Member Travels



Rune Stone just outside of town, about 6 1/2 feet tall, dates to around 1000 AD

Last weekend was Midsommer's, when all the Swedes dance around the Maypole

These are taken about 200 yards from my workshop, there are locks here between 2 lakes. 

These are taken about 200 yards from my workshop, there are locks here between 2 lakes. That is my lovely wife walking Merlin.

These are taken about 200 yards from my workshop, there are locks here between 2 lakes. 

Hunting for flint on the west coast of Sweden, across from Denmark.

A typical Swedish forest land

These are the ruins of the Swedish fort that protected the border with the Danes. At one time, the border ran right through the area. This is one of the reasons the town was burnt to the ground on a number of occasions.

This is the view from our kitchen window

The church downtown, on one spire is a cross, on the other, a crossbow.

lingom berry and blue berries

A local slate quarry 


Adventures in Swedish Lapidary
Tala du engelska?  Jag talar svenska dalig.  Do you speak English? I speak Swedish badly.

Today, I finished putting together my lapidary workshop here in Sweden. Now all I am waiting for is a good, waterproof apron. An apron has actually been the least of the issues I have had to contend with in bringing my hobby to Sweden.

When I came to Sweden, I brought a Highland Park trim saw/grinder combination and 2 Poly arbors. I am building a polishing table from scratch with parts I ordered from Grainger and I had shipped over here. While Sweden has not proven to be very exciting geologically (they had a major panic with a 3.8 earthquake last summer), it has certainly proven to be a challenge to continue the lapidary hobby. But I am not alone in my hobby, there was a big 2 day show in Gteborg (Gothenburg, the only Swedish town with both a Swedish and English names) the first weekend in April, as there are a number shows throughout the year.

My first problem was finding a location to set up shop. We live on the third floor in a bostad lagenhet (owned apartment, similar to a condominium), with access to some specialized rooms shared by the rest of the owners. Unfortunately, none of the other owners have any interests with the physical requirements common to Lapidary. There were just no rooms available that would fulfill my requirements. So began my quest.

I needed a room with heat, power, water and some way to dispose of my waste water. I was offered space in a garage, but alas, no heat. That can be kind of a downside when the winter temperature reaches 0f and below.  I went a long time with my equipment still packed up in boxes down in the cellar, wondering if I would be able to find a place.

Sweden is a very international country. There are expats and refugees from all over the world here. On a typical Friday, I will go to my Swedish language class in the afternoon where my classmates are both expats and refugees from all over the world: Egypt, Romania, Russia, Germany, the UK, Thailand, El Salvador and Columbia, just to name a few. Friday evening, my wife and I join a group of English speakers at the local pub. Organized by a Kiwi, we have English, Scots, Irish, Aussies, Kiwis, Canadians and me, the sole Yank. Next meeting we have a South African joining us. One night I was talking about lapidary and how I needed a verkstad (workroom), Terry, who started the group, offered me a heated room in the back of his garage. After almost a year of looking, I finally had a place. The only downside was that it was 20 kilometers north of town, about 12 miles. Very driveable.

The first thing I knew I was going to need was motors. Sweden runs a 50 cycle, 230 volt electrical system. This means that I was able to save money on shipping by removing my motors before I packed things up, but it also means I need to find motors. I have an expat New York friend here, Leon, who has a shoe repair shop. You would be surprised how similar the equipment he uses to work on shoes is to lapidary equipment. He has a big arbor that you could put about 6 wheels on, with 3 people working on the one arbor. All you would have to do is figure out how to supply and collect the water, and how to keep it away from the electrical bits. Leon has given me 2 motors, I have bought two and a fifth one was given to me by a Swede I have come to know because of his 1959 Triumph TR3.

The 2 motors Leon gave me are old, one is 3 phase, which I could use it but I would have to rewire the plug and a 3 phase outlet in Terrys wall. The second would make a good anchor, but it works. Leons motor runs at 1400 rpm and has a 16 mm shaft. I bought a 16mm Kilremskrivor (pulley) and built a cabinet to get it all running. The 3 phase motor had a mounting for adjusting belt tension, so I built an adapter to fit the single phase motor on it. I thought I was in business. Sixteen millimeters equals 0.6229 inches. 5/8 inch equals 0.625 inches. The micrometer I bought for lapidary work is not sensitive enough to tell the difference. The pulley spun on the shaft. I was then that I noticed the plate on the motor  Made in St. Louis MO.

So it looked like I would be making another order from Grainger.
When the new pulley came, I set it all up, turned it on, and discovered the motor would not run under a load. I ended up going back to the motor shop and bought another new motor. The one I bought is lighter, with a 19 mm shaft. Today I finished setting it up, and it runs great!

The new motors run at 1400 rpm. I can gear them of these to get about 1750 rpm wheel speed. I asked the shop where I bought my new motors if they could recommend a place where I could find pulleys. They gave me the name of a shop, where I found a wide selection of pulleys. Pulleys here come in 2 pieces. You have an outer ring where the belt rides, and an inner ring that tightens to the motor shaft. Calculating the shaft speed from a metric drive pulley to a standard transfer pulley was great fun, but I spent a career working with Excel spreadsheets.

All I needed was water One would think that language would be the worst of my problems, but it isn't. Most Swedes speak English, some more fluently than others, but it is not hard to communicate here.  Unless you start to explain what you are looking for and how you will use it. You have to begin by explaining the item in the US you are looking for, how it is used in the US, and how you will modify it to fit your lapidary purposes. Take for instance, PVC. Go to Lowes or Home Depot and you can find any combination of connectors, lengths and diameters of PVC to create your supply and drainage system. The problem is, the ground freezes solid here (So solid, that you need a geology hammer to collect flint from the sand on the beach (if anyone wants any, the west coast of Sweden has some really nice flint, ask me after the thaw). If you used PVC in its normal application, you would need to replace it every year in the spring. It just isn't available here. As a result, I am going to have to resort to hoses and buckets to collect my run-off. Fortunately, skogen (the forest) starts right behind my verkstad, so I can dump it 5 gallons at a time.

Water supply is another issue. I brought along some brass valves, copper tubing and drip irrigation supplies. They have the quick release hose system you see in the stores, and most everyone uses it. However, getting from a hose system to the supplies I brought without a Lowes down the street is problematic. Since there is no Lowes down the street, I enlisted a fellow FGMS member to send me 2 sections of capped 2 PVC (no PVC, no blue PVC glue). For some reason, 2 pieces of sealed PVC in a box full of rocks got held up in customs for several weeks (Bomb? What bomb?). These 2 sections of PVC are to form a manifold for water distribution. I will drill a hole in the end of a capped tube and use drip emitters drilled out to 1/16 glued into holes along the length of the PVC to supply the valves lubricating and cooling my grinding wheels.

So, all set. Except an apron. One would think that a plastic apron would be the least of my problems. I brought one with me, but as it turns out, it is too short. I have looked all over town, no luck. In case you were wondering, the Swedish word for apron is förkläde. My choices, as it turns out, are to either work stone in my birthday suit (this is Sweden, after all) or to make one myself. Since my shop is not a sauna, I think I will need to make one. Two dollars worth of oilcloth, a hand full of grommets and some denim. Tomorrow, all will be ready.
Lapidary stone is pretty rare here in Sweden. Geologically, Sweden is very old, and it has been swept clean by glaciers many times. Within walking distance of my home there are tills and eskers left by the glaciers, and sometimes you can find an odd stone in the forest. My wife's daughter found a baseball sized piece of fluorite under a bush a while back. I have a couple hundred pounds of stone with me that is slabbed or ready to slab, but anyone who wants to send me anything, it would be greatly appreciated! As I said before, Sweden has some great flint on the west coast, along with Baltic Amber and fossils on the Island of Öland. I am willing to trade anytime!

Glenn Salt, Member FGMS
Osterledan 54c
35242 Vxj. Sweden

Fresno Gem & Mineral Society
340 West Olive Avenue - Fresno, CA - 93728
559-486-7280   ~