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Quartz Wedge

Posted by Don Saathoff  
Don Saathoff April 22, 2012 09:00PM
I'm STILL looking for a quartz wedge that I can afford - a new one is WAY out of my price range. A three- or four-order wedge would be wonderful. Even trade would be great!! We have several large old slabs of Kelly smithsonite, many unknowns REE minerals from the Rode pegmatite in Llano, TX. Just to name a couple of things.....

The 'scope is a Zeiss student model and takes a standard DIN plate..


Henry Barwood April 22, 2012 10:00PM

There is a short description of how to make optical wedges out of stretched acrylic plastic in:

Am. Min. 67:853 1982
Taggart, K. C.
Inexpensive "Quartz Wedges"

Might take a few tries, but would certainly be cheaper than a real quartz wedge.

Henry Barwood
Troy University
Troy, Alabama USA
Don Saathoff April 22, 2012 11:47PM
Thanks Henry, I read that article some time ago but decided to try for quartz again.....if no luck, I'll probably try the acrylic....

Donald Peck April 24, 2012 01:37PM
Don, when I was cutting thinsections free hand, most of the time they wedged out on me. I wonder if one could intentionally cut a wedge from quartz, and if it would be useful?
Don Saathoff April 24, 2012 05:05PM
In our local club there is a gentleman who is a faceter. He has offered to try and I will probably take him up on his offer. I have the dimensions required for a 4-order wedge but haven't decided on a substrate yet. I'll try a good quality microscope slide.

The difficulty with the acryllic is the optical quality - it would have to be used on the stage....

And, yes, hand-lapping a thin section is an art I haven't mastered either!!!!

Owen Lewis (2) April 24, 2012 09:04PM

Try Hyxtal ( its the epoxy of choice for those skilled jewelers who make composite gems. A chat with them may help you settle the grade you want for this application.
Charles Creekmur April 24, 2012 09:32PM
Some years ago I made a wedge. I had a large block of clear quartz that I cut a oriented slab out of and went to one of our local club faceters and had him grind it for me on my direction. It turned out perfect 4 orders but I suspect that was 1 % "knowing what I was doing" and 99% "beginners luck". As I remember, I used Canada Balsam on a regular microscope slide.
Good luck,
Don Saathoff April 24, 2012 11:30PM
Thanks All!! Another Mindater has a spare & and is willing to part with it!! It should be fine for my needs..

Donald Peck April 26, 2012 03:11PM
I have a 4-order quartz wedge that was unmounted. I mounted it on a microscope slide with Canada balsam and it works fine. I have toyed with the idea of mounting it by its edges in a carrier and having no substrate but have not tried it. I would worry a bit about the brittleness of the thin end.
Don Saathoff April 26, 2012 04:49PM
Don, I believe even those wedges mounted in a carrier are on a substrate. When I was contemplating construction I found a site with an "exploded" view of a wedge and it showed a substrate onto which the wedge was attached w/ balsam. I was going to use a sandwich of hardwood.....

gary moldovany April 26, 2012 08:58PM
Please forgive my ignorance, but I have no idea what a quartz wedge is or what it is used for. Would someone be kind enough to enlighten me? Thanks! Gary
Don Saathoff April 26, 2012 11:00PM
Hello Gary,
When studying the optical characteristics of a non-opaque mineral with a polarizing microscope there are two accessory plates used to aid in determining optical sign (+/-)....among other things. One is the Gypsum Plate which has a fixed retardation and the other is the Quartz Wedge which has a "variable" retardation.

For a better explanation Google "Optical Mineralogy"......there is no quick & easy way to describe it's use....(sorry!!)

Don S.
Donald Peck April 27, 2012 03:10PM
Don, When I mounted my wedge, I cut Lucite for the carrier. I cut a recess in the edges of the opening so the piece of glass slide with the wedge rests in the dadoed edges. Works fine.
Don Saathoff April 27, 2012 06:43PM
That would work...
Gerald Wells June 16, 2012 02:06AM
I have a quartz wedge that I made many years ago. It is mounted on a slide and I have used it many times for gemology. If someone is interested I can look it up and send some measurements and pictures. I switched to another interest and haven't used it for a while.
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