Day 13 Small Bezels (Setting)

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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.

Bezel Setting 1 Bezel Setting 2 Bezel Setting 3

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.

Bezel Setting 4 Bezel Setting 5 Bezel Setting 6

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.

Bezel Setting 7 Bezel Setting 8

Bezel Setting 9 Bezel Setting 10

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.

Bezel Setting 11 Bezel Setting 12

Bezel Setting 13 Bezel Setting 14

Now, finish with a light buffing. Enjoy!

Doug

Day 12 Pearl Posts (Metalsmith)

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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.

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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!

Doug

Day 11 Tool Modification (Pits and Porosity)

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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.

Detailing

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.

Porosity1 Porosity2

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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.

Doug

Day 10 Polishing Tips

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Today will be a quick tip, known by most, but very important if you want a quality finish on your jewelry. You spend a lot of time with your design, layout, stone selection, etc. but if the execution of your finishing isn’t done correctly, you might be disappointed with the end result. Last week we touched on some prep work for polishing with filing, sanding, and rubber wheeling.  Today we will touch on polishing and Polishing Wheel ediquite. I usually use 2 types of polishing compound on silver,  Graystar for pre-polishing and Red Rouge for final polishing.

Graystar is a good compound to remove the fine scratches and blemishes left over from casting , tumbling, and handwork.  Use a dedicated wheel for Graystar and only use this compound on this wheel.

Wheel Gray

Work the piece against the wheel in a “crossing” pattern, first polishing in one direction, then changing the direction of the piece and polishing in another direction. Avoid polishing the piece in the same direction, or this will cause “grooving” your piece from polishing in the same direction with the wheel. When you have gotten the piece to a point where all of the blemishes are removed, it is time to put the piece in the Ultrasonic Cleaner. You want to remove all of the Graystar before final polishing, if there is any compound left on the piece, it will affect the final polish.

Next it is time to final polish your piece. Use a dedicated wheel for your Red Rouge and only use this compound on this wheel.

Wheel Red

If there is any other compound on this wheel, it will contaminate this wheel and it will not perform at its best. Again, polish in a crossing pattern to get the luster you desire. Work with firm pressure at first, then lightly to finish.  Add piece to your Ultrasonic Cleaner to remove compound off piece and use a Steam Cleaning Machine to finish cleaning.

Again, I cannot express it enough, have a dedicated wheel for your pre-polish (Graystar) and your final polishing wheel (Red Rouge).

At a later date, I will dive into a more “Detailed” process of felt buffs, lapping wheels, brushes, etc.

Enjoy your day!

Doug

Day 9 Annealing Silver (Metalwork)

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If you have done much silver work, then work hardening the silver is something you are probably familiar with. Work hardening is when you have beat, bent, stretched, folded, etc the silver so much that it has lost its flexibility or workability. One example I will give here is I have a piece of shanking material that is too thick, I could solder it as is, but then I would spend a lot of time filing and grinding the metal to size, so in this instance, I roll the piece through my rolling mill to thin the metal to the size I want.

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Great! Now I have the shank to the size I want, but for some reason it is very stiff and hard to work. What I have just done is “Work Hardened the metal. Here is a quick science lesson….. What has happened to the metal is the molecules in the silver, which used to be uniform (and happy), have now been flattened and deformed (and stressed). What must be done now is a process called annealing. Annealing is heat treating the metal and rearranging the molecules in a way that makes them less stressed and happy again. (ok, so I am not real scientific).

Here is quick illustration of what I am describing.

Happy Molecules:

Molecule1

Stressed Molecules:

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Happy Once Again:

molecule3

So here is a quick way to anneal your stressed metal

Use a nice “bushy” flame. (Smith Mini Torch)

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You will want to turn off your bench light so you can see the metal change colors better. Apply your nice bushy flame to the silver and watch it. Do not get it too hot too fast. Move your flame back and forth and watch the metal for changing color. You want to try to get the silver to change to a very dull pink color. Try to keep that color for 30 seconds or so by moving the heat away and brushing the flame over again. DO NOT get the silver to a glowing red color. If you do this, quench the silver in water and start the process over again.

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Now quench your silver in your pickling solution.

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Leave it in your pickling solution (I use Sparex) for a few minutes, remove with Copper Tongs (or plastic tongs). Never use steel tools to remove metal from pickle, it will destroy the solution and you will notice your silver will start to turn pink….. the solution will start to react with the copper alloy in the sterling, turning your silver pink. If this starts to happen, change your pickling solution.

Copper Tongs 1

After a few minutes, remove the silver from the solution, and dip in a mixture of water and baking soda( available at your local grocery store. (approx 1 oz. (shot glass) to 2 cups of water)

Soda Water

The baking soda will neutralize the acid from the pickle and keep from getting on your hand, tools, bench, etc. Always use baking soda/water after your pickle. After that, then dip in clean water.

Finished Happy

Now you have happy silver again.

Now, have a “Happy” Day and go make some “Happy Jewelry”!

Doug