Marcus Beale and I took classes together at Central Virginia Community College in Lynchburg, Virginia not knowing we shared interests outside the classroom. It was after Marcus and his wife Marie opened up a retirement business, the Amherst County Rock Shop, that we discovered other activities in common. I am a Geologist, and Marcus has a lifelong interest in rocks and gems. Back then, Marcus was perfecting his cutting techniques using an Ultra Tec faceting machine, while I was struggling with a Graves Mark IV. The Lynchburg Gem and Mineral Society was experiencing its rebirth; I volunteered to pen a series of articles for its monthly Journal. The Scratches from the Master Lap articles documented my learning curve. Marcus also contributed ideas that he discovered which made faceting more profitable.

The articles led to experiments in faceting techniques and in fine-tuning machines. Our machines are mast type faceting machines, each with a lock or “hard stop” designed to end the cutting at precisely the same angle for a group of identical facets. Note: a mast must flex when a protractor lock is engaged.  A mast flexes an unknown and therefore an uncontrollable amount from facet to facet, thus over cutting…