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 Post subject: Faceting Novice / Graves Mark 5xl
PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2022 6:29 am 
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Hello you guys,

I am new to faceting but dead-set on purchasing machine and other than the missing reverse switch, the Graves Mark 5xl seems to be the best affordable choice for me to start on.

So, I am on graves' site and there are two lap package options. One of them being the Basic Lap Package for $369.00,

The other being the Advanced Lap Package for $675.00.

The biggest difference being a 14k copper lap on the Basic Package, whereas the Advanced Package contains am 8k copper lap and a 50k tin lap.

Both include the following: 260, 600 and 1200 laps.

I am first and foremost looking for a purchase that facilitates the faceting of corundum - Are the 8k and 50k laps necessary or beneficial for this endeavor?

http://www.gravescompany.com/Mark-5XL-F ... chine.html


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 Post subject: Re: Faceting Novice / Graves Mark 5xl
PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2022 4:23 pm 
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I think you can do better in purchasing a set of cutting laps individually, then invest in your polishing tools. $315 dollar price tag on a Tin on Aluminum base is quite high. You can buy two Batt laps from Gearloose.

Also what gem rough do you plan on for practice rough to get started?

If your insistent on Graves then I personally would go with the Advanced package. But that $315 dollar Tin lap doesn't sell it for me. Also the two packages do not actually state if your going to receive 6" or 8" laps.

It is well known in the past that Graves can be hard to get responses from and very long delays in there orders around Tucson Gem Show times. Typically they are at the Kino Gem Show but I do not see them in the vendor list for this year.

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 Post subject: Re: Faceting Novice / Graves Mark 5xl
PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2022 12:00 pm 
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Neither of the above packages. For prompt response, the top quality, and less money, buy a 600 grit steel lap, then one of Gearloose's polishing kits. https://gearloose.co/shop/highest-perfo ... arter-kit/


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 Post subject: Re: Faceting Novice / Graves Mark 5xl
PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2022 12:06 am 
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Hi Newbie!
I am also new to faceting and have had many of the same questions you're dealing with . Last week I took an intoductory faceting course at William Holland School for lapidary Arts in young Harris, Georgia where i had the opportunity to actually use several machines and compare their features with the help of our awesome instructor. I have an old Graves Mark IV i have had for years (given to me) but not used, and it has "failed to proceed" since I put it in the closet 15+ years ago. Our instructor gave me the name of a repairman here in Florida who has agreed to look at ti for me. The problem with Graves is that the company is now under the ownership of a grandson of the founder who has no interest in maintaining the company's operations, and wants to sell the rights to the machine for more than it's worth. The website is active and you can place orders but there is a good chance they won't ship unless you complain to the BBB and nobodty answers the phonw or returns calls when you leave a message. Our instructor agrees the Graves machine is a good basic unit but the offer NO support. He recommends Ultra Tec over all lthe competition and a used Ultra Tec as a second choice. I got to try out the Ultratec and the Facetron, and prefer the former. The Facetron has a lot of quirks which apparently their management doesn't see as problems. For example, there is no detent on the quill so when you raise it there's nothing to hold it up. the mast is in the way, and I knocked my stone off the dop striking accidentally, something easy to do. The quill assembly is lowered by releasing the lock and manually holding the heavy metal block the quill is attached to and moving it to the desired position. there is no index on the mast to check your position and it is really a hassle to raise or lower the quill accurately. it has a fine adjustment but if you go too far, it stop0s working and you have to spin it back on track to make it work again. The mast release mechanism is clumsy, and the swtches werreon the top deck where my hand tended to hit them. The quill;s dop locking apparatus is weird, with th lock operated with a key that locks in wither direction from the neutral position. basically, I decided it wasn't for me. One plus is that the index wheel was more easily legible than most others.
My classmates seemed to like the Raytech-Shaw maching- it's really different- but it is considered a fairly basic machine as well. Of all the companies making faceting machines, ultraTec seems like it's going to be around a while, and their customer support is by all accounts, superb. For the price, it had better be! These glorified turntables cost upwards of $5,000. the price is totally unjustifiable and they really need competition.
About laps- we used lightning laps and I was very pleased with them. Our instructor feels their products are not onluy very high quality, very durable, and very reasonably priced at about $60+ each. They are used with a master lap and are constructed of a fiberglass like plastic with a resin bond diamond coating on the top surface. i have used an 8" flat lap for cabbing and this machine, though turning slower, really gets the job done. He uses an Ultralap for polishing, a mylar lap topper that works great. They also have cerium and other toppers. ou instructor is very experienced and and has used lots of products and feels these and the Lightning laps and great performers at a great price. I agree. You will still want a 260 metal lap for rough grinding but not much else.
If you get a chance to go to William Holland, a nonprofit facility in a beautiful mountain setting, do so. They offer silversmithing, chain making, wire-wrapping, cabbing, fused glass and lampwork classes, and other craft instruction taught by expert volunteers. They have a lodging facility which is basic but comfortable, and a dining hall where you will be served three delicious meals a day with coffee and tea always available. They have a tailgating night where outside vendors come to offer their wares and a fundraising auction on Tuesday nights which is always fun. They often have used equipment for sale donated to the school. A number of our club members make 2 or more trips there annually. The cost? Only $499 plus modest lab fees to cover materials. What a deal!
SO, good luck finding your dream machine. I would reconsider the Graves machine, though, as parts may vbe hard to come by before long unless someone buys them out and starts running the business like a business. hope this has been helpful.

Mark H.


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 Post subject: Re: Faceting Novice / Graves Mark 5xl
PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2022 1:34 pm 
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@colcure, no matter your newbie budget and how much you might praise your instructor, a good facter is not determined by the machine one starts with. All machines have quirks even the UT. When your behind a machine for a while and your experience level rises your percieved quirks of the machine being used can easily be controlled by you the operator. The mast issue of a Facetron is easily remied by a simple piece of pipe insulation.
With all due respect that you are entitled to your opinion. Some of it just sounds like ranting , stuff you have just read or just been told. You will find in the faceting world one person's opinion of a tool is another persons nightmare. To much emphasis on a brand machine, and not enough on what really comes first what do you know about the material your planning on faceting.
Graves support base has been lacking for a very long time. Getting Graves attention even when they were standing directly in front you was A challenge 10-15 years ago in their booth @TS.

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 Post subject: Re: Faceting Novice / Graves Mark 5xl
PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2022 3:17 pm 
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Mark H.

When I read your post I am struck by how little understanding is expressed in it relating to the true craft of gem cutting. You are clearly being instructed by a hobbyist who focuses on a cookbook style of cutting that depends on numbers being set by the machine. As you advance you will find that machines are better used to measure angles rather than set them. You are very new to cutting. Yet somehow you are feeling qualified to give very strong advise. Most of which is very wrong, and probably reflects the biases of your instructor rather than independently developed experience.

Yes, the Ultratec machines are very well built, and have a good company behind them. They are a favorite among hobby cutters. However, they are expensive, one of the slower machines to cut with, and in the end no more accurate than other machines when properly operated. The Facetron machine is just as accurate, and much faster to operate. You should note that the latest machines from Ultratec have been designed to use a mast system modeled after the Facetron machines. They use the same method to raise and lower the facet head, and also do not have numbered height settings which are in the end almost useless anyway.
The Ultratecs now also have their switches on the top in the same place as the Facetron machines. But since they have a tall toggle switch are even easier to accidently hit. The Facetron Keyed Dop system is the most accurate, and repeatable in the industry. Your knocking the stone off the dop is more likely a result of inexperience than it is a machine short coming. There are many advantages to this machine.

The choice of laps is also one favored by hobby cutters. Those fiberglass toppers just don't hold up well to even moderate usage levels.

I have taught hundreds of people here, and abroad to cut gemstones. I have done this on a variety of machines. Properly used they are all capable of producing excellent results. In the end it comes down to personal preferences. I have no problem teaching or cutting on a wide variety of machines. I own a number of models from the very high tech models down to very low tech jamb peg machines.

I suggest you keep an open mind and get some real experience on a variety of machines. They all have their strengths and weaknesses.

As for the choice of machine for the original poster, I suggest he shop for a used machine in excellent shape from a current manufacturer that still offers support. Then focus on learning to use that machine properly. If you find one you are considering, feel free to post information and pictures of it here. There are often very important differences between versions of the same machine that may be important to you.


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