Helpful Rockhounding Tips
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A good place to keep saw blades for silver smithing is in a used, transparent "Bic" ballpoint pen. Birdie
Nichols of Chagrin Falls, OH, removes the used pen filler by grasping the metal tip with pliers. The empty
pen will hold a package of 12 saw blades which can be kept clean by replacing the plastic cap. A label
marker will help identify which size blade is stored. Small drills can also be stored this way.
For field tripping in areas with no water, carry a can of shaving cream, push-button type, for cleaning
hands. A squirt, a washing motion of the hands, then wipe off. Presto! Clean hands!
We recommend sawing about 10 degrees away from directly parallel to the grain. This way, when you
dome the stone, you will get a bullseye effect. Malachite is a fairly soft stone, so try to leave the slabs a
little thicker than other materials. When grinding, we recommend always wear a breathing mask.
Malachite can be toxic and can make you very ill. After grinding sand first on a new 600 sanding belt, then
finish sanding on a very worn out 600. Finally, for polishing, we recommend ZAM on hard felt. Give the
stone a little extra time and the polish will keep coming up better.
When sawing geodes, look for the largest dome on the specimen. This dome was in an upright position
while it was formed. Saw through the largest dome and it is likely you will get the best picture. If the
specimen is elongated or egg-shaped, saw lengthwise to obtain the best exposure. While there is no certain
means to determine the interior of an agate nodule, or geode, these ideas are likely to be beneficial.
Fire Agate is actually a chalcedony with a layer of iridescent limonite which is trapped between the layers of
chalcedony. The layer is so thin that it is sometimes less in thickness than a breath upon a window pane. The
deposition of limonite is such that a dense spot is where the best colors are usually dominant. This form of
"fire agate" is usually botryoidal. Work with caution!
When you get too much solder on a spot when making silver jewelry, and try to file it off, the process takes
quite a while. To get rid of the excess solder without filing, take a narrow strip of silver 1/8 inch wide by
3/4 inch long and cut a slit in one end. Heat the piece with excess solder on it and touch the cut strip to the
excess solder, which will flow up the cut.
Anyone who works with flat silver in making jewelry will soon realize that sooner or later every scratch in
metal has to be removed. Common transparent contact paper, the sticky kind with removable backing paper
is the answer. Place it on each side of the silver sheet for protection. Moreover, it accepts and holds india
ink pen lines and will not pull loose when you are sawing through it and the silver.
Never sleep in a freshly cleaned sleeping bag. The carbon tetrachloride used in the cleaning process can
put you to sleep permanently! When you have a sleeping bag cleaned, air it well before using.
Using a stick or eye dropper to drop some weak hydrochloric acid on a scrap piece of calcite, watch what
happens. The hydrogen ion in the acid causes the carbonate to become unstable and breaks apart the
carbon and oxygen molecules and combines with the hydrogen to become carbonated water. The "fizz" is
a good identification factor for carbonate rocks.
These tips are just a small sample of the knowledge available through the collective membership of the
club! There's no faster way for you to boost your rock-hounding interest to the next level than through
joining the SARM!
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