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.