Fall 1987 Edition
Dear Ultra Tec Owner,
The Ultra Tec family is like a real family - even to the 'regularity' of
our letters. Usually such a letter starts out with 'I've been meaning to
write but...' - and that's how this letter starts - we expected to send a
letter last February, BUT we got so busy that there was just no time. Now,
that's a nice kind of problem for us.
For you it's nice too, even if it meant a delay in getting your
newsletter. It's a sign of rising interest in faceting, interest from new
people. That's important - the vigour of faceting depends on new people
becoming involved. I think people are tiring of their computers and VCR's,
and feel a need to be doing something creative. Whatever the reason, it's
a welcome development.
Usually, this section of the Newsletter deals with 'news'. Because of the
time that has gone by, however, it's more like 'olds'. But, there are a
few things in my memory that stand out, and it is never too late to offer
First of all, congratulations to Dave Regli for winning the
Masters Trophy at the Facetors Fair last January. This competition has
become the hot one at this show, involving a large field of master
facetors. Dave is an Ultra Tec facetor, which gave him an unfair - or
Fair- advantage, depending how one looks at it, (of the four competitions
so far, Ultra Tec facetors have won three - not quite as good as I'd
like). This is a Single Stone competition, with little room for error.
Dave and his wife have every right to be all
smiles about his win. Dave will likely be back for another try in 1988,
and perhaps he'll be the first person to repeat a win in this competition.
The Ultra Tec trophy for Best Case was not awarded, there being no score
high enough. That was a disappointment for us, but we've had this
situation once before. Next year, we feel sure there will be someone who
adds the extra effort and concentration, and wins.
Our congratulations are due these two smiling gentlemen - on the left 'Badger
Bud' Rogers and on the right John Stacy, both Ultra Tec
facetors. Between them they recently had won six faceting trophies.
Badger Bud had done very well indeed at the Federation Show in
Sacramento, where he won the Johansen Trophy (3 synthetic stones), the
Facetron Trophy (single natural stone) and the Golden Bear Trophy (12
synthetics). John Stacy won the Southern California Faceting Guild Best
Case Award and the Facetron Trophy (best natural stones) at the September
Fair in Anaheim, and at the San Jose Fair, the Golden City Trophy (single
piece of jewellery). You could just about bet that Bud Rogers and John
Stacy will have their names in the lists of future award winners.
Just a few words on the Tucson Show - as usual it was an exciting show.
As in prior years, it presented a chance to renew friendships, and to meet
people who had previously been just voices on the telephone. Justina's
Gems had a booth (in the Arena of the Community Centre - where we are,
too), and Justina faceted on her Ultra Tec while her husband Robbie
handled stone sales. They'll be back next year, so that's a chance to see
a super professional cutter in action....Here are a few of the people at
If you can attend any of the upcoming faceting shows you will find them
fun and instructive. Coming: Sept. 25/26 The So. Cal. Facetors Guild in
Anaheim CA, - Oct. 10/11 The Big Sky Facetors Guild, Great Falls MT, - Oct
30/Nov1 The Midwest Facetors Guild, Dearborn MI, - there's information
attached about these shows - as well as next year's San Jose show.
Attending the shows, if you can, is the important thing. As I've said in
previous letters, awards get a lot of attention, but most facetors find it
a 'spectator sport', and the show is the place to see them, see facetors
in action, see the displays, hear the lectures, meet people - have a good
Don't count out the idea of ever trying competition - you don't start out
at the Masters level - it teaches you a lot. You get a judge's score
sheet, and an idea of the ways in which you might improve - and you'll get
congratulations however low the score. Facetors are nice people - the only
ones they ever poke fun at are the people who score 'only' 99 and get
beaten out by someone who scores 99.25 - and then, gently.
We said in the last letter that something new is working its way through
Design, and it still is. I think it will be ready for the next Newsletter
- hopefully not too long.
Meanwhile, there are a few things to discuss. None of these design
improvements are urgent, but they are worth knowing about. A few of you
will probably say 'Ah! Just what I need.' For most of you, however they
are the sort of thing you might want to think about if you send in your
machine for recalibration They are listed on the price list in a last
section called 'Modifications'.
- We have improved the tensioning of the fine adjustment screw, to
assure a firm stop. The prior design had a feature for that purpose, a
spring hidden behind the screw. That design did not provide a way to
increase the tension, if desired. What we have done is to add a
nylon-tipped set screw, accessible from the side of the yoke, which allows
easy control of tension - eliminating any looseness. If your fine
adjustment screw feels too loose - it should be nice and firm - this is a
good feature to add.
- The Riser Block (which rides -on the Lead screw) has had two setscrew
adjustments on one side. We have added two more, on the reverse side.
These are positioned to improve stability and we have found that a finer
degree of accuracy of calibration is maintained with this feature.
- We have changed to new Lead screw ball bearings. These are capable of a
heavy preload - which translates to elimination of backlash in reversing
motion - while providing smooth and easy operation of the Vertical Knob.
If your machine feels excessively stiff in its up and down motion - or if
you detect some degree of vertical backlash - you should consider this.
- The alignment feature of the Dop Chuck has been changed. The spindle
modification of about 5 years ago provides improved chuck accuracy, and it
continues to. The alignment feature (the internal pin in the spindle
aligning with the groove in the chuck), however, for several reasons, has
been rethought, and we have now returned to a pin in the chuck which
engages an external groove on the spindle - out where you can see it, and
of proven sturdiness and accuracy. (The internal pin has been fine for
most, but there were enough comments received for us to re-evaluate the
feature) It is practical to modify existing product - and we will modify
as many chucks as you may have for the same price as modifying one. So, if
you are one who removes and reinserts chucks, you may want this
- Also on the subject of the Dop Chuck - we have improved the gripping
power of the brass collar, dividing it into four flexing segments. This is
useful if you are working on large stones. lf you send your Head in for
recalibration, we'll swap you a new collar for a n old one - as many as
you may have. If you just want new collars, they are on the price list
(and if you afterwards sent us back the old ones, that would be nice).
There is another change, one that does not require any modification of
existing equipment. It's a new technique for alignment of the Index Gear,
and involves a change in the gear hub. The hub has been larger to
accommodate a brass-tipped set screw which will grip firmly anywhere on
the Spindle, not needing the flat (and, on new Spindles the flat has been
eliminated). Instead of repeatedly aligning the Tabling Block to the Index
Gear, the Tabling Block is set once. Subsequent changes in the Index Gear
are made by setting the Tabling block in place, holding it down against a
flat lap, and setting the Index Gear to it. That's all a lot easier, and a
gear can be removed in this method and later reset to the same place. An
existing flat on the Spindle is no problem - the Spindle can be rotated so
the set screw bottoms elsewhere.
And speaking of Index Gears, we will accept orders for 32 teeth Index
Gears. We get many requests for these - people who became accustomed to
other machines that do offer a 32 seem to like them, and there are
published designs. (We should have them for immediate delivery, but we
have a mystery of missing inventory. Could anyone love 32's so much that
he wanted a box full? I'm about ready to remake them - at which time the
missing ones will appear - but not before. There is some Universal law
Now, that does seem like an awfully long list. I suffer from uneasiness
when I ask myself why we didn't do some of these things sooner - there's
the old saying: so soon old and so late smart. Actually, these
modifications all happened as the result of a specific effort to pay
attention to the sorts of things we would see on machines that had come in
for calibration, and to fine tune the design as much as possible. I always
think we are finally at the end of the line - but there's always
With the growth of the Guilds and the specialized faceting publications
that are available, my 'tips' folder is getting pretty skinny these days.
That's fine - if you are availing yourself of one or more of those. There
are a few worthy things kicking around in that folder, however, so here
- Bob Steel of White Oak Lapidary wrote to us with his
recommendations for a basic set of laps. He feels, and I must admit with
some justification, that Ultra Tec's recommendation for starting out is
too sparse. Bob recommends: a 260, 600, 1200, lucite, phenolic, steel(!),
along with a supply of 3000 and 100,000 diamond compound.
I think his letter deserves quoting (with a little editing for space). Bob
says: 'I recommend that the 260 be reserved for preforming and...main
facets on very large stones. A new 260 is very aggressive...it leaves very
deep scratches. This requires a cutting allowance for pre-polishing with
the 1200 which is difficult for the beginner to estimate.....
'I recommend the 600 for cutting large facets. It has a rapid cutting
action but leaves a much smoother surface for pre-polishing. The beginner
can cut close to the final facet size.
'I suggest the 1200 be used for all small facets.... a 1200 cuts quickly
and leaves a surface which can be taken to polish, but with difficulty.
This is where the phenolic comes in.
'I recommend using the phenolic lap with 3000 diamond compound...after the
1200. The result is a very high pre-polish, easily seen...and easily
brought to a final polish. It is a versatile lap and produces a flat
facet. It has particular value in polishing corundum. This saves wear and
tear on a 3000 diamond lap. ....this has some cutting action so care must
'The plain Steel lap can be used to polish stones harder than quartz. I
have used Steel with 100,000 diamond compound to polish garnet, peridot,
topaz, CZ, beryl, and corundum....It produces a very flat facet and an
excellent polish. It should be used at a very slow speed....I apply a very
little amount of diamond, spread it with my finger using a little olive
oil and then wipe it with tissue while running at low speed...I now use
spray diamond sparingly, but still have to wipe it a bit. Too much diamond
causes scratches and so will excessive speed....
'I recommend using the lucite lap with cerium oxide for quartz. The other
side of the lap can be used with tin oxide for glass.
'All beginners should be cautioned to care for their expensive diamond
laps. A good scrubbing with detergent and a stiff brush promptly after use
should be a rule...'
Well, I took some editing liberties with Bob's letter, but I think I
retained the main thrust of it. Of particular interest is the
recommendation to use the Steel lap (he's not named Bob Steel for
nothing!), and I still need to try it myself. Also, I've been recommending
a 3000 diamond lap with which I've had very good results, but Bob seems to
prefer the diamond compound on phenolic - he expresses some concern about
the life of the metal bonded 3000 diamond - I haven't experienced that
problem. He's also not in love with ceramic laps, but there are many
enthusiastic users of ceramic, including most of the competition cutters.
You will get varying advice in regard to laps. That advice, however, is
not so much conflicting as it is just other. And they are all 'right' in
the sense that they are passing along what has worked for them. There
seems to be enough subtle differences in the way individuals polish so
that what works for one person may not work for the other. But, you do
need to consider the advice that you get, and keep trying until you have
the 'right' way.
I get to speak to many facetors, and since I get many questions on
polishing, I jot down whatever recommendations I get on polishing laps -
so I can pass it along. Well, one question that keeps coming up is how to
polish CZ. My jotted down list of recommended laps includes: ceramic, tin,
tin-lead, Last Lap, Fast Lap, zinc, and now steel. How's that for a good
firm recommendation? - and I'll now get letters letting me in on the real
right lap. And you know, every one of those worked for somebody.
Well, as faceting tips go, that was a tip and a half, and I'11 save
several others for the next letter.
Miscellaneous happenings....Those of you who may have called Ultra Tec
realize that there is a new voice on the phone.
Dee Morrison has retired, after 8 years with Ultra Tec. Her
husband retired just a few months earlier and they are doing a lot of
travelling. They've been to Egypt and back, and now they are in China. The
'new [voice' belongs to Delores Sanchez.
Delores worked with Dee for about a month, so she's had sort of a head
start. If you have occasion to call, I'm sure you will find that she is
very helpful .
We were saddened to learn of the death of Dave Miller in an auto
accident some months ago. Dave, a resident of Flint, Michigan, was a super
facetor, and was known as the 'Grandfather of the Midwest Guild'. He'll be
missed by his many friends....to end on a more upbeat note, I'm looking
forward to seeing many of you at the Southern Califiornia Facetors Fair in
September - Stay well.
From your friends at Ultra Tec, and in particular, me.
Double Diamond Dodecagon
Lee S. Fent, of Newton, Kansas is and MD who really enjoys his
faceting. He is one of the many doctors who facet, finding the activity
both relaxing and re-invigorationg after a stressful day. And, he takes
the time to design a stone now and again
Lee sent us this photo of himself at his UltraTec workstation. I suspect
it's always nice and neat like that (it would take me three days of
He writes about the Double Diamond Dodecagon: The design was initially
developed in an attempt to disguise inclusions in some topaz that I picked
up in Brazil. As the design progressed, however, I found that the edge
brilliance was much greater than in the standard brilliants. I have cut
this form in many materials, varying only the poavilion facets to
accomodate other gem materials, this seems to be the best for stones from
8mm to 12mm. I have cut some smaller ones, but they are a little 'busy'.
Incidentally, the cut is an easy one.
For those of you who would like to try a harder version, Dr. Fent's Texas
friend, Dr. Henry Owens, recommends using the pavilion form his own
O'Henry Cut (the Double O'Diamond Dodecagon?)>
Double Diamond Dodecagon
96 Index Quartz
Angles - main angle 42 deg.
Index Position as in the diagram
Pavilion Cutting Instructions
PF1 Girdle angle
PF2 Break angle
PF3 Main angle
Crown Cutting Instructions
CF1 Girdle angle
CF2 Main #1 angle 35
CF3 Main #2 angle 24
CF4 Star angle
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