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I know I’m late to the party, but I see you are in Wi. First- *STOP* buying stuff. I have spent thousands of $$ on marginally useful laps and gadgets. Try to learn form my mistakes. Look around for a rock club in your area. Someone might already be cutting. 🙂 I was self taught from Jeff Graham’s books, but I don’t know if they are still available.
Take a look at lapidaryschool.org. It is located in Northern Georgia Faceting 1 is a one week class and you will find it amazingly reasonable in cost. I have been there tens of weeks and each time I learn something new. Probably the cheapest vacations I ever took! I think class, room and board (and yes, decent food!) is approx $55 for the week, plus class fees (up to $100 dependent on instructor)