Rock Hounding: Behind The Scenes

Many people don’t know what goes on behind the scenes when we prepare our materials to become ready for purchase availability. It all begins with rockhounding. We have invested in quite a few books that have great information on where you can hound specific materials, in your area/state. During our hiking adventures we make careful considerations for which of the best stones will be traveling back home with us. Getting the piece home in one piece is just the very beginning. 


Once we get the piece home we soak it in a mixture of dish soap and water for at least 48 hours. The foaming action from the soap helps to loosen any dirt, clay, or other deposits left on the rock. Sometimes we use a soft brush to scrub the piece clean. After the rock is clean we examine the piece and decide what it will be used for. Cabochons? Slabs? Keep it rough? If we are going to make slabs we will use the slab saw and slowly cut it into slabs. Depending on the size of the stone, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to cut one single slab. The slabs may be used to make show pieces for a curio cabinet, or cut into palm stones/cabochons. 


If we decide that a slab will be used to make a cabochon we will examine the piece and decide where the template will be drawn for cutting. When deciding on where to draw the stencil we make sure to select the area with the most color(s), designs, or least cracks. Once the template has been drawn we use a tile saw to cut as close as we can to the stencil. Then use a grinder to shape the piece into a rounded oval.  


Other pieces will be kept rough, simple but spectacular. Some of the rough pieces are cut in half and then polished. We polish each specimen using a level-system of diamond grit. Beginning at 50 diamond grit and slowly working our way up to 50,000 grit. In between each grit transition we scrub the stone in warm soapy water. This ensures that there is no residue left over. If there is residue left on the stone, when we begin polishing with the higher grit, it can cause scratches on the stone. Once the piece has reached 50,000 grit, we clean and then apply an Ager onto the stone. Ager is a color enhancer sealer, used to bring out the natural color in stones and protect them from stains. After the Ager sets, the stone is cleaned one final time.


New ideas are constantly arising, of things we can create with the materials that we acquire. We have created beautiful handmade wine stoppers. Using multiple materials secured together, we then ground them into an abstract shape, and then sanded smooth. Once ready we completed the level system with the diamond grit, and sealed with Ager. We created natural stone fridge magnets with different materials we collected, tumbled, and polished. Our creations are never ending and always expanding.  


Everything done in our shop is handled by two people, and all done by hand. We make sure to take our time on each and every piece, to ensure the best quality material being preserved. We take pride in our work, and are happy to be doing something we love everyday.