Saturday, April 2, 2011

Avoiding the Oops! Moment

Learning from my mistakes is part of what this blog is all about.  I have no formal training in jewelry making.  The result is that I often do things wrong, the hard way, or do something too soon, or too late, or forget entirely. I have an innate tendency to work without any clear aim as to what the final outcome will be.

Well, enough of that. let's get on to the title, "Avoiding the Oops! Moment."

Let us assume you have cut out the shape you want from a sheet of Faux Bone™, and you've shaped and sanded it.  Next comes adding some decorative elements to the piece.  You decide to add a spiral made from 16 gauge wire.  Assuming you have read your wire gauge to drill bit size chart correctly, you have avoided an Oops! moment, and now you drill a hole to attach the spiral.  If you stop the drill's rotation before withdrawing it from the material, you may have just created an Oops! moment.  You have a stuck drill bit and likely a broken one, when you try to remove it.

Operations such as sawing and drilling create friction and friction means heat, and when you stop an operation, the material very quickly cools and seizes the saw blade or drill bit, tightly gipping it. It is almost impossible to saw out a shape without stopping somewhere.  Mr. Dancik has a neat little trick to free the blade.  A reason to obtain the DVD tutorial.

To continue with adding decorative elements.  You attach the spiral.  Now, you want to add some wire rivets to add interest.  These rivets are to be flush with the surface. Mr. Dancik refers to these additions as "information."  You decide these rivets are to be made from 20 gauge wire, drill the holes, insert a piece of wire into a hole and trim the wire to the appropriate length, using Mr. Dancik's two playing card trick..  Oops!  Did you remember to make a tiny countersink around the top and bottom of the hole?  Okay, now to make the rivet, first the top and now you the bottom. The first hammer blow sent wire down into the hole!  Oops! What happened?  The 16 gauge wire spiral held the piece up above the surface on the bench block or anvil, so there was no solid surface under the rivet. There is a way out, move to the edge of the bench block, but that can become a little tricky. The moral of the story, attach elements of different thickness in order of least thick first, most thick last.

Let's say you want to attach two half-drilled pearls, one on the outside and one on the inside of a piece where you have made an interior cut-out.  You drill the appropriate holes for the wire stub where the pearls will be attached.  If you did not measure the size of the pearls to see how much room you need to attach them, you just created an Oops! moment.  I did just that and reported it below in New Elements in case you missed it.

Of course, you are not nearly as fumble-fingered as I am, but I mention this as it may be of help. Always, when using small items, work over a catch tray.  Things have a way of getting away at the most inopportune moments and tiny little beads, nuts and screws, rivets, etc. hit the floor and bounce who knows where? I have a mandrel screw that has never shown up since I dropped it.

Hope I haven't bored you too much.


  1. Hi John, I am so new into making jewelry right now that I am still waiting for my supplies to arrive that I ordered online. I am super duper excited though and will be starting off making earrings through beading!
    I think it's a great idea to share mistakes because it may prevent another person from doing them.
    Best of luck!

    Liha K.

  2. Thank you, Liha! I wish you, in return, the best of luck!