Subject: Faceting Academy: The Ultra Tec video AMA!


This is happening ------------------------------> 

We're preparing to launch an Official Ultra Tec Videos page similar to our popular Facetron videos page. I'm excited to be working with the Ultra Tec factory on this!

This beautiful V5 is still in the box, waiting for us to turn on the cameras and detail everything from unboxing and setup to maintenance, operation, tips and tricks ... and your AMA (ask me anything).

I built the other official videos page based on three things:

1. Lessons hard-earned through experience.
2. Specific suggestions from the factory.
3. Questions from faceters.

Now it's your turn to ask about the Ultra Tec V5 Digigal. 

What about operating it?

What about maintaining it?

What do you not quite understand?

What do you have the most difficulty with?

What would you like to do better, faster, or easier?

We're going to start production on the video series within a week. Reply to this e-mail to submit your questions NOW!

Registration for the August, 2018 Faceting Academy Training Event is closing on July 31.

If you are serious about getting into that event, you must take immediate action. The next opportunity to attend an Academy Basic event will be in the Spring of 2019.

If you are serious about launching your faceting, or taking it to new levels, take advantage of the early registration discount.


Today I encountered an issue where the rod simply will not come off the crown side, in fact, the newly dopped (and polished) pavilion side came off. I am now redopping the pavilion, but I was wondering how else to remove the epoxy from only the crown side so I can cut it. 



Daniel, you have described one of the main reasons NOT to use epoxy for dopping. (There are several others, too).

I know ZERO highly-skilled faceters who use epoxy, except in special circumstances.

For now, it depends on the value of your stone. When I was learning (the hard way as you are now) about epoxy, I got out my jeweler's saw and just cut a couple of mm off the end of the flat dop. It grinds away when cutting the crown just fine - no problems. You can true the dop itself with a table adapter and your 600 lap to put it back into service.

For the future, learn to dop with wax (and with CA - there are specific instances for each). There are free public videos on dopping and transfer with CA on the Official Facetron Videos page. And, there are videos on wax dopping in the members area of the web site. Meantime, I suggest to STOP using epoxy.


Thanks for your informative web site. I want to get started in faceting, and I want to know what it will cost for a standard basic setup. What should I buy and what should I plan to spend?



Philip, glad the web site is helpful.

Every person is different, with different goals and a different budget. People have different plans and ambitions. Some people want to cut everything; others plan to focus on Montana Sapphire or Oregon Sunstone. 

For this reason, I don't have a "standard kit" to recommend. I'd rather help the individual faceter address their particular needs with their particular resources in the best way possible. And, that's best done through some 1:1 consulting via e-mail or even a phone call. (I don't charge for this assistance for people buying supplies through me.)

That said, there are some basic guidelines. For starters, beginners should NOT buy used machines. Beginners aren't qualified to check-out machines, and usually wind up with a "first car" sort of experience - if that was done by sending a teenager to the used car salesman by themselves. More often than not, they wind up with a pile of problems and repairs - and in the end they pay nearly as much for something that has no warranty.

Following that, we need basic cutting laps. I recommend a Crystalite Standard 600. We need pre-polish laps - which can vary depending on the intended working material. And, the same for polishing laps (they depend on the material). Academy students are guided to a specific collection to cover the beginner spectrum of needs and material literacy. But, even then, I help everyone customize to their needs and budget.

If you want to see the most current version of the basic "needed gear" list for our basic training events, you can find it here.


If I’m polishing mostly tourmaline, aquamarine, quartzes, garnets, and a few others, what polishing laps and compounds would you recommend?



Chris, you've listed a pretty wide variety of materials. So, you're going to need a pretty broad range of solutions.

Polishing is one of the main challenges in faceting, and it's helpful to imagine all the possible variables - lap, polish, lap speed, pressure against the lap, amount of polish on the lap, sweep speed, sweep-relative-to-rotation, etc, etc. And, with oxides, this list includes how much water we've got on the lap - and the humidity and temperature of the environment.

If each of those things is a bubble on a Venn diagram, the spot where they ALL overlap (for that particular facet of that particular material) is where polishing happens. Every other combination isn't polishing - and may be scratching.

Some material-lap-polish combinations are more forgiving than others of the other variables (bigger polishing "window"). And, this is what we try to facilitate, especially for beginners. 

Quartz is a special case, and can be one of the most problematic materials owing to way the molecules are bonded - and to some of the twinning habits that material has. Generally, Cerium Oxide on a Matrix lap (or other composite) is going to be easier. I DO NOT RECOMMEND QUARTZ FOR BEGINNER FACETERS - until they've got the hang of oxide polishing on something that isn't going to randomly become a waterboarding experience.

Tourmaline, Aquamarine, and Garnet will polish easily with 50k Voodoo on a Matrix or other composite lap - or on a BATT lap. The Tourmaline and Garnet will likely polish nicely with Alumina on either of those laps. Just remember that oxide polishing is more difficult, owing to having more variables. I recommend learning with diamond first, and then progressing to oxides.

Keep in mind that you can vary technique more - and more quickly - than change lap and polish. Keep in mind that even the "right" lap and polish won't work if ANY of the technique factors are wrong. In the end, nothing will beat good training in how to find the "window" rapidly - and to stay in it.

For more information on this topic, Faceting Academy web site members can get access to a detailed conference call in which we explain some of the more confusing things about polishing here - and to video from a live training event where we're teaching how to see the things we want to correct here.


If you have a question about faceting in general - or something specific about polish, polishing - or the Facetron or Ultra Tec faceting instruments - use the contact form on the site.

If you want to see your question answered here - or on the blog - or maybe even in a custom video -  just ask. There may be a reward for questions that I answer via video...

The Facetron factory has been a bit overwhelmed with some overseas commitments. Their lead time, usually 2-6 weeks, is presently expanded to four months, minimum. 

If you have plans to acquire a Facetron machine "later this year", get your order in NOW to get in line!
As always, I hope you enjoy Faceting Academy News - and that you get from it information useful beyond mere faceting technical data.

If there's something you want me to write about - or a question you want me to answer - just reply to any newsletter with your query and I'll answer - maybe in an article or even a video.

I hope you're all having a great 2018. I'm excited about meeting some of you in person this year!
That's the Faceting Academy News this time.
All the best,
John Bailey, Faceting Academy
John Bailey, 1010 Main St, Klamath Falls, Oregon 97601, United States
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