Adventures in lapidary – tile saw for rock cutting

My wife and I decided to branch out our skills for our small business and learn some lapidary skills. Both of us have alway loved to wander around and collect agates and then just run them through a rock tumbler to polish. Normally these tumbled rocks just end up in the bottom of the big fish tank or scattered around shrubs outside. But lately we realized that we have been finding some larger rocks then we can fit in the tumbler. Which brings us to the tile saw

If you look around there are tons of reviews and DIY options people have done all over the internet and forums. Depending on your budget you can get a nice oil cooled lapidary saw that can do some very large slabs on the high end or you can get a small tile saw for the smaller pieces on the low end. Since this is our first rock saw of any kind we decided to go with a 7 inch tile saw that can be used to cut rock, tile or ceramics up to two inches thick. Our local Harbor freight had one in stock that we picked up along with a continuous diamond edge saw blade to fit it.

Both of these two below are nearly identical to what we picked up and at nearly the same size: aka the cheaper route

If your budget allows there are some great reviewed rock saws out there. But they are not what I would call cheap. Or really I am cheap.

For the tile saw we picked up it has the same case, water cooling system, and tile fence on the one from Amazon as the one at harbor freight. So many of these kinds of things are made in the exact same factory and all they do is change a color and stick a different label on it.

These saws are very simple to set up and get going. Ours did not come with a blade installed but all it takes is removing 4 screws from the water guard below and then install the blade and tighten with the included two wrenches and then screw the water guard back on. Push the water tray back on and you are good to start up. From all the videos that I could find on it the preferred way to cut a rock is to turn the saw around and then pull the rock towards you as it cuts. This keeps the water from spraying all over you and if you do get a rock bound up in the blade it will toss it away from you. Also with using a continuous blade there is no chance of it cutting you like a wood blade with teeth would do. Using a continuous blade you might get a little skin rubbed off but nothing bad. I used a fresh pair of garden gloves to increase the grip on the rock and if it did slip and I hit the blade it would just rub off a bit of the rubber coating.

slow and steady. Always let the blade do the work and don’t try to push it through harder then it can grind.
Seam agate cut across into a long slender section
I am actually not sure what kind of rock this is but it may polish up nice
out of all we cut on the first time use this red jasper I found while fishing is my favorite. It is a little larger then the blade can do in a single pass so I had to spin it a bit to get it cut.

As a first try at cutting rocks we had fun seeing what was inside. Our next step is to run them through the rock tumbler with some other jasper and agates and see how that does to make them into suitable pieces to create jewelry out of. Once we get some out in a month of tumbling I will get some more pictures of the results.

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