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Author Topic: Care and Feeding of Copper laps?  (Read 1326 times)

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Debbie K

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Care and Feeding of Copper laps?
« on: July 14, 2017, 03:27:24 PM »

I've recently started faceting and today received a set of 6 copper topped, corian backed laps. They're marked 180, 260, 600, 1200, 3000, 14000. The man who gave them to me said they've never been used, but they look like they may have been. It appears that they have at least been charged.

Is there a way to clean these? I doubt that there is, but thought I might as well ask. I'm a little spooked about cross-contamination but I guess the only way to find out is to try cutting a stone. I've been reading about how to charge these, but to tell you the truth, I can't afford the brayer right now. Can a brayer be cleaned and used on other grits? I have some tool steel and access to a lathe so I can make one if it's necessary. How often will I need to recharge and with approximated how much diamond?

I have plenty of diamond powder in a large variety of grit. I've been using plated laps up to 1000, and after that using 1200, 3000, 8000 and cerium on corian laps that I made myself. I put turtle wax on them and then smear some diamond grit and work it in with a agate burnisher. I've been cutting quartz to learn on before moving over to more expensive rough. I have found that the turtle wax only holds up to facet one stone, after that it needs to be redone.

I've been reading about copper laps, and one site said that you use water up to 1200, and oil on 3000 and above. Is this what you guys do? There also seems to be a debate about what kind of oil or grease: almond oil, synthetic lube with teflon, etc... to tell you the truth, I'm confused. Should I aggressively clean these things after using them, or just rinse them with water? I only use water to clean the corian laps; maybe this is why I have a few mystery scratches occasionally.

My machine is an ancient Graves Mark I. It has one speed and one direction and a 64 index. It's one step up from a jamb-peg faceter. It's cranky and inaccurate, but it's what I have. I've replaced the bearing, belt and switch. It's an adventure every time I facet a stone; nothing stays level. I'm just grateful to have it, and a friend lent me a 96 index a few days ago, and I'm looking forward to being able to cut some different stones.

I'm hoping a faceter will take pity on me and give me some advice.

Debbie K
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lithicbeads

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Re: Care and Feeding of Copper laps?
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2017, 05:20:49 PM »

It has been a long time since I faceted and copper laps were becoming less popular even 30 years ago.Mistery has always surrounded faceting laps. I honestly believe that  oils , waxes and water choices are much like choices in fly fishing, if you believe in the fly- lap you will make it work. Scotch brite pad used fairly gently with water was my worry wash but just water  and a rub otherwise  and I never found many cross contamination problems along those lines. Getting the  dop and faceting arm seemed to be a bigger problem for me. A big problem with using quartz is that it is cheap and hard to polish. You tend to cut way too big stones that take too much time and then struggle with a giant table facet. I liked garnets but the odd texture that ground garnets display seems to bother some people. I have never heard of a way to get grit out of a copper lap , it does not seem likely.A  modern faceting machine like a facetron that is precise and tight is a lot of fun but the old jam peg gives you wide latitude to feather in facets  which you get good at fast or give up.
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hummingbirdstones

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Re: Care and Feeding of Copper laps?
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2017, 07:58:04 PM »

As far as I know, copper top laps can't be cleaned per se -- they would need to be resurfaced to get all the embedded diamond in the top layer out.  There wouldn't be enough metal in topped laps to do that I don't think.

I'm going to refer you the gemology online forum to ask about these.  There are a bunch of really knowledgeable facetors on that board who would be able to give you the correct advice about those laps.

https://www.gemologyonline.com/Forum/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=8
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Robin

Debbie K

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Re: Care and Feeding of Copper laps?
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2017, 08:57:28 PM »

I'm not really trying to get the diamond out; I just wanted to clean them up as some of them have a trace of verdigris and dirt and to get rid of any potentially loose grit. Actually, I'm a little afraid of losing the grit they may have... If they really have no grit, I'll probably use different sizes.

The copper on the laps is 1/8" thick, which is pretty sturdy. I think I need to just give them a scrub with soap and water and a nylon brush and just see what happens. I just don't want to mess up potentially good laps, these things are very expensive when new.

I have some really nice amethyst and citrine; I picked up some Nambian amethyst in Tucson that looks like Siberian with blue and red flash. I want t learn how to get good proportions, meet points and polish before moving on to some of my better material.

I am thinking about putting some kind of regulator on this motor to see if I can slow it down. I'll probably post in the machine section to see if it's possible with the motor on my machine.

Debbie K
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gemfeller

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Re: Care and Feeding of Copper laps?
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2017, 09:34:28 PM »

I'm going to stay out of the technical fray on this, but I can offer some advice on cleaning your laps.  I've successfully used 3M Scotchbrite green scouring pads along with some Kleen King copper cleaner.  The last used to be a grocery item but I think it's been acquired exclusively by True Value Hardware.

Quartz is notoriously difficult to polish with diamond -- at least that's what all the diamond-only facetors tell me.  I find it easy using 180/600/1200 diamond, then Cerium or Al-Ox on a tin lap.  I've also used both Cerium and Al-Ox Ultralaps on a master lap.  In fact I have some brand new 6-inch Ultralaps I'll send you if you'd like since I no longer use them: Al-Ox, Cerium & Spectra.  They're handy on a number of materials like garnet, tourmaline, beryl and others.

One thought about your waxed Corian laps.  I truly don't know if it'll make a difference for you but the person who taught me that technique insisted that only TreWax should be used.  I haven't gone that route in a long time but as I recall my laps stayed charged for quite a while.  Diamond grit is pretty cheap these days so while recharging is a bit of a hassle it isn't all that costly if needed.

 
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Debbie K

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Re: Care and Feeding of Copper laps?
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2017, 06:07:31 AM »

Someone told me about the Trewax just recently, so I will check it out. Looked for the Kleen King, it seems Amazon or Ace are the only ones who have it.

I couldn't polish quartz without frosting until I got the remnants of a can of cerium oxide preparation that you paint on a plastic lap. I felt like I died and went to heaven, it worked so well. The only problem with it is it's a little lumpy, and I think I could be rounding the facets some.

I've been reading a lot lately about polishing, and I think I haven't been fastidious enough about cleaning my laps. I didn't think about little pieces of the rock actually scratching your faceted piece. I have LOTS of grit up to 8000, after that, not so much. I have a few vials of 50,000 and 100,000 but have been saving them until I get better at proportion and meet points.

I have sent you my address via message, and I would love to try the Ultralaps to see what they're like. I'd say I will post a photo of what they do for me, but I haven't gotten one good picture of any of the stones I've faceted. I've tried my digital camera, phone and my Celestron, and none of the picture were any good. It must be an artform of its own to take pictures of faceted stones.

Debbie K
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gemfeller

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Re: Care and Feeding of Copper laps?
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2017, 07:21:31 AM »

Debbie, just  a couple of quick thoughts about your post.

Yes, it was Ace, not True Value that got the exclusive on Kleen King.  It'll remove the verdegris.

You'll get  some facet-rounding on any plastic or soft laps, including Ultralaps.  That's why very hard, flat ceramic polishing laps were introduced, but they can be very difficult to use.  Jon "Gearloose" Rolfe's new series of BATT laps have mostly replaced older types including copper and ceramic.  He uses special alloys and they've pretty much taken over the lap market.

And, yes, photographing faceted gems is a true specialty in itself.  Looks simple, but it's complex as all get out, especially when it comes to lighting and accurate color reproduction.  Cameras "see" things very differently than the human eye and CCDs vary a lot in digital camera brands. 

I got our PM and will respond later today.         
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hummingbirdstones

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Re: Care and Feeding of Copper laps?
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2017, 08:02:48 AM »

Hi Debbie,

There is also a copper cleaner with the brand name of Cameo.  It will also clean and take off the verdegris from your laps.  I use it on my copper pots.  Not much elbow grease needed!   :icon_tongue:  You can look for it in your grocery store or Walmart.  For some reason, it's a lot harder to find here in Arizona than it was back in Chicago, but I do see it at Walmart every once in a while.

Regarding a good scrubbing of your laps to remove small stone chips that may be causing problems, one of the methods that has been used for years and years is to get a bar of Lava soap and scrub the heck out of the lap with the bar, rinsing really well. 



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Robin

Debbie K

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Re: Care and Feeding of Copper laps?
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2017, 08:28:48 PM »

I do that with the hard wheels and then scrub them with a brush, but the ones with turtle wax and diamond on corian would be totaled stripped off by the lava. I usually just rinse them off with water, but I'm thinking that it may not be enough. Maybe a soft brush would knock out some of the small chips, I don't know.

Thanks for the tip on the Cameo copper cleaner, I'm going to look for it and the Kleen King.

Unfortunately, 5 of the 6 copper laps have come unglued from their corian backing, so I spent the afternoon cleaning the epoxy off the backs of the copper and the fronts of the corian and giving everything a good scrub with a brush and soap and water. It appears only two of them are charged, but I'm going to test each of them to make sure.

I'm just so grateful to have them; I think it'll make a big difference in polishing and they'll last forever as long as I take care of them. That's why I wanted advice before I messed around with them too much as not to damage them to begin with.

Debbie K
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hummingbirdstones

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Re: Care and Feeding of Copper laps?
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2017, 09:46:33 PM »

Oh yeah, Lava soap would definitely strip the wax coated laps.  I was talking about the copper laps if you have a problem with them.

If a soft brush doesn't work on the corians, you may have to strip off the wax and diamond coating and recharge them.  Might be the only way to fix the scratching problem if it's stone chips.   :dontknow:
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Robin
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