Agate burnishers / gold on silver

Dear Jill: If what you are doing is Kum-boo (or Keum-boo), application
of pure gold foil to silver without soldering, you don’t need an
agate burnisher. A steel burnisher will work fine. Steel has a
tendency to stick to the gold when it gets hot (this process is done
on a hotplate); dipping the burnisher tip in a dish of water
periodically solves that problem. I like a curved tip, fine (narrow)
burnisher. Rio has these, I’m sure others do too. Fine silver works
MUCH better than sterling silver; as a matter of fact, you really
need to bring up the fine silver on sterling pieces to get the best
result. Otherwise the silver oxidizes as it heats up, and that layer
interferes with the adherence of the gold. Excellent instructions are
found in Tim McCreight’s Metals Technic; in an article by Komelia
Okim. Good luck-it’s fun… Lin

I have seen a number of references to agate burnishers. I have never
seen an agate burnisher, but I would like to make one. Can anyone
direct me to a picture of an agate burnisher? I have some very large
pieces of Brazilian agate that I would like to find a use for and
cutting a burnisher sounds like an interesting project.

John McLaughlin
Glendale, Arizona

Jill you do not necessarily need an agate burnisher to accomplish the
attachment of your foil to the surface of your silver. A highly
polished steel burnisher will work just as well. But you will have to
cool the burnisher in water periodically or the gold will begin to
stick to the steel. I have made some inexpensive agate burnishers by
purchasing agate bullets or other shaped drops from a gem dealer and
mounted these on a wooden rod with a bezel.

Yes, you can use fine silver instead of the copper depleted sterling,
but the end product will not be as strong. HTH JZ Dule

Hey, sounds fun to make your own agate burnisher (s). Of course, I
have never seen one - but have some observations that I wanted to add
to the discussion. :slight_smile:

I experimented with using some of my wax tools and they worked fine.
The wax tool that has an elongated cup with a balled area behind it
(to hold the heat) - worked pretty well. Another one that proved to
be useful was a broken dental tool that I just sanded and polished the
end to a nice rounded shape - and it is very useful. I regularly buff
the metal surface of the tools - including the regular burnishers - to
help prevent any tearing of the foil while burnishing. They all seem
to come in handy - but am discovering my favorites.

I would think that one of the clinchers in determining the shape
would be to have enough length in the handle portion to keep the hand
away from the hot plate burner or heat source. I think this is one
reason why I like the dental tools - better than my “real” burnishers.
I like Dr. Dule’s idea. It would be neat to have a curved handle
maybe in metal to connect the stone to and then wood at the end - to
keep the hand cool. In my dreams! But it would be a great project to
make the tool after knowing what would work best for our individual
needs and setup.

The shape of the burnisher tip in agate could possibly be determined
by the work you are doing - what how large and what type of surface
are you adhering the gold to. I would make a few - if there was
enough raw material . . . one that was something like a metal
burnisher and maybe a smaller more rounded pointed tip (does that make
sense?) for touching up particular areas that might bubble later and
the intial tacking down. And of course i have never seen or held an
agate burnisher - so, this is definitely a contribution of info that
may not be applicable! Just that I love the technique and sounds
great to be able to cut your own tool from stone.

Look forward to hearing back on the results of your efforts, John,
and how you like using the agate for this purpose.

Thanks, Cynthia

I have made Hematite burnishers for a customer who does gold leaf
work - several sizes but all resembling the end of a lipstick in
shape. The material and shape was the customers. Keep promising to
make myself an agate burnisher but where is the time?

Andy Parker, Agate House Lapidary
Ulverston, Cumbria, England

Tel: 01229 584023