Lapidary

The HGMS offers lapidary instruction at the Huntsville-Madison County Senior Center (the “Senior Center”) lapidary shop.  Our certified instructors are Michael Cape (daytime), Bill Friday and Wayne Falkenberg (Tuesday evenings), and Joe Bonin (Wednesday evenings).  Click Shop Schedule to see when the shop is open.

Lapidary Shop

by Bill Friday, HGMS President

The Senior Center lapidary shop features an enviable array of rock saws, grinding machines, and polishing equipment.  The fact that HGMS members can enjoy such a facility is due in large part to the strong support we are accorded by the Senior Center, in that we are the only member group allowed to have active participation by members as young as age 18 (who have completed the certification training).  All maintenance is provided by a crew of dedicated volunteers.  Oil becomes thick with sludge from the rock kerf, saws and wheels gradually wear out and must be replaced, and disabled equipment must be repaired, or sometimes be replaced.  The annual Auction generally pays for shop maintenance so there is currently no usage or training fee.

Certification training is required for anyone to use the shop equipment.  During the daytime lapidary sessions, only seniors age 60 and older may use the shop.  On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, the shop is available for HGMS members only, ages 18 and up, between 6pm and 9pm.  This training is available to any 18+ HGMS member who requests it.  For those who cannot take advantage of the evening sessions, special training times can be arranged by request to Bill Friday.  A schedule of shop opening times for all activities, including daytime silversmithing and wood carving, is posted on the shop door.

Almost all of the lapidary shop equipment was purchased new in 2016, with four Highland Park 14” diamond blade slab saws and ten double-wheel arbors with diamond surfaces, from 80/220 grit for grinding, 280/6 00 grit for sanding, and 3000/14,000 for polishing.  Two 6” trim saws and the manual 10” slab saws are older and still serviceable but will soon be replaced.  On some busy evenings, there are up to a dozen participants, though usually fewer, most of whom can find an empty machine of some sort to use in pursuit of the creation of genuine treasures.  It should be added that the fellowship of swapping stories, swapping rocks, and admiring each other’s skills and accomplishments is a significant part of the attraction.

Click Shop Schedule to see when the shop is open.