Jewelry Making Tips with Metalsmith Society

Modifying Jewelry Tools

March 11, 2024 Corkie Bolton Season 1 Episode 10
Jewelry Making Tips with Metalsmith Society
Modifying Jewelry Tools
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

On today's episode, we're going to explore a topic that's sure to be of interest to every jewelry maker out there. Have you ever found yourself frustrated with your tools, wishing they could just work a little bit better for you? Well, you're in luck because today, I'm going to share some invaluable tips on how you can modify your existing jewelry tools to work a bit better for you!

If you are looking to learn all about the tools, materials and techniques to start creating your own jewelry, or expand upon your knowledge be sure to check out my book: Metalsmith Society’s Guide To Jewelry Making. Find where to purchase it locally here:
https://metalsmithsociety.com/pages/book

Tip for modifying a bezel rocker from @saltwater.and.silver: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CqDTVEcP6Hq/

Find a brass bezel rocker from Rio Grande:
https://www.riogrande.com/product/brass-bezel-roller/113079GP/?code=113079

Tweezer modification from @cherylrydmark_goldsmith: https://www.instagram.com/p/CLPBfSWhziu/

Diamond abrasive “credit card size” sharpening stones: https://amzn.to/3wKHHb9

Modifying a charcoal block: https://www.instagram.com/p/CRBmaAOBWk6/

Premium charcoal blocks in various sizes:
https://pepetools.com/products/hardened-charcoal-soldering-block-compressed-european?aff=2

Bench pin modification from @kellyelizabethjewelry: https://www.instagram.com/p/Byz49VQhqcW/

Check out the tip search page to find more bench pin modifications: https://tips.metalsmithsociety.com/

Modifying pliers shared by @refraction_manufacturing: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bzp4kskh2gt/

THANK YOU TO EACH OF THESE COMMUNITY MEMBERS FOR GENEROUSLY SHARING THESE TIPS!

Support the podcast:

Thank you for listening!

Music attribution: Stock Music provided by RomanSenykMusic, from Pond5

Corkie Bolton:

Welcome to Jewelry Making Tips with Metals mith Society, the ultimate podcast for anyone passionate about the art of jewelry making. I'm your host, Corkie Bolton. Metals mith Society is a community on Instagram that has over 240,000 individuals, from professional jewelers to small business artisans, hobbyists, students and even those curious, lucky lose eager to learn about jewelry making. Together, we share tips, kindness and support. In this podcast, I will discuss tips from the Instagram page, provide deeper insights, address questions and share bonus tips that often surface in the comments section. So, whether you've been making jewelry for a while or you're just starting your jewelry making journey, this podcast is your go-to resource for all the jewelry making tips. So grab your tools, dust off your workbench and join me On today's episode. We're going to explore a topic that's sure to be of interest to every jewelry maker out there. Have you ever found yourself frustrated with your tools, wishing they could just work a little bit better for you? Well, you're in luck, because today I'm going to share some invaluable tips on how you can modify some of your existing tools to work just a little bit better for you. Before I dive into today's discussion, I want to take a moment to share something truly special with all of you. Are you someone who's always been fascinated by the art of jewelry making? Most of you've dreamt of crafting your own stunning pieces, but don't know where to start. Well, look no further, because my book Metalsmith Society's Guide to Jewelry Making, is the ultimate handbook for anyone looking to unleash their creativity and get started jewelry making. It covers fundamentals, stone setting techniques and tools. So, whether you're a complete novice or a seasoned metalsmith, there's something for everyone in these pages Available now in bookstores and online retailers everywhere. Get miss out on the opportunity to transform your passion for jewelry making into something truly extraordinary. Grab your copy today and start creating jewelry.

Corkie Bolton:

And now let's get back to the podcast. So what I want to start today off by saying is that there are some tools that you're going to buy as a jeweler that you have to modify, because the way that they arrive to you in the mail is sort of I don't want to say unfinished, but with a little bit of modification, they will perform much better as a tool, and so this first tip I want to talk about is a perfect example of that. So this was shared by Saltwater and Silver, and in this video, she's explaining how to avoid getting scratches on your bezel when you're setting your stones. And so she's showing a brass bezel rocker and in her video she's taking sandpaper and smoothing the edges on this brass bezel rocker pusher so that that hard edge doesn't impart damage onto your bezel as you're rocking it. Now you would think you bought this bezel rocker.

Corkie Bolton:

The tool is meant to push down bezels, shouldn't it come perfectly smooth? But that's a good example of a tool that actually should get sanded and softened a little bit, because it's like using a hammer. If the surface of your hammer is dinged up and scratched, it's going to put dings and scratches as you hammer onto your smooth metal. Just like that the bezel pusher, if it has that sort of sharp edge on the side, that sharp edge, if you angle it onto your bezel, it's going to impart that indentation onto your bezel and you don't want that because now it's going to require more sanding and more polishing. So this is a fantastic tip, because really all it requires is a little bit of softening. And bonus tip if you are also sanding a little bit your bezel pusher, it's a little bit less likely to slip than highly polishing it.

Corkie Bolton:

Some questions that come up about brass bezel rockers is why brass and not steel? Brass is a softer material, but it's certainly hard enough to push down a bezel, so it's actually a fantastic option that is also a little bit less likely to mar up your bezel or damage your stone if you perhaps slip. So they're very affordable and not a bad option to have around your studio. If you set a lot of bezels. I will link one in the show notes.

Corkie Bolton:

The next tip I want to talk about is a tweezer modification from Cheryl Rydmark Goldsmith. In it she uses a Kraus Burr that's one millimeter to make a little indentation in her tweezers her cross locking tweezers and what this does is it makes the perfect little notch to hold small wires, such as earring posts, without them shifting or moving around. A crow spur, if you're unfamiliar, is a tapered burr that gets very pointy at the end, so it's great for grinding out little areas. This post is also a great reminder that you can modify your tweezers if they get a little wonky over time when you're using them. If they're a little bit blunt at the end and you prefer to have them shaped so that they're pointier and more narrow at the end, you can easily do that.

Corkie Bolton:

You can modify tweezers using sandpaper. You can use diamond abrasives. I have these little diamond credit cards they're called. They're essentially credit card size cards that have diamond abrasive in them. I can link them in the show notes. They're from Amazon and they can easily be used to shape stainless steel tools. If you have a belt sander in your studio or some other grinding machine that can also be used for tools. You just want to be careful that the tools don't get super hot when you're doing them. So often people will dip the tool in water, but you could certainly do a lot of this tool modification just by hand if you're nervous about any of that.

Corkie Bolton:

The next tip I want to talk about is a video I created back in 2021 to show off how you can modify a premium charcoal block. Now, the reason I need to state that it's premium is because charcoal blocks come in either soft or premium. Premium blocks are compressed, which makes them more dense. They don't fall apart as easily and therefore you can quite easily grind into them. So in this particular video, I used a wax burr. Wax burrs are just burrs used in wax. You could also use a regular ball burr.

Corkie Bolton:

It's not limited to this, but in this particular video, I was using a wax burr to create a divot for an earring and by creating this divot inside this charcoal block I was able to position this earring. That was not flat. I was going to have a hard time positioning it with a third hand because it was going to be moving around for soldering. By creating the divot, the earring sat in it snugly. Then I was able to use the third hand to hold my posts down onto the earring. You can use this technique if you want to create these custom indentations. Maybe you're doing production work and you solder the same type of earring or necklace again and again. It's just a great way to modify and that modification will be there and it'll only take up a little bit space on the charcoal block. It's also worth noting that if you like melting silver and gold into balls, you can take a round burr to grind half circles into a charcoal block. You can cut the exact same length pieces of wire, set them inside these half circles and they become a great surface to melt your balls, because that concave shape will sort of create the perfect surface for the ball to become more round.

Corkie Bolton:

A quick plug from one of our sponsors. I get my compressed charcoal blocks from Pepe Tools. They have their bench basics line and they come in three different sizes. They're really affordable and they're perfect for this type of modification. I'll link it in the show notes.

Corkie Bolton:

We can't talk about tool modifications without talking about bench pen modifications. A jeweler's bench pen is the number one essential tool for any jeweler. It's the surface upon which we do our filing and sawing. So the next tip I wanna talk about was shared in 2019 by Kelly Elizabeth Jewelry and in it there's a picture of a bench pen that has your standard V-slot cut out and on one side of the remaining pen there's a small curved channel that has been filed out, and that channel allows for rings and larger jump rings to be held, as you saw, through them. This is definitely the kind of tip that you'll wanna go and click on the link in the show notes and see the actual photo of the bench pen modification. I also wanna give a quick plug right now for tips. metalsmisssociety. com. This is a tip search page I created so that you can search for keywords and find posts that we've shared on Instagram. So, for example, you can head over to the tip search page and search for the words bench pen modifications and every single tip that we have shared in the last six years that include bench pen modifications in the caption will pop up, and so you can see a ton more bench pen modifications, and there's some really creative ones.

Corkie Bolton:

The last tool I wanna talk about, or general category, is pliers. A lot of pliers, like the bezel rocker I talked about previously, can come with a very sharp edge sometimes that you can definitely soften if it's making marks on your work. So always consider that if you're working with something and it seems to be marring up your metal, ask yourself if you can soften the shape of it a little bit without compromising the way that it works. And the last tip I wanna talk about is actually a fantastic plier modification that was shared by refraction manufacturing back in 2019. Basically, what he did was he ground down a pair of pliers to make them very stumpy so that he could hold little tiny pieces, and there's a great picture to go along with this, so be sure to check that out in the show notes. I think one of the biggest questions that beginners will have about some of these tool modifications that we've talked about today is what tools do you use to modify your tools? In this particular post there's a video of him grinding his pliers and he's using what looks like a diamond grinding wheel on a polishing machine. So you can see there's a lot of sparks flying everywhere and he's actually dipping it in water periodically to keep the heat down. So that can definitely be a very sparkly, sparky experience. But in general, diamond coated wheels, cards, sanding sticks are all great options because that diamond abrasive isn't gonna wear down easily.

Corkie Bolton:

When you're modifying stainless steel tools. You can also use stainless steel tools on stainless steel tools. But here's what I'll say about it. Let's say you have some files that you're gonna use to modify other tools. Be sure to write with a Sharpie steel on that tool, because once you've been using a file on steel, you don't wanna use it on your metal. You don't want there to be contamination and also that steel is going to wear down the steel tool over time and make it a bit more dull. So it's just an important consideration. If you know, budget is a consideration. Sandpaper works pretty well. It just can require a lot of work depending on how much you're grinding down, and certainly if you have a belt sander in your studio, those can work well. But same thing Once you're using an abrasive on steel, just mark that abrasive with a marker and say, hey, this has been used on steel and don't use it on your silver and gold.

Corkie Bolton:

I want to sincerely thank each of these community members for generously sharing these tips. If you wanna be featured on Metals mith Society's Instagram page, please email me your content caption and, of course, your handle over at tips@ metalsmithsociety. com. I would love to share a tip from you. Thank you for joining me today. Your support truly fuels this podcast.

Corkie Bolton:

If you enjoyed today's episode and wanna further support the show, there are multiple avenues available. You can subscribe on your preferred podcast platform, leave a review to share your thoughts and spread the word by sharing with friends and family. Additionally, you can show your support by purchasing merchandise at metalsmithsociety. com. I have some awesome t-shirts available that you can rock to show your love for our community. And, like I mentioned, if you're passionate about jewelry making, consider picking up a copy of my book Metals mith Society's Guide to Jewelry Making. It's packed with valuable tips and techniques to enhance your craft. Your support in any form is greatly appreciated and it truly helps in keeping the podcast thriving. Thank you for being a part of this journey and I look forward to bringing you more engaging content next week. Bye.

Intro and Metalsmith Society's Guide To Jewelry Making
Some tools require modification right out of the box
Tweezer modification with a krause bur
Modifying a premium charcoal block
Bench pin modifications and using the tip search
Plier modification and what tools to use to modify your tools
Outro and supporting Metalsmith Society