How to Make a Lapidary Drop Saw

assortment of colorful gems
What You'll Need
Drop saw
Diamond blade

A lapidary drop saw is a special type of saw which is used to cut gem stones. Lapidary, or the art of cutting gem stones, is a popular hobby for many people. It's something that people from all around the world really enjoy.

It is possible to convert a wood saw into a lapidary drop saw, however there are some very important things to consider. First, remember that in a wood saw the bearings are not sealed, this can cause problems due to the very fine dust created when rocks and gemstones are cut.

Step 1 - Choose Your Blade

The first thing that you need to do is choose the type of blade that you want to use. Although diamond-tipped blades are the blade of choice these weren't always available. Actually before diamond blades were available brass or iron blades were used with carborundum grit to cut through rocks. The blades are cooled using water and grit.

Step 2 - Replace the Coolant

A normal drop saw that is capable of cutting through metal will have a coolant bin where the liquid coolant is stored. This needs to be emptied and replaced with grit and water. The grit will help to cut through the rocks because it will be picked up and carried by the saw.

Step 3 - Replace the Blade on Your Drop Saw

Start by taking the blade off your drop saw and set it to one side. Diamond blades are available in a wide range of different sizes and suitable for different fixings. These can be bolted onto pretty much every single drop saw just as if it was a normal saw blade.

Start by undoing the bolts and removing the old blade. Once the old saw blade has been removed it is then possible to replace it and fix it in exactly the same way using a Diamond blade.

Diamond blades are able to work at very high speeds because they are hard wearing. A six-inch diamond tipped blade has an RPM of around 6,000 recommended although this will go right up to around 10,000.

Step 4 - Check Your Saw

Your drop saw must have enough power to cut through the stones. Generally a 1/4 of a horse power motor will be adequate. The pressure placed against the blade will not be too high because this could cause too much strain on the motor which will cause it to overheat. You must cut rocks at the speed that they want to cut, it's simply not possible to force it to cut any faster than it wants to.

The bearings are not sealed in normal wood saws and while they can cope okay with sawdust you will often find they will struggle to cope with anything abrasive like stone dust.

Step 5 - Use a Stock Saw

It's also possible to use a stock wood saw but replace the coolant with water and carborundum grit, however this will be very time consuming and take a long time to complete. It does work well but you might find your blade will wear out faster than normal. When using a saw not designed for the job you must be careful and ensure you don't break the blade. Your drop saw might be able to work at higher speeds to the diamond blade which means it will need to be adjusted to work at the right speeds.