for improved display or other preparation of their self-collected specimens.
Check out the following which provide greater detail on the equipment in each shop and its uses.
The Cutting Room is where we make big rocks into little rocks. Generally speaking, if you can carry it, we can cut it here. In this room you will find saws with the capacity to handle any rock from pebbles to as much as 10 inches. The saws are typically used to cut slabs or to trim excess matrix off specimens for mounting or display. In this way you can remove unwanted material to make the “special” part of your piece stand out and fit better in your display case.
Depending on the rock and the desired results, a foreperson will determine the appropriate saw to give the best results. Just because a rock "fits" in a saw it isn’t necessarily the best machine to use. Size, hardness and quality of cut must also be considered. Another consideration is porosity of the stone. Our saws use either mineral oil or water/propylene glycol with corrosion inhibitors. We use food or veterinary grade solutions for users safety. The blades either turn in a bath or have the coolant pumped towards the cutting edge to provide cooling and lubrication. Nothing is cut dry in our shop.
Often the purpose of cutting slabs (thin pieces of your specimens usually in the vicinity of one quarter inch or so), is so that you can then be ready to go to the Cabbing Room for further preparation.
This is where slabs of agate or other types of rocks can be made into a beautiful stone, focused on the most beautiful or unique aspects of it. Usually this means cutting Cabochons (hence the term Cabbing Room). Cabochons are the most common type of creation prepared in the this room. Cabochons are typically in an oval or round shape and are domed. However, they can also be made in a variety of shapes, sizes and forms designed to bring out the beauty of the stone. Some lapidaries prefer to follow the natural shape that the stone was found in.
We often start with a small “Trim” saw to your preform a portion of the slab into a desired rough shape. We have a plethora of templates to use or you may desire to create a "free form" shape. In other words, drawing the desired shape and cutting away the material around it. Once the trimming is done, we use grinders to finish forming the stone. These machines have several wheels, each coated or embedded with diamond grit. We use a series of wheels from very coarse to extremely fine, from 80 grit to 14,000. The coursest is used to take off the remaining excess material and to perfect the shape desired. Grinding with the courser wheels can be used to create the complex curves and bevels as desired. The medium grits are used to smooth and remove deep scratches while the finer grits are used to begin polishing. When one is satisfied with the shape and smoothness we have several polishing machines which use different compounds to to give a glassy wet look polish. At this point you have a completed cabochon to be proud of. Different types of materials behave quite differently from the others in the cabbing process.
This room is equipped with machines which can take a gemstone and precisely facet it into any number of shapes. Precision is the key here, think of a cut diamond, sapphire or ruby. This can be done on any kind of stone that is hard enough to take a polish. Typically, beginners start with inexpensive pieces of glass until they are proficient enough to risk a fine gem. The techniques of faceting are beyond the scope of this overview. Suffice it to say, the the CCGMS is well equipped with faceting machines that can be used by its members to learn the process of faceting and to facet their own stones.
Of course, many of our members don’t stop with a beautiful polished or faceted stone. They want to make fine pieces of wearable jewelry. For that we have additional expertise and classes to assist in this part of the hobby. Currently, we have limited metal working equipment, but there is continuing discussion of expansion of this type. If you have a desire to do this kind of thing, please bring it up to a foreman, board member, or other member who can use your interest to support investment in needed equipment.