Forums Laps Best beginner laps


  • Best beginner laps

    Posted by OpalAddict on June 27, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Hi everyone,
    I am new to faceting and was wondering what everyone’s opinion is on the best lap to learn/grow on? Also any suggestions on material and or “cuts” would be the best to start out with? I apologize if the info is already out there and I missed it. Thanks for your time!

    gemmakermz replied 4 years, 4 months ago 7 Members · 9 Replies
  • 9 Replies
  • Alan Balmer

    June 28, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    You’re right, there’s lots of info out there. Too much, in fact 🙂

    It depends a lot on how much you want to invest and what kind of materials you’ll be cutting.

    I hope you’ll get lots of different opinions, but my recommendation for a minimum initial setup would be:

    A master lap. This will hold toppers, serve as a reference surface, add height to another lap, and other uses you’ll find as you go along. These are inexpensive, under $40.

    A 600 grit lap for initial cutting. This can be a thin topper, which has limited lifetime and may not be as flat and stable as you like, but is inexpensive, in the $30 range. Or a better quality, thick (doesn’t need the master lap) bonded steel, in the $100 range.

    For prepolish and polish, I’d get one of Gearloose’s starter kits. You’ll find them at many dealers, but get info at
    While you’re there, poke around the site, there’s much to be learned.

    Speaking of learning, there are other online resources. If you haven’t already, you should join the usfgfaceterslist on Yahoo groups. (Advertisement 😉 ) Of course, you should be a member of the USFG. That’s the best $18 you’ll ever spend. A bargain for the newsletters alone.

    GemologyOnline has a popular forum devoted to lapidary, mostly faceting. There are websites for many faceting clubs and organizations, and many people in the business of faceting or supplying faceters have online information and links to still more.

    As I said, I hope you get many other opinions.

    • OpalAddict

      June 28, 2016 at 8:45 pm

      Thank you for the response. I was leaning towards the Batt and darkside laps just wasn’t sure if what I had been reading was hype or if it was actually a great lap.

      Thanks again

  • Alan Balmer

    June 28, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    I consider the BATT, Darkside, and the other laps Gearloose has developed, some with ideas and input from Tom Smith at Adamas, part of the hardware revolution in faceting. The other part is the development of digital heads, also pioneered by Gearloose.

    On the software side, the revolution is the development of mathematical techniques by people like Robert Long and Norman Steele, followed by the development of tools like GemCad, GemRay, and BOG, by people like Robert Strickland and Tom Herbst. The next step for some will be realistic rendering techniques, which Tom Herbst discusses in his books.

    Sorry for going on, but I’m amazed by what’s taken place in the lapidary field over a few decades. Almost as amazing as what’s happened in my own field of computer technology.

  • scottwkelley

    June 30, 2016 at 1:14 am

    I like my laps that I got from inland with my cab machine and want to further the final polish to better of coarse. The only final polish I have used is the thin films with cerium oxide and recently a spectra film. I am having good success with but am wondering about flatness and what would be a good addition to upgrade my final polishing?
    I know that someday of having to use 100k or 50k diamond. Will I need special laps for each kind of polish agent used or is there one that can be cleaned and used with all sorts of polish agents?
    I did buy a pack of all sorts of films to try because I did not know any better when I started. I am getting close to my last films so I will be needing to upgrade soon.
    Also is a really flat 1200 worth the extra price?

    • Allan Beck

      July 10, 2016 at 5:16 am

      After 40 some years of cutting for pleasure, competition, and business, I recently got toppers from a reputable dealer – 180, 260, 600 and 1200 (to see if they were worth anything). If you are trying to get accurate/non-frustrating faceting, stay away!!! Even bolted down to a good flat master lap, they have some wobble. Nothing more frustrating to a beginner than not being able to get facets to meet with the stuff someone recommended to them. I saw this first hand while teaching a first timer who had the suggested economy disks.

      If you want to cut corners on price, use toppers for the coarse grits, 100 – 360. Other than that, for the laps where you want the meets too MEET, get some good, FLAT backed disks. Otherwise, all your fancy, accurate machines and gauges are all for naught.

      If you are in this for the long haul, 600 and/or 1200 grit sintered laps are worth every penny. Sorry I only took that dive after 40 years of using metal bonded disks for their relatively short useful life.

  • Owen McDevitt

    October 28, 2017 at 12:25 am

    the laps I started with are 260-360-600-3000—matrix for polishing and batt with 3000 diamond and another matrix for 50,000 diamond have cut over 2000 gems of all nature polishin grit I use italdo brand diamond— serium oxide and linde a

  • gemmakermz

    September 3, 2018 at 5:29 am

    again i will post, i get laps from a seller in china 6″ run $5-$10 each and a 3psc set about $14-$15 and that includes shipping the 8″ run $12-$15 each including shipping and they have far more diamond on them, they dont skimp. as to worp i put my thumbs set bottom center and fingers on rim and gently flex all the way around. i have seldom ever had that problem. in the case of coarse wheels a tiny bit doesn’t hurt, the fine finishing has to be flat so polishing is flat. i get laps on ebay if you want to know which/where email me. i buy them for my club members and new faceters and they pay what i paid for them. i teach faceting at age 78 and has been my hobby for 53 yrs. in 70’s i worked for crystalite/pacific test specialties making these first metal bonded(plated)laps and demo’ing them at shows.

  • JTheesfeld

    September 12, 2018 at 9:59 pm

    I’ll chime in here.
    While I do not have enough experience with all the available laps out there in order to compare, I can only tell you about some overseas laps I have been working with, and depending on.

    THK from e-bay.

    Over a year ago, I needed to expand my preform lap options, and I found these THK laps at such a good price that I had to try them. 12 laps for $129. Actually, I think they were on sale when I bought them for <$100.

    I started out with a 600 and 1200 Sierra 2 years ago. In my experience now (only 2 years) those two laps are worn beyond use. The 1200 is a nice worn-in lap for some fine pre-polish, but I rarely use it now.
    With the 12 THK laps, I am able to mix-up so many grit options that I have a new faceting experience with every gem I dop up, in a very good way. I do not believe any of my THKs laps have slowed down in any way after over 100 gems of all sorts. As far as quality, I have used them for rapid preforming and pre-polishing for all my latest competition gems, with no problems what so ever. You may not have the same experience, but for $129, you will not break the bank to give them a whirl.
    I especially love the 500 grit, and the 800 grit.
    I was having trouble with maintaining my competition size tolerances with a cerium oxide polishing lap on very fine facets. (I have learned that Cerium oxide can actually be very aggressive). I found a very light touch on a 3000 THK did the pre-polish trick every time, then I polished quartz with a 50,000 Batt final. Again, this is for very small fine facets in quartz species.

  • gemmakermz

    March 15, 2020 at 11:45 pm

    not bad, looks like you ended up at just about $10 a lap. not worn ou6t till its shiny.i have a couple laps that slowed down and i bought some sets of sharpening rods/sticks on ebay, a set of 6 diff grits, and took the appropriate grit to the disc with plendy of water and bingo dressed it to a new cutting surface.—- removed a little plating.

Log in to reply.