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   Summer 1984 Edition

Dear Ultra Tec Owner,

Greetings again from Ultra Tec! This is another in our series of when we-get-around-to-it newsletters.

There is not too much show news to report in the summer--most of the show activities are in the cooler months. This past July (yes, it was HOT), however, brought us the California Federation Show, this year in combination with the American Federation. It was in San Diego at the Convention Center, a very nice facility. Since it was only about 100 miles from us, it was like old-home week, but we did meet a few people from out of state.

One of the bright spots for us was a chance to visit with Earl and Ann Manor who had set up their faceting equipment and were demonstrating. Both Earl and Ann have Ultra Tecs (isn't that the right way?) and do a lot of teaching in the San Diego area. They had two very nice cases set up - one was an educational case showing the steps in faceting and the other a case of their work. In the latter case there was a new square cut design that Ann has developed, and it was extraordinary. Look for that design in a future issue of the 'Lapidary Journal'. Earl, who is an engineer, gave us some good ideas to think about (one of his ideas appears later in this letter).

Another highlight of the show was seeing Ultra Tec Facetor, Glenn Klein, who won the traditional Johansen Award. The award is given in a Three Stone Competition. In winning, Glenn scored 78 out of 80 possible points for workmanship. The winning cuts were a Capriccio Cushion Cut in white YAG, a Hexagonal Star in blue Spinel, and a Square Brilliant Synthetic Ruby. This is hardly the first time a major faceting award has brought Glenn's photo to these pages (and most likely not the last).

We also had a chance to visit with Donn Law, who several weeks earlier had won a Five Stone Competition at the San Diego County Fair. It took a little coaxing to get that story from him, but he was obviously proud of his achievement. It was his first entry into competition, and you can imagine how good it feels to start out that way. Donn is an Ultra Tec Facetor, who works in his family's lapidary shop, The Rock Farm, in San Marcos.

In the Best Case competition, the first position went to our old friend, Vern Johnson, with Glenn Klein as runner-up. It was easy to see the admiration for these two exceptional cases on the part of the viewers. Those gentlemen are both prior Ultra Tec Award winners, and it seems to be the fate of Ultra Tec Award winners to eventually win the national Federation award. I didn't have a chance to see Vern after the judging was announced, so I take this chance to send my congratulations. I did have a chance to 'swap lies' with him earlier in the show and I think I won that contest.

Right around the corner, along with cooler weather is the Southern California Faceters' Fair in Long Beach, at the Rochelles' Convention Center on September 8th and 9th. Not long after that is the Big Sky Show in Great Falls, Montana, on October 6th and 7th. And it's probably not too soon to plan for the International Faceters' Fair in San Jose, CA, January 26-27,1985.

There are no dramatic product announcements this time around, but there are some new things of interest which I think are in the very-nice category.


The first is an idea which came to us by way of several facetors who have rigged similar devices onto their machines. It is a 'Down-Indicator Light' (OK, you try to name it), which lights up when the angle stop makes contact. To a certain extent it is like the Dial Indicator Attachment - that is, the indicator light going on corresponds to the Dial Indicator reading zero (if you leave the mechanical stop engaged). Of course, the Down-Indicator doesn't give all the information or the flexibility that the Dial Indicator offers. The Down-Indicator does have a degree of accuracy that surprised us, however, showing a sensitivity of .0001 inch (2.5 microns) which was as far as we took the testing, so it is very good for accuracy. As the final position is approached, the light starts to flash - what it is showing are the 'hills and valleys' of the lap. Stopping at the first flashings is one way to do it. Even more accuracy can be obtained by waiting until the light is ON steadily, showing that a full down position has been reached. Even if the Dial Indicator Attachment does the job for you, it is nice to have an extra 'warning device' which attracts attention if you are looking away from the indicator. And, it is something which eases the work on your eyes-always welcomed. Nicely, the price of this device is comparatively easy to take, and there is a special first-time-around price which shares the savings of the higher volume of first orders. See the enclosed Product Bulletin.


Another new thing is a Pumping Unit - there is a description in the accompanying literature. As you know some design ideas are prompted by Industrial users and are passed along to amateurs and semi-pros (and frequently the other way around). This time the impetus came from Industrial users. One of the things that Industrial users complained about was the need to replenish the drip tank, particularly when under steady use. I don't think it is a problem for most people, but it might be for some (for example, those who are not located close to their supply of water or who may be waking someone else up if you are given to late night faceting). The Pumping Unit has a one gallon capacity (four times the capacity of the drip tank). It comes with a faucet and an adapter fitting which fits into the Base Plate, using the same hole that the Water Tank post uses. There was a temptation to make the tank larger, but we used the gallon capacity since most people use a one gallon jug as a drain reservoir. Matching those capacities eliminates the overflow problem at the drain bottle; when it is time to refill the pump, it is time to empty the drain.

Unfortunately, good quality pumps, fittings, holding tanks, cases, etc. are expensive, and the price of this unit is $230. - that was OK for commercial users who convert their time into money, but is probably steep for most facetors. We have it, however, and I expect that some of you may be interested. Availability may be limited since I imagine these would be made on an as-ordered basis, and mostly for commercial users.

If you have thought about plumbing your unit directly, incidentally, the faucet that comes with the pumping unit can be obtained separately. If you need to know more about it, send us a note and ask. Permanent plumbing, incidentally, would not restrict the portability of your unit, since the faucet can be removed very easily and the Water Tank post reinstalled.


You may remember the name of Dr. Henry Owens (who designed the O'Henry Cut of a few letters back). Dr. Owens has been interested in the grinding and polishing process and has developed a water additive which has been named Poliflow. This speeds and improves the effectiveness of the process.

Studies have shown that the polishing process, when using oxides (cerium, aluminium, etc.) is primarily a chemical process. Sparing you the details of the chemistry, it is enough to know that the additive really works to help the process along. It cleans the lap quickly, both grinding and polishing and incidentally, lap life. Functioning as a wetting agent, it reduces the amount of water flow that is necessary to about 1/3 to 1/5 the normal rate. Although it is an expensive additive, it goes a long way.

Reports that we have gotten from professional facetors who have evaluated the additive indicate it is very good and often changes a stubborn polishing stone to a fast easy-one. Reg Thompson, who many of you know for his writings on faceting and his faceting designs, is one of the people who performed evaluation and continues to use it. If you would like to try Poliflow, we will sell one bottle on an introductory basis for $2.50. After September 15th the price will remain the same, but will be sold in six packs for $15.00. And if you understand what the paperwork shuffle is like you will understand the reason for that.


There is also a new book from Long and Steele. It is Volume Five and deals with round stones. This is still another volume in the popular series that started several years ago. And, again, they bring this volume to us at a very low price.


During my last spurt of faceting I fished through my box of "old stuff" and came up with a 96 "quadrant gear". It was something that was started years ago by Howard Stanley. Those of you who remember Howard surely knew him to be a very logical person in his approach to faceting. The illustration shows you what it would take quite a few words to describe. It is a very logical gear, and of great assistance to anyone who does designing of gem cuts. The logic of the gear also assists in the cutting of a similar design, repeatedly. It allows you to memorize the design very quickly (without really trying).

The only flaw - and it is not the fault of the quadrant gear - is that instructions are written for continuously numbered gears. For any symmetrical design, however, the instruction for the first quadrant would be the same for the remaining three quadrants, and I found that I caught on very quickly. I liked it (and those of you 'in on the know' understand that the decision on whether we manufacture some item depends mostly on whether I like it). So, we will be making some of these. You will note the price is higher than our standard gears which we make in comparatively large quantities.


After the San Diego Show, Earl Manor sent us the following information about cutting Cabochons on the Ultra Tec. I thought we would pass it along. The following is a quote from Earl:
The Ultra Tec is a wonderful machine for faceting gems, but Ann Manor of La Mesa, CA also uses her Ultra Tec to produce fine cabochons. This is the method she has developed.

Stones are dopped on wooden dop sticks and are shaped on diamond bonded laps. It may take a getting the hang of it, but she says it is just as easy to shape a stone against a flat horizontal cutting surface as against a cylindrical vertical wheel. After progressing through successively finer laps we come to the really different part of her method.

A series of laps are made using 1/4" thick tempered masonite, 8" in diameter with a 1/2" center hole. A 1/4" thick sponge rubber disc is cemented to the back side of the masonite disc with rubber cement. (Sponge rubber discs are available from most lapidary supply firms). On the rubber is placed a "Crystalite" CRYSTALPAD (adhesive backed). These laps are then charged with diamond compound in grit sizes from 260 to 100,000. Using these successively the cabochon can be brought to an exceptionally fine surface. For the final stage of polishing, instead of a Crystalpad Ann uses a suede-like Polypad, and for polishing opal and softer stones she uses Cerium Oxide. For jade use Linde "A" or "B", and for corundum (mainly star stones), she finishes them with a 100,000 grit diamond spray.

For best results in cutting jade cabochons, Ann has found it best to omit the sponge rubber under the Crystalpad, this eliminates the tendency of jade to "orange-peel" in polishing.

Here's a sound idea passed along to us by Gil Decker. For any of a variety of reasons you may choose to interrupt the faceting of a stone. If that interruption includes the removal of the Index Gear, you will want to get the Index Gear reassembled in the same lateral position. That can be done by aligning your 45 degree adapter so it is square to the Index Gear before you remove it, and then reversing the procedure when you reinstall the gear, that is, before tightening the screw that holds the Index Gear, on the reinstallation, first line up the 45 degree adapter on the lap and then tighten the screw.

As you know when I recommended Ultra Laps for polishing, I have alerted you to the bit of edge rounding that occurs. I felt the rounding was absolutely insignificant unless you were cutting for competitive purposes. In a conversation at the show, however, Glenn Klein reported that he got very good edges using Ultra Laps if he used the adhesive type rather than using water to hold the lap. That makes sense since the layer of water would be a cushion. So, those of you who might be cutting competitive stones may wish to reconsider Ultra Laps.

An idea sent to us by Bob Steele of South Bend, Indiana was to use the top end of the lamp shade on your machine as a dark field illuminator for viewing gem rough. It works--and it doesn't get lost like special devices do.

In our prior newsletter there was a tip about realigning a stone that had been knocked off the dop. H. E. Hood of Orange, Texas wrote to us about it and pointed out that a felt tip pen (of the permanent-marking, not the water soluble type) is an excellent way to mark a facet so you can see how it is making contact on the lap. I have found this type of pen is very handy when working on an intricate stone with small facets as it helps confirm that I am making contact where I think I am. (Now, that is an embarrassing thing to admit). But I bet I'm not the only person who that happens to, and who can benefit from the felt tip pen.

To wrap this up before we ramble on to another page, we have just a bit of miscellany: If you send your machine in for calibration or repair, please include a short note. Do that even if you have had a conversation with someone before sending it. We do keep notes of those conversations and we have a place to keep them, but guess what? Factory calibration, incidentally, barring some unusual complication is $30.00.. ..If you live in the area of Redding, CA and want to make contact with a faceting group, get in touch with Bob Moulton . Bob is relatively new to Redding, but he is an eager facetor who provides lessons. His phone number is 916/243-9096....Here at UltraTec we have a new member of the team. His name is Gus Munoz....And now we really have to sign off, so that we leave room for a gem design on the other side of this page.

So long for now.


Norm Stone Designs the 'WHICH WAY UP' cut

Norm Stone can always be trusted to have something special to show - usually at the San Jose Faceters' Fair where we see him each year. First comes the mischievous smile and then--"do you want to see something nice?" Last show's "something nice" really was--and I asked Norm for the cutting instructions. Here they are. No, there's no diagram to look at and I'm not quite sure how I'd draw it--it's a 3-sider and each side the same?

Here's Norm's words about it: I call this my "which way is up?" Tri-Quad. Actually it's a step cut Tetrahedon, but Tri-Quad is briefer.
The idea for the cut originated in my trying to come up with an unusual design to be cut and put in the San Francisco Gem & Mineral Society's Showcase in memory of our deceased member and former Faceting Instructor, Joe Campton. After cutting several stones (none of them particularly unique), I thought of a triangle, but what is unique about a triangle??? Then I got the idea for making all sides equal. That I thought was unique. The prototype took approx. 4 weeks from concept to finished stone, as I had to fine tune the angles and indexes to make the stone come out equilateral on all faces.

Following are the cutting instructions:


120 Index          Angles for ALL materials

Inasmuch as this is a deep stone, a very light coloured material is advisable.

Flat Lap one side of stone and dop on flat side.


Step     Angle              Index                              Remarks

1       70.5        120-40-80                                Preform
2       56.4        14-26-54-66-94-106                Until approx 60% of table width
3       44.5        20-60-100                                Just enough for Girdle thickness
4       59.5        9-111-31-49-71-89                  Level girdle
5                                                                        Polish in the reverse order


A briolette dop is suggested

Step     Angle              Index                              Remarks

1       82.5             0-40-80                                 Fix girdle width
2       67.5             0-40-80
3       54.5             0-40-80
4       42.5             0-40-80
5       27.0             0-40-80
6                                                                        Polish in the reverse order

Note:   It may be necessary to adjust any or all of the above angles, in order to keep the facets parallel.


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