Is it cold enough for you? If you are sick of that question, then the answer is probably yes.


I live in the South. Virginia to be exact. On the coast. It's not supposed to be 7F at night with a high of 22... at noon... with the sun shining. My granddaughter went to NYC for a few days to see some shows. I think it is warmer there.


We aren't cut out for this kind of cold. Throw in the foot of snow we got and the city is crippled. Our houses are not insulated for this. Our heatpumps not hot enough. Our cars not rugged enough. Our bones not used to it.


Yes, we in the South complain about cold. Much to the smug chuckles of our Northern neighbors. But, we are just not up to it in much the same way that y'all are not up to 90F with 90% humidity. (I just got a warm rush writing that.) So, what do we do to keep our minds off the cold? Can't really go shopping- the roads are down right dangerous. Can't go out to garden or take a leisurely walk, too damn cold. Me and DH have played mind numbing amounts of Upwords, our go to game. Years ago, I bought the Godfather trilogy for just this kind of occasion. DH has never seen them. We watched those.


When all else fails, I can always make something. Which brings me to a story about a new tool that I have. I cab using sections of wooden dowel rods and a wax called dopping wax. The wax holds the raw rock on the stick. The problem is, the wax is temperature sensitive. If the water I use for cabbing is even just a little chilly, my rock will come off the stick and go flying across the room. So, I was unable to cab when it got real cold. I don't keep my house terribly warm in the winter because of sinus issues and the dry air.


I have complained about my cabbing issue often enough on a lapidary board that I follow, that a fellow lapidary took pity on me and offered me a solution.

Dowel and wax on the left - new aluminum stick on the right

Turns out that he has been working on a dopping design for some time and needed someone to test drive it for him. I was delighted to do it!


His tool is similar to the system used for gemstone faceters. I have not seen one quite like this for cabochons, though, and I have looked. I saw one sytem that used a screw, but since I like to use my hands close to the stone a lot, that could get painful.


He sent me the handle and some of the pieces that go into the handle. I immediately knew that this was going to work for me. You use this by crazy gluing a rock to one of the short pieces. Then insert the short piece into the handle, securing it with a set screw. 

Loose and assembled

The glue will not release in the chilled water, but it is easy enough to release the stone with heat or by putting it in the freezer. You could also use acetone, which I avoid doing.


After proclaiming success with his tool we worked on any improvements that could be made. But, since it was so thoughtfully designed, the only real improvements would be to make it to the length that the user was comfortable with. Also, he tapered the handle a bit to make sure that the handle would clear the grinding wheels at odd tight angles.


I have two handles and plenty of the short heads. I can keep a large variety of rocks dopped up and ready to insert into the handle. This system has been a real blessing to me. I have been able to do much more cabbing than I would ordinarily have done.


Unfortunately, my heater has not been keeping up with this record breaking cold very well, so the water is a bit too chilly for my fingers. In just a few short days, we will be back up to 50F. I'll be doing some more cabbing then.


If any of you cab, I encourage you to get in touch with me for the contact information of the maker of this great new tool.


Speaking of new tools... I got another new tool which I will be discussing in another post. This one an intarsia grinder. That's right! I will be trying my hand at the dyeing art of gemstone intarsia.


Until next time.... stay warm!