A lapidary slab saw is used to make accurate cross section cuts through large and heavy pieces of semi-precious material, mineral specimens, core samples and other non-metallic material. It must be engineered and built to hold a hard mass securely and to move it into a rotating diamond saw blade in a straight line parallel with the plane of the blade.
The SAW TANK is not only a container to hold the coolant-lubricant (which is essential in the cutting process); it forms the foundation for the saw mechanism. Welded steel plate construction is superior to light sheet metal, fiberglass or plastic. The LEGS must be strong enough to minimize vibration. The ARBOR BEARINGS must be engineered and selected to match the capacity of the machine. They must be sealed to keep out the slurry of coolant and abrasive waste that forms when material is cut. The WAYS on which the CARRIAGE rolls must be straight and rigid and the carriage should be able to move smoothly even in extremely dirty environments. A method must be designed into the machine to insure precise alignment of the blade with the carriage. The blade must have a COOLANT DEFLECTOR of sufficient size. The VISE should be easily accessible for loading. It must strong enough to securely handle irregular shapes without the material slipping loose. The carriage on which the vise is mounted should provide a CROSS-FEED device that may be indexed for cutting multiple slabs accurately. POWER FEED is essential to hold the workpiece against the blade with firm, steady pressure. The infeed rate must be adjustable to match the hardness, density and size of the material being cut. A full-steel HOOD is necessary, not only for safety, but also to confine the coolant-lubricant which is thrown in a heavy spray from the rotating blade.
Appearance-wise, a slab saw should have clean lines that result from honest, functional design. It should be well engineered and solidly built yet simple enough for a home mechanic to maintain.