Answers to users’ frequently asked questions

Index – Sections

1. Faceting Machine Upgrades – General

2. The Keyed Spindle Upgrades

3. Digital Angle Display (DAD)

4. The V5 Configuration

5. Fantasy and Concave Machines

6. Owners Manuals

7. Dops

8. Calibration & Repairs

9. Right and left handed machines

10. People at Ultra Tec

11. Accessories

12. Techniques and Materials

13. Second-Hand Machines

14. Buying a Machine


1. Faceting Machine Upgrades – General

Over the years there have been many upgrades-some of them apparent, and affecting the way the machine is used, and some less apparent, affecting the internal precision.
Q. Can my machine be upgraded?

A. Yes. Any upgrade can be made to any Ultra Tec. We keep to our long-time pledge to never make machines “obsolete” – that is, we will not design an upgrade that cannot be retrofit to an existing machine. But, of course, upgrades are more or less critical in terms of operation, and are more or less expensive, so it is up to you to evaluate and decide.

The MAJOR upgrades, in order of their introduction, are these: 1) the Keyed Spindle System; 2) the Digital Angle Display (DAD); 3) the V5 Mast configuration. They are individually discussed below.

Q. Does it make sense, if I have an old never-upgraded machine, to install the three major upgrades?

A. All three? Probably not – all three would cost about 70% of the price of a new Mast, and the new mast would have the many not-quite-major upgrades done over the years – so if you need all three, a new Mast makes better sense.

2. The Keyed Spindle System Upgrade – introduced 1991

Q. My machine has the old “Dop Chuck” retention system. Can I, and should I get the current Keyed Spindle System?

A. Yes – this has proven to be an excellent upgrade. It provides better dimensional accuracy than the preceding Dop Chucks – and better long –range stability and reliability. The Keyed Spindle positions the directly-inserted dop, controlling both radial position and depth of insertion. It allows for removal of the dopped stone and later reinsertion to an exact position. The Kit includes the indexed Transfer Block and the short extension Tabling Adapter-both significant features in themselves. – A significant detail: in about 1997, most Ultra Tec faceting machines had been upgraded to the Keyed Spindle, and the demand for them practically vanished. With that situation, Dop Chuck production was halted – so, the chance of getting a replacement Dop Chuck is very close to zero.

Q. If I do get the Keyed Spindle System, system, can I install it myself?

A. Yes. But, our recommendation is to have it done at the factory. Disassembly of your old Spindle can be stubborn – after all, your assembled Mast has been that way since before 1991. If you have the installation done at the factory, there’s no additional cost for it, and you will benefit from getting a free calibration and adjustment at the same time.

Q. If I get the Keyed Spindle System, can I use my old Dops (I see that the keyed Dops are different)?

A. Yes. The new Dops have a 45° chamfer at the rear. You can add that angled end yourself – you just need to grind an “eyeballed” 45° onto the old Dop — the angle is not at all critical, you can miss by a lot, as long as you grind it flat.

3. Digital Angle Dial

Q. I have an Analog Angle Dial on my machine – should I upgrade to the DAD?

A. Well, there’s no “urgency” about it, but the improvement is dramatic. The DAD is a major upgrade. The DAD eliminates a possible angular setting error, providing a more consistent and accurate setting (with your old analog Angle Dial, you are probably familiar with going back to recheck the setting, often more than once. With the DAD, you set it once – no guessing, no squinting –exactly on target and easy to read.

The DAD — easily, surely and repeatably — is set to a hundredth of a degree position, .01° – (you will find that most recent gem diagrams do specify angles to .01°). With a DAD, the ease and assurance in setting that .01° angle – translates into both comfort and speed.

Q. Can I install the DAD myself?

A. Yes, you can. Many people have purchased the DAD Kit and self-installed it. To see the instructions on how to install and calibrate the DAD, please click here. On the other hand, we do like to recommend your doing it at the factory — if you do, there’s no extra charge for the assembly, and along with it comes a free adjustment and calibration.

Q. Can the DAD be mounted on an older Ultra Tec Faceting Machine?

A. Yes! The DAD can be retro-fit to all Ultra Tec Masts – however old it may be. You can see a picture of a 40 year-old machine retro-fitted with a DAD (installed by the owner) in the January 2009 Sometimes Bulletin.

Q. If I get the DAD, will I still use a Dial Indicator Attachment? And, what about the Stop Indicator, which seems to be similarly affected by the functions of the DAD?

A. You can leave both the Dial Indicator Attachment and the Stop Indicator in place – they will work (if you “like” seeing the Dial Indicator action, leave it there – it’s an “old friend”). But the DAD makes the Dial Indicator Attachment and the Stop Indicator redundant – the DAD does it all! DAD shows the gradual approach and final arrival at the target angle, reading out all the way. It also has a buzzer (optionally on) that signals reaching the target angle.

Q. When I get the DAD, what do I do with the old analog Angle Dial?

A. Save it. It will be a “spare tire”. Don’t expect that you’ll ever need it – it’s something like the spare tire in today’s automobiles – so infrequently needed that they don’t supply a “real” tire anymore (we’ve even had 3 cases where new DAD-equipped machine buyers bought an analog “spare tire” – Have any of those been used? Never).

Q. What is the warranty on the DAD?

A. There is a 5 year pro-rated warranty. If Ultra Tec confirms that replacement is needed because of malfunction, the old DAD is traded-in, and the replacement made under the following schedule –

If DAD replacement is needed during…:

year 1, no charge;

year 2, no charge;

year 3, 30% of current price;

year 4, 50% of current price;

year 5, 75% of current price.

This was based on four years of experience, during which the DAD has proven to be very reliable. How many replacements over that time? One – and it was a no-charge, that DAD being a bit under 2 years in use.

4. The V5 Mast configuration – introduced 2012

Q. Is the V5 configuration a departure from the tried and true Ultra Tec design?

A. Actually it retains all of the basic concepts that were embodied in the original design (which are still “tried and true”) but it is a leap forward in firmness and speed – to such a degree that the new V5 designation has been applied.

Q. The V5 upgrade represents a very big change – seven major components involved – does it make sense to install the upgrade to an old V2?

A. The cost of the V5 upgrade is about 1/3 of the price of a new V5 Mast – so, financially, it makes very good sense. Of course, you should be satisfied with the performance with the existing performance of the “front end” (the radial angle setting, the Angle Stop, the Quill, etc) – before proceeding. If you have doubts about it, discuss it with us.

5. Fantasy and Concave Machines – introduced 2010

Q. I’m not a faceter, yet – but I’ve been thinking about it. But I want to know: if I get a Classic Faceting Machine, will I later “have-to” get a Fantasy Machine? – will I be embarrassed by doing “just” classic faceting?

A. You don’t “have-to” – and you may well not “want-to” become involved with Fantasy cutting. Our current estimate is that about one in six classic faceters will also go into fantasy or concave cutting (that’s an uptick from our original one in ten estimate – but we’re still guessing). Sure, some classic faceters are kept back by the additional expense, but in most cases, it’s not the expense, it is more a question of desire. In general, the classic faceter is happy with what he’s doing (and several professional classic faceters have even expressed a distaste for fantasy cuts – saying that they lack the purity — the very classicism of what is now called classic faceting). Those were award-winning well respected cutters talking – proud of their work. They are not, and you would not be embarrassed by doing “just” classic faceting.

Q. I love the look of fantasy and concave cut stones – but they look incredibly complicated and difficult to do – do I dare to get into it?

A. If you are someone who can successfully do classic cutting, there’s no doubt that you will find that extending to fantasy and concave cutting is comparatively easy. There’s a little more thinking involved, but the process is the same (grind – polish). It is good if you are someone who likes to use your imagination – and has artistic instincts – because that’s where it tends to take you.

Q. How do I know that I will like Fantasy cutting?

A. Well, think back to when you got into faceting in the first place. It’s a lot like that was – if you think you will like it, you will.

6. Owners Manluals

Q. I lost my V2 faceting machine Owners Manual. How can I get another copy?

A. We do sell hard copies of the owners manual, just contact us to find out how. You can also download a copy of the current manual by clicking here. We do not have manuals dating back to the old Dop-Chuck times (lost during the conversion of old-time hard-copy files to digital computer files – sorry – but the current manual will provide most of the information you need)

7. Dops

Q. New Dops – The current Dops have an angular cut at the rear. I know this functions an alignment feature for the current Keyed-Spindle design – but, can I use these new rear-chamfer Dops in my older machine – in a Dop Chuck?

A. Yes. They are a little bit shorter, but they will work OK.

Q. Old Dops – I have Dops that date back to the time that I used Dop Chucks – with no rear end chamfer. Can I use these no-rear-end-chamfer Dops in a current Spindle?

A. Yes. You can use them, flat backed as they are. If a non-chamfered Dop is removed and reinserted, you’d have depth-of-insertion control, but not rotational positioning. You can pretty easily add that rotational-positioning feature by adding the rear chamfer to the Dop – you just need to grind an “eyeballed” 45° onto the old Dop — the angle is not at all critical, you can miss by a lot, as long as you grind it flat.

8. Calibrations And Repairs

Q. Do I need to have the Mast calibrated periodically?

A. No. But, consider calibration if there’s some problem that you see, or if you suspect some damage. In that event, contact us and we’ll arrange for the work.

Q. If I suspect the need of a calibration, adjustment or repair – what should I do?

A. Contact us (email – info@ultratec-facet.com, or telephone 714 542 0608) – and we’ll discuss it with you. Your “problem” might be something for which we can give you instruction. If we decide, however, between us, that sending the machine (or just the Mast or the Base) is the best course of action, we’ll send you a Return Material Authorization (an RMA), which represents paperwork for documenting and carrying through the needed action.

Expense? Well, obviously, it depends on the extent of the problem. Before you send the equipment, we will have discussed the matter, and have come up with a estimate – so, before sending it in, you’ll have an idea of cost – and will have given an OK for a certain amount. The most typical bills – calibration and adjustment – are $150 to to $250. If there are major problems — necessitating disassembly and part replacement, costs, on the average, rise an additional $250. We can almost always detect the presence of a “major problem” at an early inspection stage, at which point we are only about $50 into it—at which point we’d notify you with a more exact estimate, for you to say stop or go-ahead.

9. Right & Left-Side Machines

Q. Does Ultra Tec offer faceting machines that have Masts mounted to the left as well as right-mounted Masts?

A. Yes.

Q. I understand that most right-handed people use a machine with the Mast mounted to the right and most left-handed people use a left-mounted Mast. Now, I’ve been listening, and there are people who say that a right-handed person should use a left-mounted Mast (and, of course, that left handed people should use a right-mounted Mast). Who’s correct?

A. Yes, the “argument” continues, but experience has taught us, that regardless of the arguments, a user becomes adjusted to either side – it really doesn’t matter

Historically, Ultra Tec offered a right-left option. But, from 1999 to 2008, accepting the “it really doesn’t matter” theory, we decided to produce only Mast-on-right machines (it simplified our inventory). But we learned (again) to stay out of arguments, and we brought back the left-side option. Ultra Tec again offers the customer a choice of a right or left – an option that existed from 1965 to 1998.

10. People at ULTRA TEC

Q. If I call Ultra Tec, does a “real person” answer?

A. Yes – we’ve stayed away from automatic answering systems (there is a voice mail to leave a message when it is not business hours). There is a very capable team here able to assist with your all your technical or delivery questions.

Q. What’s the best way to deliver my message.

A. The telephone is great – but email is probably the most effective. It is monitored every day, early and late. A “general” email to info@ultratec-facet.com will be directed to the right person.

Q. Is Joe Rubin still actively working?

A. Joe, who still writes most of the Sometimes Bulletin is – what he calls – “retired”, which means that he works almost daily at his home computer – and is in the factory, about one day each week. If you feel that you need to speak to him personally, we’ll get him to the phone, or he’ll call you back. His email is joe@ultratec-facet.com.

11. Accessories

Q. Is there any Accessory that I must have?

A. No – although most new machine orders include the Lamp and several Index Gears (96 comes with the machine, and available, in order of popularity: 64, 72, 80, 120, 77, 32). There is a list of accessories – all “special purpose” – see if you need or another.

12. Techniques Aan Materials

Q. For dopping, Ultra Tec recommends Loctite 404 – is that the “best” dopping material?

A. Quite a few years ago we experimented and came up with Loctite 404 as being the best “super glue” (cyano acrylate) to use. All “super glues” are not the same – Look at the Loctite lineup and you will find many (406, 460, 495 etc) specification-controlled items. What you are getting when you go to the hardware store and buy a generic “super glue” is a non-specification controlled item – likely the bottom of the various barrels, mixed together and so not completely predictable in its performance

We don’t know if using 404 is truly “the best” technique – but it works consistently well for us, and consistent performance is important (we avoid arguments about “better” techniques – they may well be, but, we’ve used Loctite 404 and put that concern aside)

You don’t have to buy it from us. You can find it cheaper elsewhere (we buy a small quantity and mark it up). I recommend getting the small .33 oz. container – it looks tiny but it will do quite a few stones – usually, you only use a drop or less. Put the date on the bottle and throw it out when it is a year old (a very good reason for not getting a big bottle). Keep it in the refrigerator.

After dopping it’s a good idea to wait and allow it to set up completely. You can work with it after 10 minutes or so, but a wait of a few hours is much better (or over-night).

13. Second Hand Machines

Q. I’ve seen a 2nd hand Ultra Tec faceting machine for sale – Should I buy it ?

A. While we still feel that the 2nd Best machine on the market is a “used” Ultra Tec, most second hand machines are a distant second. Joe Rubin went into some detail about this very subject in the the article Why you should NOT buy a used faceting machine (pdf)

14. Buying a Machine

Q. Its time for me to buy the World’s finest faceting machine – How do I go about buying an Ultra Tec ?

A. Take a look at our list of Sales Representatives – please speak to the nearest person to you. We have a growing team both in the USA and Internationally. If you don’t see anyone local, contact us and we’ll be pleased to help. All orders are placed with the factory, ensuring that your price is always the same, whoever and wherever you are.

Note: We hope that we’ve answered most of your questions in this FAQ, regarding our faceting machinery and accessories. If you still have questions, please e-mail us at info@ultratec-facet.com