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  • Many Styles, Many Options

    When it comes to coldworking glass, we all do the same thing differently.

    Depending on where and who you learned coldworking from, there are a variety of ways to accomplish the same look in your glass. One is not necessarily better than the other, only different. We hope to offer as many tools and accessories for coldworking to fit as many styles as we can and hope to educate you on what may work best for your process if you're unsure of which products to choose.

    With coldworking you can choose from grinding media like loose grit silicon carbide, electropated diamonds, sintered diamond, resin bonded diamond, and embedded abrasives; all in differing formats. It can be daunting and perplexing.

  • Efficiency and Consistency

    The biggest upfront difference is price.

    Loose grit silicon carbide and has been around as a grinding agent for centuries. It's easy to use either by hand or with a slurry grinder and is very inexpensive. It also gives a very nice random "ground" surface appearance to your glass. This is how many people learned to coldwork their glass. So why bother with diamonds?

    Coldworking with diamonds is far more efficient than loose slurry grinding. You can generally coldwork a piece in a fraction of the time it takes with loose grit. Silicon carbide also will break down faster than diamonds so your grinding surface moves from very aggressive to barely aggressive very quickly. You have to constantly replenish your grit for accurate grinding. Diamonds wear slowly so they keep their same level of consistent grinding for a longer period of time.

    Price is always the first thing most people notice. Diamond tools are far more expensive than their silicon carbide counterparts. What you really need to consider is your long term efficiency. How much is your time worth and how many pieces can you complete in how much time?

  • Depends on the Tool

    The difference between Electroplated and Sintered is our most common question.

    Electroplated diamond tools have a single layer of diamond held onto the tool with a layer of nickel that is grown over the diamond in a plating tank. Once that layer of diamond is worn down, the tool is used up and it's time to purchase a new tool.

    Sintered diamonds, on the other hand, have diamond impregnated throughout the entire metal structure of the grinding part of the tool. Once a layer of diamond is worn down, you can use a dressing stick to drill, slice, or grind into and it will remove the topmost layer of diamond and expose new diamonds below. It becomes like a brand new tool!

    This begs the question, "Why aren't all diamond tools sintered?"

    Most diamond tools will be more effective if they are sintered such as saw blades, core drills, engraving wheels, and grinding wheels. The problem with sintered diamond tools is that they do wear down and lose shape. This is not so important with tools like saw blades and core drills, but engraving wheels and grinding wheels will oftentimes need to be re-shaped to hold their profiles. Flat disks perform very poorly as sintered tools as they will lose their flatness very quickly and need to be dressed very often to maintain flatness even at the expense of losing perfectly sharp diamonds on the top layer of the tool.

  • Same Grits, Different Surface Prep

    Resin based diamond tools are more useful for pre-polish than roughing.

    When diamonds are electroplated or sintered, they are held in place with a metal like nickel. When the diamond contacts the glass it doesn't move and it creates a very deep, aggressive scratch on the glass, even at finer grits like 500 or 1200. It's still virtually impossible to polish a surface from a plated or sintered tool even at these finer grits.

    When diamonds are mixed into a phenolic resin, they sit in a little pocket of the resin. When the glass contacts the diamond, the diamond "rolls" around in that little pocket. So instead of a deep aggressive scratch on your glass, the resin based diamond gives a smoother, almost buffing scratch to your glass. This is why you can use a 325 grit diamond in a resin based material and the surface will come out more like an 800 grit surface and very easy to polish from.

    The biggest mistake people make is trying to use a resin based diamond tool for rough work. It may work initially, but because the diamond is held in a small pocket of resin, the harder you grind with it, the faster the resin will wear down and the diamond will fall out of their pockets reducing the life of the tool.

  • Pumice and Cerium

    It comes down to the clarity of the polish and the grade of the polishing media.

    The best way to chemically polish your glass is with cerium oxide. Cerium is a rare earth element that is mined from the earth. It's a naturally occurring element that you can find listed in the periodic chart. Cerium is used in a number of industries from filtering water to blocking X-rays. It also works amazingly well as a polishing media for glass. Used with water to make a slurry, cerium can achieve an optical polish on your glass surfaces. How quickly the cerium polishes your glass is dependant on a few factors like the purity of the cerium (i.e. how much percentage of pure cerium is in the mixture) and the particle size of the powder. The higher the cerium content, the faster it will polish the glass. The finer the particle size, the better the clarity of the polish as well.

    Currently, 95% of all the cerium in the world is exported from China. China, in the last few years, have instituted an export quota on cerium making it harder and harder to find in the open market. This has driven the price of cerium up almost 8 times the price it was only two years ago.

    One way to extend the viability of the cerium you have is to use another polishing media called pumice. Pumice is also a very fine particle size material that works like a polish on your glass. You won't achieve an optical like finish on your glass with pumice, but it will give what many refer to as a "dirty polish" to your glass. For many pieces that just need a quick polish on the bottom of the piece, pumice can suffice as your polish. You can also use pumice on the surface of your glass, then move to cerium for a final polish and reduce the amount of cerium it takes to polish and the amount of time it takes to achieve that polish.

  • Experience

    We work with virtually all the tools we sell.

    The people who work here at His Glassworks aren't just a bunch of desk jockeys. We actually use virtually all the tools we offer. With some employees having 20 years or more of experience coldworking glass, you can be sure of getting the best possible advice on your tools and techniques. We don't sell you a tool and abandon you. With our online video tutorials and our FAQ section, we try to educate and inform you before and after the sale.

    Unlike many places that make tools and have no idea what they are used for or how they are used or what they will do to your glass, we extensively test our tools and learn what works and doesn't work for various types of projects and situations. We can help you make an informed decision on which tools will work best for your process and which tools might cause you grief. We're available 5 days a week for any of your problems and concerns.

Popular Misconceptions Regarding Low-Cost Diamond Disks

More diamonds are better.

A higher concentration of diamonds on a disk does not make it more efficient, it just means your disk will slow down faster.

"Why," you say? Well, let's imagine the tread on your tires. They're uneven and have a broken surface for a reason; to grab the road and create traction. In the same way, diamond disks need to have room between the diamonds in order to run efficiently. The more diamonds on the disk, the more solid the surface area will be and the the more the diamonds will end up supporting the glass rather than grinding it.

It may look and feel really impressive on a disk, but in the long run it just means you'll be spending more time trying to dress the disk to get it running again and less time actually grinding with it.

All Electroplating is the same.

All Electroplating is not created equal.

Electroplating diamonds with nickel is a very complicated process that requires an in-depth knowledge of the physics of electroplating and more than a little bit of mad scientist chemistry to make the whole thing work.

If done incorrectly, nodules of nickel will grown on the surface of the disk instead of simply growing nickel to bond the diamonds. When this happens, you'll get nice gouges on your glass. This will seem like there are large diamonds stuck to the finer grits. These nodules are nearly impossible to remove completely and can actually compromise the integrity of the plated surface.

And who wants to spend time tracking down flaws in the nickel when you should have a tool you can use?

A Thicker Disk is a Better Disk.

(except with Oreo Cookies)

One main reason bargain disks have a thicker core is to hide the inexperienced plating that is involved in making them. If you don't know what you're doing when electroplating a disk, then plating nickel onto a large flat surface generally creates something warped like a potato chip. It is very difficult to achieve a uniformly flat disk when plating it with nickel. The more nickel involved, the more warpage you have to combat.

Instead of refining the plating process to correct this, most bargain disk makers simply use a thicker core to minimize the disk from warping beyond usefulness. If you look at most bargain disks, they are not flat. Having a thicker core can also prevent the disk from conforming to your already flat wheel head, so achieving a flat surface on your piece may be next to impossible.

Synthetic Diamonds are great.

(just ask your wife or girlfriend)

Natural diamonds, when they break, form sharp surfaces that continue to grind very efficiently. Synthetic diamonds, when they break, cleave into flat regular surfaces that rarely have a sharp edge to grind with. This is why bargain disks have so many diamond on them. They are terribly inefficient and when the diamonds cleave, they're no longer very useful; they use more diamonds to take up the slack (see No.I for the drawbacks to using too many diamonds on a disk).

Synthetic diamonds do have their place though. Resin bonded diamond tools use synthetic diamonds that are specially formulated for bonding to resins. Because the diamonds "tumble and roll" within the resin, there are always sharp corners to grind with, even when they cleave.

Bargain Disks Save Money.

After reading the last four misconceptions, do you really think this is the case? They may cost far less upfront than our diamond disks, but over time they cost you more in extra labor, lost production time, and general aggravation.

What's your time worth? Have you considered the ROI (Return On Investment). You probably choose blowpipes from quality manufacturers because you want them to work without breaking. You choose kilns and controllers from knowledgable manufacturers because you want to make sure your glass anneals correctly. Why should your coldworking tools be any different?

Chinese Disks are just as good.
Was that in a Fortune Cookie?

You should be able to now discern this on your own. After reading our counters to the most common misconceptions regarding foreign made, domestically marketed disks, do you really believe this statement is true?

Can you say that your supplier knows and understands the complete plating process and can deliver consistent quality for your grinding needs?

There may be many fine products coming out of the Far East, but we have yet to find any that can come close to competing with the American made disks we manufacture for your coldworking needs. We are very proud of our disks and proud of the service we provide to the glass community.

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