New Ideas for the Workshop

I have gathered up a few tips and ideas that I am using in my workshop as I continue on my current obsession with learning how to make rings.

Plier Holder- Thrift shop find – a paper towel holder.

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Rolling Mill Holder: Bench grinder stand from Harbor Freight and a couple of sturdy C clamps.

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Sawblade Holder: Spice holder.  Another thrift shop find.

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I keep most of my stones in photo slide pocket storage pages in a three-ring binder.

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I raised up my bench pin by securing it to a wooden box

 

1.BenchPin copy

I made a holder for flex shaft and rotary tool attachments.  I found a wood box at the thrift store and drilled holes in the top.

2.Box

And I can keep a few more items, like collets which I am always misplacing, in the box.  It makes it easier to find things so I can spend more time learning and making things.

 

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Make Yourself Some Pottery Tools

My posts on making jewelry tools have been so popular that I decided to share some ideas for making pottery tools with you.  None of these are original but they all present my twist on things.  The first one is a clay texture tool.  I found a foot massager at a thrift store, took it apart, and now I have two new texture tools plus some to share.

You can also saw up a broomstick a dowel and apply craft foam or hot glue to make patterns to texture clay.  There are some examples below.  

The glue stick makes a nice texture.

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Make a clay cutter to cut canes for Nerikomi.  I cut the end off a metal plant hanger and strung  it with 24 gauge wire.  You can use any form that will keep the wire taut and if the wire breaks, it’s easy to replace.  

I love the idea of a tool that will bevel the edges of clay slabs.    Enter the beveler!    I got the idea to make my own from this site  but mine is a bit different.  The wood I used is a sidewalk find.  I trimmed the smaller piece so the edges were straight.  Then I nailed it to the larger piece so I would have two beveling angles, one shallow and a longer one.  I didn’t measure anything; I just eyeballed it.  I notched the four corners to keep  the wire in place and used a screw eye to hold the wire taut.  I tried my beveler out and it works beautifully.  It really comes in handy when you are beveling curved edges.

And finally, although this is not a pottery tool, I had to include it. I made myself a rawhide hammer from a dog chew following Charles Lewton-Brain’s directions here.  My conclusion?  Go out and buy one. The dog chews ended up costing about as much as a small hammer and it was much more difficult the make than the instructions let on.  But still, I like the way my hammer turned out and I’m using it.

11.mallet

 

Feel free to share this information and if you  want to share ideas for tools you’ve made, leave a comment.

 

A Box of Hammers

I love going to flea markets to shop for old tools to use for jewelry making. I love unusual hammers most of all. I picked up an old cobbler’s hammer at a sale a little while ago (just because it looked interesting) along with a nifty tack hammer that will be just perfect​ for texturing and maybe riveting.

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I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “dumber than a box of hammmers.” I suppose a box of hammers would not have the collective intelligence of a box of beetles for instance or a box of bicycle messengers. On the other hand, a bag full of hammers is not likely to be more intelligent because said hammers are not in a box.

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A Box of Hammers!

That being said, I initiated the conversation that led to the sale with the question, “Have you ever heard the expression ‘dumber than a box full of hammers?'” The person selling the hammers told me he was familiar with the expression and then gave me a very smart price on my selections from his box of hammers.

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My New Jewelry Making Tools

Who doesn’t love a good deal? My friends know that I am a bargain hunter. Here are my latest jewelry making tool scores.
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Otto Frei close out two Fretz mini raising hammers $84.00

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Ever since  I used Artsy-Sciency’s metal shears in Puerto Vallerta,  I wanted a pair.  They cut so easily.  ArtGirlsTools  $13.25 plus shipping

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Haiko flush cutters  Amazon

16 gauge    $9.29

10 gauge   $12.67

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Optivisor – low cost version. I had a couple of genuine Optivisor lenses but no holder. I didn’t want to invest in a genuine Optivisor so I tried this low cost knock off. My Optivisor lenses fit and it came with some lenses of its own. Probably not as good as the genuine thing but you can’t beat the cost.

$$16.50 plus $3.00 shipping from China.  Delivery takes a few weeks.  Order it here.

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Foredom Bench Lathe  $188.50

Jets Jewelers Tools and Supplies  Order it here,

There’s a story behind the bench lathe.  I was jonesing for one ever since I attended a Clay ConneCTion retreat a few years ago and got to try one out.  I went searching for a deal and was wary of  buying a poorly made knock off or, worse yet, a counterfeit.

I had one prior order with Jets Jewelers and Supplies who does business on eBay.  I didn’t like the item I got and they refunded my money in full no questions asked.  So when I saw the deal on the Foredom Bench Lathe,  I ordered it.  Jets Jewelers promptly sent me an email informing me that I had ordered the 240 volt model and asked me if I had not really meant to purchase the 120 volt model.    I thanked them for catching the error and my bench lathe arrived a couple of days later.  I love it.  And I commend Jets Jewelers and Supplies for their great customer service!!

Note: Some of these prices may have gone up since I bought the items but they are still great deals.  I have no affiliation with any of the sellers or manufacturers.

Philadelphia Area Jewelry Tool Suppliers

Many people who are ready to graduate from bead stringing to more complex jewelry projects, and who need to pick up a few tools, often end up buying them at bead shows.  I’ve done this myself, and 99.9% of the vendors at these shows charge a fair price.  And if they take a little premium, that’s OK with me.  I am getting the convenience of finding mostly everything in one place.

But it doesn’t always work that way. I was at a local bead show a few months ago and saw a Solderite soldering board that I bought for $8.25 from Rio Grande on sale for $22.50.  The very same item, and it wasn’t a mistake.  And yet, the beginning metal smith  who might not realize that this price is out of line, is often too intimidated to go to  Jeweler’s Row on Sansom Street in Philadelphia to buy supplies, thinking that the stores there are for “real” jewelers and not them.  That’s not true.

For those of us from the Philadelphia area, Hagstoz is a treasure both for buying supplies and for selling scrap metal.  I have always gotten excellent service there.

Another store I highly recommend is Pamma Jewelry Tools and Supply, located at 809 Sansom Street.  It is a tool paradise and they have almost everything out where you can see it. They carry economy brand pliers like Beadsmith and Eurotool and high end brands Such as  Lindstrom.  They sell all types and sizes of hammers, rotary tool and flex shaft accessories, stainless steel shot, pickle, patinas, soldering supplies (and several kinds of soldering surfaces including charcoal blocks), displays, boxes and packaging.  They carry used tools, too. The last time I was there I saw hole cutters, rolling mills and ring stretchers among the items they had for sale.

One of the best places to shop for everything related to jewelry making is Beadfest Philadelphia.  The shopping bazaar runs from August 19 to August 21.   For a list of vendors, press here.  You can even download a floor plan.  Just remember that the Beadfest  venue has changed to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center this year.  Maybe I will see you there!

On-Line Ideas and Inspiration for Jewelry Makers

I troll the Internet in search of ideas and inspiration.  Here are some new finds and some old favorites I want to share:

Nancy LT Hamilton offers free metalsmithing videos on sawing, riveting, soldering,  making findings and other techniques.  She offers a few metal working tools and her site is full of  useful  information about tools, metal, measuring, ring sizing, drill bits and more.

Beaducation sells jewelry making tools, books. DVDs and findings.  In addition paid on line classes,  Beaducation offers  free on line classes in several mediums including metalsmithing, felting, resin jewelry making  and beading

Brenda Sue Lansdowne  sells cool  vintage jewelry supplies on her web site, B’Sue Boutique  and her  blog, Jewelry Making Outside the Box  is chock full of interesting information.   She also offers free on line videos  showing how she uses her products to make eye-catching  mixed media jewelry.  The videos and blog are great places to get ideas and inspiration.

Speaking of ideas and inspiration,  I found these silver plated serving forks at a flea market.  I plan to saw off the handles and make the serving ends into pendants. 

If you think you have seen it all when it comes to jewelry made from spoons, knives or forks, you must watch this  video  by Italian Artist Giovanni Scafuro.



Take a Peek into My Workshop

It’s been a while since Libby Mills  profiled my workshop in her blog’s Studio Snapshot series.  Since then, I’ve branched out into other mediums including felt,  do more metalsmithing,  and have acquired some new tools.

I am lucky enough to have a dedicated space for my work, but I live in a small house and purge regularly out of necessity.  This includes my workshop.  My current set up is the result of  regular purging and many wasted hours playing Tetris.

Here are some pictures of the ordered chaos.

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.

 

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.