Tremendous tools of the trade

News from The Mitchelton and Districts Gem Club

Tumbled Agate

The Mitchelton and Districts Gem Club has noticed an increase in membership since the COVID-19 pandemic commenced. We are grateful to the increase in new members for it has helped to spread the burden of costs which the club has had to incur to keep the organisation functioning. 

As the weather is warming up, many members are aiming for the indoors side of the hobby as compared to the cooler months where lapidary/rockhounds tend to go out and about looking for gemstone materials.

Many of our members have a tumbler, saw or grinder at home, as it is quite easy to spend an hour or two working with these machines in the warmer months.

However, there are still aspects of the hobby where it is beneficial to be a member of a club. Our club has large saws which individuals don’t generally have at home. We have a 24” and a 16” slab saw which take up considerable space and are both capable of cutting larger rocks.

Also, in our workshop we have a reciprocating lap which, besides being expensive to buy, takes up a considerable amount of space. These laps are used to polish flat surfaces of rocks after they have been cut on a diamond saw. These laps need silicon carbide grit placed on the lap and water in order to grind the stone down. As the grit gets worn finer you have to clean the lap off and place a finer grit on the lap until the stone is ready to polish.

Generally, the lap is turned over, and on the other side there is a piece of carpet which is used to polish the stones with the addition of a polish compound. This compound is Tin Oxide and it is mixed with water. The time to polish the stones depends on the hardness of the stones but generally six to eight hours on the carpet will be sufficient. 

Information regarding our club can be obtained on our website: or our Facebook Page: Mitchelton and District Gem Club Inc.

If you would like to have a chat to someone regarding our hobby, do not hesitate to contact John on 3351 1038 or Lloyd on 3351 2093.

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