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Found 266 results

  1. Gotta start somewhere

    Hi. Total newbie here. But interested in what I see as I have been lurking this site for 5 years or so. I have acquired some basic prep tools and want to practice a bit of matrix removal to develop a feel for the rock and tools before I start anything important (to me at least). I picked up a few rocks yesterday from the Nanaimo Formations, upper Cretaceous, Campanian the map says. It would be handy to know what I am looking at so I could Google some images and know what to look for as I uncover things. If anyone would care to identify a few things, I would be grateful.
  2. Stages of fossil prep

    I love the process of discovery, removal and cleaning of fossils. I enjoy just looking through my picture of them as they see daylight for the first time. So, in that thought (and since I'm stuck at work and cant be in my prep lab) I thought I would share the piece I have been working on lately. This is a rib head of Edmontosaurus as uncovered and before removal. Hell Creek fm, Butte Co, South Dakota. Below on the right you can see a main rib section just started to be uncovered. The main section was actually found first, and then the rib head was found as I began removing the covering matrix. The the rib head as best as could clean by manual methods. You can see it has large glued-matrix cracks, and the surface has a "dull" appearance caused by micro matrix and glue filling the details. You can also see the extensive pre-deposition erosion with lots of cancellous tissue exposed. This is after air-abrasion with bicarb. I had to use an air-scribe to remove tough bits of CA and matrix. The back side (not shown) had a large area (almost all of it) covered with CA. I had to use acetone on Q-tips and a dental scraper to clean most of it off. Although it seemed that after treatment, even if a layer remained, it was fairly easy to blast off with the bicarb. Although a lot more natural detail is now present, so is the extent of erosion and cracking. Before the last step, I applied a good amount of PVA consolidate to help solidify the structure. I also worked down matrix that was glued inside the large cracks. I didnt remove it, just cleaned it down so there was room for the putty. The CA-matrix mix is a good stabilizer so I didnt see the need to remove it completely, especially since I probably would have split the fossil on accident. Then I began filling the cracks and holes with PaleoSculp. Lastly I put a layer of putty inside the "overhang" that was so badly damaged. I know there is a lot of artistry in applying epoxy putty, texturing, etc. I just happy to get a solid layer without breaking off a section of that thin crown. If you compare the first 2 images with last 2, you'll see a "finger" of bone sticking off right end, to the side. Thats a bit of that "crown" ridge. I removed it and I'm cleaning and separating to bits so they can be glued back in place correctly. A tiny detail, but since I have it, I felt I should keep it intact. I gave a lot of thought to recreating the missing tubercle (a bump off the top of the curve), but they change size and shape with different rib placement. I also wanted to recreate the missing tip of the head. But in the end I opted for "less is more" and decided to leave it as found. The next prep will be the rib main section. It doesnt have the exposed inner bone, but its highly fractured so I will have to separate lots of pieces, clean the matrix out before gluing back together. I'm really worried about its structural integrity, so I will probably blast the surface clean then consolidate before I begin working the cracks.
  3. Crazy glue or epoxy?

    Hi all. I was hoping to find a pinned set of notes on when and how to use the various glues available for strengthening weak pieces, or repairing fractured ones; but there doesn't seem to be one. Can anyone point out a great thread, or chime in here on what you use and why you choose it in a given situation? Thanks.
  4. My first test prep

    I finished the dust collection system in my prep station this morning so I had to put the tools to use and start practicing! In a nutshell, I LOVE AIR TOOLS!! I picked out one of my random BOBs collected over the years from the South Dakota Hell Creek fm. Typical of my digs, this one had a lot of surface CA and matrix adhering to it, but it was about as clean as I could get it by hand.. I started out by cleaning half of it with just the soda blaster. You can see in the picture that it was doing a phenomenal job. I wanted to get a pic that showed the condition before I worked over the entire piece (in case I ruined it LOL). OF course there were some spots that just wouldnt budge. So I started using the air scribe. So amazing! Watching those little stubborn spots and every other bit of matrix just blow away from the tiniest touch of the stylus. I left the associated bone bit attached with its matrix just because. It looks to be from a different animal, possibly some type of theropod as those often have the hard, shiny surfaces. Trying to clean out the exposed marrow was the most challenging. Lots of tiny flakes of it came off during cleaning, but to just look at the fossil you wouldnt know. One thing I did notice was that the media blaster can eat though a lot of soda in a short time! I finished out the piece by conserving it with a coat of PVA.
  5. Any suggestions on used stereo microscopes? Lens power? Depth of field? Lighting? Cost? Boom assembly? DIY? Thanks
  6. My prep station

    OK, since someone asked me about the prep station I am finalizing, I took took some pics today. To begin, I am working with the available space I have in my shed. I know its tight, but it fits and I'm not cramped. The only downside is that I will have to wear headphones while working. I put a lot of time, research and planning to make the most of the parts I have. For anyone thinking about taking this step, plan out EVERYTHING and price it all out, then probably add another 10% margin. I went the absolute cut-rate version of a prep station and I still have almost $1000 invested. The blast cabinet is from harbor freight. It was a pain putting together, but for the price I couldnt pass it up. If I went with a table-top model or built my own, I'd still have to build another bench and I probably would have spent more $$$$ in the long run. One of the last details yet to finish, is that I'm running the vacuum exhaust outside to prevent the chance of filling the air with micro dust. I have a weatherproof outlet cover it will feed through so that it can keep critters out when not in use. The compressor puts outs out 4GPM, but my tools only use about 1GPM so the volume is plenty adequate. I made the choice to runthe air through PEX piping after looking at all the options. The compressor feeds into the airline with a drop-leg for condensation. For the micro-blaster, I decided to go with a Vaniman Problast model. You can see a second condensation drop-leg running behind it. I didnt even install the included blast cabinet light, I read a ton reviews about how useless it was. I installed 2 LED flood lights to give plenty of illumination. I also ran a pigtail air line with a blowgun for clearing off my specimen, or view-glass, or lights, etc. I could also put on an air-scribe and switch between scribe and blaster without stopping. Using a cyclone dust management system. I dont have this mounted yet, its just mocked up at the moment. I plan to finish that tomorrow. I ran a vacuum line "Y" to the work bench as well. You can also see the switch which powers the box lights as well as a pigtail plug so I can connect the vacuum and turn it all on or off with a single switch. Dry air is very important while using scribes and blasters. This is my drier setup. Anything that gets past the 2 drop-legs, goes into 2 filters (particulate and water/oil) and then a desiccant drier. All that ends in a manifold for distribution. Adjustable vacuum hose on the work bench with a blast gate so I can select or close which ever vacuum line I need. I don't have a blast gate on the box yet. I'm going to have to fabricate a couple connections to make it work. Lastly is the work bench. Again, please excuse that its still filled with construction materials. I built the bench based on the existing remnants from the old shed I cannibalized to make this one. Annnnyway, I gave myself plenty of overhead, below, and bench top storage space. My flex-shaft dremil is ready, and I have an air line for scribe work. I plan on mounting it to a bracket to make it easier to connect to. Lastly is a lighted, magnifier for working on the finer details. A few more things left yet are sandbags for fragile items needing support (I have the sandbags, just need some clean sand), a cushioned mat for working at the blast cabinet, and a new work stool.
  7. Second Prep- Lessons Learned

    This is my second manual prep. Three partial brachiopod valves. Again, nothing special. I picked them up specifically to practice on. The middle valve is very fragile. Part of the valve broke off while prepping and the whole thing is ready to come off the base matrix. It wiggles like a loose tooth! No surprise, as the whole piece has cracks running through it; typical of the stratum. I also was beginning to uncover a bryozoan above the left most valve. I chose to stop as this was just for practice anyway. It will make a good addition to my son’s little collection. I realized after I was well into the prep that I had neglected to take progress pictures. Oh well... Mistakes made, and lessons learned, but I had fun along the way! Practice makes perfect! Things I learned... You need supporting matrix. I broke a couple of pieces from the edge of the valves because they were undercut and very little matrix was there to support it as I applied pressure to the top. “Sticky” matrix is the bane of my existence! Lol. Seriously. That stuff is a pain in the neck! Matrix composition can vary even in the same rock. Some pieces flake off. Some spots are hard. Some are soft. Others drive you crazy! Patience! I already knew this, but it bears repeating. Remember to take pictures. Here are a couple of before shots and one completed picture. The only pictures I remembered to take... Before: After:
  8. Jigsaw Tusk

    I have been lucky to find pieces of an ivory tusk (mammoth or mastodon) in the Peace River approx. 2 weeks ago. I have taken some photos to show what it looked like when found, two after consolidating showing how some large pieces fit together and then photos of the many loose pieces. I will have a nice jigsaw puzzle to work on once I consolidate the remaining pieces. I am hoping for suggestions on what glue or adhesive to use to try and rebuild the tusk. I have researched options that included super glue, gorilla glue and other adhesives. Which is best and easiest to work with? Photo #1 - tusk when found Photo #2 - three largest pieces consolidated with acetone and vinac. Photo #3 = tusk pieces properly aligned . Photos #4 & #5 - puzzle pieces to be consolidated and used to rebuild the tusk as best I can I will post progression photos and the final product when done. Thanks for any help on the adhesive/glue question.
  9. So i managed to acquire this lovely cluster of ammonites, but the largest, and most impressive one, is stuck right in the middle. I’m not sure if I should even attempt to try and get it out, seeing how many ammonites there are around it. Does it seem like a good idea? If so, how should i go about it?
  10. Fossil Preperation Help?

    So I had previously bought an electric diamond tip Dremel but I want to upgrade to a faster way to break off matrix because at this rate fossils are taking me 8+ hours for a mediocre job. I am now looking seriously into air scribes because their efficiency and ease on my hands and time. So I have a budget of around 400$ (total for the airscribe and compressor) I was looking into the Chicago pneumatic CP9361 which is 260$ on amazon but its from Hungary and the reviews say sometimes it doesn't work. And I saw another for 900$. So I am confused on how much this should cost. If I am going to spend nearly 260 I want it to work. I have decided that maybe I should play it safer and try out a less expensive scribe *because I still need to buy a compressor* and this is my next option (see photos) My questions are 1. Does this look like it would be slightly faster than a 20$ electric Dremel. 2. Do you think this will be a good tool for basic fossil prep work. 3. Where can I buy a compressor? (budget of 200$) 4. What should I look for in an air compressor to fit the needs of this scribe. Thank you for any feedback, hopefully someone can help out a novice like me
  11. Mini Blast Box

    What do you do if you have a slab that is too big for your abrasive cabinet and you live in Texas where the weather never cooperates? You build a miniature blast cabinet that sits on top of the slab. The box is 8”x10” and is 7.5” tall. This allows my microscope to sit on the slab and come into focus without hitting the top of the glass. It is lit by 4 foot long LED strip lights taped to the outside of the glass. The bottom has a bit of tee shirt stapled tomorrow it to make a bit of a seal and the side where my arm goes in has the sleeve of the shirt stapled on. The other side has a hose connector for the dust collection system. It’s not a perfect seal so I still have to wear my respirator but on a day like today (30’s and snowing) It lets me work on a slab that needs abrasive and is really big.
  12. My First Prep- Simple but Fun

    I guess this is my first prep. It's nothing spectacular, but it's what I would consider my first official go at it. I specifically picked up this fossil in the field in order to try my hand at prep work. It's a single ventral/pedicle valve of the brachiopod Hebertella sp. I figured it would be something good to start with as it is small, a shape I am familiar with, and a fairly common find in the Upper Ordivician exposure that I have been hunting. So if I messed it up I wouldn't be too broken up about it. The matrix is brittle and flakes away easily. Before Photos: I had previously purchased a cheap engraver, but it was cheap for a reason, and it broke as I was trying it out, so I resorted to hand tools. I had a variety of dental picks and a heavy duty scratch awl that I used to prep this little guy. The scratch awl was used to remove the bulk of the matrix, but I switched over to dental picks as I got in close to the fossil. I also used a lighted magnifying lamp to help with the up close work. Some progression pictures as I worked to remove the matrix: This is the point at which I ran out of time and had to stop. It's not completely finished, but the bulk of the matrix has been removed. Overall, I think it went fairly well. Using the hand tools had a sense of familiarity to me as I used to hand carve wood a lot, and still do on occasion. I know this wasn't the grandest prep ever, but it did give me a feel for how prepping is done. I enjoyed it. It was relaxing and a bit therapeutic. I think the next logical step would be using air abrasion to clean up the plications. I have a cheap air abrasion tool that I can use, but I don't have a collection box so I would need to do it outdoors with a mask and plenty of ventilation. I'm curious if there is another option to air abrasion. I thought about using a rotary tool and various brushes, but I figured the brushes would polish away the valve. I wonder what they used "back in the day"? Anyway... Comments, suggestions, constructive criticism is welcome!
  13. I was given ~$400 USD on Christmas, earmarked for an air scribe and air compressor. I've read many posts on the site about what to get, but many are almost a decade old now (that's so hard to believe!) My use-case would be limestone fossils (primarily ammonites or trilobites from North Texas / Oklahoma areas. I've seen recommendations for Chicago Pneumatic, a 8315B, Paleo-Tools, etc. What all do I need to get, assuming I'm starting with nothing? If I need to save more money, I'm willing to do so. I do have a 5 gallon cylinder shaped air-compressor, but assume I should get something bigger. Thanks all!
  14. Does anyone know where i can get a decent affordable air scribe for prepping? Something under $100 . Some of the ones ive seen are over that. Thanks
  15. Diprotodon Incisor

    @Jesuslover340 found this one on Monday. We jacketed it yesterday morning and I started prep last night. The exposed side is gone, but one side will display nicely still so that’s good. Going to finish it tonight. She got something even better than this nearby though, will be posting a thread on it soon I believe
  16. I have some phosphate crab nodules from the Isle of Sheppey that I've had for years. Haven't found a good way of prepping them yet. Tried various air tools (ME9300 and microjack) and air abrasive with limited success. Do any of you UK guys have any secrets you could share with me. Have one of the rarer spiney crabs that I would like to turn out good. Thanks for any help you can provide
  17. Hi everyone, so I have just gotten into fossil prepping and I'm practicing on some crabs that have some damage to them. Learning so much with each hour I spend! I made a time-lapse of the most recent one: https://youtu.be/kH33t4NklYk?t=675 (short version) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STw905QB570 (long version) It's still quite rough at the end, I need to smooth the rock out and I haven't tried to get into the really tight spots with my current tool - waiting to get something like a micro-jack.
  18. I found these Goniatites in the British coal measures. Would anyone like to prepare these for me in return for some fossils? I have many fossil types available. Please note, the inner whorls of these Goniatites are almost impossible to prep, so it would be best just to expose the outer whorl. I am not sure how well these will prep, but I have decided it’s worth a try to see how they will turn out. Thanks, Daniel
  19. I found this partial coal measures fish in Scotland a couple of years ago. I don’t have enough experience to prepare this, so I was wondering if anyone would like to prepare it for me in return for one or more fossils? I have various fossil types available. Thanks, Daniel
  20. Mammoth Repair

    I picked up this mammoth humerus from the Brown County Museum of History a couple weeks ago and have begun the repair. Apparently, someone tried to move it and it must have gotten dropped. I don't have the story on the damage, only the request for repair. Nobody's admittin' nuthin'! It came to me in 3 boxes (never a good thing for a single bone). This bone has an unknown provinance but has been at the museum for decades. Judging by the state of the plaster restoration, I would say this was done sometime in the 1960' or 70's. I soaked the exposed bone in stabilizer and applied a liberal mount of clear, non-expanding, Gorilla Glue to the joints and strapped the whole thing together for a couple of days. My lab is still covered in Green river fish so, while the wife was away from the house, the bone got moved to the dining room table. to her credit, she didn't say a word about it when she got home! I think she's been around me long enough to expect random dead things showing up in her house. This was when I discovered that I am completely out of white Apoxie Sculpt for the crack filling. Thankfully, I have to paint the repairs anyway so, they will get dark brown epoxy. I don't have a picture of the epoxied cracks yet but they are done and I've used about a gallon of cyannoacrylate on the plaster because upon closer inspection, the whole thing was covered in hairline cracks and just waiting to fall apart. I don't want to do a full restoration on this thing so I made the decision to save what is there.
  21. I had this weathered ammonite fossil I had found in a load of rocks dumped by the highway department under a bridge. It was weathered and not in fantastic shape but it had a lot of limestone on it still. Used some muriatic acid on it and let it soak in water and baking soda to neutralize it. Still not a great specimen, but it removed a lot of rock.
  22. I'm posting a current project in the hopes that it actually makes me finish it. I have a tendency to start several projects and set them aside for years. This Lepticitis was found in Wyoming in the late 90's. The initial prep was done by someone else (unknown) before the specimen made it to my collection. I've spent the last 5-6 hours under a scope removing glue, I would have almost surmised it was dipped in penetrant. It appears to have some abrasion damage as well, see the dorsal view of the skull above the orbits. I also took the opportunity to clean out foramen and do other various cleaning with pins and needles to get it to the state it is in now. Wish I'd though to get a pic before I started. Thanks to @jpc, I have some excellent photos of another Leptictis to base reconstruction off of. I'll post some more photos as the work progresses.
  23. Best Blast Cabinet

    So if you were going to get a blast cabinet setup, what would you get? I know that a person probably needs two different setups to do it the correct way. And I apologize ahead of time if this has already been discussed. I don’t want the cheap stuff. I want quality that’s going to last. So I’m prepared to have to step up to the plate money wise to make that happen. Thank you everyone ahead of time! Sincerely, J
  24. Time Lapse Prep

    Over the years, people have asked for some prep videos. My new blast box allows me to conveniently set my phone on the glass and run a time lapse video. Unfortunately, the files are too big to post directly so the links below will take you to my Instagram where you can watch the riveting videos. They are short since this is a test. Video Video
  25. Found a hipster..

    We’ll update this thread when we get working on it, but for now this is Skye (@Jesuslover340) and my latest prep project. Busted up Pleistocene pelvis. Not sure who it’s from yet. Pics are: 1. As found 2. Uncovering more 3. Showing size 4. Plastered 5. Breaking it free 6. Back at home. May seem ridiculous but this progression took 2 months to do. We were a bit slow/busy with life.
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