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Using Leeco dop wax

Just got some Leeco Dop wax from graves (ordered from rock peddler) i struggle using wax and realy need some help . Im afraid to crack the stone and/or it moving when i transfer . So im asking an engineer at work to make me some sort of heating device to melt wax and slowly warm up the stone . These guys at work make Extrusion Machines to make medical tubing so im sure they can whip up something so im asking for ideas here . Thanks all to reply :smile:

Dopping with wax takes practice; there is a significant learning curve. But remember, cutters have been using high temp wax for a very, very long time; the great majority of stones cut today and throughout history have been done with wax dopping. It works and works well once you master the technique. I use wax almost exclusively, only making exceptions for particularly heat sensitive stones.

I’ve never cared for Leeco wax, but others will use no other type, so I’m certain its a matter of familiarity. They did it, you can too.

There are commercially made hot plates for melting wax and heating stones simultaneously (Rockpeddler probably has them. If not, check Kingsley-North). But these are usually only used in the lapidary (cab making) end of our craft. If you’re trying to do this with faceting rough, you’ll find that small, hot rough is really difficult to position on a dop. I wouldn’t recommend them for faceting work.

Faceters here in the US will usually use a transfer device to position the stone on the dop (often with pressure, some sticky-tack, or a similar technique) and then heat the stone, dop and wax and stone simultaneously.

You can find how-to videos and descriptions at various places online. Just keep in mind that there are many variations on how to dop with wax, some of which will work well for you, others that won’t. You’ll find your technique; don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t go well at first.

As for breaking the stone while dopping, this is a real concern for certain gemstone species (esp. tourmaline, certain garnets, and opals; there are others). “Heat sensitive” means the stones are sensitive to heat shock. That is, going from one temperature to another too quickly can and will break the crystal. When you’re starting, just avoid heat sensitive stones and you’ll be fine. Once you are confident, you won’t have a problem even with the delicate stuff. (or you can learn a hybrid dopping technique for iffy stones). Remember, the big cutting houses are producing finished stones of all varieties daily with wax dopping.

If you’ve made a good wax joint, the stone won’t shift during cutting. If you left finger oil (or similar) on the dop or stone, you may get some shifting. But that’s a “user error” problem, not a wax issue as such.

The only other time I’ve had stones shift is when I’m cutting sapphire and let the stone get too hot on the lap. Sapphires without enough lubricant can become very hot on prepolish and polish. If you let this happen, the stone will shift and cause all sorts of headaches. (Again, user error, not the wax. Any guesses how I know? :wink:

If you are really struggling with wax dopping, try to find someone who can give you some in person lessons. In person time with a good mentor was a huge help to me.