Working with Ceramic Lap

Just Ask Jeff: Do I need a ceramic lap and how do I get it to work?Whether you need ceramic lap or not, really depends on what type of cutting you are doing

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Do I need a ceramic lap and how do I get it to work?

Praying and ritual sacrifices might help. In general people either hate ceramic laps or love them. I have had mixed results and find a zinc or tin lap is much easier for me. If you are cutting for fun or sale, you want a zinc or tin lap so do not bother with a ceramic lap unless you are into frustrations and aggravation. Whether you need ceramic lap or not, really depends on what type of cutting you are doing. If you are contest cutting where you need very flat sharp facets, you probably want a ceramic lap and a convenient door to slam your fingers in for distraction, when things go wrong. Things will go wrong, it is just a matter of time.

My cat Easy in his box next to my faceting machine trying to get some sleep with me using a ceramic lap...

Here is how to get started. "Hey can't a cat get some sleep around here…"  Get yourself a small pump spray bottle, almost any drug store carries them. Put an ounce or so of alcohol into it, mix with some powdered graphite (this trick I learned from a friend of mine named Paul Head who likes ceramic laps).

Note: Some people use WD-40 to lub ceramic laps.

I think he just likes cats, the squealing noise from using the ceramic lap attracts them, or wakes them up depending on the situation from all over the neighborhood. The ceramic lap tends to squeal and squeak when you are using one. Especially new. About a 1/4 teaspoon of graphite, is enough to make the alcohol charcoal color (you can use white graphite). The graphite works as a lubricant. Without a lube of some kind you will have every dog and cat within several miles howling and coming to see what the noise is. The graphite will not leave an oil sheen that is hard to wipe off of your facet like a normal oil lube, although some people use oil on a ceramic lap. The lap will still make some noise, but the Graphite works pretty well and lubbed this way the ceramic lap tends to only call your "own" dogs and cats to the work shop.

Spray the alcohol and graphite onto your ceramic lap and rub it in evenly with a lint free wipe. Then take your diamond spray (I use the thin Crystallite diamond in the spray bottle, it does not seem to have much oil in it, if any) and very lightly squirt some evenly on the lap, it does not take much. Too much diamond on a ceramic lap is a pretty common problem and can lead to scratching. Every once and a while, when the lap seems to quit working, take a lint free wipe and alcohol and clean the lap, add a little diamond if needed. If it starts to squeal and you are making friends with too many cats in the neighborhood, apply some more graphite. Some people say that the lap actually works better as it wears in and gets a glass like surface. Believe me this will take a long time to happen because a ceramic lap is very hard, and will not wear fast.

It is important to note that the manufacturer recommends that you resurface the ceramic lap when it gets glass like. My theory here is whatever works for you. What works for me is a good set of Zinc or tin laps.

Alternative uses for a ceramic lap:

  • hot plate pad
  • pizza serving plate
  • cat calling device
  • dog howling device
  • tweety bird call
  • fishing weight (I would not mind loosing it at all)
  • ceramic pigeon (shotgun practice)
  • master lap (use with Ultra Laps)
  • checking dop flatness (hold up to light and roll dop)
  • flower pot base, it already has a hole in the middle for drainage
  • paper weight
  • (My Personal Favorite) Give it to somebody you don't like, it will drive them nuts! They will think you are a nice guy, at least initially.

Jeff R. Graham

The late Jeff Graham was a prolific faceter, creator of many original faceting designs, and the author of several highly-regarded instructional faceting books such as Gram Faceting Designs.

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