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Slab sawing guidelines
Basic instructions or guidelines to follow when using your slab saw: Some diamond bladed saws come with an oil sump reservoir that recycles your saw oil and others have the oil contained in the saw. If your oil is contained in the saw, make certain the saw blade is immersed in the cutting oil a minimum of 3/8". When the saw is turned on, check to make sure the oil is lubricating the diamond blade at the point where it touches the rock. Approximate the distance the vise will be open to clamp your rock. (The vise jaws need to be parallel after placing the rock in the vise.) Place wooden blocks in the opposite side of the vise to fill in the gap as close to the edge of the jaws as possible. This will prevent binding the moveable jaw of the vise and put the maximum pressure on the rock and vise interface. Position the rock in the vise so that the edge of the rock first encountering the cutting edge of the blade is as close to 90 degrees as possible to the blade. Use wooden wedges to secure an odd shaped rock in the vise. Tighten the rock in the vise hand tight, and follow with a tap of a rawhide mallet on the tee handle. If properly wedged, your rock should not move. NOTE: shake your rock up and down HARD to make sure it is secure in the vise. WARNING: IF THE ROCK COMES LOOSE DURING THE CUTTING PROCESS, IT CAN DAMAGE THE SAW BLADE. Before starting the saw, make certain the arbor flange holding the saw blade on the shaft will not be hit by your rock as it is slabbed by eyeballing where the rock will be traveling. If necessary, place your rock on a block of wood to elevate the rock for clearance. Make certain the top of the rock is not clamped too high for the blade to slab through the rock while maintaining clearance with the arbor flange. Use the crossfeed to place the rock in position for the first slice. To position the vise closer to the blade, turn the crossfeed counterclockwise, and clockwise to move it away from the blade. After cutting the "heel" of the rock, turn the crossfeed counterclockwise for subsequent slabs, usually 6 revolutions per 1/4" thick slab. Since the crossfeed crank will want to vibrate to the bottom position, always start counting from the bottom for your revolutions per slab. If a precise thickness (say 5 1/2 turns) is required, a thumb or set screw is available under the vise to lock the crossfeed, but it's IMPORTANT TO RELEASE THE SET SCREW EACH TIME before operating the cross feed. Position the rock as close to the blade as possible without touching. Lock the vise to engage the automatic feed by pulling the lock/release lever up. Adjust the automatic cutoff chain. Pull the chain tight towards the hook, then add the estimated length required for the rock to travel to be sawed through and fasten the chain on the hook. Close hood and start the saw. Note: if slabbing a round or tapered rock at an acute angle to the blade, restart your slab several times to make sure the blade is biting into the rock and not trying to glance off to produce a tapered slab or worse, dish the blade. Make sure the blade has stopped spinning before raising the saw hood. Remove slab. Release automatic feed lock/release lever by pushing down, then pull the vise back. (IF YOU HAVE SET THE THUMB OR SET SCREW RELEASE IT). Crank your rock over for the next slab. Note: sharpening the diamond saw blade: some rocks such as agate, hard jasper, psilomelane, tiger iron, etc. can dull the blade during cutting. The diamonds in the blade do not get dull, but the blade matrix tends to flow over the diamonds preventing them from cutting the rock. Rocks with a high metallic content or very hard dense materials tend to require the most sharpening. Use an old 220 grit grinding wheel or a dresser stick cutting a maximum of 1 square inch per sharpening. These are just a few of the basics. Bill Beebe
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