Cabbing Rough on Etsy (UPDATE - shop is no longer active) is actually a family affair - Laura, Karl, her husband, their kids and Grandma Connie. Their story could be summed up as follows - a family that rocks together, stays together!

It's also a feel good turnaround story at a time when so many businesses are struggling. Cabbing Rough started after Karl had to close down his flooring business 2 years ago.  The stalled economy and Laura's health were but two reasons which forced him to do so. He got the idea for a hand cut cabochon business from rock collections and his desire to help Laura who was making jewelry to sell and bring in some income.

The family business brought unexpected benefits - two stay-at-home parents who are much more involved with their children's lives. Karl has even become a neighborhood inspiration - he is known as the Rock Man! Their 5 year old daughter, Molly can not only identify stones but has learned to cut them too. As you can see, Karl is a great teacher - those safety glasses look so cute on her. Two of their 3 sons, the 10 and 11 year old boys have even had rock cutting parties!

Have you ever wondered how lapidarists like them cut and polish gemstones and turn them into cabochons? Well, some people asked Laura and she responded by posting several pictures in the About Jewelry forum. It was a fascinating series showing the whole process which Laura let me reproduce here.

How to Cut a Rock

Considering that they start off with 2-10 lb rocks, I'd say they get good arm workouts!

Here's Karl slicing up a landscape jasper from Madacascar on the smaller of their two saws. The saw runs with oil so Laura is quite content to let Karl do this icky bit.

Once the slabs are cut, Laura takes them upstairs to her table. This is where the fun begins.

Shown are slabs of Jafar Jasper (black and white), teepee canyon (orange), regency rose plume agate (clear/pink), and Mooka Jasper (red and yellow)

She says, "Upstairs I'll draw shapes on the slabs for what I may like to cut. Sometimes slabs will sit here for months before I see what I want."  This Jafar jasper shows her chosen markings.

There are clearly many ways a lapidarist can cut a stone but to choose the best shape taking in account the natural pattern of the stone clearly requires a good eye and skill.

Once the decision is made, the stone slabs are returned to the saw to be "trimmed out" or roughly shaped. Shown here is a trimmed ocean jasper.

Laura then spends time shaping the piece on her 100 grit diamond wheel. This particular gemstone is a laguna agate.

This step takes time so she likes listening to music at the same time. She says other people like to attach a dowel to the back of the piece as a handle (called dopping) but she says she likes torturing her hands instead!

Here is the shaped laguna agate which still needs sanding and polishing.

Hand cut cabochon is definitely a labor intensive process. There are 7 sanding steps with progressively finer grit to get all the scratches out. Polishing requires 3 different pads with diamond paste to get that shiny look.

The picture on the left shows Laura using her right hand. She is normally left handed but was forced to switch for a few days as she had sanded off all the fingernails on her dominant hand. Laura is definitely a manicurist's nightmare!

The finished cabochon on the left is a beautiful coyamito agate. It shows off her skill at showcasing the natural beauty of the rock.

Cabbing Rough is giving away the drop dead gorgeous red dryhead agate cabochon you see at the top.  It's especially reserved for the winner of this giveaway.  Dryhead agates come from Montana. The strange name comes from the bison skulls found nearby. The Crow Native Americans used to drive the bison over a cliff. They would then ceremoniously arrange the skulls.

To enter, all you you have to do is make a comment below. Extra entries if you become or are a blog subscriber or follower or also on Facebook Fan page or Twitter. The giveaway ends in a week's time at 6 pm EST Monday August 30. I will pick a winner randomly and announce the results as soon as possible after.

Meanwhile, you might like to check out this past tutorial post on how to wire wrap cabochons.

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips