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MeisTravis

How to unbury this little guy

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MeisTravis

I have this piece I found at Beltzville State Park  pretty recently and really want to try to get it more exposed without destroying it. I have no experience at all with fossil prep, therefore I have no tools aside from basic chisels/hammers. I’m just wondering if there’s any suggestions as to what I could do to try to expose it, or anything I might acquire to do so. 

 

 

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Kane

Sadly, I don't think there is anything more to expose... Judging by the image, this is an impression of the fossil. Unless, of course, this is a ventral view of the fossil (is the bowed shape to its right part of the fossil?)

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MeisTravis
20 minutes ago, Kane said:

Sadly, I don't think there is anything more to expose... Judging by the image, this is an impression of the fossil. Unless, of course, this is a ventral view of the fossil (is the bowed shape to its right part of the fossil?)

It appears to be, it’s much more three dimensional than the picture makes it look (I didn’t realize until looking closer after you said it looks like an impression lol). I’m gonna try to get better pictures to show what I mean in a little while here, better idea of what it looks like will probably help a lot 

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MeisTravis

I’m hoping this helps, I feel like this is much clearer

E31FC5F2-CC0F-46DF-946E-DBDE5C9FFEC1.jpeg

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Kane

Now it does look more 3-D! The first thing I would do is determine what this is (possibly a trilobite?). It's risky to go on the prep attack without having a good idea of the general body plan of the specimen. Once that's established, I'd check on how hard that matrix is... Can you chip off small bits of the matrix with a sewing needle, pin vise, dental picks, or scalpel? If not, then you're looking at more electric means, such as a small Dremel, or (preferably if you have the outlay for it) air tools such as an air scribe and/or abrader. Cost-wise, going by hand shouldn't cost you more than about $10, but add a few zeroes if you go the air tools route!

 

Since it is on the small side, I would also recommend getting it under magnification (or a stereoscope if you have one). There are a number of cheap options for magnifying lenses/visors, or even using a magnifying lamp, but keep in mind that the working distance will be fairly short. 

 

Try the pin vise / sewing needle first and proceed slowly and carefully to reveal more. Practice on an unimportant area first! Once you get the hang of it, and the matrix seems to be cooperating, use your vise/picks/needle in such a way as to chip away from the specimen as just a wee too much pressure can result in possibly dinging the fossil. Doing it by hand can be very slow, but if you have patience and time it might be a nice rainy day project. 

 

I hope to see what you might reveal, whichever method you choose. :) 

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fogo26
13 minutes ago, Kane said:

Try the pin vise / sewing needle first and proceed slowly and carefully to reveal more.

When I wanted to clean my first fossils I taped a sewing needle to the end of a pencil, wasn't perfect but it got the job done. Depends on the hardness of the matrix, but I was working on shale so it was a bit easier to remove with the sewing needle.

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RJB

  I certainly wish you the very best of luck.  all im seeing is an impression? 

 

RB

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steelhead9

It does appear to be a trilobite, possibly a complete one. Not to discourage you but.... you have no chance of prepping this without proper equipment, which would mean at least a fine air scribe and most likely an air abrasion unit. If you absolutely are bent on prepping this yourself and not spending lots of money on tools, a dremel with fine diamond bits is your best option, and it won't come out well as grinding will remove much of the detail in the bug. The matrix is likely very hard and I don't believe a pin vise will get you anywhere but the land of frustration. Trilobites are among the hardest fossils to prepare.

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DevonianDigger

I don't personally agree with the last post in this thread. I think that if you want to try prepping it, more power to you. I'm not personally convinced that it's a trilobite, although it does look like a possibility. I don't see enough separation between what would be the pleurae unless this is part of the pygidium, which it seems to not have enough of a curve to be. I think that patience and hand tools will yield results, even if not of the highest quality. I would personally, never use a Dremel rotary tool with any type of bit unless I was just trying to remove bulk matrix from far away from the actual fossil. I would recommend an electric engraver, which can be purchased for about $10 as a first tool if you want to get into it further. But that is just my two cents, and everyone is entitled to their own opinions and practices.

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Kane
10 minutes ago, DevonianDigger said:

I would recommend an electric engraver, which can be purchased for about $10 as a first tool if you want to get into it further. 

Agreed. A big rotary will just demolish a fossil if not being used for stuff like matrix shaping. My first prep tool upgrading from a sewing needle was an electric Dremel engraver, which wasn't too bad for some rough prep on forgiving trilobites, but not great on tiny details... Not to mention that I couldn't work with it for more than 15 minutes at a time without it rattling my hand bones and leaving me with a bit of "white finger" at night. Those engravers have their place, but transferring that amount of vibration to the fossil (and your hand) is bound to result in some problems down the road.

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Ptychodus04

I agree with @DevonianDigger and @Kane. Start with a needle in a pin vise and get yourself a magnifying visor. You need some magnification for all prep in my opinion. I don't touch a fossil with less than 3x magnification. It's much easier to keep from damaging the specimen when you see things larger than life.

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Fossildude19

I've found that cheap reading glasses at 3x are a good alternative to magnifying visors. 

I can get them for about 3 bucks a piece at a local box store. 

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Ptychodus04
1 hour ago, Fossildude19 said:

I've found that cheap reading glasses at 3x are a good alternative to magnifying visors. 

I can get them for about 3 bucks a piece at a local box store. 

That's a great tip!

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steelhead9
3 hours ago, DevonianDigger said:

I don't personally agree with the last post in this thread. I think that if you want to try prepping it, more power to you. I'm not personally convinced that it's a trilobite, although it does look like a possibility. I don't see enough separation between what would be the pleurae unless this is part of the pygidium, which it seems to not have enough of a curve to be. I think that patience and hand tools will yield results, even if not of the highest quality. I would personally, never use a Dremel rotary tool with any type of bit unless I was just trying to remove bulk matrix from far away from the actual fossil. I would recommend an electric engraver, which can be purchased for about $10 as a first tool if you want to get into it further. But that is just my two cents, and everyone is entitled to their own opinions and practices.

Variety is the spice of life! In my opinion, a dremel engraver would destroy this fossil quicker than a rotary tool with a pointed diamond tip. Actually, I doubt you would even scratch that matrix with a dremel engraver, but of course without having it in hand, one could never tell for sure. Diamond bits come in many different grits. In my early days I prepped many a detailed fossil with nothing but a dremel rotary tool. I certainly did not mean to dissuade meistravis from attempting this prep, but wanted to keep his/her expectations in perspective. 

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Ptychodus04
2 minutes ago, steelhead9 said:

Variety is the spice of life! In my opinion, a dermal engraver would destroy this fossil quicker than a rotary tool with a pointed diamond tip. Actually, I doubt you would even scratch that matrix with a dremel engraver, but of course without having it in hand, one could never tell for sure. Diamond bits come in many different grits. In my early days I prepped many a detailed fossil with nothing but a dremel rotary tool. I certainly did not mean to dissuade meistravis from attempting this prep, but wanted to keep his/her expectations in perspective. 

In my opinion, rotary tools are good for matrix shaping and smoothing tool marks. Dremel engravers are good for softer matrices and nerve damage. I got away from prepping with these as quickly as possible. :D

 

Unfortunately, the alternatives are limited hand prep or the eventual Ft. Knox of prep equipment. Fossil prepping is a slippery slope and one can easily get sucked into it. Thankfully, I have a pretty tolerant wife who doesn't lose her mind when I tell her I need to buy another prep tool pushing $1,000. :P I guess you get what you pay for.

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DevonianDigger
5 minutes ago, Ptychodus04 said:

In my opinion, rotary tools are good for matrix shaping and smoothing tool marks. Dremel engravers are good for softer matrices and nerve damage. I got away from prepping with these as quickly as possible. :D

 

Unfortunately, the alternatives are limited hand prep or the eventual Ft. Knox of prep equipment. Fossil prepping is a slippery slope and one can easily get sucked into it. Thankfully, I have a pretty tolerant wife who doesn't lose her mind when I tell her I need to buy another prep tool pushing $1,000. :P I guess you get what you pay for.

 

I hear you on that one. I just took the leap and purchased an S. S. White 6500 blaster. So I'm now running two different blasters, scribes and industrial dust collection. When I started prepping only about 4 years ago, I had maybe $20 worth of equipment. I'm already pushing $9500 now. 

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Kane
7 minutes ago, Ptychodus04 said:

In my opinion, rotary tools are good for matrix shaping and smoothing tool marks. Dremel engravers are good for softer matrices and nerve damage. I got away from prepping with these as quickly as possible. :D

 

Unfortunately, the alternatives are limited hand prep or the eventual Ft. Knox of prep equipment. Fossil prepping is a slippery slope and one can easily get sucked into it. Thankfully, I have a pretty tolerant wife who doesn't lose her mind when I tell her I need to buy another prep tool pushing $1,000. :P I guess you get what you pay for.

Lol... Not a few minutes difference from when you posted this and I just put in my order for a new ME-9100 and PaleoARO. :D 

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Ptychodus04
7 minutes ago, DevonianDigger said:

 

I hear you on that one. I just took the leap and purchased an S. S. White 6500 blaster. So I'm now running two different blasters, scribes and industrial dust collection. When I started prepping only about 4 years ago, I had maybe $20 worth of equipment. I'm already pushing $9500 now. 

Scary stuff! Thankfully, I was able to save some serious coin by building my own prep lab.

 

7 minutes ago, Kane said:

Lol... Not a few minutes difference from when you posted this and I just put in my order for a new ME-9100 and PaleoARO. :D 

You're going to love them! :yay-smiley-1:

 

Make sure you keep them well oiled. If they start to get dry, they want to stall. Also, I've found that Bill's scribes like high pressure. I run them at 125 PSI. Also, they will spit a little black oil for the first 30 or so minutes of the initial use (this has been the case for all 3 of my P.T. scribes) so spend a bit of time running them on some trash matrix before you go for your trilobites. After that, I've never had them spit oil. I put in about 8 drops of tool oil for every 10 hours of use. I've had the same Aro for over 15 years. :D

 

You're going to have to upgrade your compressor from the little pancake you've been using now.

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Kane

Yeah, that's the next purchase (and the oil). I did see a 20 gallon for about $350 this weekend, so I might plunk down for that... Anything has to better than a 3 gallon that overheats!

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Ptychodus04
54 minutes ago, Kane said:

Yeah, that's the next purchase (and the oil). I did see a 20 gallon for about $350 this weekend, so I might plunk down for that... Anything has to better than a 3 gallon that overheats!

How much of a pain is is to drive to Fort Gratiot, Michigan? There's a Harbor Freight store there. I use their 21 gallon compressor and it happily runs everything but my Super Jack ad full speed (the SJ has to run at 1/2 speed). It was only $175 USD. Might be worth the trouble compared to $350 more locally.

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Kane
3 minutes ago, Ptychodus04 said:

How much of a pain is is to drive to Fort Gratiot, Michigan? There's a Harbor Freight store there. I use their 21 gallon compressor and it happily runs everything but my Super Jack ad full speed (the SJ has to run at 1/2 speed). It was only $175 USD. Might be worth the trouble compared to $350 more locally.

That is pretty much the US-CAD exchange rate these days :D

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Ptychodus04
2 minutes ago, Kane said:

That is pretty much the US-CAD exchange rate these days :D

It's higher than I thought it was. That sure closes the gap a bit! Factor in a 3 hour round trip and the hassle of dealing with customs and I'd probably pay the $350 myself. Disregard my ill-conceived proposal. :P

 

Go ahead and buy the 40 gallon, 12 CFM, 240v compressor so you'll be ready for the Super Jack you'll be ordering in a couple years. :thumbsu:

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Kane
1 hour ago, Ptychodus04 said:

It's higher than I thought it was. That sure closes the gap a bit! Factor in a 3 hour round trip and the hassle of dealing with customs and I'd probably pay the $350 myself. Disregard my ill-conceived proposal. :P

 

Go ahead and buy the 40 gallon, 12 CFM, 240v compressor so you'll be ready for the Super Jack you'll be ordering in a couple years. :thumbsu:

It might just be cheaper to invade your prep lab and plant my nation's flag on it. :P 

A super-jack, eh? I wonder what kind of trilobite will require that! :D 

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steelhead9

There is a very nice, used double tank comco blaster on our favorite auction site that could probably be gotten at a good price if anyone needs one. It is listed in the reptile/amphibian section of the fossil listings. We're only as good as our tools!

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Ptychodus04
16 minutes ago, Kane said:

It might just be cheaper to invade your prep lab and plant my nation's flag on it. :P 

A super-jack, eh? I wonder what kind of trilobite will require that! :D 

The great Canadian invasion of 2019! Bring it on. Mi laboratorio es tu laboratorio.

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