When do you stop cleaning and start cutting

As a newbie in the world of gems kinda when do you decide to go from cleaning to cutting? What brings you the confidence that you are ready, and where do you start?

I have filled my mind with decades of practical knowledge and little to no experience. I am ready to try and am terrified to begin.

Advice is appreciated or even just your story and what got you hooked.

Just a picture for no reason… it’s just what I’m playing with today.

You first need to decide on what you want to make and determines the type of cutting you’re planning on doing. From what’s in your picture, it would appear to be cabochon type material, so once the debris is removed, then it’s excitement of slicing to see what’s inside, then deciding if you have something good or average to play with and develop your skills.

You will also need to establish a realistic budget for the tools you will need, so before you leap in it may be worth joining a Lapidary club where you will find guidance from those who have gone before.

The tools of the trade, which every you choose, can be expensive, so try before you buy. Cheap tools do not last, so be wary of wasting money on Chinese bargains, they are NEVER bargains in the long run.

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Start on some cheaper quartz or agate rough and be able to polish it well (quartz can be tricky) then work up from there, you can only learn so much from reading and studying. While extremely helpful it can stifle getting actual hands on experience and the mistakes that come along with that. Unsure what tools you have at your disposal but I agree with dihusky in that cheaping out on good tools, laps, wheels, Dremel bits, and polishing compounds will be more costly in the long run and a pure headache. As you get to be more practiced the cheap stuff doesn’t always bring out the full potential of the pieces, nor is the time to constantly replace bits or wheels. Best way to get the confidence ya need is just get on your machines and start grinding away (with a plan), you will make mistakes and it’s truly nothing to be afraid of just some extra learning. Hope to see some awesome pieces in the future!

I agree with what has already been posted. I started with tumbling stones my brother and I found on one of trips (2 old dudes trying something new). I eventually ended up with 4 Lortone tumblers and lots of bags of grit. It is an interesting way to see just how pretty rough old rocks can become. It is also relatively inexpensive (when compared to faceting and fantasy cutting). I have bowls of highly polished agates, quartz and hundreds of stones I have yet to identify.

After doing that about 6 years, I found a good deal on a Cabking 6" cabbing machine. After about a year of teaching myself, I bought some cab slabs I found on Etsy and did some serious cabbing. I also invested in better resin wheels and bought findings (settings) from Rio Grande. Fortunately, I have a nice screened in porch where I didn’t have to worry about water getting all over the floor. I continued to cab for about 3 years and can honestly say; cabbed some beautiful stones with high polish. I continued to run my tumblers during this time.

My wife “relented” to my constant statement of “Boy I sure wish I could afford a faceting machine - -” and told me to go ahead and buy one. She barely got the last word out before I was online looking for used faceting machines, reading reviews, watching as many You Tube videos that I could find - creating more confusion than making a decision. There was one consensus I found during my research: “Buy the best reliable machine that you can afford.” I pulled the trigger and bought (I call it invested) in an Ultra Tech V5 digital. That was 19 months ago.

This step was a big one. Not only was the machine very expensive, I also had to invest in laps and accessories to produce the best results. I have read (and continue to read) books and articles and watch dozens of You Tube videos. I have cut a couple dozen stones. I started with just synthetics due to their low cost before I took the plunge and bought some natural gem rough. Each finished gem was better than the previous one, every mistake became a learning experience.

This is a long response to your question, but I can honestly say - every step I have taken has been worth it. Can this hobby be expensive - yes. Can you teach yourself using videos and reading books -yes. Would it be good to take some classes -yes. Can you start out slow and expand what you do to the stones you clean over time - yes. Can you find it relaxing and awesome as you see what is hidden inside of that ugly rock you found in the stream -yes.

My recommendation is find a good tumbler kit, follow the directions that come with it, and enjoy what you accomplish. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake (just don’t start with the heirloom ruby that has been handed down through the family). I am in my mid 70s and still working full time. fortunately still working has allowed me to invest in the hobby. Now that I have my own gem lab, tumbling station, cabbing station, and faceting station - I am ready to retire and enjoy the hobby,

My apologies for the long winded reply. I hope to see some of your accomplishments in the future.

Thanks i actually have quality gems and gold in quartz formation so my jem expert is finally understanding what i have been saying and is coming to asses. He has all the fancy stuff and skills.

Since I am donating all of it to my organization i don’t need to worry about that i have a vow of poverty because i already have everything i need. :pray:
I was more curious about it as a budding gemogist