When I was a beginner, I read a lot of books on faceting. (I still do). One of the things that stuck with me was Jeff Graham saying something about his favorite lap being a worn-out 1,200-grit lap. It wasn’t until I wore out my first 1,200 Crystalite solid steel-plated lap that I understood what Jeff meant. Here was a lap that could still cut but also gave me a flat, sharp, matte finish on a facet. Such a facet served as a great “stepping stone” to a pre-polish regardless of what gemstone I was cutting.
Most of the diamond-plated 3,000-grit laps I tried ended up gouging my stones. Something always seemed to pop up at the most inconvenient time, sending me back to recut the stone. Fortunately, the worn-out 1,200 lap allowed me to bypass the troublesome 3,000 and move on to one of the many pre-polish systems I had in my studio.
Please don’t take me for someone that skips laps. I’m a dedicated sequential lap faceter. If you triple step your grits (like going from a 260 to a 1,200 lap), you’ll pay for it one way or another. I’ve never understood the folks who say they can go from a rough grit to a polish. Maybe the stones they’re cutting are exceedingly small. I like to cut big sculptural stones, which take time and no lap skipping.
The worn-out 1,200 lap acted like a cross between the 1,200 and 3,000. Unfortunately, such a worn-out plated lap eventually becomes totally void of diamond grit. A sintered metal lap, on the other hand, never really wears out, because you pay three times the money for it not to wear out.
Recently, I saw an advertisement for Hyper-Edge gem faceting laps. These are proprietary composite laps. Being a lap collector of sorts, I buy every new lap I see and try it. After watching the informative video where the late, great Stephen Kotlowski explained in detail the use and care of the Hyper-Edge laps, I bought the full set and tried them. I’ve yet to be disappointed with any of the new laps.
While I like all the laps in the set, the 1,500-grit lap gave me the same wonderful performance as a worn out 1,200 plated lap, but in a sintered lap. This lap can cut out 600-grit scratches with ease and then finish the stone with a smooth, sharp, matte finish ready for a pre-polish.
At $550, this isn’t an inexpensive lap. However, if you facet regularly, this lap will save you time and money. It’s also versatile. You can embellish your gemstones with a nice matte finish, and it performs well when free-wheel rotational cutting.
When assembling faceting packages for my students or customers, I now insist they include the Hyper-Edge 1,500. After all, it’s my new favorite lap.