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Best household tool for Green River prepping?


Macrophyseter

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So I have this small block of Green River matrix that has fish material. When I got it, A part has been prepped, exposing most of it, but then I checked the corners, saw more covered material, and realized that it could be prepped even further. The problem is, I don't have any prepping tools because I've never prepped a fossil before :blink: But maybe is there any household tools that could efficiently prep Green River matrix? I just need to remove one tiny layer.

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A very sharp pocket knife,

sharpened awl,

sewing needle wrapped at one end with tape, to make a handle.

Manual scribe.

Compass needle.

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With simple hand-powered tools some prep is performed by pulverizing the matrix with a scraping motion. With much of the "split fish" material a superior method is often productive. Try holding a sharp needle, pick, etc. at a right angle to the piece. The effort should be directed a very small distance from an already exposed area. Gently punch the needle into the matrix with the goal of "popping" off a fragment of the obscuring matrix from the margin. Often a nice chunk will come cleanly away. Avoid too much pressure, putting needle holes in the fossil. In many cases there is a natural separation of fossil/matrix, making this technique very productive. Sometimes the matrix/fossil surface have a great affinity (more often in "18 inch layer" fish) and this method is much less utile.

Good luck. Have fun. Your mileage may vary.

 

Edit: As Tim sagely suggested, a simple sewing needle can be employed. Early in my prep efforts I exposed a lot of scaly critters with such a rig. I took a robust needle and folded a thin piece of hard plastic over the eye. This trick helps avoid the all too often occurrence of the eye end working its way through the tape. I wrapped the plastic with enough tape to form a comfortable pad to be gripped between thumb and forefinger. 

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I found an X-acto knife works really well. You can get different-shaped blades  and experiment which works best.

 

Good luck!

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If I were you I would invest in a small metal scribe (not an air or electric one, just a manual one as fossil dude said, they are mostly cheap) it will make it a little less tedious than with a needle.

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I would agree that for manual tools you can not really beat an super sharp exacto knife. After that a pin vice with sewing machine needles

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Okay, I do have some of the times you guys suggested (exacto, pocketknife, needle), and I guess thats enough for removing a small layer. Thanks!

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I have seen several fish dig kits (where it comes with a unprepared plate, and needed tools) and basically the only tools they come with are a wooden handled scribe and a gum eraser. Seems like only very basic tools are required to do the job in most cases.

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