Basic Items for getting started in faceting .
This page is offered for information only. We do not sell laps.
We have suggested a couple of starter lap packages, a sapphire cutter's package and a competition cutter's package at the bottom of this page.
Note: Items marked with an asterisk (*) are what we consider good elements of a basic starter package.
100 and 180 Grit Laps Use these laps ONLY if you will be cutting larger stones, or don't have a trim saw. These laps cut aggressively for quick removal of material. They leave deep scratches and create chip outs, so they are only to be used for the coarsest of preforming.
* 260 Grit Lap This is the standard lap for coarse grinding.
360 Grit Lap The 360 is a better lap for coarse grinding on medium to medium-small stones.
* 600 Grit Lap A good intermediate grit lap. It should also be the finest bonded lap to be used with corundum (sapphire and ruby).
1200-1500 Grit Lap Often used for prepolishing. However, our experience is that the Crystalite 1200 Solid Steel lap leaves too deep of a scratch pattern to provide a decent prepolish. Laps at 1200 grit made by other manufacturers are less aggressive and will produce a good prepolish at the 1200 grit stage.
3000 Grit Lap The Crystalite 3000 Grit Solid Steel Lap provides a good prepolish on most stones under 8.5 MOHs hardness.
600 Nubond Lap Nubond laps are made with a different technique than the more common plated laps. The result is a lap that cuts like a plated lap that is much finer. Once broken in, the 600 Nubond lap cuts more like a 1500 grit lap. It provides an excellent prepolish for garnet, peridot, feldspar, opal and tourmaline. We have more information on Nubond laps in our how-to and tips section.
* 1200 Nubond Lap Nubond laps are made with a different technique than the more common plated laps. The result is a lap that cuts like a plated lap that is much finer. Once broken in, the 1200 Nubond lap cuts more like a 4000 grit lap. It provides the best prepolish for quartz and beryl. We have more information on Nubond laps in our how-to and tips section.
* Ultralaps Ultralaps are thin sheets that have a polishing agent on one side. They are not messy like other polishing methods, are inexpensive and easy to use. Therefore, we suggest beginners start off using Ultralaps for polishing. We have found the Spectra Ultralaps to be the best of the Ultralaps for quartz. Aluminum oxide "A" Ultralaps will polish garnet, as well as most tourmaline and peridot.
* Master Lap Master laps are blank aluminum laps. They are used as a base to support thinner laps like Dyna Discs and Ultralaps, that are too thin to use by themselves.
* Dop Wax We prefer Raytech Diamond Dop Wax. It is a high temperature wax that is ideal for use with sapphire, but it also holds other stones tenaciously.
* Alcohol Lamp or Butane Torch Dop wax melts at high temperatures. Therefore, a good heat source is needed for dopping with wax.
* Calipers Calipers are essential for measuring the size of calibrated stones, setting length to width ratios, determining which faceting design will provide the best yield and for making sure enough material is left to cut your crown when grinding the girdle.
* Loupe The standard loupe for faceters is 10 power. Small diameter loupes can cause eye strain. So, the best loupes are 20 to 21mm in diameter. This is because the large lenses let in more light and provide a wider viewing area.
PREPOLISHING AND POLISHING CORUNDUM (Sapphire and Ruby):
Prepolish Grits Corundum often takes on a pitted orange peel surface when ground with a bonded lap finer than 600 grit. Therefore, when cutting corundum, loose diamond must be used for the finer grits. Loose grit can be in the form of powder, spray, or compound. If powder or compound is used, an extender fluid, such as Raytech Extender Fluid, or Crystalube should be used as a lubricant. Most people use 3000 or 8000 grit for prepolishing corundum.
Prepolish Laps Copper is a widely used lap for prepolish grits. Bronze is another good choice as it is harder than copper and provides flatter facets. BATT, zinc and ceramic are also good choices. If using a ceramic lap for prepolishing, keep in mind that finer grits will produce less troublesome results.
Polish Grits Corundum is usually polished to 14,000 grit by overseas cutters. However, it will take a much better polish with finer grit. Standard grits for BATT, brass and zinc are 50,00 and 100,000. The finer 100,000 grit diamond will produce a superb polish, but takes a bit longer. We recommend 100,000 or 200,000 diamond spray for polishing corundum on a ceramic lap.
Polish Laps Professional sapphire cutters tend to prefer brass or zinc laps for polishing. However, BA5T laps tend to be more forgiving and still offer excellent results. The flattest facets are produced with ceramic laps, but they tend to be more finicky than other laps.
Laps for Other materials: Check our the Properties of Gemstones page on our Facetingrough.com website, which provides information on the best laps for cutting and polishing many different materials.
Basic starter lap kit for cutting quartz:
Lap kit for cutting quartz, beryl, garnet, tourmaline and peridot:
Sapphire Cutter's lap kit (also good for other hard stones such as cz, spinel, chysoberyl and topaz):
Competition Cutter's Lap kit for cutting synthetic spinel, corundum and cubic zirconium: