SRB Stone Supplies
Rough Rock, Slabs and Lapidary Materials
Here are some photos and brief descriptions of the machines that I have in my workshop.
They're not in showroom condition as they're in continuous use, so please excuse the untidy state.
If you'd like to know more about any of these machines, or have questions about their usage, just drop me a line at the address above.
Tumbler. Manufacturer: ML Beach.
We all start with a tumbler, but I upgraded to this one many years ago so that I could polish larger quantities of rough rock.
I also had two customers who painted on agate and I needed something with large barrels (these have a capacity of 10lb) so that I could tumble Brazilian Agate slabs for them.
Slab Saw. Manufacturer: Peter Redwood
This machine will qualify as a museum piece before long. It originates from New Zealand and I'm told by Kathy Robert of Opie Gems that it's known as the "Kiwi" and was first imported back in 1969 by Bill Thompson of Cornwall. I've since discovered that Redwood Engineering is still in existence and is based in Mount Roskill, Auckland. Their web site shows a saw that's almost identical to my own, though mine was bought second hand and I estimate that it must have been built more than 40 years ago. It has a 10 inch continuous rim blade which has lasted for years despite a lot of abuse. I had to have the screw feed mechanism modified to slow things down as it was struggling to get through larger pieces of harder material. Due to it's age it does require careful handling and regular overhauls but a while ago I finally managed to get my hands on a second hand 14in saw that will hopefully mean that this machine will last a while longer.
Trim Saw. Manufacturer: Picador (and me and a friend)
Yet another iteration of this machine, this being about the fifth. The plastic chopping board that served as the saw table and the sandwich boxes
that made up the water tank and splash guards have now been replaced by components manufactured in steel by a friend. A much more serviceable solution.
The arbor was purchased from Picador and is driven by a washing machine motor. It incorporates a 6 inch notched blade, grindstone and a 6 inch sanding disc which holds a
thick felt pad for polishing.
Vibrolap. Manufacturer: HC Evans
Another machine that's unfortunately no longer available, but a while ago I was offered a second hand unit that was in almost "as new" condition which means that I've been able to
retire my original, battered and worn out machine. The vibrolap is used mostly for flattening and polishing one side of sawn lumps of rock, but I occasionally use it to polish slabs
by sticking a weight onto the slab with BluTack or plasticine. The photograph shows two slabs, both weighted with rough sawn lumps of stone, and a single piece of Brazilian agate
during the polishing stage.
Diamond Lap. Manufacturer: Inland
Until I acquired the 14 inch slab saw this was the most recent machine in my arsenal, and I must admit that it's taken a while to get used to it, having never used a flat lap before. Ideal for polishing small slabs and, when I get around to it, I may use it for cabochons. It's supplied with 4 laps of different grades and felt polishing pads, though I tend not to use the felt pads as they seem to stretch easily and as a result the machine becomes unbalanced.
I also did have a flexi-drive accessory that I used with mini-drill tools for accessing those awkward corners of irregular shaped pieces of stone but the drive failed and I've now purchased a Dremel drill with a flexi-drive that I hope will be more reliable. (Since writing this I've killed the Dremel by overloading it and have had to pay a small fortune to get it repaired. I'll try to be more
careful in future)
I suspect that this piece of equipment might end up on the scrap heap due to lack of availability of spares. Inland no longer have a representative in the UK and, although the design is really good, the implementation of the design is such that reliability is not so good
Slab Saw. Manufacturer: Highland Park
The photograph shows this saw just after I'd collected it and before it was installed in my workshop. Purchased secondhand from a university that had no further use for it.
The saw is equipped with a fairly heavy duty14 inch serrated blade and the plan is to use this machine purely to reduce large lumps of rock to a size that my 10inch saw can manage.
I've always used paraffin as the lubricant for my 10inch saw but, given the capacity of the tank on this machine, I decided that paraffin would be too much of a fire risk. I'm currently using a
water based lubricant but it's nowhere near as effective, so if anyone has any knowledge of an effective, non-flammable lubricant that won't stain the softer stones I'd love to hear from you.