Christine Cox

Posts tagged ‘metalsmith’

Torch Comfort

Most metalsmiths set up their torch like thisI set mine up like this

Most metalsmiths hold their torches differently than I do.

Others set up their torch head so that the tip is opposite the control knob. Check out the first photo accompanying this post. Setting up the torch tip this way means that adjusting the flame requires a deft little move involving the joints of your thumb and your index finger. It takes a little getting used to, especially since you’re using your non-dominant hand (or at least you “should” be).

I like to set up the torch so that the control knob and the tip are on the same side of the torch head (see photo). This way I can adjust the control knob with the tips of my index and thumb, and it feels quite natural.

The beauty of working in your own studio is that it’s up to you. Try my way. You may find it more comfortable.

Sponsored by:

Volcano Arts

www.volcanoarts.com

Metalsmith: Cushion Behind a Stone

There are times when a jeweler needs a cushion behind a stone or enamel that’s being bezel-set, whether to raise it higher, or to even out an unevenness such as in the case of a warped enamel. One solution is to use fine sawdust between the piece and the bezel. Some people like to use an old credit card. On a larger piece, like the enamel in the accompanying photos, I like to use a piece of a plastic lid, as from a can of coffee or something similar. They come in different thicknesses, and this little safety measure gives me a lot of peace of mind when working with a bezel roller later.

Update: I’ve had a few people write to me about using plastic for this step (some for, some against). I use plastic because it is a long-lived, neutral substance. It doesn’t rot away making the stone loose, or swell when it’s wet, potentially breaking the stone. Sawdust and cork are fine, but beware of the pitfalls.

Sponsored by:

Bookbinding, Metalsmithing and Glass
We have the tools and supplies you need for your projects and classes
www.volcanoarts.com

Metalsmith: Mini Anvil

Metalsmith
(A typically occasional series by Christine Cox)

Need to hallmark or center-punch your piece of metal? It’s such a simple job when your piece is flat. Just lay the metal down on a flat, hard surface and whack away.

But what if the piece isn’t flat?

As long as there’s enough room underneath the piece to set it on an anvil, you can stamp or center-punch at will. Here’s the secret, anything can be an anvil, as long as it’s up to the job. I have a corner in my bench drawer devoted to small “thingys” made of steel in every shape.

One of my favorites is the little steel dot made for setting rivets I got somewhere, but I also have knife handles, hammer heads, ball bearings and more.

Sponsored by:

Bookbinding, Metalsmithing and Glass
We have the tools and supplies you need for your projects and classes
www.volcanoarts.com

Metalsmith: Straighten a Crooked Balled Rivet

(A typically occasional series by Christine Cox)

Balling up the end of a wire for rivets, findings or decorative elements is one of the first things a metalsmith learns. It’s a fun and rewarding activity, though there’s a bit of a knack to it. The wire needs to be in the hottest part of the flame. You can’t dwell too long or stop too early. You can’t stop part way through and then resume without lowering the odds of success. Always hold the wire straight down so that gravity can help.

In spite of our best efforts, sometimes there’s a problem:

  • The ball doesn’t form or only forms a little (too short a time in the flame, too short a wire, holding pliers too close to where ball should form, too large a wire gauge to heat ratio)
  • The ball isn’t round (probably too long in the flame)
  • The ball falls off (waaaaaaay too long in the flame)
  • The ball is pitted (using the wrong part of the flame, or an inferior alloy such as brass)
  • The ball is on the side of the wire (either too short in the flame, or not holding wire straight down)

That last one can be frustrating, but it’s easy to fix (mostly).

Take a look at the photos accompanying this post. In the first photo, a sterling silver wire has its ball off to the side. In macro terms, the fix is to grab the ball in a pair of pliers and bend the wire until it aligns with the ball. Unfortunately, you would likely end up with a ball crushed by the pliers and a bent wire that still wouldn’t line up.

Let’s take a micro look at the fix.

The crushed ball would be caused by using steel pliers. The jaws on a pair of brass or nylon-lined pliers are softer than steel. Hold the ball in a way that gives you access to the exact spot where the ball and wire meet.

Now place your finger where the ball meets the wire and bend the wire until it lines up. If your wire bends anywhere other than at the point where it meets the ball, you need to put your finger right up against the ball.

That’s it! Now, go back through all your old balled wires and see if you can fix any of them.

http://www.volcanoarts.com/cart/metalsmithing/pliers.htm

Sponsored by:

Volcano Arts
www.volcanoarts.com

Volcano Arts

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

 

 

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