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  Author   Comment  
Jim Adams
Hi Everybody,

At this week's lapidary class with the Flint Rock and Gem Club I was busily grinding away when the stone promptly fell off the stick. About the same time one of the older members named Lee (who has taught me a lot in the last year or so) happened to be walking by. I held up the separated stick and stone and said, "Lee, what am I doing wrong? Could it be too much glue?" (Lee uses superglue like me.) He just shook he head and said, "Why are you still using wood?" Lee has a metal shop at home and can create just about whatever he wants. He said he stopped using wood about 30 years ago. I asked if it made that much of a difference, and he said, "Come here," waiving me over to his toolbox. So I gave up my coveted spot at the grinder and followed, knowing that I was about to add to my knowledge. He showed me one of his simpler dop sticks, which is made from a 1/4 inch wide brass brazing rod and a washer. He asked if I had a drill press, which I don't. He explained how he soldered the washer with silver solder and used a drill press to hold the piece perfectly flat to a grinder. He even let me borrow his as an example. So this was today's project. I drove all over town looking for 1/4 inch, round brass brazing rod but no one had it. Our local Industrial Supply did however have some bronze 1/4 inch rod that looked like it would serve the purpose. I had to make another stop to find brass washers that would fit, and went home to give this a shot. The washers were a bit loose, so I took a ball peen hammer and hammered them some to make the hole smaller. The soldering was difficult with my little micro-torch, barely making it hot enough for the solder to run. I used the flat side of my tool grinder to grind the washer end as flat as I could. They may not be pretty, but hopefully they will work. The big advantage with metal is that superglue dries much quicker, and when you're done with the stone you can just apply heat to the stem of the dop stick and the glue will soften up, releasing the stone. This should save a great deal of prep time. Here's how they turned out, with a chrome guitar slide holding them up.

Hopefully this will help others facing the same problems with wood dop sticks. I'll post back here and let everyone know if they're a success.
Phil Koble
Hey Jim

Looks like a great idea.I have never used anything but wood dowels and "so far" have not had much trouble with them or the Green dop wax.I'm sure I'll eventually graduate to something different,Plus I already have some brass rod & washers.Thanks for the knowledge.
Looks like a crafty piece of workmanship. I only use green wax and have only had few come off the dop and it was usually caused by my impatience. Either I didn't heat up the stone long enough or I was using too much force and shortened the life of the wheel.
Tom K.
Great job Jim.Where there's a will there's a way!

There's another way to make these that may help.A piece of either 1/4" round stock or 1/4" all threaded rod silver soldered to a 1/4" "fender" washer.The fender washers have a much smaller hole in them and have a bigger diameter.
You can file,grind or whatever the washer to suit the size(s) you need.
Also a big spike and a washer or just using the filed head of the spike will do.
I've also used long 1/4" and 3/8" bolts with ground heads as dop sticks.This eliminates the silver soldering.

I HATE using dop sticks but there are times when there is just no other way.

The reason the super glue doesn't stick to wood is that the wood is too porous and the glue is absorbed by it and causes air gaps.Super glue will only set in the absence of oxygen and the wood doesn't allow this.
If Super Glue is used properly "cures" in an instant or 2.
Hmmmmmm??? I wonder if you waited 4 instances for the glue to cure if it would be a "four instance"? LOL

Tom K.
Jack Cole

Engine values are nice for the larger stones, And they can be chuck`ed up in a cordless drill and use too turn out rounds.

When you run Chevy`s a lot you`l have a large pile of them.....
Don Peck
I have used engine valves, also. And they work great. Briggs & Stratton valves are about 3/4" in diameter and work on smaller stones for cabs.
jay bates
Wax works fine with wood dowels. I usually don't use epoxy, but if I do, I do not use it with wooden dowels. I have used large nails and commercially made metal dop sticks acquired cheaply from rockhound garage sales. Making my own dop sticks is not very high on my list of things to do.
Jim Adams
Hi Phil,
I only used wax once and it broke right between the stick and the stone. Too much pressure maybe? Now at least Lee won't get after me for 'still using wood'.

Thanks Traveler,
I guess what ever you use, the object is to get that bugger to stay on the stick. Hopefully this will solve the problem.

Hey Tom,
I've got some big spikes left over from putting up eaves troughs that should work for smaller cabs. When I couldn't find the brass rod I was considering threaded rod but didn't know how I would accomplish it. That's some good advice as usual.

Jack and Don,
Engine valves are a great idea! Lee said that he has used all kinds of things from nails to tiny pin heads.

It seems like lots of folks on here knew not to use glue with wood. It just took the right cajoling and prodding to get the info. What ever it takes.
Mike Streeter
Hey Jim,

Another great idea, and I'm soaking them all in!

Looks great but too big for the majority of the stones I do. Most of my cabbing is turquoise, and 1/2 inch dop heads would be too large.
I've used common nails, roofing nails, gutter spikes, wood dowels, even finishing nails. I've successfully glued cabs-to-be to wood dop sticks with white carpenters glue. But you have to soak them overnight to get them to release.. So I don't do that anymore. I do use that technique for slabbing rocks down to the last 1/4 inch on a slab saw... works great for that and never releases.
I mostly still use green wax. I get a percentage that pop, but that's usually because I didn't clean them right or let them get hot enough, or the unheated shop is so cold the water is too cold and causes release or something...
I've also tried glue guns, Several of my friends recommend them but I find they pop more than wax. Guess I'm doing them wrong cause they say they never pop.
After all is said and done, I still find green wax the most convenient, at least for turquoise where you can't use superglue. It penetrates and runs the stone because once penetrated like that, it essentially becomes stabilized material. Bad news, as that lowers the value hugely!

Hope this helps.

Jim Adams
Thanks Mike, that's what it's for.

Hi Phil,
I didn't know that about turquoise. Thanks for the info. It looks like any turquoise I work on will be done at the lapidary class where they always have a pot of dop wax heating up.
Yeah most people never connect the two. But Super glue is essentially a very thick and sticky Opticon. Once it soaks in, there's no getting it out. For turquoise wax or a hot melt glue gun is the way to go.

and dop sticks? try golf tees... just grind the top flat before you use it. I buy the unpainted ones if I can.

Good luck!
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