Sunday, December 30, 2012


We make resolutions, and then we don't keep them.  But we try, with good intentions.  I will not promise anything.  I will try however, to do the following:

Make the blog more interesting and post more often.

Finish a piece of jewelry instead of going part way and then let it languish.

To slow down and not get ahead of myself when working on a project.  In other words, think it through.  I have a tendency to cobble things together without having a plan.  That sometimes works, but more often than not I end up with a component that didn't get the care and attention it should have had and it ends up leaving something to be desired.  Sometimes I can fix it, sometimes not, and I have to take the piece apart and start over, salvaging what I can.

Take better photographs.

Improve and customize my work space to be more complementary to my kind of work.  I have so many tools and materials which not fit into standardized drawers and other storage units that things become messy and out of place.  For an example, my hammer storage needs much to be desired.  The same is true for wire.  There's wire here, there, and over yonder.

Finish the tool making I started. A small problem with that.  The fire for tempering is out in the cold garage, my secondary studio.

Discipline myself to put a tool down in the same place when working to help in finding it when it is needed so I don't have to move other tools off or away.  Chain nose pliers go here! Flat nose pliers here! cutters go there! I'm not speaking of tool storage here, but that is also important.  When finished, there should be a place for everything and every thing in its place.

Gee, all that may be more than I can accomplish during all of 2013!

Somewhere I'll have to find time to do some more experimenting with other jewelry finishing techniques.  Among them:

Patinas other than liver of sulfur.


Methods of adding color to metals other than patinas and flame patina.  I have done some experimenting along those lines.

Hope all you fine folks have a great and productive new year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

John De Rosier

My  friend, John De Rosier, Albany area New York state, has a new web site;

Please take a look if you haven't done already.  John does superb fine art jewelry, none of that rough stuff I do.

Also, visit his blog, either from the new web site or at,

John is posting pictures of his studio, showing his bench from when he got it and how he has adapted it to his own needs.  Well worth taking a look.  He will have more photos later in another blog update.

On another note:  We have our first snow of the season going on this afternoon and it looks like we will have some accumulation.

Also, a welcome to a new follower!  Thanks for your interest!

And, Happy New Year. everyone!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Back to Tool Making & How Dumb Can You Get?

One does occasionally get ahead of one's self and in this instance the light dawned before I got too far down the slipper slope of having to do a lot of unnecessary work.  What I forgot to do was square up the ends of the tool blanks before filing or grinding the final shapes.  That was the dumb thing.

To do this, I set up the Wolf sander with a 120 grit belt.  I haven't as yet rigged the sander up to a vacuum hose, so fastened a small draw string bag to the sander.  It collected most of the debris. Then I took a short piece of flat aluminum and with some double stick tape, stuck this onto a small combination square so the square could be raised above the sanding belt. Don't want to grind away on the square! I hand held this arrangement on the sander with one hand and with the other, held the tool blank against the square and proceeded to grind the ends flat and square.  I set the flex shaft speed control fairly low so as to not heat up the blank to rapidly and burn the delicate fingers.  All in all, the procedure worked pretty well.  I did have to turn the belt around a couple times to even out the wear as only about 1/2 inch of the belt was used.

Now, I have to rig up something to grind a preliminary bevel on the business end of the tool blank, and a slight bevel on the striking end.

Happy Holidays, all!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pictured, pieces of water hardening steel, three inches in length, cut from twelve inch stock, using a 2/0 saw blade and plenty of lubricant.  Doesn't look like much, but these are not finished products. The intent is to make them into metal stamps of various shapes and sizes.

In this photo, top left; Pana-vise with piece of steel clamped at an angle for filing. Top right; Opti-Visor fitted out with LED lights.  Bottom from left, partially finished pieces (still a long way to go), flat hand files No. 2 and No. 4 cut; between the files, an old typewrite key cleaning brush and a piece of blackboard chalk, and a tray of unfinished steel pieces.

Why chalk?  Rub chalk on your files and most of the filings won't stick between the teeth making much easier to keep the file clean.  I still use the brush and renew the chalk.

The first step is to file one end to near approximate shape, then sand with 400 grit sanding paper or film, then polish with rouge, or similar.  Then begins the two step tempering process, on both ends of the tool and a final polish.  For other shapes, I will use burs and stones in the flex-shaft.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Shelves and Stuff

Finally got the shelves put up!  These are in the garage. Now, I have a place for stuff.  Stuff that cluttered up the work bench.  The idea is to leave the bench top open to work on one operation at a time.  The only things somewhat permanently attached to the bench are the two rolling mills.  They can be moved if it becomes necessary to do so.  Behind the small mill is a metal shear.  The mills and the shear are covered when not in use.

The placement of the various tools on the shelves is temporary.  The old coffee can that holds the propane tank is fastened to a scrap piece of plywood. On the other end of the plywood has a torch holder fastened to it.  This arrangement can be moved elsewhere on the bench and is clamped down with a small C-clamp.  The same is true with the flex shaft and the other equipment.  Pushing C-clamp usage to the maximum, here!

Right now, the plan is for cold tools on the left end on the shelves, and hot tools on the left.  I think you can see this in the photos.  There still more rearranging to do.  A more convenient place for the soldering tools, pick, flux brushes, tweezers, burn'em up pliers, etc.

Dapping and some texturing will be done inside in the laundry room studio.  I laugh every time I write that "laundry room studio."

Two additional shelves were put over a sink in the garage, but the space is tight it's not possible to get a good photo of them.

All for this edition.  Happy Thanksgiving All!

Sunday, October 21, 2012


The wife and I visited the Bella Vista (AR) Art and Craft Fair over the weekend.  We go principally to visit with artist friends that we have known for decades.  We look back at all the trials and tribulations we went through as exhibitors and we wonder, "How did we ever manage to do what we did?"  And now, we are so thankful that we are retired and no longer have put up with the rigors involved.  For many that show their wares, it is a way of life.  They are trapped.  Their art is their sole income, and there is no predicting whether you will have a good show and make money enough to pay for all your expenses. or whether the show will be a bust with little or no income.  We have had a few shows exactly like that.  Sometimes through no fault of our own, such as promised advertising by the show's promoter, only to find the promoter has absconded with the money and is nowhere to be found.  Later run down and ordered to refund the show fees.  But still, the artists have the expense of transportation, meals, etc.

Anyway, we did cruise through the show, looking, but not buying much.  The wife; an illustrated book by a favorite artist, me; a jar of crabapple jelly.  As far as jewelry went, it varied for just plain bead stringing to some very fine silver jewelry, and a very nicely done scrimshaw.

John DeRosier, so glad to see you back posting again.  Sorry you lost you cartoonist job.  Maybe with that fertile brain of yours, you could entertain us with cartoons based on jewelry making.  I am reminded of an old cartoon series, of which I have forgotten the title, principally about the trials of an apprentice machinist who was always getting something wrong, or doing something wrong.  The cartoons were hilarious!  It wouldn't fly nowadays because America has gotten away from old time machining, backyard mechanics and blacksmiths.  Time was as an apprentice machinist you had to learn how to run ALL the various machines.  Now, we have computerized machines to do the work.

Anyway, John has a great plier rack that worth taking a look at.

Sharilyn Miller has come up with something completely new for her.  She's made ceramic beads and they are gorgeous!  Wow!  To visit, just type in your search engine search box, Sharilyn Miller

On the home front, my bench is a total disaster.  I am forced to stop.  This week, I must put up some shelving in the garage to store some of the overflow, move some of the benches around  to make things work better.  Spent quite a bit of time tossing out a bunch of stuff which I will never use to make a little more space.  Maybe someday, I'll post something on the jewelry making front.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


In this pic, a pile of square, half-hard, 18 gauge, copper wire, heavy duty round nose pliers marked for positioning wire, the resulting "S" connector, all resting on a rubber filing block.  Necessary tools not shown: flush wire cutter; small hand file, No. 4 cut, for filing the wire ends, (more on this later); brush to clean file; steel bench block; rawhide mallet and fine point Sharpie pen.

Some wire cutters, sold as flush cutting, actually don't cut perfectly flush.  Cut a piece of wire.  Take a look at the "flush" end with 10x magnifier.  Aha! You see that tiny pip a the end?  Not truly flush.  Sometimes, when you think you are holding your cutters square with the wire, you aren't, and the cut is  slanted.  In both cases, this is where the fine cut flat file makes the wire end nice and square.

The mallet and the steel bench block are used to flatten the connector should the wire twist a bit and the connector is a bit crooked.  A couple whacks with the mallet sets things straight.  I made some round wire connectors the same, with soft wire, and whacking them 10 times on one side and 10 on the other, to work harden them.  Rawhide is sort of old school nowadays with nylon and plastic mallets available.

A small display of various other wire forms.  By no means all that I made.   Just a small sampling. The purpose of these, is to use them singly, or maybe two, to add interest to the overall composition of a piece of jewelry.  By themselves they don't look like much at all.  None of the forms shown are completely finished.

Shown are dimpling pliers.  The one on the right makes a 1 mm dimple, the left one is 3 mm.  Why would you want one or both of these?  Well, the best reason I can think of, is they provide a quick way to add some texture to a metal element.  Sure, you can do the same thing with dapping punches and a steel block.  Or, dapping punch and a hardwood block, or a lead block, (not used too much nowadays.  But, you have only one tool to make a dimple, in place of three.


Well, I gone and done it again.  Forgot to welcome new followers to the blog.  My bad.  Anyway, glad your here, it's always nice to have new followers.  WELCOME!

Comments.  Got an unexpected, nice comment from Michael David Sturlin, about the piece I wrote way back in 2010 on the Goldsmith's Hammer.  Thanks, Michael, nice of you to take the time to write.

METALSMITH magazine, Volume 32, No. 4.  devotes it's pages to Gothic Jewelry.  Beautiful work, but it would take a special person to wear it!  Wow!

Mary Hettsmansperger is out with a new book, HEAT, COLOR, SET, & FIRE, published by Lark Crafts.  Lark almost always has outstanding books. Better than Klambach or Interweave.  Northlight also produces some good ones.  I've always like Mary's work.  I guess the reason I relate more to her work is that I sort of follow along similar lines.

In this book there wasn't much new to me, but there were things I never thought of using to add color to metal.  There's a lot of material available on the market now not covered in the book.  Then again, you can't cover everything!

Well, folks, that's it for now.  Hope to be back soon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Sorry, don't have anything to show for this post, but I have been doing a few things.  Those pesky little chores that most of us have to go through every now and then.  Mainly making a  bunch of jump rings, different sizes, different ire gauges.  They are pretty easy to make if you have one of the jump ring makers.  When I use the cutting part of the tool, I always insert a small dowel, or piece of bamboo skewer through the coil, then when the coil is cut, I don't have rings flying around inside the cutting jig.  The rings come out a lot better that way.  The next step, I pour the rings into a wire sieve and swirl them around in a bowl of water that has  dash of Dawn dish soap added.  This get rid of the lubricant. After the are dried, I close up the rings, string them on a piece of wire, and tumble them for about an hour to toughen them up a bit.  While still strung on the wire, I swished them around in a solution of liver of sulfur to put a bit of patina on them.

I also took some common house wiring, 12 gauge copper, annealed it and ran it through the rolling mill, flattening some of it out to 24 gauge.  Then cut the wire into various lengths, and twisted them to make chain links, and drilled the ends for 20 gauge jump ring.  These I strung on a temporary wire, washed them, and swished these through the patina bath.

Then, I made a bunch of wire drops.  Various kind of coils, tight and loose. These are decorative elements to add interest to designs.  Some have a single stone bead added, mainly some kind of agate or jasper as some of these type of stone go pretty well with copper.

Next, balled up the ends of pieces of copper wire in various gauges.  These, again, are to be added as decorative elements to metal shapes, etc.

Maybe sometime around the first of October I will be able to show something.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Between the first part of August, and now the first part of September, I accomplished very little.  Put together more cold connected elements.  I have a problem.  I like to experiment with different things, and put things together.  But, for some reason,  That is as far s it goes. I must have over two hundred different elements that are wanting to be made into something, and yet I lack the incentive, or inspiration to go ahead and finish.  Below is a pic of a partially finished necklace. 

The rocks are sold as "Maple Turquoise" which is a misnomer.  They are dyed Howlite.  Even so, they are kind of pretty.  The flatten wire drops are common household wiring.  Cut, annealed, flattened, looped and patinated and strung on a piece of copper tubing.  I had to enlarge the holes in the copper beads so the would slide on the tube.  The the ends of the tube were flattened and drilled.  The jump rings are 18 gauge copper, also patinated.

I used Patina Gel for the patina.  It is liquid (sort of syrupy), liver of sulfur.  A lot handier to use than the old chunky los in a can.  I bought it from Cool Tools.

Some more of the Maple Turquoise.

I won't promise anything, but I hope to post a little more often than once a month.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


As promised, I'm back, first week in August.

I see new followers.  Welcome to the blog!

Olio.  What's with this?  It is a word that means an eclectic collection of art or writings.  There are several other meanings, such as a hodge-podge of items.  The word is used by crossword constructors because of the number of vowels.  Here, I'm using it to indicate this blog entry contains a bunch of different things.

HOT, HOT, HOT! and DRY, here.  Although not quite as hot as some other nearby places.  We need disparately something to break this persistent high pressure dome that is sitting over the middle part of the country.

I've been experimenting with alcohol inks.

Here's a snap of a couple colors.  There's a slew of differ colors available.  You might look a a bottle and say, "Gee, only .5 fluid ounce?"  Ha, ha, these are INTENSE inks, and a little, very little, goes a loooong way!

The above pic shows using common Q-Tips to apply the ink, daubing it on.  The colors are sailboat blue and denim.  Guess what?  I can reactivate the ink on the Q-tips with either Adirondak's Alcohol
Blending Solution, or 91% Isopropyl Alcohol.  You can use regular 70% Rubbing Alcohol, but the 91% is much better.

A pic of the brush used to make drk clouds on a piece called "Witchy Moon."  20/0 is close to the finest you can get. There are finer ones available.

Here's another example:

The three tiny dots of black on the upper left are supposed to simulate birds.  Not very great art!

So what's the material is the ink applied?  Faux bone.  A bit less than 7/8 inch in diameter, 1/8 inch thick.  The finding at the top is 20 gauge copper, patinated with Patina Gel (liver of sulfur) from Cool Tools. This is good stuff.  Recommend it highly.

Made the wrapped loops with Wubbers new looping plier.  Works quite well.  The non-looped end of the wire was screwed into a hole drilled into the faux bone.  If you do something like this, remember to drill the hole prior to shaping the edges.  I used a tiny setting bur to make a little divot for starting the drill.  Otherwise the regular twist drill bit will skate around on the curved edge.  I also use a flex shaft in a drill press and a bit just slightly smaller than normal No. 67 one would use for 20 gauge wire.

After drilling all the holes, the pieces were filed, rounding the edges, with No. 00 and No. 1 half round Hablis files.  Then sanded with the usual schedule of sandpaper  grits, 320, 400, 600.  Wet, always wet sandpaper.  To facilitate sanding the flat front and back of the pieces, I place tabs of tape on one side of a piece to grip it better, and the sandpaper grit side up on a small piece of plexi-glass.  The wet paper will stick to the plastic.  Saves sanding  the fingers. Ouch!

Also, made a small improvement on the bench pin by putting a small bevel on the front edge and corners.

Back first part of September.  Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Sorry, folks I accidentally deleted the last post.  My bad.  Anyway, thanks to John de Rosier, and to Sarah (Saturday Sequins) for your kind thoughts.

Be back around the first of August.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

More Cold Connecting

These little gems, said fallaciously, are reconstituted turquoise.  Bah!  No more turquoise than I am.  I'm sure these beads are dyed howlite. I bought them sometime back to use in an Autumn theme necklace.  That didn't happen, got shelved for whatever reason. Going through some bead boxes and re-discovering them, decided to use them someway, somehow, and cold connecting to metal was a thought, so in the pic below, you see what happened.  Well, not too bad. I've seen worse.

The micro bolts haven't been swan off.  Leaving them on makes a prop an gives a better picture, I think.  

Had to redrill the holes and used a diamond coated twist drill bit for that.  The material isn't very hard,  and was able to drill without a water bath.   Go slow and don't overheat drill or the material.  Must have been ix or seven workers in the bead factory drilling holes as they were not consistent from bead to bead.  Typical of the beads you get from the Far East.  The beads are also inconsistent in size and shape.  But that's o.k. in some applications.  

Nuts, now I have to make jump rings.  Not one of my favorite things to do.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Too Darn Hot!

It appears that NW Arkansas is in for a long dry, hot, muggy summer.  Ugh!

Previously mentioned going back to work.  Big lie.  Haven't done a thing except to try an organize a bit more.  Digging through the piles of stuff and stuff and more stuff, running across all sorts of unfinished work.  Why do I start something, go so far and then get bored and don't finish.  I must have a mental block  there working overtime.  I just like to experiment with this or that process to see where it leads and then go on to something else.

Speaking of stuff.  Go to Nancy L T Hamilton's website and look for her studio tour video.  It's a lot of fun and interesting.  She's a fun lady.

When I get my STUFF better organized, I going to go back to working with faux bone.  That way I'll stay out of the hot garage here half of the metal work is done and stay in the cool.

I'm quite taken with Adirondak's Alcohol Inks.  Couldn't resist getting some more.  I order mine out from Lima Beads.  I can get individual bottles, pick and choose the colors, and don't have to by them in sets as they are often sold.  The colors are supposed to make a palette that go together which is fine for scrap booker's, but are of little use to me.  I am such a fabulous artist anyway.  I don't need any help in choosing colors!  Now if you believe what I just wrote, perhaps I can interest you in some beach front property on Lake Chad.  Cheap!

No more tutorials!  Too much wasted time. too many rules and regulations, and very little reward.  If I have anything meaningful about various process I use in my kind of jewelry making, I'll put it here, free of charge.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Back to work, sort of.....

New addition.  Broke down and decided to try one of these gizmos out.  As it turns out, some tools fit fairly well, some barely fit, and some are simply inadequate for the job.  I'm going to need to make some adjustments.  The only way to get the hammer section to hang right was to clamp a piece of 3/8's inch plywood to the back to give some support.  I need to put some grommets in the apron so that the backing board can be held on with some small bolts.  Then I can get rid of the clamps.

I've tried to fit the most used tools into the apron.  These are primarily metal working.

One thing I've put off, for who knows how long now, is color coding my files.  Just too lazy to take the time.

Other changes in the fabulous studio include resurrecting a multi-drawer storage cabinet for storing the miniature mandrels, grinders, polishers, sanders, buffs, etc., etc., etc.  Moved the soldering out to the garage.  No real space set-up for that stuff as yet.  Just another add-on to the never ending to to list.  I used to like to do soldering, but anymore it seems a chore.

New tools.  At last, I found some matting stamps.  These make very fine textures on metal and devilish hard to find in the US.  I am pretty sure that if you take a trip to Europe you can find some.  These were apparently made in the US by Nechampkin, a mark of high end chasing tools.

Another acquisition which I'm kinda liking are the abrasive fiber wheels Rio is carrying.  These come in four grits and put a nice finish on metal.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Burned out

The tutorial is finally finished and sent off to, ID:# 123237.  That is, if anyone is interested.  Only thing is you must be a member of the site and pay if you want to see the whole thing.  You'll have to decide if it' worth it.  I seriously doubt I will receive much out of it.  98 percent of member are wire wrappers of one kind or the other and what I do in making jewelry doesn't generate much interest.  The tutorial in reality is an exercise in futility due to the environment of the site.  I don't have anything against the wire people, it's just that the tutorial is an ugly duckling, something to be ignored.  There is a good chance that I will do no more tutorials.  They take up far too much time and effort for the reward.

I'm taking a break from doing anymore jewelry and posting.  Back in a couple weeks.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Still experimenting

It has been awhile since I posted anything.  I keep trying one thing or the other to color metal other than the traditional patinas and the more advanced methods of anodization. enameling, plating, etc.  Below is a new photo of the latest efforts in coloration.


This is an adaptation of a very old method of adding ink to a water bath, then a dispersant, then ink and so on until the artist feels enough ink has been added, then either gently fans the mix, or gently stirs it to create patterns, then places paper on top of the bath and pulls it away.  The ink pattern is transferred to the paper.

I find that some inks work better than others and that I get different results from different inks.  Some inks which work well in certain colors and other colors of the same brand don't work at all.  At least concerning how I am using them.  Although I am fairly well satisfied with the results, I don't believe I've quite mastered the technique as yet.  More experimentation is in order.  A lot depends on how the ink is added to the water, how the piece is dipped into the mix, and so on.

Some ladies paint their fingernails with a similar method using different colors of  fingernail polish.  While some interesting patterns are formed, they are not what I want to achieve.  Scrap bookers and some bookmakers also use similar methods the results are again, not what I wish to achieve.  Part of my problem may very well be the small scale of the pieces.

It is said from some sources that acrylic paint will work in creating patterns.  No so.  It will depend on the brand, and not all acrylic paint is created equally.  I've tried three different brands and the results have been zilch.

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed this little effort, and I hope to be back soon with some different stuff to bend your ears.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Playing with Color

Playing around with coloring 24 gauge aluminum with various media.  Still working on a tutorial.  Takes up all my free time just trying to get one put together.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Water Lilies

A pendant piece, brass, colored copper, micro fasteners.  Posted yesterday on JewelryLessons.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Working on....

some new pieces to put up on JewelryLessons and at the same time piecing together another tutorial as the work progresses.  Making the usual bunch of mistakes so I can tell others what not to do!  As usual, I do everything backwards, before getting things to go forward in a reasonable series of steps.

Playing around with fire and putting flame patina on some copper pieces.  Kinda fun to do that. You never quite know what the outcome will be.  Apply a bit of heat, pull away the torch and watch to color form as the piece cools.

Some JAX patinas have arrived.  I may play around with those this weekend.  You can finally buy small quantities of these patinas without having to pay for hazardous material shipping costs.

Ordered out some Thompson's enamel.  Colors that I think will look good with some of the copper pieces I'm working on.  We shall see what happens.

Also on the long list of color experiments are the Adirondak inks I got in two months ago.  Just haven't had the time to play around with those, either.  

And then there's all kinds of color products that have been sitting idle from years past when I was doing other artwork, plus some metal foils.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bench Pin

As promised a view of my bench pin.  The idea came from watching a Japanese artist on YouTube, so I can't take credit for it.  Gone, the ubiquitous "V"-slot, and the tapered portion of the standard bench pin.  I have it clamped to the old pin with a large C-clamp.  It may look unhandy but the clamp doesn't get in the way.  The pin needs a bit of refinement.  The sharp corners will have to go!  I did myself a mischief bending over to pick up dropped piece of metal and put a dent in the forehead.  A regulation  oowwie!  Anyway, the pin is made of 1/2 inch maple, 6 3/4 inch wide, 9 inches long.  Doesn't have to be those dimensions, I just happened to have some maple that wide and cut off a piece.  The slot is 1/8th inch wide and 5 inches long.

This design gives ever so much better support when sawing small pieces.

Once again, I have been  remiss in welcoming new followers, so hey, Thanks for becoming a follower!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Back at last

Been very busy attempting to write a tutorial for and it was a real chore to do.  Rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite.  Finally got it finished and submitted, only to do it again, and again, and finally success.  Now there's folks that want me to do another one.  This one ain't gonna be a freebie.  Anyone who wants it will have to part with a bit coin.  Way too much work otherwise to do it for free.  Anyway, I will try to post something a little more often.  Stay tuned for a home made bench pin with a whole different look.  I think you will fine it interesting.  I'll put up a pic in a couple days.  Till then, take care, be happy and do good work.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Welcome, new followers!

Welcome, new followers!  I hope your visits here will prove to informative and perhaps entertaining.

Thanks, for visiting!  And that goes for all.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Cold Connect using Micro-Fasteners

A small selection of metal elements using micro fasteners to hold them together.  Screws, washers, nuts.  Brass, copper, aluminum, wire mesh.  Flame patina, various textures.

Photo showing a few of the tools used for micro fastener cold connect.  A few micro fasteners shown by the brush.  When I'm working the tools aren't that neatly placed!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I posted an entire photo on JewelryLessons. com  and received a comment that it would be nice to have a close-up look at some of the elements.  Rather than hoggong the galley at JL, I'm putting some closer views here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rolling Mill-Pattern Plates-Disc Cutter-Centering Dies

Shown in the photo are three examples of Bonny Doon Pattern Plate impressions on copper run through the mill.  These are more experimental in nature rather than something actually planned for use in a piece of jewelry.  I can use some areas of the impressions, but some pieces are scratched and will take some work to make the usable.  The examples are on non-annealed 24 gauge copper.  The pattern plates worked out pretty good, but next time I'll run some annealed metal to see how that turns out.  Just couldn't wait any longer. Just had to try out the mill and the pattern plates.

The pattern plates are meant for 24 gauge metal and up to 14 gauge, the max for using a mill.  A hydraulic is better for thinner metal.

Which brings up a point.  When you try a new source of supply for base metal, order only a small amount.  Check the metal when it arrives and if it is scratched, try another source.  One well known supply company whose name I will not divulge, is rather careless in handling their metal stock and scratches, some deep, are the norm.  As a result, they have lost me as a customer.

The photos show The Swanstrom Disc Cutter, the  Center Positioning Dies and some examples of washers cut using the device. 

On the one hand, I'm fairly pleased with the tool.  On the other hand, well for one thing, I think it's over priced.  But, it does make nice washers.  There's a learning curve to using the tool.  Isn't that always the case?

So, you punch a hole in a piece of metal, then use the centering die to center that hole in a larger punch hole to make the washer.  Yup, verrry simple.  Except that a couple things can go wrong.  It's the old "oops!" factor that pops you one in the old snozzola when you're not looking..  You miscalculated and you didn't allow for enough metal for the larger piece, or you allowed for too much metal.

Solution:  Select the outside diameter hole and position the metal for minimum waste, but not too much minimum.  Tighten the tool down just enough to keep it level in the tool.  Select the same size centering die and with a large point Sharpie marker, rub a little ink on the point of the die, drop the die into the hole, and Voila! you have a little dot.   Release the metal from the cutter. Select the inside diameter of the washer to be, and use the dot plus your eyeball. to center the metal in that hole.  Tighten the tool down firmly and punch out the hole.  Move back to the outside diameter hole, insert the centering die and punch out the washer.  No wasted metal.  The tool does deliver a nice clean cut.  

I used a urethane pad under the cutter, Bur Life on the punches and a two pound brass mallet..

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Rolling Mill Idled

No, there's nothing wrong with the mill.  Some things came up and I didn't get the metal sawed and annealed, and readied to run through.  Now, we are getting cold temperatures from the big snowstorm, so no work out in the garage where all the prep work goes on.

I did managed to put together a brace on the mill end of the bench.  This will in turn create place to put a rack to hold some of the heavier hammers.  In fact the whole bench will have to be rearranged in order to create a more sensible flow of work.  Never make anything permanent, sooner or later you'll change it!

In the meantime, work continues putting together more cold connected metal pieces, and refining the process.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The New Rolling Mill Arrived

Oh, Boy! The new Durston Mill is here!  Can't help but be a little excited about that.  First things first. I had to remove the old mill from it's place, and re-orient the stand I had built for it.  It was big enough for the new mill and I used it for that.  I will change the rollers in the old mill for wire work, make a new stand, and the find a place to put it.

This is package the mill came in.  Looks nice doesn't it?  Old mill in the background.

Opening the package, and there's the instructions.  Read before going any further!  O.K. Did that.

Package opened.  First view of the mill after removing some of the foam packing.

With the help of strong wife, the mill is up on it's stand, but not yet fastened down.  Handle attached with the Allen wrench.

Using a transfer pinch to mark where the mounting holes go.  Punch does not come with the mill!  Have to furnish your own.

Drilling the holes with 1/2 inch bit.  Yeah, it looks crooked but that's because the drill bit is setting in a partially drilled hole and I have to use two hands to take the picture and can't hold the drill straight.  It will all come out just fine in the end.

Bolted down.  Rollers cleaned of the protective grease.  We're all set to go!  Yippee and Wahoo! Put a cover over it to keep off the dust.  Tomorrow will be sawing and annealing day to get some metal ready to run through and give the mill a shakedown cruise.

One other little chore I must do it put some addition bracing on the bench under the mill as this mill is a deal heavier than the other one.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Rio Grande Big Sale

Rio Grande is having a sale and of course old John succumbed to the lure of lowered prices and completely blew the budget on a Durston rolling mill.  A DRM F 100 R.  So, what's wrong with the one I already have?  Actually, nothing.  The Durston will give me more accurate repeatable settings.  With the one I have now, repeating an exact setting is rather hit and miss.  Mostly miss.  The new mill has greater width and greater gap capacity between the rollers.

A lot of time and work ahead to reconfigure the metalwork bench to accommodate the new mill.  Plus cleaning off all the shipping oil that will be on the unit.  The new mill will be about 40 pounds heavier than the other mill, so I will have a job getting the mill in place.  I ain't that strong in the lifting department anymore.  But, I will manage somehow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wire Rivets

This week I explore wire rivets for cold connection jewelry elements.  The photo shows the tools used. O the blue mat, upper left. the Speetog Plier/Clamp, flat-nose pliers.  Below the pliers, a setting bur, No. 55 drill in mini-chuck, automatic center punch.  Center, 8 inch No. 2 cut flat file and a No. 2 barrette needle file. Next: Two brass gauges, a short piece of 16 gauge wire, small Fretz riveting hammer No. 406, and a 1 inch bristle brush, to brush away filing and drilling debris.

Bottom, 4 inch square steel bench block, wood block, a small jar of liquid bur-life (I pour in about an eight inch depth, and use this to dip the end of the drill bit to lubricate it, and then drill),  Xuron flush cutters. roll of 16 gauge wire.

Gauging the correct length of wire can be tricky.  I use gauges made from brass sheet, as follows:

For an 18 gauge wire rivet, I punch a 1/4 inch hole in two pieces of 24 gauge brass sheet.  You need two gauges to measure the end to end length of the rivet.  The drill size for the rivet is a No. 60.

For a 16 gauge wire rivet, I punch a 1/4 inch hole in two pieces of 22 gauge brass sheet.  Drill size for the rivet is a No. 55.

For a 14 gauge wire rivet, I punch 1/4 inch hole in two pieces of 20 gauge brass sheet. The drill size for the rivet is a No.52.

It doesn't have to be a 1/4 inch hole.  This was the size already set-up in my punch.

If the metal distorts, whack it with a soft face hammer. I use my "go to" hammer for this.  For accuracy, it's important to keep the metal flat.

The gauge example shown in the photo, shows the hole close to a corner of the sheet.  After placing a rivet or two, depending on the size of the piece, you may find the other rivets, or parts of the elements, getting in the way of your gauge.  Placing the hole near the corner of the gauge helps avoid this.

It is always a good idea to check your wire because there can be a slight difference in the diameter of the wire.  Drill a right size hole in a piece of scrap metal and test the fit. Adjust accordingly. Having a full set of number drills is handy.  You can always use the larger sizes to make decorative holes in an element.


1.  Clamp the two parts of the piece tightly together.  This is where the Speetog Plier/Clamp comes in handy.  A ring clamp, or parallel jaw pliers can be substituted.

2.  Center punch where the hole for the rivet is to be placed.

3.  Place the element over a wood block and drill the hole with the appropriate size drill bit.  14 gauge wire, No.52, 16 gauge wire, No. 55, 18 gauge wire, No. 60.  It is important to drill straight, avoid wobbling. I did not include 20 gauge wire as it can be more difficult to rivet.  Drilling two or three pieces together at the same time will ensure the hole is accurate through all the pieces.  I much prefer to use a drill press.  That  insures a straight hole and a much steadier feed rate of the drill into the metal.

4.  Dress the hole with a setting bur, front and back, putting a little chamfer around the hole.  Brush away debris.  A larger size drill bit can also be used.

5. Using flush cutters, cut a off short length of wire, an inch or less.  Short wire length works best for me.  Many so-called flush cutters leave a tiny "pip" on the end of the wire. Square up one end of the wire with a file.  Filing may leave a tiny bur on the edge which could make it difficult to get into the hole.  Gently file round the end of the wire.

For the next steps, keep everything snug on the bench block.

6.  Lay one of the gauges on steel bench block, hold the still clamped pieces to be riveted on top of the gauge, hole over hole.

7.  Holding the wire in a pair of pliers, insert the filed end into the rivet hole.  Make sure it goes all the way through and hits the bench block.

8.  Insert the second gauge over the wire.

9.  Lay the flush cutters flat against the top of second gauge, making sure all pieces are flat against one another, and cut the wire.  Leave the gauge in place.

10.  Carefully file the end of the wire removing any burs. Leaving the gauge in place will insure that you'll file just enough. Sometimes, you may find your wire cutter leaving more length than necessary.  File the wire end until it even with the gauge.

11.  Remove the top gauge and form the top of the rivet.

12. Turn the piece over, remove the bottom gauge, and finish forming bottom of rivet.

That is one way to do wire rivets.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cold Connected Metal Elements

Thought I would write up a little treatise on how I make the cold connected metal elements.  This one deals with riveting using only the Crafted findings Rivet Tool.  Other cold connection methods not covered are: handmade rivets, tabs, and micro bolts and nuts.

Above a photo of the bench with some metal pieces and some tools.  In the lower right. there is a partially finished element, some rivets (not Crafted Findings), two have been cut to proper length with the cutters, two have not. Above the rivets is a playing card, cut in half, the two halves taped together, with a hole punched through.  This is used as a gauge to cut the rivets to length.

Other photos with notations will appear in my Flickr Photostream.

Really BIG caveat! How I make them is not necessarily the right, correct, or precise way to do it.  It's the way I do it.  Wanted to make that absolutely crystal clear.  

Basically, the elements consist of two or three pieces of different metals so there is a contrast of color.    I use various gauges, 18, 20, 22, 24, brass, copper, aluminum and nickel silver (also known as german silver), and most everyone knows, there's no silver in it.  I don't use any precious metals.  

First, I use a.....

1.  Jeweler's saw with appropriate blade to cut stock sheet metal down to manageable sizes.  Small enough to go through my rolling mill.
2.  No. 2 Flat file to remove burs.
3.  Propane fueled torch for annealing metal.
4.  Igniter.
5.  Annealing pan, with pumice grains.
7.  Pan of water to quench.  I sometimes use ice water  as this will help hold heat patina colors.
8.  Paper towels to dry off the annealed metal.

Some of the metal pieces are selected for texturing, others left plain.


1.  Manilla Folder, cut into pieces small enough to go through the mill.
2.  Scissors or shears to cut the folder.
3.  Various texturing materials.  The manilla folder paper will put a nice texture on metal. Take two       pieces of manilla and sandwich the metal between and run through the mill. Also, I used a piece of   netting from an onion bag from the grocery, or a piece of brass mesh, 20 threads per inch.
4.  Rolling mill.


1.  Disc cutter.
2.  Brass head mallet, 2 pounds.
3.  Padding under the disc cutter. I use a 1/16 inch thick urethane pad.  This protects the punches from damage.  
4.  Bur Lube to lubricate the punches.

After cutting the discs, some are run the mill  to create a nice oval shape.  Some are punched again in or near the middle with a smaller size punch, and then run through the mill.   Different shapes can be made by varying the pressure of the rollers.

I sometimes heat the metal again with a torch of add more heat patina.


1.  Metal Stamps, various styles to add  texture to the plain discs.
2.  Dual face hammer, brass and nylon.
3.  Steel bench block.
4.  Needle files.  I use these to create notches in some small accent pieces

Some pieces are textured with various hammers.  Ball peen, or the peen of a chasing hammer, texturing hammers, cross peen  hammer.  To hold small pieces in place on the bench block, I tape down a portion of the metal with some clear tape , stamp or texture the bare metal, and repeat the process on the other side.

I like to have a lot of different pieces laid out in front of me.  Then I begin to pick and choose what pieces go well with one another, setting them aside, and repeating the selection process again and again. When I have several selected, I begin the assembly process.


1.  Crafted Findings Rivet Tool and Rivets.  1/16 and 1/8 inch, copper, brass and aluminum.
2.  Vise.  I use the small Sine vise to hold the rivet tool.
3.  The Speetog Plier Clamp. In place of this, parallel jaw pliers, ring clamp, or very strong fingers!
4.  Flex-Shaft with No. 30 hand piece.
4.  Fine point Sharpie pen.
5.  Center punch.
6.  No. 53, .063 inch drill bit, plus various other small size drills used to drill accent holes. A set of number drills 1 to 60 is handy to have.  A 1/16 inch bit is the same size.
6.  Wood block.

Why drill when the Riveting Tool has a punch for the rivet hole?  Punching a hole through two or three pieces of metal with the tool's punch is difficult and could damage the punch.

To drill through two pieces of metal simultaneously. they must be securely clamped together.  Taping the pieces doesn't always work, which is why the Speetog is so handy for this.

Drill over solid wood. Drilling over a hole in the wood produces burs on the backside of the piece.

Drill one hole for a rivet. Check the backside for burs and remove if need be.  Then finish riveting. Then drill the next hole and rivet.  One at a time until all rivets are finished.

 If I use the tool's punch for a hole in a single layer of metal, I take a piece of card stock, like a 3 x 5 file card, with a narrow slot cut into it.  When punching with the Rivet Tool, the metal piece can be hard to remove unless you reverse wind the punch bringing the metal up against the top of the tool.  This can abrade the metal. By slipping the card onto the stem of the punch, over the metal, the metal won't be marred.

7.  Small setting bur, about 5-6 mm.  Used to put a chamfer around and neaten a hole drilled for a jump ring. Do this on both sides.
8.  1 inch PSA Mini Sanding Disc 220, for cleaning up any bur left from drilling.
9.  Plastic tape.  Cut small pieces of tape to hold a rivet. Place rivet head down on the sticky side.
10.  Bead mat - if I drop a rivet, it won't bounce into the nether reaches and vanish.
11.  Scissors to cut the tape.
12.  Fine point tweezers.
13.  Set the rivets with the Riveting Tool

When I use the tape method to carry and insert the rivet, I only partially seat the rivet with the rivet tool.  Then I remove the tape and finish seating the rivet.  Leaving the tape on can cause an incomplete riveting process.

14.  Wood dapping block with oval depressions used to add a curve to the piece.
15.  Fretz No. 7 hammer with interchangeable faces. I use the round face.
16.  Pieces of paper towel to protect both the dapping block and the hammer face.
17.  No. 2 file, 8 inch overall to clean up any uneven edges.
18.  3m bristle brushes to polish some areas

Questions, comments welcome.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Followers and Rio Catalog

I should pay more attention to the arrival of new followers.  So, Welcome!  Glad for your interest in the blog. Hope it proves to be entertaining and a little bit informative.

The GIGANTIC Rio Grande tool catalog arrived a few days ago, filled with just about everything imaginable.  And, of course, I drooled over this and that, and, of course succumbed to the siren's lure and spent a ton on stuff I really didn't need.  I may have to ask Rio to remove my name fro the mailing list in order to protect the budget.

In a couple days, I will post a little treatise on making cold connected metal elements.  It won't be a slick professional tutorial, expertly written, like the ones in the slick magazines.  But someone might get some good from it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Go To Hammer

We all have our personal favorite tools.  This is a photo of my "Go To Hammer."  I use this hammer more than any other.  I use it for center punching, stamping, flattening and work hardening.  Another favorite hammer is the little Fretz (No. 406), riveting hammer.  There's a picture of it with other tools in an earlier post. 

Pliers:  When it comes to pliers, I find the Speetog indispensible.  Too bad it's no longer made. Otto Frei does have a similar on, but it's pricey.

Files:  It depends on what material I working with.  Faux Bone™, I use No. 00 and No. 1 halfround Hablis for most of the roughing out work.  For metal, an 8 inch overall length, Grobet No. 2 flat file, and for some areas, a Grobet No.2 Barrette needle file.

This hammer (some call it a mallet), has easily replaceable 5/8's inch faces, brass and nylon. It weighs around 5 oz. The head is about 2 5/8's inches long. Overall length, about 9 inches.

I didn't have any thing else ready to publish.  Stock sheets of metal arrived, and I've been busy cutting them down to manageable sizes.  Whole lotta sawing going on.  More stuff arriving.  Now to find places for it all!  That's the problem with new materials and equipment.  

I'll try to post something interesting next week next week

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Just news

Cold, rainy day, no pictures to post.  Did finish the metal elements necklace.  Made about a dozen more metal elements, should be enough for another necklace.  These are fun to make.

Worked out a system for using the Crafted Findings Rivet Tool.  After either punching (single layer of metal), or drilling (multiple layers), the hole for a rivet, I snip off a small piece of Scotch packaging tape and place the rivet head down on the sticky side of the tape.  Then I can maneuver the rivet to wherever it needs to go on the element without dropping it on the floor.  With the rivet in place and taped down on the element, I can turn the element upside down and place it in the Rivet Tool and finish it.  The Speetog plier clamp is a really big help, also.  Especially when drilling through multiple layers of metal.

Ordered a ton of supplies. More metal, sheet, tube, wire, rivets.  Epoxy clay (Milliput), Adirondack inks,  enamels, copper etch, and the Minibrite cleaning system that Tele Formosa discusses on her blog.  Thanks, Tela, for posting about it. Hope it works.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mixed Metal Elements

What I have been working on lately.  Necklace elements of mixed metal.  Copper, Brass and Aluminum.

Stamped out pieces with disc cutter, then some textured and elongated with rolling mill. Some pieces textured with nothing more than a sandwich of metal and two pieces cut from a manilla file folder.  Others were textured with a piece cut from one of those netted onion sacks from the grocery, and others using a piece of brass screen. Parts of some elements textured with metal stamps.  Some have been brushed with a Pumice 3M Radial Bristle Disc.

Fastened together with Crafted Findings Rivet Tool and various rivets.  Figured out a way to use the rivet tool that works for me.  Not exactly classic, but it works.  The tool is held in the Sine Vise.  This vise, at 8 pounds. stays put pretty well where ever I put it.  With the hole punched and the proper size rivet selected, I place the rivet head down on a small piece of Scotch Packaging Tape.  The rivet can be inserted in the hole  in the metal element and turned upside down to be placed in the tool without fear of the rivet dropping to the floor and disappearing.  After setting the rivet, the tape is removed.  Absolutely brilliant!  Ha, ha.

The different colors on the metal come from using a torch to form a heat patina.

I do apologize for the rather poor photography.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year

The old year has come and gone I hope the new year will a good year.  

I will try to post some photos tomorrow of what I've be doing lately.  I have a bit more time now, and maybe I will be able to post more often.  Last year toward the end of the year,  things weren't going too well and got behind on a lot of things.

Until tomorrow.