In 1981 I bought my first Sugilite at the Tucson Gem Show. While admiring it outside a person at
another table made the comment “good luck polishing it” .......... Go figure
This was my first experience with a stone that was a true pain to get an excellent polish on. After much experimentation I finally came up with a way to polish literally any material hard or soft to a “WATER WET SHINE”
It’s too simple to be true but it works great ....... Use wood.... I recommend using a softer wood over a hard wood. The first machine I made used a small 1/15th HP 3000 rpm motor, as you never run the motor near it’s top speed a slower motor will work fine. At this time I think one of the best motors for this and many other applications is the Foredom Bench Lathe
I hand made my first wood polishing wheel from pine. I drilled a hole the arbor size through
the board. I then used a compass to lay out a 2 1/2” circle, using a jewelers saw I cut as near a
true circle as I could. This done, I mounted my rough wheel onto the arbor and then turned the motor on; with the
wheel spinning I freehand cut the wood wheel perfectly true. I don’t recommend doing this as it
is a little dangerous, find a friend with a wood lathe.
Once I had a true running wooden wheel I then charged it with 50,000 mesh diamond powder and light honing oil. I tried this on my hard to polish sugilite ......... Lo and behold … “WATER WET”...No water.
Since this time in 1981, my wood of choice is now redwood for wheels and high grade sanded
plywood for flat laps. I work all my stone whether cabs, mosaic or beads to a 600 mesh wet sand. I then go to wood in three steps, 1200, 14,000 and 50,000 mesh diamond powder mixed with any light oil.
If you decide to try this out you will need three wheels, one for each mesh size I recommend keeping the wheels on their own arbor so you will also need three arbors. Keep each wheel in its own Zip Loc to keep from cross contamination.