Archive | Metal Working

Day 16 V-Bezel Making

Bezel5 Ad

If you are making jewelry long enough, eventually you are going to come across a project with a stone with a sharp corner, either a marquise, pear, or square shaped stone. Today I will demonstrate how I go about making a v-bezel for setting stones.
First, I find either a scrap piece of sheet silver or cut a piece off of some stock. I roll it down in my Rolling Mill to about 0.5mm and then anneal it. If you are unfamiliar with annealing, see Day 9 of this blog.

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I then file a flat edge on one side of the silver and scribe a line approx 2.5mm away from the edge. (longer or shorter if you want longer or shorter bezels.) Once you have a line scribed, use a Square Graver or a Flat Graver at a 45 degree angle to cut a grove into the silver about 2/3 the way through the sheet. After the groove is cut, I run a Square Escapement File along the groove to make it uniform and straight.

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Hold the silver sheet with a pair of Smooth Jaw Parallel Pliers with the grove even with the edge of the pliers and use a Square Prong Pusher to fold the sheet to a 45 degree (or square) angle. I also tap the silver with my Rawhide Mallet or a Plastic Head Jewelers Hammer to make sure it is seated against the other side.

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Next I fluxed the solder joint with Handy Flux and add 3 pieces of small solder, spaced evenly, to the inside of the bezel. Do not use too much solder, you can always add more, but it is a pain if there is too much. I solder from the back side of the bezel with my Smith Mini Torch, to make sure the solder penetrates the solder joint.

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Now measure the finished side and scribe a line along the other side the same width, and cut with your Jeweler Saw Frame. (I use a 3/0 Saw Blade) Again, you can trim the sides either longer or shorter, and use thicker or thinner silver, depending on the application you are using.

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Now trim off the amount you want and solder to your stone seat or pad. Set stones and enjoy!
Have a wonderful day!

Day 14 Files (Metalsmithing)

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Day 14, let me “Geek-out” a little on tools today. I might have mentioned before, but I am a modelmaker by trade, hence, I pay particular attention to minute detail. I never touch a piece of jewelry without my Optivisor with a #7 lens, and am constantly aware that if I leave a flaw in a piece of jewelry, it will be duplicated over and over again due to the molding process. I will use a Foredom when I have to, but prefer to take a little more time and “massage” the piece by hand, it is my “happy place”. So today, let me show you my arsenal of files:

Large Files:

#2 and #4 Flat Hand File are a must

#2 and #4 Half Round Ring Files for inside ring shanks

Needle Files:

#2 & #4 Barrette File (my all time favorite)

#2 & #4 Crossing File (inside radius stuff)

#4 Equaling File (sizing)

#4 3 Square File

#4 Square File

#4 Round File

Escapement Files:  (smaller than needle files)

#6 Barrette File

#6 Half-Round File

#6 Equalling File

#6 Round File

#6 Three Square File

#6 Square File

There you have it, my Geeked-out list of Top 18 Files I can’t live without.

Now go do something Great!


Day 13 Small Bezels (Setting)


Today let’s look at a quick way to set small stones in a bezel.  For this example I will use a 2mm stone in a tube setting. To start with, I will take a piece of round silver wire approx 2.6mm in diameter. I drill a small pilot hole in the center with a 0.8mm drill, then follow it with a  1.5mm drill bit. Now cut the seat with a 2mm setting bur, not too deep, but deep enough so that the whole girdle of the stone is lower than the top of the bezel. I am holding the silver with a Pin Vise.

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After the seat is cut, what I like to do is take a very small bur that is used up or broken, and take the sharp edges off and polish it with Yellow Rouge rubbed on a piece of paper. rub it on the paper until it is polished to a good shine and has no scratches. Rub this “burnishing tool” on the inside of the setting (the inside of the bezel walls and the inside edge) and take off any sharp edges and polish it.

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Take another broken bit and grind and sand the end to a flat end, this will be your “Stone-picker-upper”. This trick works very nice on small stones, up to 3mm or so. What you will do is take this flat ended bur, MAKE SURE IT IS CLEAN, and touch it to your tongue…… YES, you read that right. Touch the flat end of the bur to your tongue and then take it and touch the table of the stone, the little bit of moisture on the bur acts like a suction, or magnet and will pick up the stone and allow you to place it into the setting. If you are uncomfortable with this, you can always use a piece of soft sticky wax to pick up and place the stone. I have been a stone setter for years, and the tongue is just natural to me, but I always rub the bur off before I touch it to my tongue.

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Now I will introduce you to another hand-made tool. If you have and brass rods around, somewhere around 3-4mm round, and cut a small piece off, about 1 to 1.5 inches long. Take a large ball bur and grind and polish a concave divot into the brass. Make it larger that the bezel setting, place it on top of the setting and gently tap with a small Chasing Hammer, checking it frequently until it is tight, make sure you are not putting too much pressure on the stone.

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Now, finish with a light buffing. Enjoy!


Day 12 Pearl Posts (Metalsmith)


If you make jewelry long enough, you will eventually make a piece of jewelry with a pearl or a post that will hold a glued stone to it. Here is a quick way to make sure the pearl or the stone you set will be more secure.

If you have a Rolling Mill with a grove for rolling square stock, you are ahead of the game, just roll a piece of silver down to approx  0.7mm or so. If you don’t have a mill with those rollers with it, well here is another way to go about it.

Find a piece of sheet silver approx 0.7mm thick and file the straightest edge flat and then scribe a line the same width as the thickness.

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Now it is time to work on and perfect your sawing skills. Use your Jewelers Saw to cut along the side the line that you scribed. Take your time and cut right on the outside of the line. The straighter the cut, the less filing you will have to do. I use a Saw Blade 3/0 to cut this. Now file the edge that you just cut off and make the piece as wide as it is thick. 0.7mm in this instance.

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Next it is time to anneal the small piece you just made. This piece is very small, so be careful not to overheat it in the process. Use a “bushy” flame and turn off your bench lamp. Watch the color of the silver as you  heat it, you want to aim for a dull pink color in the silver. Try to maintain this color for between 15 and 30 seconds, waving the flame (not too close) back and forth over the piece. I use a Smith Mini Torch for soldering and for annealing. Do not get it red hot!  If you do, cool your piece and start over.


Use 2 pair of pliers or a small vise and 1 pair of pliers. I prefer to use Smooth Jawed Parallel Pliers, so the silver is not marred. These are same pliers I use to hold the silver while I cut it with my saw. Now twist the silver.

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Next, just trim off enough to hold the pearl or stone and solder into place. I use a cup bur to finish off the end of the post, and drill a small divot, a little larger than the post, in the piece to be soldered to. The divot will give the post more contact area for the solder to attach the post to, and make a stronger solder joint. The twisted action of the post will bond the glue or epoxy to the stone much better.

Now, go make something beautiful and have a great day!


Day 11 Tool Modification (Pits and Porosity)


Ready for another quick lesson? Today I get to address one of my favorite-est (not a word) subjects in the world….. Tool Modification. I mentioned before that I seldom throw away tools, bits, burs, etc. I am always trying to find a way to modify them into new uses. For one reason, I can make tools for the exact job I am doing, and 2, it is a free way of expanding my tool arsenal. (you should see my garage…..)

Here is a quick way to make a tool that works wonders cleaning those hard to get into areas. If you have a small used up bur, snap/break off the end and grind of sand with a sanding disc with between 3 and 6 different angles or “facets”.

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These edges when spun in a Foredom work as a powerful burnisher that will grind and smooth rough areas that ordinary tools and burs can’t reach.


If you work with casted pieces, then you are no stranger to pits and porosity. This little tool also takes care of small pits and porosity, where trying to polish these away usually just reveals more pits and porosity. Use this little rotary burnisher to rough up and “smear” the metal over the bad areas, then when you sand and polish, unless the porosity is extreme, you should be able to remove or repair these areas.

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I have a huge selection of burs, burnishers, grinders, texture-makers, and pit-beaters to select from that I have made over the years.

Tools Reused

Now, put on that creative cap and make some fun tools to experiment and play with.