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Dopping gemstones
Dopping a gemstone is the process of applying a handle or dop stick to a prepared stone so that the gemstone can be shaped, sanded and polished easily. Dopping instructions or the basics of dopping will be easy once tried. The dop stick can be a wooden dowel in assorted sizes, (use smaller dowels for smaller cabochons), nail with the sharp point removed, clothespin, etc. The best adhesive for dopping the stone to a dop stick is a commercial dop wax cement. Other adhesive products may be brittle and allow the gemstone to come off the dop stick. Low heat is used to melt the dop wax. Breaking the dop wax stick into smaller pieces will allow the wax to melt faster. The wax needs to flow but still be thick. If your wax gets so hot it smokes, this is too hot and will weaken the wax and therefore, a dop wax stove or dop pot is highly recommended for melting the dop wax. Dop wax stoves are set to a certain temperature while the unit is plugged in and will not overheat. PREPARED STONES must be clean, dry, and free of oil, etc. If the stone is porous, it should be cleaned in Acetone. WARNING: AVOID BREATHING ACETONE FUMES. The top of the dop stove should be used to warm the stones before they are adhered to the dop stick. The stones should be heated bottom side up. The process of melting dop wax may take from 10-30 minutes. When the dop wax has melted to the fluid state, twirl the end of the dop stick around in the wax and apply as much wax as to be about 3/4 of the size of the completed cabochon. While the wax is still warm and fluid, press the dop stick on a cold surface (metal) and hold the dop stick in a perpendicular position. When the wax cools some, wet fingers in cold water (to keep fingers from burning) and shape the wax around the dop stick in a conical shape,with a wide base where the stone will be placed. Hold the dop stick perpendicular until the wax is cool enough to maintain shape, giving the wax a flat bottom. Prepare other dop sticks as needed. When ready to attach the stones to the dop sticks, dip the dop stick back into the hot dop wax for a thin coat of wax and place the hot wax against the center of the stone. (Dop stick should be perpendicular to the flat bottom of the stone.) After initial cooling, shape the wax to form a cone for good support of the stone. When the dop stick is completely cooled, the polishing process of the stone can begin. REMOVAL of the stone from the dop stick is accomplished by placing the stone in a glass of iced water or the freezer. The wax becomes brittle and removal is easy. (Some stones, such as opal, with high water content, may freeze and fracture if not removed soon enough from freezing conditions.) The stone can also be placed back on the top of the stove to warm the wax for removal. A sharp knife or razor will remove any excess wax. Add the removed dop wax back to the stove pot for melting and reuse again. Have fun and enjoy completing your own cabochons!
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