Thursday, December 30, 2010


I did a dumb thing and put a deep cut on the ball of my right thumb. In a way, that wasn't too bad as I have very little feeling in my right thumb and forefinger. In fact after doing about a half hour's worth of work, the whole hand goes numb. That's when tools start being dropped and so on. But, did manage to get some things done. Made up a bunch of copper jump rings and did some annealing.

Now, speaking of getting cuts, abrasions, etc., I keep a small bottle of a product called "New Skin" at the bench for taking care of little mishaps, which in my case are bound to happen sooner or later. After applying, the product takes a few minutes to dry, and you can continue to work. I will warn you ahead of time, it stings like crazy at first. In the case of my thumb, I didn't feel a thing. But, if the cut would have been on the left hand, you can bet it would sting.

I continue to add to my wish list of materials and supplies, searching the net for sources and best prices.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Stump, again?

Well, yes. Essentially, the stump is complete. Holes for the screws to hold the top have been finished, T-nuts installed. So, what remains is for me to figure out where the various items are to go, so I can drill holes and install T-nuts which will keep things in place. As the stump is a multi-purpose piece, there needs to be places to hold a variety of items, from a hanger for a flex-shaft, to a Pana-vise, and more. The flex shaft hanger, I'll make using a floor flange and some pipe, if the hardware store has what I need. I still have to put the middle shelf in place. Hardware store was out of the U-bolts needed for the shelf supports, so now that's on hold. I will get this thing fully operational someday! And, I will make something jewelry wise, someday!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Stump Saga Continues

Are you getting tired of hearing about the stump? Wouldn't blame you if you were. Anyway, here for better or worse, is a progress report. We had a brief spell of quite nice weather and I was able to work outside and get all of the sawing completed. The skirting around the top and bottom is complete and fastened on. The skirting around the bottom is extended up so any item placed on the bottom will be less likely to fall off when the stump is moved around. Made a shelf to fit in between the legs, also with skirting around to again, keep items from falling off. The shelf supports still need to be put into place. I'll do that after Christmas. The very top portion has not yet been fastened down. Another after Christmas chore. Then, I might put some kind of finish on the wood.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Just for the fun of it, I counted the number of different names for semi-precious jasper on one site alone. Thirty-six. Does this figure exhaust all the names given for jasper? No way. People make up names for jasper, some quite fanciful. So oftentimes you see the same type of jasper with three or four different names. You look at a listing of jasper and see an unfamiliar name, the look at the picture, and la!, it's the same jasper you bought a month or so ago!

And, speaking of the many jaspers, I'm thinking that Ocean Jasper is my favorite one of the clan.
Especially the ones with nice orbicular patterns. Sometimes, I really dislike giving up a particularly nice example when it's used in a piece of jewelry.

So what is your favorite jasper?

In the meantime, Happy Holidays, everyone!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Stump nearly finished

The weather was kind yesterday and today, so I was able to get the cosmetic stuff completed. The top will have to wait as the hardware I need has not arrived.

Anyway, I won't be posting any additional remarks about the stump for awhile. I can still use it hammer on metal.

If you buy one of those texturing hammers with interchangeable faces, you could run into a problem. The threads on the hammer head and retaining ring are abnormally rough, and the ring will come loose when using the hammer. Rubbing some bees wax on the threads will help. You will be better off with solid face hammers.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Stump Saga Continues

Legs attached today. The stump is pretty stable, but it could be a little better. It will, however, serve the purpose needed. Put some wax on the bottom, so it will slide in and out of it's storage spot behind the door.

Things left to do. Layout for hold down T-nuts and screws. Skirting around the sides, top and bottom. Biggest hurdle there are the angle cuts. Then, the top piece drilled with access holes to the T-nuts. Attach T-nuts. Put top in place and secure.

Then if things work out the way I hope they do, I'll fasten some U-bolts to the legs to support a shelf for a pitch bowl, sandbag, a hammer or two, and this, that and whatever.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stump in place for testing

Here are pics of the stump. The legs, or posts, whichever you prefer, are not fastened down. It is in place for testing working height. Much remains to be done. I'm going to try putting a piece of scrap carpet on the bottom to make it easier to move around, as it will not be very useful tucked away behind the door.

The disparity in the material is because it's all scrap stuff I had laying around and now it's found some usefulness. It will look better when it's dressed up a bit.

The gray-white are to the right of the bottom pic is the opened garage door. I thought about cropping it out, but left it sort of to show that I don't have a great deal of room in which to work. I do intend to start making jewelry after the first of the coming year. Really!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Stump progress

Legs for the stump completed today. Tomorrow I will show a photo of the partially completed stump. I will warn you ahead of time, it won't look pretty. Putting on the make-up will come later. I have to test it out for height to see if I need to add more material to the top.

Hope it's warm where you are. Really cold this morning.

And, before I forget, Happy Holidays everyone!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More on the saga of the stump

The weather continues to be too cold for me to work outside. Wednesday looks favorable for some work. I have discovered building the stump is not as easy as it seemed at first. It appears the legs supporting the stump's top will have to be carefully shimmed in order for the top to be level. Another roadblock on the way to successful completion. Then there is my own roadblocks which I continue to place in front of myself such as, forgetting to get everything needed at the hardware store. Oh well, the grocery store is on the way, so the missing pieces can be picked up without the extra trip. Got to save on gas for the car! I do intend to finish the stump by the end of this week.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stump continues to be stumped

No progress today. Too cold and too windy. The old guy is not as tough as he thought was, and now has a cold coming on. No more posts on the stump for awhile.

Thanks too all who took the time to view my blog.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Stump stumped

I had high hopes for today, but was only able to get in about 45 minutes of work, all due to circumstances beyond my control. Tomorrow, I may be able to get in about one hour of work which certainly isn't going to move the project along as quickly as I would like. My good, sunny weather is going to go south and the cold comes in from the north. Brrrr! Anyway, we all must do the best we can with what we have to work with. I'll get the stump done one way or the other before Christmas.

In the meantime, if haven't done so, check out John de Rosier's blog.

Stump stumped

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More Stump

Today turned out sunny and pleasant enough to work on the stump. The major heavy stuff is completed. Now, the nicer looking covers for the bottom and top of the stump need to be cut and the skirting around the top and bottom also need to be cut and everything fastened. Then, off to the hardware store for pipe and floor flanges. When those are installed, the stump will be almost complete.

Wish me luck in getting the thing done!

P.S. Have you made your New Year's resolutions yet? I've a pretty good idea of what mine will be, but I'm not saying what they are 'til later.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Odd title for a posting, but it is apropos. It was sunny outside today, and not too cold, which gave me an opportunity to begin work on making a stump for metal working. Do to circumstances, I have to work outside to do any major wood sawing. If the weather stays reasonably warm, I may be able to finish the sawing tomorrow. Then I can move inside to complete the construction.

The stump is sort of modeled after John de Rosier's stump. Go to his blog, "The Jeweler's Files," to see the one he's made, and also to see his studio set-up and some elegant jewelry. The man does exquisite work. My stump won't be as large, and certainly not as nice looking. But it will be adequate for my needs. It will need to be small enough to fit behind a partially closed door as I have pretty tight quarters in which to work. When finished, it means I can beat on metal inside where it's warm, and not out in the garage where it's a bit chilly around the edges. The rolling mill and shear will have stay put out there but that's not too much of a sacrifice.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sanding Sticks

Since there was some of the small dimension lumber left over from making tool trays, I decided to use some of it to make some additional sanding sticks. This time with the 3M finishing films.

Instead of the traditional way of making sanding sticks (wrap. score, wrap, etc.), I used rubber cement. The 3M films last a long time, so the layer upon layer method of making sanding sticks wasn't used. Then, just because I had them, I made more using ice cream, or popsicle sticks. These smaller sticks will allow sanding inside smaller areas.

If you are not familiar with the 3M finishing films and do use sandpaper, you really should look into this material and give it a try. It comes in grits of 9, 15, 30, 40 and 60 microns and the sheets are color coded so you can tell them apart, even though the size is printed on the back side. At one time you could get it in 20 micron, but I haven't seen any of that size. Most jewelry supply houses carry the material, but you can get it from automobile parts stores as the material was originally made for the auto industry.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A New Addition

Usually, when one announces a new addition, others will think it's an announcement of the birth of a baby. In this case, however, the new addition is a new tool cabinet. It replaces another that simply took up more usable space than for all the good it did. The new cabinet is by Waterloo and features five different drawers. These, hopefully, will allow storage of some rather awkward tools that don't fit very well on the bench.

The cabinet measures 14 inches deep, 26 1/2 inches wide, and 31 3/4 inches tall. The unit came with casters unattached, but there was a problem for my use. I have to have all four casters steerable, and only two of the furnished ones were like that. So, a trip to the hardware store to get two more casters. Well, wouldn't you know it, the caster bases didn't match up, and I had to buy four new ones. And of course, that meant drilling new holes. Oh well, that's life. Anyway, the job's done and now all that needs to be done is put in some drawer liners, and start filling it up.

I will try to post a picture after I get through with the modifications.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Copper is increasingly being used by many jewelry artists now that silver has become more and more expensive. Now, copper itself is likely to increase in price. I recently read in "Bloomberg Businessweek" that thieves are making off with copper stolen from cell phone towers, foreclosed and empty houses and many other places and selling the loot at salvage yards. The salvage yards chop up the copper and then sell to companies that ship it overseas, mainly to China, ending up in electronics, etc. that are shipped back to the US. Authorities are trying to stem this looting but are fighting a losing battle.

Will copper dramatically increase in price? I don't know. Should you increase your stock of copper? I don't know that, either. For myself, my stock of sheet metal is adequate for my needs.

Plus, having had a new furnace and air conditioning system installed earlier this year, I managed to salvage quite a lot of old copper pipe, plus some new. All this has been cut up into smaller pieces which I will cut a slit down through the side of the pipe with flex shaft and cut off wheel and then open up the pipe and flatten it out. With the rolling mill, I can make thinner gauges of sheet.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Pepe Tube Cutting Jig

Here is an article I posted on

Pictured is the Pepe Tube Cutting Jig with a piece of copper tubing in place. The photo is deceiving in that my thumb is missing from holding down the thumb clamp. That's the gray colored thingy in the center of the jig. I didn't have a good way to hold the camera and include my thumb at the same time. Sorry about that.

Anyway, the jig is adjustable for length, up to 13 cm, and for stock up to 6 mm in diameter. The wood handle is obviously for hand held operation. I found this to be rather difficult for me to do, even bracing the jig against a bench pin.

A couple other things to know about the jig. By removing two screws on the saw guide ,and by using thin brass sheets (shim stock), the width of the saw slot can be adjusted for larger or smaller width saw blades.

The other thing is that everybody says you can't use the jig in a vise. Phooey! The photo proves this contention as wrong. But, there is the fact that you may have to remove the jig from the vise in order to change the setting for a different length. Only a minor inconvenience.

As you can see, the jig is firmly and safely secured in a vise, albeit a small, one inch jaw width, machinists vise. I won't say that is the only vise that will work. A small vise like that is always handy to have around. So are C-clamps! Very handy.

If there is a drawback to the tube cutting jig, it's that it can be a tad difficult with the way I've set it up to retrieve very short lengths of cut off tubing from the jig. But, a pair of sharp point tweezers or a fine point awl (aka bodkin), will do the trick. I suggest that you also have something under the jig to catch the cut off as it falls from the jig. I'm still searching for one that got away.

Now, a cautionary reminder. Very thin tubing may require some sort of support inside the tubing, or the tubing could collapse from the pressure of sawing. So a wood dowel, bamboo skewer, or a round toothpick inserted inside the tube should do the trick.

The saw cuts will produce some burring, so you can remove these with a fine file and sand paper as you cut, or do it later, whichever is easiest for you. Tumbling with stainless steel shot will remove some, but maybe not all of the burs. Remember to lube your saw blade and have the blade tensioned properly. I really didn't need to remind you of that, did I? I use bees wax. You can see a lump of it in back by the saw. It's only about 70 years old and is like the Energizer Bunny. It keeps going and going. I lube the back of the blade, not the teeth. I find it's better that way.

Why would you need one? Dunno. What can you make with one? Same length spacer beads. Any length metal beads. Within reason, of course. Danglely things for necklaces and earrings. Decorative add-ins on metal pieces. Tube rivets. Tube settings for stones. Cups for enameling on metal backing. Et cetera, and so on.

The Pepe Tube Cutting Jig is available from several on-line jewelry making supply companies. Mine was purchased from The Contenti Company. I have no affiliation with Contenti other than as a customer.

Thank you and good luck sawing whatever you saw.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

An update (this is a revised version).

What's been going on with old John? This week has been sawing, sawing, sawing. It is also goodbye to couple of old friends. I have two, very old jeweler's saw frames that I had to retire. After repairing them numerous times, it became impractical to do so anymore. The metal which the frame was constructed was a strange kind of alloy. I had encountered it only once before. I'm just guessing that it was a kind of bronze. Anyway, the wear and tear of unloosening the thumb screw, wore out the threads. It meant drilling out the worn threads, re-tapping threads and replacing the thumbscrews, only to go through this again, and again. Now, they are replaced with new, modern saw frames.

So now to the sawing. I bought several 12" x 12" sheets of copper, brass and nugold (bright brass), and have been sawing them down to what for me are workable sizes. Since my bench shear has only a 4" capacity, the sheets have to have one, 4" dimension.

To saw the sheets, I took a piece of Baltic birch plywood (about 18" x 24"), and marked out a 6" x 6" square in one corner of the plywood, extending one of the lines across the 18" dimension. Then drilled a 3/16's" hole in the corner of the square where the lines intersect.
That's relief for the saw blade when unloosening it from the saw frame. This is necessary when the saw frame's throat is only 5 7/8's inches. The using an electric jigsaw and a guide, I made a saw cut along one of the lines from the edge of the board to the hole.

This layout allows all around support for the metal sheet. You don't want to have the sheet extending outside as it will vibrate from the sawing and cause gloom, despair, and agony and break saw blade after saw blade.

I marked out 6" x 6" rectangles on the sheets with rule and scriber, and drilled a hole in the metal sheet where the lines intersect. Lining up the scribed line with the saw cut and the extended line, I taped the sheets to the sawing board with blue painter's tape. I have to do this to secure the sheet to the board. Otherwise, it moves around too much. Then began sawing. I took the 6" x 6" and cut those down a little smaller, leaving a 6" edge on some in case I might need that length for a project. Dressed down the sawn edges with 320 grit paper on a sanding stick, marked the gauge on the pieces, wrapped them is salvaged packing paper, put them in a ziplock bag, marked with the gauge and type of metal.

All this may not be economical for some. Since I don't make jewelry as a main source of income, the time used really doesn't matter.

Til next time, John

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Goldsmith's Hammer

Here is an article I posted on

For quite some time now, I have been wondering why so many wire artist gurus have advocated the use of a chasing hammer to flatten wire in their various books, articles, and tutorials. My guess is, and I most certainly could be wrong, is that some wire artist somewhere, somehow, obtained a chasing hammer, used it, found that it would flatten wire and wrote about it, and everybody, or almost everybody, picked up on it and followed suit. So now, the chasing hammer is in vogue, as "the" hammer to use. When you get right down to it, the chasing hammer is really being misused. Flattening wire is not it's intended use. You are supposed to use it to hit chasing tools and ding it up. Oh, there is no doubt about it, the chasing hammer does flatten wire, and it does a pretty fair job of it.

If you subscribe to ART JEWELRY magazine, or pick it up in the magazine section at the bookstore, you probably noted articles by Michael David Sturlin on metalsmithing. Mr. Sturlin is a well known jewelry designer and teacher. His articles are well written and instructive.

In the September, 2010 issue, in his article "Metal Forming 101: Forging", Mr. Sturlin takes you through the basics of forging. For the exercises shown, forming wire into various shapes, he uses a goldsmith's hammer.

Anyway, I was intrigued by Mr. Sturlin's article and subsequently purchased a goldsmith's hammer. Following Mr. Sturlin's instructions, I put it through its paces. Now, I am wondering why I ever got trapped into using a chasing hammer to flatten or form wire! Blindly following the leader! The goldsmiths hammer is so, so much easier to use and control. Because of the smaller head it is so much more accurate, so much better to use than the chasing hammer. And, should you decide to go further in metal work, you have the perfect hammer to start.

One of the reasons, I believe, for the goldsmith's hammer not being used more, or mentioned by the wire artist gurus, is that it is the hammer's very name that may tend to make people shy away from buying and using one. One might say, "Oh, that is for goldsmith's to use and I'm not a goldsmith. I don't work with gold. Why should I buy a goldsmith's hammer?" Well, as Mr. Sturlin has pointed out in another article, if you work with metal in making jewelry, you are actually goldsmithing, not silversmithing. Silversmiths make utilitarian objects; tableware, tea service items, urns, trays and the like. And, of course, silversmiths use chasing hammers with chasing tools, so perhaps the odd connection is made, silver wire/silversmithing/chasing hammer. Maybe, maybe not. Anyway, both smithings would fall under a general catchall heading of metalsmithing.

Granted, the goldsmith's hammer is not the end all of hammers, Various hammers have specific uses and it's better to use them for the purpose for which they are intended.

Goldsmith's hammers are not all that expensive depending on what brand you buy.

I went with the Fretz goldsmith's hammer for two reasons. I got it at a discount and it comes ready to use, already polished. With other brands, you may have to do some prep work, polishing the head and cross peen.

I'm just sorry I didn't try and use the goldsmith's hammer earlier.

And the chasing hammer? Retired from wirework, and now it's properly dinged and dented.


Some Leafy Components

The photo shows some different leaf components in various stages of completion for a necklace I'm working on. Autumn will probably be over by the time it's finally finished. The piece at bottom left, will probably end up in more of a pod shape than a leaf. What you see is not all that will go into the finished piece.

I though I'd better post something so you know I'm still on earth and not out in space somewhere.


Two different metals, brass and copper. Different textures

Sunday, October 10, 2010

General Commentary

Hi, folks. This has been a month of frustration as far as getting anything done.

First, though, I must make a correction to a previous blog entry concerning the Circle Dividing Template. I had posted this tool on site and I gave proper credit to the person who originated the tool, Pauline Warg, from her book, "Making Metal Beads." I omitted that credit from the posting here. So, apologies to Ms Warg.

Second, the bench improvement went on hold due to the lack of suitable small dimension lumber. Apparently, students from the university had projects to make requiring the same stuff. And, who knows when the material will be restocked?

Third, the wife's mother, going on 91, fell. Fortunately no broken bones. But it's meant trips to hospital, doctor, drug store and unfortunately, some incontinence. Every time, it seems, that I want to get started on a project, I have to leave it to do laundry, go to the drug store, cook, or something else. So, nothing gets done in the jewelry making department. There is improvement in sight, keeping all fingers and toes crossed.

All for awhile, John

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Two views of how I arranged tools in the top drawer of the bench. The trays are all removable, if needed. The tray with the vernier caliper slides from side to side. The trays are constructed with small dimensional lumber purchased at the hobby store. Unfortunately, none of the drawers are self supporting, so in order to reach tools in the back, the drawer must be removed entirely. Not too much of a concern as I try to put the least used tools in the back.

Meanwhile, the work goes on, on the other drawers.

"Til next time, John

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bench Modification continues

At the end of the last post, I said something about putting together some jewelry. Well. the intentions were good but, I got side tracked. Again. So, what have I been doing? Well, the great bench improvement saga continues to creep along. I've been making removable wooden trays to fit into the bench drawers to hold the various and most used tools. It has been fun and a pain at the same time. Trying to figure out where to put what, and what works best this way or that. Trying to conserve space while at the same time make the tools easily accessible. nd, of course, me being me, I made some mistakes. Progress, however slow, is being made. The top drawer of the bench is almost complete and I'll post a picture of it later in the week.

All for now, John

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Circle Dividing Template

Well, here it is, warts and all. I apologize for the poor quality photo, but I think you can get the idea. Place a metal disc, or a metal dome in the center of the template to find the center of the piece and to help layout designs.

The scrap aluminum turned out to be a little too soft, and even with light pressure, the scriber had a tendency to dig it. Also, I did not use a pair of sharp pointed dividers as recommended, using a plastic circle template instead. Why? Well, I've never been very good at using dividers as circle makers. Just plain klutzy. The circle template worked out pretty well, not perfect, but it will do the job.

The little square you see in one of the photos below, was purchased from Micro-Mark. (I have no affiliation with that company other than as a customer. They do have a few tools of interest to a hobby jewelry maker.) The square is very handy and could be worth a look, if you're into metal work.

I'm going to take a break from posting for awhile. I need to get some jewelry put together.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Beading Board, Auxiliary Use

Two photos showing other uses for the beading board. One as a layout/design usage, the other where I am beginning to make a Circle Dividing Template as described in Pauline Warg's book. "Making Metal Beads." My template will not be quite the same as hers because I'm using salvaged aluminum in place of the brass or nickel silver she recommends.I'll show my results later in another post.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Welcome new Followers

It is very pleasing to see new followers for my blog. I hope you will find future postings here interesting and informative as I continue to explore new things related to jewelry work. Please check back every so often. Thank you for your continued interest and support for my humble efforts.


Some Examples of My Work

The lower image is Summer Garden.

Both have been sold. I just put them back up on the blog for no other reason than to crow a bit. LOL!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Beading Board, Underside, and Ready to Use

Set up for work. Plier rack rests on bottom drawer of the bench. I think it's pretty handy that way.
This is the underside of the Beading Board..

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Beading Board

Well, here it is, just as about as complete as possible. It's pretty rough, but that's o.k. All scrap and salvage. I am thinking of an addition of another shallow tray in back to hold cut pieces of wire. Ran out of wood, again. As you can see, the gizmo fits into the bench catch tray. Feet underneath. The whole thing is supposed to be level. Come to find out, the catch tray bottom isn't exactly square with the world! The cups were salvaged from grocery store product demos. Stores sometimes are promoting some kind of snack food, so there's hardly ever any need to clean them. Just knock out the crumbs. Beading pad located in the center of the board. In the back left corner of the tray is a top off of a spray can that holds a piece scrubbie pad to polish up the wire. It stays in place by a small magnet. Also stored in the catch tray, good old empty (well, partially empty), Altoids mint tins, one each for scraps of fine silver, sterling silver, copper, and two kinds of brass.

The plier rack will rest on the bottom bench drawer.

On the front of the bench catch tray, I've marked out some measurements for cutting ye olde wire to length.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bench Modification continues

The modification for the next few days will be a removable wirework/beading board to fit into the bench catch tray. It will fit down into the catch tray, clearing the pull-out shelf rail. Two slots on either side of the board will hold sections from and old aluminum muffin tin that I've cut apart. Those will hold the beads for any project I will be working on. In the center, a frame for the bead mat. The whole thing will be a little rough, but it will work.

The new bench pin is great. Now, all that's needed for sawing is some provision for the block of beeswax, and a place for a brush to clear away the accumulating debris from sawing. Got to see the line!

Did some work on a mount for the little one inch jaw vise. I also will need to make a mount for the larger Panavise. Both mounts will need to be compatible with one another to avoid drilling unnecessary holes. Got to get more T-Nuts! Whee, the excitement goes on! Someday, yes, I will try to post some pics.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bench Pin

Here I go again, griping. I had an issue with the bench pin supplied with the bench, so after fighting the thing for months and trying out other substitutes, I finally broke down and bought a GRS mount and bench pin. Rock solid, a joy to work on. But, for the cost of it, you would think the company would at least run a sander along the edges, just to knock off any splinters left from sawing. Nope, I guess they could bear the expense. I barely avoided finger impalement by a rather large splinter. Other than that, a great bench pin. I didn't use the screws which came with the mounting plate. I installed T-Nuts in the bench top and attached it with 1/4" x 20 bolts. That way, if I need to remove the plate, I can do so easily. I never like to make anything too permanent.

In addition, since I created drilling debris which fell into the catch tray, I decided it was time to clean it out. Gee, what a mess that was! In a way, it was like a treasure hunt. "Oh, there's that bead I dropped six months ago! Wondered where that went to. And, here's a pair of tweezers way back here," and so on. Amazing what you can find ater a year's accumlation. I have now resolved to do better, keep things neater, cleaner. Wonder how long that will last? I have three empty Altoids tins, one labled for scrap silver, one for copper, and one for brass. Wire and metal clippings will go in these and not the catch tray. Yessir, the organization never stops!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Plier rack, again

Posting the plier rack photo on generated more interest than I expected. Now, after giving the project a little more thought, I can see there is possibly room for improvement. For example: Changing just a bit the angle of the notch for the aluminum angle. I am not going to change what I have, but someone else might think it would be better.

In the photo with pliers on the rack, not all of the pliers I use are on there. Because JL is primarily a wire work site, only the pliers which I use most for that were put on the rack. I wasn't sure how others would work out. Now that I tried them, they fit just fine. So, it's goodbye to the old plastic one that never worked right, and there's more room on the bench.

I'm going to play with making a holder on the side of the rack to hold a pair of metal shears. We'll see. I have a little left over aluminum bar stock I think I can bend to make a holder.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Plier Rack details

A member of asked for a tutorial on making the plier rack. I don't do tutorials and said I would post details here on the blog. The rack was made specifically to hold the Lindstrom RX pliers, with the springs attached. I need to have the springs in place. It will hold some of the other types of pliers, but some types may not fit as well on the rack.

The one thing to remember is that all the dimensions are flexible, with the possible exception of the aluminum angle. It is 1 inch x 1 inch, and as long as you need. I think the 1 inch size is right for the pliers. I just happened to have a piece that was 11 1/4 inches in length, so that became the length used. Why bother cutting it to 11 inches or any other length?

The plywood used is Baltic Birch. Any other wood could be used. The wood forming the tray is screen molding. The whole thing could have been made prettier, but it doesn't have to be.

The base is 5/8 inch thick, by 13 1/2 inches in length, by 4 3/4 inches wide.

The two uprights are 1/2 inch thick, 6 11/16 inches tall at the front, 3 3/4 inches wide. The odd dimension is because that was the size of the scrap wood.

The notch in the uprights measures 2 3/8 inches down from the top and 2 inches in from the back.

The uprights are set in 3/8 inch front and back and approximately 1 inch in from the side of the base.

Corners on the base and on the top of uprights were rounded off using a disc sander.

The uprights were clamped together, the notch dimensions marked, and cut out using a back saw.

At this point, I drilled four holes in the aluminum angle for small pan head sheet metal screws. No. 5 x 1/2 inch. I use whatever I have available. Then I drilled starter holes in the upright notches and attached the angle.

Next, measured out the position of the uprights on the base, clamped the uprights to the base, drilled and countersunk four screw holes and attached the uprights to the base using No. 6 x 1 1/2 inch wood screws.

Cut two pieces of screen molding and attached them, front and back, with small 1/2 inch brads, to the uprights.

Done. The knobs you see at the ends were added later for ease in moving the rack from storage position to working position. Optional.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Ongoing Saga of the Bench Improvement No. 2

Yesterday went pretty well. The cabinet door knobs used on the bench drawers were added to the plier rack. A little easier to move around that way.

Relocated the lamp from right side to left. It was mistake to place it on the right side because it did not reach far enough over the primary work area.

The post holding the flex shat motor was way too high, so that was shortened as much as possible. Much more convenient now.

There remains more work to be done. Future projects include fastening a backboard with a small shelf attached to the top of the bench. This will give some additional space for storage. Then I need to do something with the drawers. There is wasted space in them, and the tools rattled around, and that's not good as they could become damaged in some way.

A rack for some of the hammers needs to be developed, and a really don't like pegboard. although some folks seem to use it and like it.

Today, if time permits, I will do something about the bench pin, which doesn't seem to be very handy.

More coming later, John

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Ongoing Saga of the Bench Improvement

Going back in time, when the bench arrived, then unpacked, the assembly began. It very quickly became apparent that all was not well. Misaligned holes for the bolts which would hold the bench together meant that it was going to be more effort to put it together than advertised. So, nothing to do but get out some bar clamps to hold everything together and re-drill the holes.

But, with some help from my wife, we managed to get it together. Then another problem appeared. Instability. No matter that the bolts were tightened down, the bench remained shaky. So, a short trip off to the scrap wood pile and cut four pieces to fit between the legs, inside and out, and a piece between the legs on the backside, and bolt them all in place. Gee, it worked! Stability achieved! The back piece does double duty. It also holds a multiple outlet strip for the electrical supply to the flex shaft, lamp, computer and anything else that might need to be plugged in.

The next item to work on was the drawers which didn't fit right, and I didn't like the built in drawer pulls. A little sanding and installing small cabinet drawer pulls I had saved for a few decades, made things more convenient. Another door pull was added to the catch tray.

The double shelf arrangement above the catch tray had a hidden hazard. Accidentally pull it out too far, and oops, it tips and anything on it spills. Another trip to the scrap pile and cut two strips like the ones already installed, screw them in place and now, no more tipping. Adding the door pulls to the double shelf made it much easier to pull it out and push it back.

The arm rests which came with the bench are horrible. They were thrown out as being useless. I really didn't need them, anyway.

The moral of the story is simple: Buy cheap, expect cheap. If any reader is contemplating the purchase of a jeweler"s bench, save up more cash and buy a bench that is, at least, a step up from an economy model. Make sure it's made from solid wood. You will be glad you did.

More later on the on going saga of bench improvements. Maybe my struggles will help someone else.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Copper Beads

I have decided to re-post the photo of some experimental copper beads I have been making. Lots of procedural mistakes were made. When I begin to make them again, the process should be less taxing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Homemade Plier Rack

The Lindstrom RX pliers which I use for wire work have never fit satisfactorily on any commercial rack that I am aware of, so after years of fiddling with various means of storing them, I finally hit on the one shown in the photo. It's roughly made, but it works. That's the main point. Everything you see in the lower photo of the rack is from scrap wood and aluminum angle.

The rack is adequate to hold all the pliers I use in doing wire work, plus pearl tweezers and a crimper. The overall dimensions are approximately 13 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 4 3/4 inches. The aluminum angle is 1 x 1 inch.

I will probably add a couple of knobs on the outide of the two upright pieces to make it easier to transport.

Next time, bench improvements.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Starting Anew

Some changes in the wind.

First, I have deleted all posts which I have made to this blog. Some needed to have been deleted some time back. Everything halfway worthwhile has been saved in a separate location.

I am taking a hiatus from posting for awhile. I badly need to take some time to simply reorganize my work spaces. I have been meaning to do this for sometime now. Some of you have seen a photo of what I euphemistically call the Metal Werks, which is located in the garage. Unfortunately, the garage also houses one of my wife's art tables which is now covered with junk, mine, plus some of her other art supplies and a couple tons of unsold artwork. Then there's more of my junk, plus a work bench which is piled to overflowing with tools and more junk. A machine table holding drill press, grinder, sander that needs a new belt, and a big vise. Then there's the table saw, the chop saw and the band saw, which needs a new blade. Then there's all my saved craft supplies from way back, paints, papers, and just miscellaneous junk. Well, some of it isn't exactly junk, it's stuff that may or may not be used in the future. Then there's the work bench with the rolling mill and shear, the little lathe, the other tools, dapping block and punches, disc cutter, the second flex shaft, etc., etc. Anyway all that take up a bunch of room and it's reached a point of no return unless I simply buckle down and go to work rearranging, and getting rid of some of the junk. But, that's not all.

I've been threatening to modify the cheapo jeweler's bench I bought last year. That's still on the to-do list. There's again the problem of space that has to be resolved. Being confined to the laundry room is problem enough, but there is the fact that we have to get a wheel chair in and out of the laundry room door, and in and out of the door that leads to the garage where there is a ramp for the wheel chair, so we can take it through the garage and out to the car. So space which might be utilized under other circumstances, can't be.

I have obtained some ideas from a fellow blogger, John De Rosier. He has the neatest, most organized jeweler's bench. If you want to see someone who is innovative, inventive, and organized, you should check out either his blog, The Jeweler's Files, or go to Flickr and search for Speetog. I am sure you will be amazed at what he has done.

O.K., I'm done for awhile. Check back in a couple of weeks. I just might have something to show. No promises.

Best to all. John