The large diamond saw is used to cut large or awkward rocks that are not easily cut on the small diamond saw. This saw is slow but cuts beautifully smooth slabs. The blade on this saw has lasted more than 23 years.
The small diamond saw is able to cut small specimens that can be held by hand. It is, however, difficult to make smooth cuts, and the blade tends to wear out quickly.
Basic safety Equipment must be used! You will need to wear protective goggles to shield your eyes from small projectiles, and hearing protectors to block out damaging noise. An apron is also wise.
Using the Large Diamond Saw
Put on your safety equipment. Decide where the rock should be cut. Leave enough space on either side of your cut to account for the thickness of the saw blade (~3 mm).
Place your rock in the vise so that, when it is secured, it protrudes out from the vise by at least 4 or 5 cm in the direction of the arrow. See details below.
Lift the vise adjustor pin and slide the movable vise jaw into the proper position (the rock should be clamped with vise jaw faces approximately parallel to one another). The holes into which the vise adjustor pin fits (circled) are discussed below. The movable jaw is frequently difficult to adjust, and you may need to work on it a bit.
This shows the movable vise jaw (right) moved away from the fixed jaw (left).
The movable vise jaw has been moved into position to clamp the rock. Make sure that the adjustor pin slides down into a hole (circled above) to secure the movable jaw in place.
The rock needs to be securely clamped between the two jaw faces. The rock must press against the jaw faces on at least three points, or the rock could move as it is cut. This could damage the blade or the blade drive belt. When the rock is positioned correctly, turn the clamp screw arm (circled) to clamp the rock into place. See that the rock is secure by firmly pulling and pushing on it to make sure it doesn't shift.
Once the rock is secured and you need to adjust the position of the vise to make the cuts you want. For thin sections you usually want to make two cuts: an outer cut first, then an inner cut, to make a 1-1.5 cm thick slab. Making two cuts in this way means you don't have to remove the rock between cuts, just adjust the vise. Use the ratchet wrench (circled) to position the vise for the outer cut, with the edge of the vise 2-2.5 cm from the plane of the saw blade.
When the vise is adjusted correctly, roll the vise along the rails until the rock is a few mm from the blade rim (circled). Don't start the saw if the rock is actually touching the blade.
Push the clutch handle, sticking out from underneath the vise, to the right. This engages a threaded clutch under the vise (not visible here) onto the threaded drive screw (arrow).
Slide the metal ring, wire, spring, rubber band, or whatever else is present, onto the clutch handle to lock the handle into its right-most position. The clutch handle should be all the way to the right, but not tight. If it is too loose, it will not engage the drive screw threads well enough and the rock won't advance into the blade. If it is too tight, it could slow the drive screw rotation rate and so slow the cutting. It can even stop the drive screw entirely.
Close the lid and turn on the saw. Make sure you did not leave and tools inside before you turn it on.
Here is the switch, on the right side of the saw. When the saw is turned on, the feed rod (arrow) should turn slowly. This indicates that the vise it being advanced toward the blade.
Without opening the lid, look to see if the coolant comes out of the tubes on both sides of the blade (circled).
Water should spray around the top of the saw in the plane of the blade (circled). If you do not see water turn off the saw and see about fixing the problem. Maybe the water tub just needs more water. When the blade actually starts cutting. Monitor the saw every so often to ensure the blade does not jam. If it does, shut the saw off immediately or the rubber drive belt will burn through, making a real stink. You will hear the rock end fall when the cut is complete.
Turn off the saw, lift the lid, disengage the clutch lever (move it to the left) and roll the vise away from the blade. Do not remove the rock from the vise!
Use the ratchet wrench to move the vise to the left for the second cut. The second cut should result in a slab 1-1.5 cm thick. Start the second cut like the first.
Put your rock pieces on towel to dry.
Label your slabs and any other pieces you want to keep with permanent marker, or some other legible, water-resistant method.
To prevent rusting, always leave the lid opened when the saw is not in use.
Using the Small Diamond Saw
Put on your safety equipment. Decide where you want to cut the rock. Place the rock on the saw and make sure it can fit under the guard and is smaller than the exposed blade. You may use the metal slider if you wish, but it is not necessary if you have a firm, steady hand. The guide can help gently and accurately advance the rock into the blade. Twisting the rock while cutting, or trying to cut edges or curves is what destroys these blades. You want the first cut to be on the outside edge of the rock so that when you make the second cut there is still rock to hold on to.
Now turn on the saw. The switch is located on the right side of the motor in the back right corner (circled).
Feel the sides of the blade or watch for the coolant (water, circled). The coolant should be spraying out from the edge of the blade. If no water is visible, stop cutting and fix the problem. Gently but with firmly guide your rock through the blade to make your cut. Do your best to make the cut straight. Note: The blade is not sharp in the usual sense. It will not cut your skin unless you actually press on the blade. It will cut through fingernails, however.
When finished cutting turn off the saw. You should make two cuts leaving you with a smooth, even slab 1-1.5 cm thick.
Place your slab on a section of paper towel to dry.
Once dry label your slabs.
- For additional instructions on how to make thin sections, see this document.
- To see photographs of thin sections, go here or here.
- This web page was originally prepared by Heather Barrett.