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   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), tell us.

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.

WHAT'S NEW?

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 computer.

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 improved.

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 faceting library.

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 worthwhile.

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 rough.

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 is sufficient.

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.

Sincerely,

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