Christine Cox

Posts tagged ‘metal’

Metalsmith: Avoid Sanding Low Spots In Ring Rims

Metalsmith: Avoid Sanding Low Spots In Ring Rims
(A typically occasional metalsmithing series by Christine Cox)

There’s a point in every metalsmith’s early career where they realize that they are tired of compensating for their mistakes, tired of making something that is the best they can do, but still not quite what was pictured. There’s a desire to make a piece from beginning to end, exactly how it’s pictured in the mind – but a small gap in technical skills gets in the way.

Here’s an example of a tiny technical error that affected my work. The worst part is that I knew better.

If you’ve ever sanded a ring of some kind, whether a bezel, a finger ring, the side walls of a box, or even the rim of a domed disk, chances are, you’ve had to deal with having sanded a low spot. There’s one particular low area that prevents the entire edge from being even. Since metal is stubborn and won’t grow when we need it to, the only solution is to file the entire edge down to the height of the low spot, which can have an effect on every aspect of your project’s design from that point forward. You start compromising on your original vision.

How much better to prevent the low spot to begin with? See the photo at right showing the two bezels? I was sanding the edges to make them the same height and I got lazy. I started sanding back and forth, as we’ve all done when we haven’t been taught otherwise (and some of us, even when we have).

Do this little experiment. Picture a large figure eight on some flat surface near you and slowly rub one finger along it, noting the shift of the pressure on the pad of your finger from front to back and side to side as you complete the course of the symbol.

The same situation happens when you’re sanding. If you sand in a figure eight pattern, you subtly shift your weight from one point to another as you sand along the shape, and therefore the rim stays even. If you just sand back and forth, you’re going to sand a low spot into the rim because you’re putting weight on only limited areas.

It’s such a small change in work habit, but realizing that the change needs to be made is exactly the point where we reach, stretch, and become better smiths and produce better quality work.

 

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Bookbinding, Metalsmithing and Glass
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Metalsmith: Polishing Inside a Tube

polishinsidetube

Metalsmith: Polishing Inside a Tube
(A typically occasional series by Christine Cox)

Need to polish inside a tube? Use a piece of rouged jute and a small vice. Run the tube back and forth a few times and you’re done.

Metalsmith: Kitchen Tools in the Studio

Metalsmith
(A typically occasional series by Christine Cox)

The sweeps drawer under my bench used to be a mess. I had tools mixed in with metal scrap, used sandpaper, leather pieces, broken saw blades, and lots and lots of metal shavings from sawing and filing. It was a major undertaking to clean it and a job I avoided. At a local store I found a metal mesh drawer organizer. Now my tools all have individual homes and all I do to clean up the drawer is to lift the organizer out, dump out the sweeps and put the organizer back in. The mesh organizer is a great holder for my most-used tools too.

Silverware holders are also wonderful for organizing tools in drawers. Mandrels, sanding sticks and other hand tools will stay in their assigned slots without beating up their neighbors.

Metalsmith: Triangles and Squares

Metalsmith: Triangles and Squares
(another installment in a typically occasional series by Christine Cox)

templateA fast way to accurately mark 3 or 4 corners on a piece of work is to use a drafter’s template. For example, let’s say you want to put 3 tiny feet on the bottom of a round box. It can be difficult to line up 3 points that look good. Simply lay a triangle template over the bottom of the box and then find the triangle that is closest in size to where you want the feet. Mark the 3 corners with a Sharpie marker and you’re done. If you want the feet in a perfect square instead, simply use whichever square template is the correct size.

2012-05-2in

Bookbinding, Metalsmithing and Stained Glass

 

 

Metalsmith: Twist to De-Bur

Metalsmith: Twist to De-Bur
(another installment in a typically occasional series by Christine Cox)removebur-done

After drilling in metal there is often a large bur around the hole. It’s unsightly, dangerous and can throw off how your piece goes together. Eliminate it easily by using a drill bit that’s larger (by far) than the hole you’ve drilled. Chuck the large bit up into a pin vise. Place the metal, bur side up, onto a surface that allows the tip of the drill bit to drop down through the hole. I usually just place the hole over the V in my bench pin, or slide it off the edge of the bench, whichever is easiest. Press down firmly and twist to remove the bur. Caution, don’t go all the way through or you’ll be left with a hole much larger than you intended. Lightly twist back and forth a couple of additional times to clear the swarf and you’re done.

This is also a quick and dirty way to create a countersunk hole. Just push down a little harder as you twist to get the characteristic flared out edge around the hole.

removebur  removebur-dtl

Available from Volcano Arts:


Metal stock


Small pin vise

Metalsmith: Filing in Tight Places

barrettefilebarrette

Metalsmith
(A typically occasional series by Christine Cox)

For filing in tight places where adjoining areas could be damaged, use a barrette file. Only one side has teeth and the other edges slope away from them. They come in several sizes and every coarseness you could need. They are even included in most needle file and mini-needle file sets.

Needle and mini-needle file sets are available from Volcano Arts
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Metalsmith: Sternum Pain Deliverance

leatheronapron

Metalsmith
(A typically occasional series by Christine Cox)

While stringing a saw frame most people use their sternum to compress the frame while tightening. This can be dangerous and painful if you have bird bones like mine. Staple a piece of leather to your shop apron and you’ll have some protection.

 

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