March 1984 Edition
Dear Ultra Tec Owner,
If my memory serves me right, I started a newsletter this time last year
with some poetic comment about "the crack of baseball bats reminding
me...", etc. Well, last Saturday as I sat in the warm sun (obviously
here in California)-, watching my son play his first baseball game of the
year and that bit of poetry popped back into my head. and I was reminded
what Springtime means: Spring Newsletter --and there I was just sitting
back and relaxing. Guilt lost out that day.
Today, driven by guilt or whatever, I'm ready.
For those of you who purchased an Ultra Tec fairly recently (or who asked
to get on the mailing list), you are herewith receiving your first Owners'
Newsletter. We write sometimes, usually two or three times a year. We
write a bit of news, some faceting hints, a gem diagram and I get a chance
to pop off. We certainly welcome ideas from you that can be passed
along-so if you have come up with some good technique (even a minor one),
Since the last newsletter we attended three shows--the Facetors Fair given
by the Southern California Facetors' Guild, the International Facetors
Fair in San Jose, and the annual big show at Tucson. Going to the shows
means a lot of hauling out of display materials, travel and long hours on
the show floor, but we feel it is well compensated for by the chance to
meet the Ultra Tec "family", share some faceting ideas and talk
to people who are thinking about getting into faceting.
One of the interesting bits of show activity occurred at a show we didn't
manage to attend--the California Federation Show. There, the particularly
interesting event was the winning of the traditional O'Brien Trophy by
Anthony Agnello, an Ultra Tec facetor who lives in Michigan (yes,
Michigan). In our last letter we talked bout Mr. Agnello's success in
competition and now he has continued his winning ways, entering shows by
mail, a long way from home. In addition to the O'Brien Trophy he won
another West Coast award at the Southern California Facetors' Fair in the
Best Three Stone competition. We send Anthony Agnello our congratulations.
And to those of you "on the competitive fence", let it be a
lesson, TRY IT! Even if you do not win, it will be educational since the
judges will note their observations of your submitted stones. It was for
that latter reason that Anthony, a self-taught facetor, tried competition
in the first place. And see what happened.
If you are looking for a good competition to enter, check out the
information on the Big Sky Facetors Show(it is enclosed with this letter).
Back to the shows that were. This year's winner of the Ultra Tec Award
for the Best Case at the International Facetors Fair in San Jose was Bill
Olsen of nearby Santa Clara. Bill did the work on a machine he built - and
an explanation is in order that he is a master machinist working as a
model maker in the Bay Area. Bill, who has been faceting for 20 years, is
a member of the Campbell Rock Club, so, many congratulations to Bill. He
will be cutting the Ultra Tec Trophy Stone for next year's award,
continuing the tradition.
At the same show the Masters Trophy was won by Vern Johnson - it's a
single stone competition--which ended with four competitors having scores
ranging from 98.75 to 100! How would you like to be a judge in that one?
Next year the required stone is Topaz. So you competitors out there, who
would like a prestigious competition without having to prepare many
stones, this is a good one to try (and you bet, the competition is tough).
Just a last word about competition. We always do write about "the
winner". In faceting, however, the most important aspect of
competition (although no one talks much about it) is competing with
yourself--much as a runner is interested in his own personal running time.
We have seen competitions in which 99.5 places third and competitions
where 80 placed first. We think that the most important part of it all is
learning about your own faceting, so you can take the next step of
improvement. In competition you learn from expert judges just where your
stones could be better (even your best friends won't tell you). In twelve
years of watching competitions, I've never seen anyone "put
down" for a relatively low score. I have seen people with low scores
gain understanding and come back later with very high scores (as a matter
of fact, almost always). You might find you are better than you thought. I
know competition is not for everyone, but if shyness or nervousness is
keeping you out, take a breath and overcome it. The payback is worth it.
As the showbiz folks say, "In response to popular demand!..."
Ultra Tec now has an improved Angle Dial readout. Hardly increasing the
outside size of it, the angular spacings have been increased 30%. That
makes it even easier on the eyes and consequently improves repeatability.
The increase in size makes it equivalent to a 12 inch diameter protractor.
While we were at it we made the vernier readout in .1° increments, a bit
more comfortable when working with gem diagrams that come off the
The working parts of the Angle Dial have not been changed - we had no
desire to tamper with the proven reliability of the Angle Dial. The ball
bearings, the anti-backlash spring, the gearing,--the "heart and
muscles" of the device are the same. It is the readout that has been
If you think you will want to update your machine with the new Angle Dial,
pay attention to the initial offer. The information is attached.
Something else new is a second volume of Diagrams For Faceting from Glenn
Vargas. It is designated Volume II (making the old Gem Diagrams, Volume
I). If you are like me, you can't have too many designs to mull over
before making a choice for that new piece of gem rough. This book brings
you over 150 diagrams. This Vargas book is a welcome addition to the
We have modified the Facet Saw Kit. The Saw Blade now has a 1/2 inch
arbour hole, providing immediate centring (and eliminating the manouvering
necessitated by the old 5/8 inch hole). If you have an old adapter with a
5/8" guide diameter, you will find it will work just fine with the
1/2" diameter saw. If the time comes to replace the saw blade (and,
of course, if you wish), you can send in the adapter and we will machine
it--eliminating the 5/8" step. You pay the postage and there will be
no charge for the machining.
I am sure that this improvement will encourage more use of the Facet Saw
Kit, since it eliminates the bit of hassle with the 5/8" hole. With
the ever-increasing price of gem rough the capability that the Facet Saw
Kit offers the facetor--that is, to save useable cut off material rather
than grind it away--is increasingly welcome. Also, the time saving is
When we first came out with the saw, quite a few years ago, we did not
realize the sort of precise work that some people would put it to. I
remember getting a letter from one of our facetors who said he was having
difficulty sawing in the main facets. Before we could send back a letter
saying that was too ambitious a use of it, we received another letter from
the man saying, "forget my first letter; I am putting in those mains
just fine now." Well, I still don't try that myself--perhaps I just
haven't gotten up the nerve, but I sure make good use of the Facet Saw Kit
and I find it a great pleasure to get that extra little stone from my gem
There are a few things in the "faceting hints file":
A facetor, who spoke to us in Tucson, suggested this method for initial
dopping of the stone, that is, aligning the stone on the first dop: Hold
the bottom side of the rough stone (the portion destined to be the
pavilion) on a dop, attached opposite the dop you will be cementing to,
with modelling clay. Then, if you place it into a transfer fixture, you
can move the stone around in the clay until you determine the best
alignment. Then apply whatever dopping cement you use. That might save you
a few redoppings.
A why-didn't-we-think-of-that idea was called in by John Gullach. He
suggested the use of an Allen Head screw (a hex type) to hold in the Gear
Segment (the detent) replacing the slotted head. Unlike a screw driver,
the Allen Wrench holds the screw and you have a hand free to hold the
Segment and the Spacer. Good idea - we are putting an Allen Screw on new
machines now (if you send in for something - ask us for one). Of course,
expect a big sale on slotted head screws.
Someone told us that he freezes dops in order to clean them - and the old
wax pops off easily.
Bob Tobi offered a suggestion for realignment of a stone that may have
moved or come off the dop while polishing. After redopping you can check
the facet position as follows:
1. Place a small piece of soft paper on the lap. One or two square inches
2. Lower the stone to make an impression on the paper. A perfectly aligned
stone will make an impression that is the same size and shape as the
facet. The impression of a misaligned facet may be a point, a line caused
by one of the edges of a facet, or an angular impression resulting from
two intersecting edges of the facet.
3. If the facet is not flat on the lap inspect both the impression and the
facet. Decide whether to raise or lower the facet head and whether or not
the cheater needs to be adjusted. It may take several adjustments before a
true impression of the facet can be made on the paper.
4. When the facet is aligned continue polishing.
5. Repeat the procedure for each facet to be polished.
This procedure takes surprisingly little time. It is especially helpful
when aligning or polishing small facets that are difficult to see. It is
also useful when a stone is redopped to refinish a facet.
Thank you, Bob.
Coming soon--really--is a new Owners' Manual. We are down to the final
details. We will have more information about that in our next newsletter.
Until then - we send you our best regards.
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