Dumber Than a Box of Rocks

Yes, it’s true, one does not have to be a rocket scientist to fall in love with a box of rocks. So, if you’re thinking of starting a new hobby for 2022, and have a knack for collecting pretty stones, why not try out lapidary? Simply stated, it is the art of shaping, cutting, polishing, and making jewelry out of semi-precious or precious gemstones. The Sun Lakes Rock, Gem & Silver Club has the best lapidary equipment for beginners, as well as all the necessary tools and accessories.

No, you won’t have to hike into the mountains and dig a tunnel into a mine to find your rocks. Arizona is the mecca for “rock-hounds,” as there are over 50 annual rock shows where you can buy “rough” or “slabs” or finished cabochons. Like other hobbies, you’ll need a designated space to help you stay organized and enjoy your time. Fortunately, we have three separate lapidary craft shops; one in Oakwood, one in Cottonwood, and one in Sun Lakes Country Club. These shops are complete with your own workbench and all the tools you’ll need to cut, shape, and polish your rocks.

When it comes to cutting your rock collection, there are two types of saws you’ll use; a trim saw and a slab saw. A trim saw has a small, thin blade that is made for cutting small stones into smaller chunks. A slab saw has a larger and thicker blade, making it suitable for trimming down larger stones. If you’re opting for rounded cabochons fit for pendants and accessories, then you’ll need a cabbing machine. Cabbing machines consist of a station that has one or multiple grinding wheels with different grits. You’ll mainly use grinding belts and polishing belts. We have large machines with multiple grinding wheels, which are easy to use for beginners.

Dop sticks are a must-have if you’ll be cabbing or faceting your stones. Dop sticks are essentially wooden sticks with globs of wax on one end. When heated, the wax becomes malleable enough for you to stick your stone’s base to, and once you’re done shaping your stone, you can simply heat it again to release the stone. However, you can also use a wooden dowel and super glue to fix the gem in place. We follow the full safety regulations while working with all power tools. This includes electric, mechanical, occupational, and chemical safety.

Starting a new hobby as intricate as lapidary may seem intimidating at first, but once you know the different tools and how to use them, it’s just a matter of practice, and soon you’ll be cutting and polishing like a pro! Just come to the Sun Lakes Country Club Navajo Room at 10 a.m. on Jan. 17. Join our club and see which of the seven Lapidary classes you’ll want to take; Lapidary One, Lapidary Two/Bears, Stone Handles, Opals, Faceting, Minerals & Mineral ID, or Rocks & Rock ID.