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Author Topic: Polishing Flats  (Read 687 times)

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nwbeachrocker

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Polishing Flats
« on: January 21, 2018, 01:44:10 PM »

I have been making cabs for awhile on my 6" Cabking but would now like to be able to polish some slabs or geode halves.  I see that flat lap machines are the most common way to achieve this, but I am looking for a faster, hands on option.  I have seen mention of "bull wheels", or Covington makes a horizontal wet belt sander. Has anyone had experience with these options or any other method? Thanks for reading and for any input.
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vitzitziltecpatl

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Re: Polishing Flats
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2018, 02:34:51 PM »

You might consider these options, but beware of dry-sanding without respiratory protection. Don't want to die from silicosis, right?

http://richardsonrockranch.com/lapidary.html

We have one of the buffers, and it works great for final polish. We don't have the sander. An arbor with expando drums and belts works well.

Slabbercabber

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Re: Polishing Flats
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2018, 03:30:55 PM »

When the wind is blowing I move my vintage 6 x 48 belt sander outside and use it dry with a dust mask.  Otherwise I use an 18" rotary flat lap with diamond disks.  These are the fastest methods I know of.  Belt sanders are not made for this purpose and the grit wears out both the bearings and the bed plate but the whole unit can be replaced at garage sales for typically $30 to $40.
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55fossil

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Re: Polishing Flats
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2018, 09:08:09 AM »

     #1 choice for me is the Richardson's dry polisher.   
    I have used 4 x 36 inch wet SC belt with messy but good results on T-egg halves. It was slow in many respects but did an excellent job. I sold the sander as it just was too time consuming.
    Also used a 30 inch commercial flat lap (floor unit) with a 1/2 hp motor. Add water and loose silicon carbide grit like for a tumbler. This was also slow but it ran by itself and was great. Also sold it when I moved because of size issues and just did not polish that many large flats. If you do commercial work I would recommend this type of sander if you have the room.
    Top Choice:  Richardson's dry sander!   Price is reasonable. Quick change for sanding discs. SC discs are very cheap for these units. This is a dry sander and works very quick and gets a great polish even before going to a buffer pad. You can even make a buffer pad that will work on this machine but I prefer the larger leather buffer they sell.
    Warning:  Obviously there is dust so you need eye and respiratory protection. Also, you can slice your fingers on the SC disc as it is flying and very close to your hand. I have two of these. I recommend using a vacuum on the sander as it really picks up a lot of the grit out of the air. The only other downside is if you try to be too aggressive and fast while polishing. The rock can get so hot it may discolor, chip or even blast off pieces. All you have to do is watch the temperature of the rock and not press too hard while sanding. I really love these sanders and Richardson's polisher.
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Ryaly2dogs

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Re: Polishing Flats
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2018, 10:00:10 AM »

Probably an obvious response but the Ameritool 8-inch grinder affords a pretty easy way to grind through to polish flat surfaces.  I just acquired one used with a complete set of disks (6-inch and 8-inch) for $200 on Craigslist last week.  Works like a champ, takes up very little space, and also is a easy solution for polishing backs of cabs. Alternatively, for the larger guys, I go with my Rose Reciprolap (20-inch). I have tried and since sold a Lortone model and am familiar also with HP Model and they just seem to vibrate and make a lot of noise. The Rose has superior motion with its eccentric drive and yields a better result.  You can find them on Craigslist as well; but I suspect you have considered and discarded this option.  I just do not want to create a bunch of silica dust in my household; and that has driven my tool selection.
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Phishisgroovin

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Re: Polishing Flats
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2018, 08:44:36 AM »

for a few years all i had was a 6 inch expando drum with belts, now i have a hi-tech 8 inch flat lap.
I found that flat laps work WAY faster.
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jerrysg

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Re: Polishing Flats
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2018, 08:38:57 PM »

I have an Ameritool 8" flat lap and use it for most cab shaping - front and back.  After a trip to Richardson's Ranch a few years ago we came away with eggs that were just too big for the Ameritool.

Wife bought me a Highland Park Wet Grinder for my birthday (my birthday falls during the Tucson shows! ha! ha!) a couple of years ago and it worked well for polishing the eggs and larger pieces of pet wood as well as some small slabs and thunder egg slices. 

This is the wet grinder:  http://www.hplapidary.com/en/highland-park-wet-grinder-with-pad-kit

This is the least expensive wet grinder I have seen. Most of the major tool makers (Makita, Hatachi, Covington, etc. ) also have them but more expensive. They are used in the fabrication of countertops from stone or synthetics.

Jerry
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