What is a good faceting machine to start with?
There are really several factors that need to be considered before making any decision to buy a faceting machine.
First – I think you need to learn how to facet, before spending any money on a machine, if you can.
This sounds logical, but you would be surprised at how many people either just buy a machine, or do not live in an area where they can get lessons or advice from another cutter.
The best situation, is to join a club or guild in your area (if you can) and learn how to cut using their machines. If you are lucky they will have several different types you can try. When you have cut a few stones and gotten some experience on a machine(s) you will have a much better idea of what you want and if you really enjoy faceting enough to buy a machine.
Second – Once you have done some cutting and have talked to other cutters and used different machines you will be able to start making some decisions.
The main one is what can I spend? If the budget is not a problem.
I would recommend a new (better quality) faceting machine. You will get what you pay for.
I have bought used machines and new ones, and I would really prefer a new one. I have several reasons for this, but mainly it is very pleasant to not have to deal with minor and or major problems that can often plague a used machine, even a well maintained one.
However, if budget is a consideration (as with most people) then a good used machine is certainly the answer.
I recommend a used OMNI, Ultra Tec, or Facetron, yes they are hard to find, that should tell you something.
For a bottom, entry level machine you probably cannot find a cheaper machine than a Graves for the price and availability. There is a reason for the cheap price, you get what you pay for and a Graves machine has a lot of problems in my opinion.
I have sometimes seen a Graves for as low as a few hundred dollars ($200.00) used on the classifieds ad section at Bob’s Rock Shop, which is a good place to look for used machines.
Because Graves machines are inexpensive new, and they have been around a long time, used Graves machines are (relatively) easy to find and cheap. I do not recommend a Graves in my personal opinion they are not a good machine, especially for a beginner. They just have too many problems I think.
Remember, you will get what you pay for and in my opinion a Graves machine is poor at best. But because of price a lot of people seem to buy Graves faceting machines to learn to facet.
Note: I also know quite a few people that gave up faceting in frustration because of the problems they experienced with one.
There are definitely problems with Graves machines, especially newer ones, so look for an older one, if you have to buy one. It is not an expensive machine to start with, and lacks the expensive machining and quality (precision) of some of the better brands available.
If you are planning to cut a lot, or a long time and/or are going to be doing more complicated work, like competition cutting or complicated designs, then you want an OMNI, Ultra Tec or maybe a Facetron.
I think that a better machine is well worth the money and adds a lot of enjoyment to the hobby. Like I said earlier, “you get what you pay for…”
Buy the best machine you can afford, is the best advice I can give you.