LAPIDARY TIPS: EXTENDING CABOCHON MACHINE LIFE

The Diamond Pacific Genie Gem Maker probably sets the standard for lapidary cabbing machines.  A new one will cost about $1800.  Its 6 inch diamond wheels are expensive components that wear out over time.  A complete replacement set of 6 wheels will cost about $600.  That’s $220 for two hard Galaxy wheels and $380 for four soft Nova wheels.  Every cab cutter dreads the day when the diamond wheels wear out and need to be replaced. So what can be done to reduce cab making cost and to extend the life of these machines?  Here are two ways to do it:

  • Use the most aggressive diamond wheel set possible.
  • Buy diamond powder and recoat the worn out Nova wheels.

Using the most aggressive wheel set has two distinct advantages.  First, it lowers cab cost by reducing the cycle time for grinding, sanding, and polishing.  Second, the wheel set will last longer because the heavy grinding, shaping, and scratch removal is done on the left hand side of the Genie leaving significantly easier sanding and pre polish for the right hand side. The table below shows Diamond Pacific’s standard wheel set versus an aggressive wheel set that enables faster grinding, easier scratch removal, good enough sanding, and minimum essential pre polish:

                                                      Standard Grit    Aggressive Grit

  • Wheel 1   Galaxy Grinding                80                   60
  • Wheel 2   Galaxy Grinding              220                  100
  • Wheel 3   Nova Scratch Removal    280                  100
  • Wheel 4   Nova Sanding                   600                  220
  • Wheel 5   Nova Sanding                  1200                 600
  • Wheel 6   Nova Pre Polish               3000                1200                        

Regardless of what wheel set you use, when the Nova wheels wear out don’t throw them away.  Leave them on the Genie for recoating with a diamond powder epoxy mix. Use the following steps to successfully recoat all four Nova wheels for about $40 compared to $380 for new ones. 

  • Step 1:  Remove the splash hoods and water pans.  Clean the Nova wheel surfaces with soapy water. Thoroughly rinse and dry.  Finish cleaning the surfaces with an acetone soaked cloth. 
  • Step 2:  To avoid cross grit contamination, start the diamond coating process with the smallest grit wheel and sequentially move to the more aggressive grit wheels. 
  • Step 3:  Weigh out 10 carats of diamond powder for each wheel.  Mix one teaspoon each of Hughes Epoxy 330 hardener and resin on a 4×4 inch glass plate. Mix the epoxy and diamond together using a flat end Exacto knife. 
  • Step 4:  Using the Exacto knife, transfer some of the diamond mixture to the end of a 1.5 inch wide spatula.  Using the spatula, evenly spread the mixture on the wheel surface while turning the shaft by hand. When the wheel is evenly coated with all of the diamond mixture, quickly bump the motor to turn the shaft slowly while applying steady pressure on the wheel surface with the spatula.  Do not let the wheel turn fast or the diamond mixture will be spun off.  Stop as soon as the coating looks and feels evenly spread. 
  • Step 5:  Clean the glass plate with acetone and repeat the process for the other 4 wheels. Let the epoxy cure for at least a day.

Diamond powder can be purchased from Kingsley North.  100 carats will cost about $54 and is enough to recoat 10 wheels.  Epoxy 330 can be purchased in a number of places for about $4.00 which is enough to recoat four wheels.  If your recoated wheels wear out, recoat them again.

Check back later for another way to significantly extend the life of your Genie cabbing machine.  Maybe you can share some good ideas as well.

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This entry was posted in Lapidary Tips, Tricks, and Techniques. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to LAPIDARY TIPS: EXTENDING CABOCHON MACHINE LIFE

  1. Tom Beyer says:

    This is a great tip! I will try it as soon as my wheels wear out and let you know how it works for me.

  2. Even years later this is good information, especially for me who is going to get a Genie in the next couple of months.

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