|Rock Shop Finishing Equipment Polishers, Laps and Saws
Lortone Flat Laps
The Lortone FL-15 Vibrating Flat Lap is one of the favorites for rockhounds who are looking to polish their cut
specimen faces, polish slabs for display or clock faces. The FL-15 from Lortone is also great for polishing Bookend
sets in agate or your other favorite stone.
How to use your flat lap
There is much discussion about how to polish on these machines, here is what we have learned by trial and error.
First, to get quality finishes you must use graded abrasive(100 grit), not graded range (60/90 grit). Second, you
must really clean after each grit to prevent contamination of the next step. All it takes is one or two 100 grit grains to
ruin a 220 grit finish. This becomes more critical as the grit becomes finer. That is why we prefer the Lortone Flat
Laps over the competitors. Lortone provides 2 pans with each unit. One pan for grinding and one for polishing. This
reduces the chance of contaminating the polishing stages with the earlier surfacing stages. We recommend
complete scrubbing of each specimen after each stage or grit.
Okay, now to the grit, What grit you start with basically depends on how accurate the cut is from your saw. If you
have a perfect cut the number of stages is reduced. If you see saw marks on your specimen, sit down, this one's
going to take a while.
Our recommendations are;
Smooth cut specimens....start with 220 grit for 8-12hrs, clean, 600 grit for 8-12hrs, clean, 1000 grit for 8-12 hrs,
clean, Tin Oxide or Cerium Oxide polish for 8-12 hrs.
Saw Marked specimens....These are the toughest...I generally run these through more grit stages to obtain the
best finish. Start these with 80 or 100 grit. Lap these until you can mark the surface of the specimen with a pencil
and all the pencil marks disappear completely within 5 minutes. Do this for every stage of grit and you will never go
wrong. Spending the extra effort in the rough stages will produce better results in the final polish stage. I have one
specimen of Brazilian banded Agate that my saw jammed on and gouged the face. It is such a stunning stone that I
decided to grind this gouge out rather than re-cut it and lose more material. I put this one in with every batch of 80
grit I do. When the other specimens are done with this stage and the agate is not, I clean it up and put it on the shelf
waiting for the next 80 grit stage. Sooner or later it too will be ready to move on. The point here is to not get in a
hurry. It took mother nature millions of years to make this specimen, so if it takes you a few days, weeks, months or
years to polish it you are still way ahead! Anyway, back to the lapping....after the 80 or 100 grit stage, clean, move
to 400 grit for 8-12 hrs, clean, 600 grit for 8-12hrs, clean, 1000 grit for 8-12 hrs, clean, Tin Oxide or Cerium Oxide
polish for 8-12 hrs.
There are other grit grades that you can try. Don't be afraid to experiment and don't get in a hurry. 1200 grit
produces some wonderful looks on some stones and there are a wide variety of polishes to choose from. Some
work better on different types of stones, some you will like, some you will throw away, depending upon what you are
trying to polish. Each polish has it's special use and it takes a while to learn them all.
Tips and Tricks to make your polishing easier
We always place a drop or two of Palmolive liquid dish soap in our grit slurry mix. On the FL-15 we use 4-5
Tablespoons of grit mixed with water until it just starts to splash at the edges by the outer pan ring. Add 1 or 2 drops
of the Palmolive allows the grit to better adhere to the surfaces of the rock you are lapping and makes the process
work better. We use a plastic spray bottle to add water to our slurry and also have a Lortone overhead drip watering
system slowly adding drops of water throughout the lapping process to maintain the consistency of the slurry. If this
is your first time using a lap, be aware that this is not an indoor sport. Great in a garage or basement, but these
laps can make a mess of the surrounding area in a hurry if the slurry gets too wet. Since the desired mix is at the
very edge of when it slurry starts to splash, it normally splatters out during the process.
Protecting your Rocks from Damage
Another trick we learned from Wally at the Fallon Rock shop was to cut up old (or new) inner tubes from yard
machinery into wide rubber band like strips and place them around your rocks or geodes to protect them. You can
even use 2 or more to get the correct thickness of protection you need. The object is to prevent rock to rock
contact. Leave the factory outer bumper ring in if you use this method. We have setup bins to store used bands in
divided by the grit size to allow reuse without contamination of grit size.
Polishing slabs is more difficult. Normal slabs are too light to polish well without being weighted. Most
recommendations we have received were to use lead weights (which you must make yourself) I ran into an old
rockhound who asked, "Why buy lead if you already have rocks" made sense to us so we now polish our slabs
using cut face rocks attached to the slab with small multiple pieces of double back tape. If your weight rock is larger
in diameter than the slab, protect the weight rock edges. If your weight rock is smaller in diameter than your slab, we
like 1/4" plexiglass or acrylic cut larger than the slab, taped to slab, then taped to the weight rock. Remember, the
objective here is to evenly distribute the weight over a surface larger than your slab. An off-center weighting will
cause a very bad finish. Once again the best way to get into this is just jump in and give it a try. Remember, it's a
hobby...a lifestyle...NOT a job. I believe it was Thomas Edison who said something to the effect that he did not fail
many times trying to make a light bulb...he just learned many ways NOT to make a light bulb.
We hope this helps you in your efforts at polishing rocks using a vibrating flat lap
|Item # FL-15
Lortone 15" Vibrating Lap
Currently OUT OF STOCK
|Lortone FL-15 Vibrating Flat Lap
From the Industry standard Lortone manufacturing we have one brand new in the box FL-15 Lap in stock ready to
ship UPS ground in 1 business day. A proven workhorse the FL-15 vibrates at 1600 times per minute giving
consistent and excellent abrasion to your specimen. This comes with 2 each 15" pans, one for grinding and one for
polishing. Each pan includes a 3/8 OD polyethylene tube bumper ring. These pans are made of aluminum and the
polish pan comes with its own polishing pad. Pans are easily removed for changing or cleaning.
Shipping info: weight 45lbs, box dimensions 26 x 19 x 15 inches
DOES NOT SHIP OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL USA. DO NOT
BUY IF YOU LIVE OUTSIDE CONTINENTAL USA!
Quick Ship! Excellent Lap! Great
Service, I will buy here again!
|Item # LSS-14P
Used Lortone 14" Rock Saw in
Local Pickup only in North
|"As-Is" condition used Lortone LSS-14P Panther rock saw
From the Industry standard Lortone manufacturing we have used 14" Panther saw with a Barranca Diamond 303C 14 x .070 x 1-5/8
blade. The blade has only made 2 test cuts. The saw looks to be in good condition, it runs smooth and appears to have been well
taken care of. The pictures show the physical condition of the saw. It is sold "as-is" due to being a used machine. We cannot
warranty any used machines, they may run for many years or just a few days. The pulleys and belt look good. We have not checked
blade to vise alignment The feed motor has been changed to a standard feed speed of 8 inches per hour, similar to the 12" models.
The saw comes additionally with the fast cut 17 inches per hour panther feed motor as well, so you have the option of changing feed
speeds. This saw has a 5" x 6 1/2" capacity original Lortone LSS-14P vise. Use this saw with Oil Coolant only! (The grey rubbermaid
utility cart does not come with the saw. This listing is for the complete saw and extra feed motor only.) Please e-mail any questions to
WE DO NOT SHIP THIS SAW! IT IS LOCAL PICK UP ONLY
IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA
|Understand that every rock will cut differently and that every customer demands different results. Thin blades will wander more than
heavier, sturdier blades. Hard rock demands premium oil coolant. Fast feed rates can mean greater chance of blade damage if
something slips or breaks during the cut. Do some homework and be willing to sacrifice some things to get what's really important.
Before any other components, go for the best blade that you can afford. The blade will dictate the resulting smoothness and flatness
and is crucial in getting a good cut. A good cut makes lapping and polishing much easier!
|How we stopped getting abrasive slurry splash all over our
walls and floors when using a Vibrating Flat Lap
If you have ever tried using a Lortone or Covington vibrating lap you have experienced slurry splash
on your walls and floors. This is what we do to control that problem. As you know a proper slurry mix
borders on the fine difference between a too dry or a too wet abrasive slurry medium. We originally
set up our Lortone FL-15 vibrating laps on a heavy duty bench with a Lortone free-standing gravity
feed water supply which includes a tank with a brass needle valve to adjust the water addition to your
slurry. Since the polishing processes take 8 to 12 hours per grit, we normally adjusts the drip valve
so it adds water drops at a slow pace to keep slurry workable. If we do not sit with the lap and
constantly check the mix, it will inevitably get too dry or too wet. The result of these variations usually
results in a splattering of slurry on the walls, bench top and floor. We also found the needle valve to
be very unreliable for maintaining consistently timed drips.
We decided we needed to contain the splatter with something portable that would allow us to work
indoors in winter and cold weather and be movable to outdoor when the weather permits...this is
what we came up with.....(click any photo to see larger version)
|The first thing we did was to remove the old needle valve from the water bucket. We then drilled out the existing hole with
a 1/2" drill bit drilling from the outside of the bucket. Using a razor blade, cut the raised edge of the bin.
Now we inserted the 1/2" MIP threads on the nylon angle barb into the 7/16" hole in the rubber washer. It has to be
stretched out slightly to fit over the threads, this will help seal the water. We then threaded the angle barb into the bucket,
install the 2nd rubber 7/16" washer inside the bucket and install the 1/2" FIP connector and tighten with wrenches.
|The next step is drilling the mounting holes in the water stand. We used 1/4" shelving bolts so these holes are
drilled with a 1/4" bit. Make sure the hole locations will allow the bolt head to clear the edges. We drill 3 each
1/4" holes in the stand and mark and drill 2 holes in the tote for the bottom two 2 bolts on the flat side adjacent to
the handle sides and with the bottom of the stand roughly level with the reinforcement ridge in the tote. (see
photos for placement location) We now attach a piece of tubing to the barb and cut it off about 1 inch below the
bottom of the stand. Next slip the tubing through the roller clamp and attach the tubing clamp to the bottom of the
stand approximately in the center of the base
|We are now ready to mount the water assembly to the tote. Install the 2 each 1/4" shelving bolted
through the bottom holes, press them through the 2 holes in the tote, install 1/4 x 1 1/4" fender
washers, lock washers and nuts and tighten. Turning the tote we now drill the top hole in the tote
through the water stand and install the 3rd 1/4" shelving bolt, fender washer, lock washer and nut.
Tighten all nuts and bolts. The basic setup is now complete.
|The final step is setting up the Vibrating lap in the tote. The 5/8" raised center circle in the tote is about 11" in
diameter. The 3 feet on the FL-15 fit right around the raised center circle. We set each of the feet at 1-1/4" and
tightened the locknut. We removed one of the factory tray bolts and replaced it with a 1/4" thin head bolt. This is
necessary to keep the one bolt heat from vibrating against the sidewall. Grasping the lap, holding pressure against
the top plate, angle the FL-15 into the tote with the thin head bolt under the water mount. Adjust the position so the
two remaining factory bolts point towards the 2 corners opposite the water mount (see Photos). Adjust power cord
placement. Leveling is now easily accomplished by using shake shims under the tote corners.
|We now have 2 portable self contained vibrating lap stations that
contain slurry splash (see photos). These can be used indoors or
outdoors without creating a mess of your space. Our Heavy duty bench
is now more usable for lapidary work. We set up a folding table
between the two lap bins and have created a very user friendly work
space with the vibrating laps on a concrete floor which reduces overall
noise level and allows for having a clean workspace. The totes are
easily taken outdoors, remove the FL-15 Lap and hose out the
containment bin when necessary.