Tuesday, 16 February 2016

February 16

Some of My Favorite Things . . .

. . . are tools. Obviously, a jeweler needs tools and, over many years, I have amassed quite a collection. Some are for very specific projects: a jump ring maker, circle punches, a set of letters for stamping. Others are in use constantly and I thought I'd use this blog to introduce you to a few of them

Made to Measure

Any jewelry project begins with a design and a need to measure things. A ruler is a pretty standard measuring tool. This one is steel (sturdy) and gives me inches on one edge and centimeters on the other. Most people are also familiar with dividers. They can be used to scribe a circle or to transfer a measurement from the ruler to a piece of metal and can scribe a straight line for cutting when drawn along an edge. Very useful because — trust me — if you try to drag a scribe along the edge of a ruler you will, sooner or later, let that ruler slips and a nicely scribed line in the wrong place is a disaster. The calipers (on the right) are essential for measuring the size of a stone, the thickness of metals or the inside of a piece of tubing. The final item is a scale that weighs in ounces or grams. Knowing the weight of metal used in a pice becomes part of the process of pricing it for sale. It is also used to weigh items all packaged and ready for shipping so I can purchase shipping labels from Canada Post.

How to Cut It

Pretty much any jewelry item begins with cutting a shape from metal sheet or a length from silver wire. The jewelers' saw frame was probably the first tool I ever bought. It's probably the most used, too. The green handled flush cutters are great for fine gauge wire; heavier wires need the saw. The pair of garden snips are perfect for cutting snippets of sheet solder.

Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap

A jeweler collects hammers. I started with a chasing hammer — the one most people would consider a jeweler's hammer. Pretty quickly I added that rawhide mallet, used to shape metal without marring the surface, a smaller goldsmith's hammer and a riveting hammer (on the left).

Get a Grip

Hanging on to stuff is a challenge. Pliers and tweezers come to the rescue.

A jeweler could not function without a large assortment of gripping tools. These are just a few of mine. At the back, a third hand equipped with heat resistant soldering tweezers. On left foreground, tweezers: cross locking and diamond. The latter have slightly curved tips to aid in holding faceted stones. To the right, just two of many pairs of pliers with varied tips for handling metal and opening and closing jump rings.

Keep a Record

I had not been making — and selling — jewelry for very long before I realized I needed a record of pieces I have made. Sometimes, a client asks for an item I sold long ago. Lacking a good record, how could I begin to make another like it?

My bench tools include a pencil and a notepad. When I have a design planned (I use a sketch pad to doodle ideas first), I enter the date, a drawing (not fancy at all) with all measurements, gauge and weight of metal used, size and type of stone or stones.

I keep an endless list on my computer of everything I make and the date I make it. I can cross reference that to the pages in this notepad.