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Posted in response to Re: Re: 8 inch slab saw from Steve on November 27, 2007 at 13:20:55:

Re: Re: Re: 8 inch slab saw

Hi again Steve,

The size and hardness of the material you are cutting, as well as the frequency of use, is going to have significant bearing on your happiness with an 8 inch saw used for slabbing applications.

In terms of all around lapidary use, I an inclined to consider the term "8 inch slab saw" to constitute an oxymoron similar in vein to ".22 caliber anti-aircraft gun", particularly so in light of excessively optimistic expectations on the part of inexperienced users. However, if you are shooting down hang-gliders a .22 caliber gun might provide an economic solution, and if you are slabbing turquoise nuggets, an 8 in slab saw might work fine for you.

You also mentioned jasper and glass. Glass is typically soft, so assuming the pieces of glass you are cutting are also of modest size and that you do not need maximum through-put for commercial efficiency, an 8 inch saw might also fill that bill for you. However, microcrystalline quartzes like jaspers and agates are harder and tougher, so the serviceability of an 8 inch saw in slabbing them is going to be more dependent on the size pieces you are cutting, how fast you want to get them through the saw, and the service life you are expecting to get from the blades and the rest of the saw in general.

I have seldom regretted buying tools that were heavier and greater in capacity than required by the bulk of the work I do with them. In terms of durability this is often the difference between a tool that lasts for life and one that gets replaced due to wearing out or lacking capacity to do work that is eventually desired of it.

If this is the only slab saw you plan to own, for the sake of overall versatility and durability, I would be inclined towards recommending a 10 inch saw at the minimum for slabbing. I've used a number of trim and slab saws for commercial production work and I like the 10" Covington 1510 with power feed for light slabbing applications. If you can afford a Covington 1510, you will probably not regret investing in one, particularly so if you are doing work requiring commercial duty and through-put. This saw has a few mostly ergonomic issues out of the box, but I like the overall construction, which employs cast metal for the saw base/reservoir and table top, not sheet metal or plastic as is used on some of its lesser competitors.

If you are cutting a lot of turquoise you may want to experiment with thin, low kerf blades. These blades typically need to be turned at twice the speed of thicker, standard blades, as they require higher rotational speeds to maintain their rigidity while in use. I was first introduced to thin, low kerf blades for trimming faceting rough, but I also like these blades for helping to keep as much turquoise, lapis, chrysoprase, fine agates and other expensive cabbing rough out of the swarf as possible. Running this kind of blade typically entails increasing the diameter of the saw's motor pulley, so the effect of doing that on the belt path and belt guard clearances is something to consider as you evaluate different saws.

Keep on Rock'n!

From Bob Keller - November 27, 2007 at 15:59:23

Message: 65589

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