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Glossary of lapidary terms

Lapidary is the art of cutting stones. Want to learn the lingo? Read on to find out some basic jargon and terms that lapidarists use for equipment, tools, techniques, and more.
lapidary terms


Slab saw Large saw used to cut slices of rough rock into slabs

Trim saw Small saw used to trim basic shapes from slabs

Lapidary machine Machine that spins and water-lubricates grinding wheels, flat laps, and/or polishing wheels/laps that are used to shape and polish stones 

Grinding wheel Abrasive wheel oriented vertically in a lapidary machine; stone is ground against the wheel's circumference; wheels come in a progression of grits

Flat lap Abrasive disk oriented horizontally or vertically in a lapidary machine; stone is ground against the flat side of the disk; disks come in a progression of grits

Polishing wheel/lap Felt or leather wheel or flat lap that is charged with lapidary polish; used to shine stone

Combination machine/unit Any combination of lapidary devices in one unit (e.g., a trim saw with grinding and polishing wheels)


Rough Rock, stone, or gem that is raw, uncut, and unpolished

Slab Large slice of rough rock 

Cabochon (cab) Stone that is cut and polished into a smooth dome; base can be any shape 

Preform Basic outline of a cabochon; cut from a slab

Lap Both an abrasive lapidary disk and the verb for shaping a stone

Dop stick Dowel or rod that holds stone during lapping and polishing

Dopping wax Hard wax that holds stone on a dop stick

Dop pot Electric container that warms dopping wax

Lapidary polish A type of fine abrasive used with a felt or leather polishing wheel or lap to bring out the final shine on a stone; examples include cerium oxide and tin oxide

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