|This excellent Faceting tutorial was created by Kalera
It is reproduced here with permission from the author.
Also check out the great Art Glass Forum - http://www.artglassforum.com
that the tutorial came from. In addition to Kalera's extensive tutorials and
informational postings, there are hundreds of other glass enthusiasts on-line 24 hours a
day to consult and chat with.
If you have questions about the tutorial, contact Kalera directly - firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have questions about the equipment and machines that she used, contact Ameritool
Here is my best shot at a step-by-step for faceting with a small flat lapidary grinder;
I use an Ameritool
Universal Heavy-Duty 8" Grinder, but I think the basic directions will work with
any flat lap grinder. I'm including some prep information that didn't come with my
grinder; I had to look it up, and I figured I'd save you some time so you can get right to
Disc = The sandpapery grinding surface
Grit/Mesh = The coarseness of the grinding surface; the lower the mesh #,
the coarser the grit.
First, some notes on grinding wheels and setup; although I have heard several people
say that they like to minimize grinding steps by spreading the coarseness of the discs out
and changing their disc less often, I personally prefer using more discs that are closer
together in coarseness, so I spend less time on each grit. I found that the five discs
that are included with most of the small "hobbyist" grinder kits are perfect for
what I want to do, taking me quickly from a whole bead to a polished surface with minimal
time spent on each progressive polishing step.
of the kits come with a tube of diamond polishing compound. (For
Ameritool Inc. Diamond Polish Compound Click Here) I believe that you will get a
better polish on glass with a cerium oxide polishing compound, (For
Ameritool Inc. Cerium Oxide Polishing Compound Click Here) though YMMV. Cerium oxide
is very inexpensive, and so are extra felt buffing pads if you want to try both.
pads are available to go under the finer polish discs. I don't have one, but I'll be
getting one soon; they provide a slightly yielding surface so that even if there are
trivial irregularities in the surface of the glass you're polishing, your disc will mold
to them and not leave any dull spots. A yielding surface also makes it easier to polish a
convex surface, for instance if there's a bit of punty mark on a piece and you want to
grind it out.
If you are using cerium oxide, you will first need
to "charge" your felt buffing disc.
Mix water and cerium oxide powder about 2:1, and put it in a bottle that has some sort of
dispenser tip; I put mine in an empty shampoo bottle. Put the felt disc on the machine and
turn it on to low speed. Dribble the cerium oxide mix onto the pad and rub it in with your
fingertips, until the pad is evenly saturated. Let dry overnight.
Now that you're prepared, it's time to begin!
Put on your protective glasses/goggles. Do NOT grind without them!
You'll want to identify the surface you want to start grinding, and hold the piece FIRMLY
with both hands. Keep those fingertips away from the diamond disc, it'll take your nails
to the quick before you can blink. Before we begin, I will show a shot of good hand
positioning (Fig. 1):
Fig. 1 - Proper Hand Positioning
Now that you're prepared, make sure your water reservoir is full, and that your waste
water container is in place. You will start with a diamond grinding disc, which will need
a lot of lubrication, so open your water valve almost all the way (Fig. 2). Turn the
grinder on to about half-speed (Fig. 3) and position the bead as shown above in part 1.
Once you are confident of your grip and have a feel for the machine, you will want to move
the bead around on the grinding surface. Check the position constantly to make sure the
bead is being ground evenly. If you lift the bead to check the progress, replace it
carefully to maintain a levelly-ground facet. When you replace the bead, put it down near
the middle of the disc and then move to the outer edge. Fig. 4 shows a bead that has been
ground on a 100-grit diamond disc.
Fig. 2 - Water Valve Position
Fig. 3 - Grinder Dial Setting
Fig. 4 - Bead Ground at 100 Grit
Change to the next grit of disc; in my case, a brown 325 mesh disc. This coarseness
will continue to remove material, more slowly than the diamond disc, and will grind out
the deep scratches left by the previous step. It also needs a lot of water, but not quite
as much as the diamond disc (Fig. 5). Turn the machine on, this time a bit faster (Fig.
6). Make sure that you set down the bead carefully so as to maintain a nice flat facet.
Handling instructions are much the same as with the coarser disc. Look at the surface of
the bead periodically to check your progress. When done, it should be fairly smooth,
matte, and devoid of any obvious deep scratches (Fig. 7):
Fig. 5 - Water Valve Position
Fig. 6 - Grinder Dial Setting
Fig. 7 - Bead Ground at 325 Grit
Moving on to the red 600 mesh buffing disk, the process is virtually identical to step
3, but you will decrease the water flow (Fig. 8) and increase the speed (Fig. 9). Fig. 10
shows a bead after this buffing step.
Fig. 8 - Water Valve Position
Fig. 9 - Grinder Dial Setting
Fig. 10 - Bead Ground at 600 Grit
Moving on to the blue 1200 mesh buffing disk, again, the process is virtually identical
to the previous step, but you will decrease the water flow to a fast drip (Fig. 8) and
increase the speed (Fig. 9). Fig. 10 shows a bead after this fine buffing step... you can
see that it is nearly glossy, and is close to total transparency. All fine scratches have
been buffed out, and it is ready for final polishing.
Fig. 11 - Water Valve Position
Fig. 12 - Grinder Dial Setting
Fig. 13 - Bead Ground at 1200 Grit
We're ready for the final polish! This will bring your bead to a high
gloss and, if you used clear glass, total transparency. Again, most of the process is
virtually identical to the previous three, but you will decrease the water flow to a
moderate drip (Fig. 14) and increase the speed again (Fig. 15). When you initially put the
polishing disc on the grinder and turn it on, you'll want to take your cerium oxide
mixture, shake well, and drizzle lightly over the spinning surface of the disc - you only
need a little. When the disc is damp, but not dripping wet, it's time to apply the bead to
the disc. This step has more "grab" than the other steps, and can fling your
bead across the room if you lose your grip, so be careful! If a buildup of cerium oxide
mud gathers around your bead, you'll know you have too much; no problem, just file that
away for next time. If you get a weird "plasticky" substance on the face of your
bead, you aren't using enough water; again, no biggie, just scrape it off and proceed. It
can be tricky to achieve that exact balance of not too wet, not too dry, not too much
polishing compound, not too little, but it's not going to harm your bead if you're off by
This step goes really fast and can be done with a light touch; the tricky part is getting
the whole surface glossy. Spots toward the edge often don't get polished on the first go,
so just wipe the bead dry to check it, and continue polishing, with special attention to
the areas that didn't get polished the first time. The final result will be a gorgeous,
mirror-polished faceted bead! (Fig. 16)
Fig. 14 - Water Valve Position
Fig. 15 - Grinder Dial Setting
Fig. 16 - The Final Product !
Have fun, and don't forget to post pics of your faceted beads!