Ultra Tec

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John Dyer reviews the Ultra Tec Digital Angle Dial

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DAD Review

John Dyer reviews the Ultra Tec Digital Angle Dial

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Ultra Tec Mast wears a new face.

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Contact information

John Dyer & Co.
5021 Vernon Ave. S. Suite 123
Edina, MN 55436



recommendations from John dyer


A good gem to start out with would be something in the quartz family, such as amethyst, lemon citrine (a very good choice besides being affordable) citrine or one of the other quartz varieties. Also good options are garnets or beryls. They are easier to find than other gems and are reasonably priced. I would not recommend Rose Quartz or any other gem with a slight haze to it because your finished gem will not be as bright as it would be without the "haziness".

Rough material

When you buy rough it's better to buy rough that is too light than too dark as it's extremely hard to rescue dark material inAfghani tourmaline the cutting, whereas light material will show the cut very well even if it doesn't have ideal saturation. Especially at first avoid included material as this is much harder to deal with and often results in lower yield and a disappointing final appearance.

EQUIPMENT & Supplies

Ultra Tec faceting machineFor flat faceting I use an Ultra Tec faceting machine. I have used a number of other faceting machines which have ranged from terrible to mediocre but my favorite is the Ultra Tec. If you are interested in purchasing an Ultra Tec machine please contact me.

Laps: For starting out you should probably have a 360 and a 600 grit "topper" lap (a lap that you put on top of another for support, they are thinner and cheaper), a 600 grit Raytech Nubond lap and a 1200 grit Raytech NuBond lap. These will allow you to do most of the kinds of cutting you will want to do. For polishing I recommend the Spectra Ultra laps for the quartz, opal and feldspar groups and for most other gems a Tin lap with Linde A polishing powder. If you are looking to economize and will limit yourself to fewer gem varieties then this list can be made a bit shorter but in the long run you will probably want most of these.

Dops: The most useful dops are the cone dops and you might want a few "Vee" dops. Most of the more "exotic" shapesUltra Tec faceting machine aren't that useful. 
(Except for "emerald dops" which are good for tourmalines and other long gems.)

I personally like to use Dop Wax for the second side of the gem and a kind of clay like epoxy for the first side. This avoids "Shifting" of the gem which can occur if Dop wax is used for both sides and also allows me to more precisely position the intitial preform.

Odds and Ends: You will need an alcohol lamp, lighter and acetone. You will also probably want an Optivisor and 10 power triplet loupe for examining your work. A mm guage is often useful as well; I like the digital calipers from China that cost about $20.

Reference Book: The book "Faceting for Amateurs" by Glenn and Martha Vargas would probably be a good book for a beginner to buy. Unfortunately it is currently out of print but hopefully that will change soon.

Ultra Tec Modifications

In most cases the drip tank that comes standard with the Ultra Tec will break after a few years. It is probably the only part of the machine that really should be better made. Fortunately it is also very easy to by a drip tank from Graves and use it instead. This is what I have done and it solves the problem. (I do not recommend the Graves faceting machine, just the drip tank.)

There is a SLIGHT chance of hitting your gem on the metal hooks that hold the splash pan's side down for girdling at 90 degrees. Just put 1/4 inch inside diameter rubber tubing from the hardware store over them.