Cheap and Easy (Drill Bit Storage That Is!)

I was trolling that delightful time sucker Pinterest a few months ago when I saw an awesome bur holder  sold on the Stuller website. It looked like it would hold hundreds of burs and drill bits in a compact space and could sit  right on the top of my jewelry bench.  Did I mention that I wanted one right then and there? I’m not given to impulse purchases, however,  so I tucked it into the back of my mind. Then one trash day, I found a wooden thing with four sides that spins. I think it’s a mug tree and kitchen utensil holder.  I took it home and studied it. Then I realized that it was a drill bit and bur holder  waiting for me to liberate it from its former job as a kitchen caddy.  It now sits proudly atop my jewelry bench enjoying its new role.

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To make the transition from the kitchen to the jewelry bench, I first marked where the holes would go and then I drilled pilot holes with an electric drill and a 1/8 inch drill bit.  Then I went back and drilled the holes at an  angle so the burs and drill buts would slip in and stay put.

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The wood caddy is hollow in the middle (probably meant for spoon storage)  so I took care to drill a number of holes only partially through so the bits without a brush, polisher or wheel on the top would not fall through.   If I want,  I can drill more holes on the top lip for more storage.

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This project was easy and cheap since I found the wooden caddy.   It would probably be easy to make one of these with scrap wood and a lazy susan base.   Unless you can build something yourself,  however, it probably wouldn’t pay to buy an  item similar to the one I used to convert to a drill bit holder.  But keep your eyes open at house sales and flea markets.  And on trash day.

More Ideas for Making Jewelry Tools

Even though I have posted articles on making simple jewelry tools, there is always something more to learn.  Here are some of my recent efforts: You can make texturing hammers  out of cheap ball peen hammers. I filed the faces of the hammers  and used grinding tools on my flex shaft (you can also use a rotary tool) to get some interesting textures.  I didn’t have any instructions; I just made it up as I went.   If you try this, however,   wear safety goggles,  because  they hug your head with no gaps for tiny metal fragments to fly through.  When sanding and finishing metal, I also wear a dust mask because you can breathe in tiny metal particles.  You might want to go a step further and use a respirator.

You can also file and grind metal punches and chisels to get great texturing effects.

Here are examples of textures I achieved on annealed copper with the tools I made.  The upper left was made with the altered chisel.  The other three were made with the altered hammers.  I worked on a metal block.

Another tool I love is a gizmo to hold jump rings while you saw them.  I first saw a picture of this tool in Robert Dancik’s book Amulets and Talismans. He didn’t give any directions, but  it looked so simple to make and such a great idea that I made my own.  You can buy one at John Lewis’ Etsy Shop, and  you can find directions on how to use it on Barbara Lewis’ blog, Painting with Fire. If you want to try making one yourself, Art Jewelry Magazine published and article by Howard Siegel that subscribers can download here.

My V block tool.  Not pretty, but it gets  the job done.

It wasn’t until I saw Shailyn Miller’s DVD Rings of Beauty, that I realized how useful a ring mandrel holder could be.  I built a home made version from a wood box that held a bottle of wine.  If you are handy with hole saws or and spade drill bits, you could make one easily and clamp it to your table when you work on wire rings.

 

 

Last in my bag of tricks is a makeshift clamp for small jewelry pieces.  If you are trying to saw a small piece on your bench pin and can’t hold it still, try using a large metal binder clip with a piece of craft felt or other sturdy fabric.   Your piece won’t move and you can saw or file to your heart’s content.

 

Mixing It Up

This year, I’ve  gone from a metal and soldering frenzy to a  lamp working frenzy, to a  glass and ceramics tumbling frenzy, to a glass fusing frenzy, to a felting frenzy.  Every so often, I get in the torch enameling.  And there are always the seed beading designs I’m  working on.  Did I mention that I ruin a lot of stuff?  But some of the metal can be recycled and most of it started out as recycled anyway. (I used to have a lovely let of brass charger plates.)   The fused glass can be cut up and refused.  The lamp working failures can be turned into frit or  become elements in fused pieces so long as you keep the COE straight.  And you can use an ugly felted bead as a base for another bead.

I decided to combine the polymer beads and lamp work into a necklace and make a clasp. The polymer beads are interspersed with the lamp worked beads.  Many of the lamp worked beads are fumed with silver and the focal  bead is hollow .  For for the clasp. I made jump rings and soldered them to copper washers from Harbor Freight that I textured with my home made texturing hammers.  I’m not sure if I am happy with all of the polymer beads; I might make  some new polymer beads at Clayathon .    But here’s what I have so far.

Amulets, Talismans, Polymer and Wire

There are two new books that will enhance the library of anyone creative.  Both  show you how to elevate non precious material into art imbued with special meaning.

The first one is  Amulets and Talismans by Robert DancikI took Dancik’s class on cold connections last year  and put the book on pre-order as soon as I could.  I was not disappointed.  The book is crammed with information on cold connections techniques,  and full of ideas on how to take ordinary objects and showcase them in original, one of a kind pieces of jewelry that  tell a story that could be about the wearer, maker or materials themselves.

If you are a tool junky like me, you will relish Dancik’s ideas for making custom tools.  He shows a nifty little jump ring cutting gizmo you can make yourself.  I made one.  There are no directions, but one look at it is all you need. (If Truman Capote had met me when he first came to New York, his book would have been entitled Breakfast at Harbor Freight.)

The next gotta have it book is Ancient Modern: Polymer Clay + Wire Jewelry by Ronna Sarvas Weltman.

Weltman’s  designs have an inimitable   primitive sophistication that’s fresh and inspiring.  Her projects and instructions will stoke your creativity and have might change the way you think  about polymer clay and wire.

This time last year

Make Your Own Jewelry Tools

About a month ago, I put up a post about how I made a small jeweler’s bench from a small desk and scrap wood. Since then, I have been trolling for tool making directions and tutorials.

I recommend two excellent articles from Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. The first one is on how to make a swage block from hardwood by Tom and Kay Benham. lj11071 It’s in the November 2007 issue which you can order by pressing here. You can find other tips on making swage blocks here. The authors used a Fostner drill bit set and a drill press to make their swage block. Since I don’t have access to tools like that, I used a spade drill bit set and hole saws to make mine. I got pretty good results. You can buy hole saw and spade drill sets from Harbor Freight or your local home center.

 

T409he other article from the April 2009 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist is about how to make a hammered wire cuff bracelet. Author William Fretz throws in a nifty side bar on how to construct a jig so you can get consistent curves in heavy gauge wire. Press here to order the back issue.

 

 

Ganoksin is a treasure trove of jewelry making information. Be sure to check out Charles Lewton-Brain’s article on making chasing tools and Tina Wojtkielo’s article for tool junkies. It’s full of tips for making and using tools that she collected from several jewelry artists.

The last item comes from a great Internet resource, the How-To-Make-Jewelry Blog. It’s a useful bracelet sizing template you can download for free. The video that shows how to use it is below.