Agate Burnisher / Folder for Paper




About: I enjoy everything

I enjoy working with paper; I use a steel burnisher and a bone folder to make crisp folds. I wanted to add some odd shape burnishers to my tool box. Making some out of stone (agate) fits the bill. Having a few agates lying around, I made different sizes and shapes. This is what I wanted to share in this instructables.

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Step 1: Sliced Potatoes

Agates that I use can be found in Michigan. I tell people to look for a stone that looks like a potatoe. You can hold them up to a strong light to see what is inside as far as patterns. For this application of making burnishers, I can use almost any part of the agate. Agates are very hard and polish to a very smooth finish. I use a large diamond saw to cut the agate into slabs.

Step 2: Cutting Down the Slabs to a Smaller Size

Then I cut the slaps down on a smaller diamond saw.

The closer I get to the sizes I want, the less I have to do on the grinders.

I am cutting the slabs to be under 2 inches square, so they can fit comfortably in my palm of my hand.

Step 3: Grinding and Polishing

I start by using an 80 grit diamond wheel (with lots of water) to shape the small slab.

I focus on just a few edges that I want to use for burnishing.

The other edges I smooth for comfort. So there is a lot of stopping to see how it feels in my hand.

I move from one grit wheel to another, till I get to an 1200 grit polish wheel.

The final treatment is using Cerium polishing wheel, just on the burnish edge for final smooth finish.

Step 4: Adding a Wood Handle

With one of the agates, I added a 3/8 inch diameter by 3 ¾ inch long wood handle.

A 7/16 inch diameter brass ferrule was added.

I put a small drop of all purpose glue on the stone, then used pliers to close the brass ferrule around the agate.

Pictured is my quick holding fixture for gluing.

Step 5: Finished

A picture of some of my different size and shape agate burnishers.

Thanks for viewing.

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    48 Discussions

    Blues Angel

    5 years ago

    This is such an awesome idea. I noticed someone wrote they make guitar picks from Agates. I'd love to see an instructable on those! I inherited a huge rock, mineral and fossil estate from a couple who were both Geologists. There is rare stuff in this collection that takes up an entire bedroom and I've been whittling it down since 2007. He worked in the command tower at NASA and she was the VP of several national gem and mineral clubs. I have loads of beautiful agates. I'm a stained glass artist and never knew I could score and cut them until now. Just tried it and wow. Thank you for the info. I'm incorporating agates into my stained glass work. In 2006 I couldn't tell you one rock from another. Now I'm officially addicted!! Still have lots to identify that have stumped several geologists and seasoned rock hounders alike. I have half a Geode and the Smithsonian has the other half. I lost the Thank You letter that tells what's in it!! I have lots of Obsidian but know little about it or what to do with it. Anyways, this is a great Instructable!!!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I would like to mention that many areas have 'Rock Collecting Clubs" that may have lapidary equipment available for members and others to use for an hourly fee.

    Rock shops may have contacts with local 'rockheads' who might either slab your stones or even instruct you in lapidary techniques. WARNING: You might get hooked on another fascinating hobby!

    I would also like to point out that agates are a quartz material, having a crystaline nature, but no planes of cleavage. When broken or chipped the shard progresses from point of force outward in a circular or somewhat spheroidal direction similar to the way that ripples proceed on water from the impact of a pebble. This property is what allows agate and other quartz materials to be 'knapped' or flaked into arrowheads and blades.

    Like glass, a thin (1/2" or so) slab of agate WITHOUT FLAWS OR CRACKS can be scored with a straight edge and diamond stylus or glass cutter and then tapped to break on the scored line. It then can be worked down on a sharpening stone and with sandpaper to a polished edge.

    Just make certain that you score the rock on one pass evenly.

    3 replies
    Fikjast Scottsubmark

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    this is great information. i have trying my hand at Knapping, but in flint and obsidian. I did not know about knapping agates. I see that you list your location as Oregon, this is the area that is rich in obsidian. do you do any knapping in obsidian?

    submarkFikjast Scott

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I'm located in southwestern Oregon where obsidian seems to be a bit scarce upon the ground. Central Oregon in the Bend area has many obsidian deposits as does northern California in the Lava Beds/Medicine Lake area.
    We have mostly sedimentary quartz materials around the Medford/Ashland area, but we have some beauties.
    Any quartz mineral I can think of can be knapped--jasper, agate, opal, chert, flint, quartzite and so on. Glasses such as obsidian, window, plate, and pyrex all knapp because they are 'super-cooled liquids' and not minerals with an interior crystalline lattice.
    Strangely enough, master snappers can locate areas where blows on the surface of a cobble or boulder will cause remarkably uniform pieces to spall off of a corestone. In this manner, ancient people were able to high grade a source and not have to pack a huge amount of unusable 'dead weight' home.
    The trading routes of pre-history allowed Oregon Obsidian to be traded as far away as the Great Plains, Canada, and the desert southwest.
    Mineral/ Supercooled Liquid are 2 definitions from first year geology of 40 years ago. Almost any thing that does not have directional cleavage determined by its interior crystalline lattice may have conchoidal (shell shaped) fracture and be suitable for knapping.
    Some folks bust up old porcelain fixtures and practice with that. It os not quartz or glass, but it works just fine. Knappers call it 'johnstone.'
    I don't knapp any more--I bleed too freely.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    with exactly same tool you can add gold foils (24 K) on a tempera painting and polish the gold. The point is where we can get the stone????

    4 replies
    Fikjast Scottagis68

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for viewing my instructable. wow -I never knew about gold foil applications. Are you looking for raw stones to make or finished stones?

    I have been saying - go to rock shows. But I realized I broke my own rule. I have started so many projects, where the instructions read like: go to your local store and find the item, just to be disappointed.
    I am a tactile and visual buyer, meaning I prefer seeing and touching what I am buying. So sourcing unusual rocks - I still go to the shows. I spend one Saturday a year driving to get my opals. No one in my family wants to go with me. So I load up my music player, get up at the crack of dawn and go.
    Oh, some rock sellers have a water bottle available. This is to spray the stones or slabs. The water shows what you could expect when you get done polishing – usually.
    As far as finished stones, people are shocked by my prices; this is why I tend to make more gifts.
    Let me know what direction you want to go in.

    agis68Fikjast Scott

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    i prefer too to touch,smell and observe items before i get them. But i live in Greece everything here is extremely expensive so the last 3-4 years mostly i buy from ebay. This specific tool for polishing gold is made by onix or opals. The result is so effective and breathless bright!!! I use for orthodox egg tempera paintings Look the result of polished gold in the imeage i send u

    friendly yours

    Fikjast Scottagis68

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    What a beautiful piece of art.

    I was raised in a family of artists. I cannot think of any
    other life in making things, other than working with what you have around you. I
    went to a town that was blowing up the side of the mountain for a shopping
    center. I filled the back of my car with rocks. I found a lightning rock in
    front of a factory. It was just in a pile of rocks. I asked for it and they said
    ok. I went to a brand new hotel and they were throwing away marble piece that was
    scrap to them. Welling getting back to things. I believe, if you look around
    you can still find hidden treasures.

    I am going to try making a burnisher with opal. I buy opals
    by the jar full from a little old lady. The jar contains all different kinds of

    Thank you for sending the picture. You have motivated me.

    agis68Fikjast Scott

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    also for art is a way of living is life....i transfer my energy to a thing and i give him breath......animas re (roman latin phrase) means exactly this.....Also i got envolved with many forms of art (music,vitrage, oil and tempera painting and writing) My joy is so greate when iam among much do you sell the wooden handled opal??? (i give you an idea)


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I love rocks & minerals, fossils, artifacts, wood, fabric, paper,clay - almost all arts & crafts materials - and handmade tools. I don't do bookbinding or origami, and though that could change, I may never make an agate burnisher. But I really enjoyed your Instructable and the comments. Besides, don't you find that some ideas, materials, designs & methods of work can be useful in more than one kind of endeavor? Thanks for the good work!

    4 replies

    Thank you for the nice comment.
    I can get lost for days looking up tools or processes - to see if it can cross over to other applications. Growing up nothing got thrown away. I love it when people break the rules of how something should be done.
    My motto is Always Try.
    I like the way you think

    Yes! I'm always trying to find unintended uses for things, and I save re-usable parts of tools & other items. That "saving" habit can be dangerous (hoarding!) but it can also solve serious problems, as you know. Thanks for the reply.

    I was going to say thanks
    for the comments, but I have to purge. Last fall, I just did what I call
    a do over. I got rid of 5 truckloads of metal and about the same in wood. I
    have a problem. Yes, I have said it; I have a problem with gathering materials.
    But now I can move about in my barn.

    Good grief! Wish I had been there to help you purge. HELP you. I still have a bit of free space - I'd have taken some stuff off your hands. Sigh. lol tyvm


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Nice ible, compliments on finding a way to use agates.

    Sometimes I make key fobs with unusual shape agates.

    I have never successfully used my polish cloth end_wheel.

    How do you apply the cerium ?

    Is it a powder or wax stick ?


    2 replies
    Fikjast Scotticeng

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for your comments.
    The cerium is in powder form. A little is put in a plastic jar with a little water. The wheel is soaked with water first. The cerium water mixture is applied to the wheel with 2 inch paint brush. A spray bottle with tap water is kept on the side for an occasional spray of the wheel. Please note, I just learned last year; not all cerium is made the same. We had to return some because it actually had contamination or larger particles - this cause a great deal of problems for the final finish.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Nice post … I have a suggestion for anyone not
    having access to the proper tools to cut, grind and polish the agate, and that
    is to check with a local "Lapidary" Club, Craft Store or Hobby Shop
    that might sell pre-cut slabs of agates. If you find broken pieces they
    will offer better shapes, all the better, or break one with a “delicate” hit
    with the round end of a Ball Peen Hammer on a piece of wood between a folded
    piece of cloth. The people that do the Lapidary work will probably gladly sell
    a slab cheaply or possibly give it away. Several sheets of Wet/Dry Silicon
    Carbide paper from the hardware store will grind it smooth enough. Start at
    about 120 Grit (use it with water) and work your down to 600 Grit. The
    last step is the final polishing which can be done with Aluminum oxide or Tin
    oxide or Cerium oxide. Available
    on the net or look for Marble or Granite polish at a cabinet and counter store.

    1 reply

    A club is a great way to start.

    Gem and rock shows, have great people to deal with and they usually sell slabs.

    Please note, I started by hand polishing. To just give you an idea of time. It took me 4 hours for two of the burnishers while using power equipment. agate is a very hard stone.