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Another Hammer Handpiece Question

For those of you who use a hammer handpiece to set stones, what do
you do about the marred surface of the bezel once the stone is set?
I have a jeweler friend who just uses a sanding disc to give the
bezel texture and it masks the marring.

I have thought about using a hammer handpiece, but I feel like the
time I would put into “cleaning up” afterwards could be used in
setting the stone by hand.

Does anyone have a method for using a hammer handpiece that does not
dent the surface of the metal? Or… Does anyone have a simple,
quick cleanup solution?

Thanks in advance, Sarah

Sure Sarah: turn down the impact severity and run a slower footpedal,
Heck what five minuets of wheel work when you other choose is a
hammer? Ringman

Sarah, Sit back and let me explain the series of events during and
after the setting process when using the “reciprocating hammer”. First
of all the hammer does not dent, it partly compresses the gold, it
pushes the gold onto the item to be set. It also lets the gold join
the stone or diamond. Because of this actual little pounding of the
"hammer divot", you will have “little” compressions in the surface of
the gold. These “little compressions” are a part of the hammer
principle. Do not be alarmed of this action, how else can ‘we’ avoid
this marring or denting???..:>) I would, with care use a sanding
disk only if there is a lot of gold on the stone being set. I would
use a #3 or a #4 barrette or a triangular file, to even out the gold
markings. You cannot avoid the appearance of this denting at this
point. A file has a more direct filing action as compared with the
"fraying edges" of a sanding disk. You might even notice that a disk
might even also hit a soft stone and ruin the stones facets. But with
a file, the contact is more exact and you know just what has to be
filed. You are also not wasting time “cleaning-up”, its a part of the
setting process. I have three hammers at my disposal and each one
serves a different purpose. On each hammer I can adjust the tension
for each the hammering situation. “Clean-ups” are essential. On the
lighter tension the denting, as you call it, is made very slight. On
the heavier tension, there is a quite a noticeable marking taking
place. You just have to experiment. So Sarah , I suggest look into a
lighter tension setting to prevent any undo “wasting of time
cleaning-up”. I, for one, even use the corners of the "hammer blade"
as this will localizes where the “hitting” will be used. I can with
some care even use a hammer on genuine Emeralds. So it all takes
great deal of practice and careful thinking how the hammer can be
used. I really hope you just learned a bit from me, n/c, just read my
web-site…:>) “Gerry, the cyber-setter !” “

Sarah, You shouldn’t be leaving that many marks. If the dents are
very deep, either you are lingering in one place too long, your anvil
point face (the tip of the tool) is too small or has sharp edges,
your impact is too strong, you are holding the face of the tool tip
at an angle or your stone is in too loose to begin with. The tool
tip needs to be dressed, w/ its edges rounded over or radiussed.

This is a wonderful tool that if used w/ finesse will make a
difficult job not only easier but all around safer; but if used in a
cavalier manner can cause a lot of damage. The clean up I have w/
this tool may be a little more extensive then w/ a simple pusher, but
the metal has moved a lot more. In addition, most marks are planished
or smoothed out in the end by the tool itself as I make a final pass
around the stone, hammering along to smooth out the ripples. There
seems to be a perception out there that stone setting should leave no
marks on the setting surface. To this end I’ve heard some people
tout a highly polished surface on their setting tools. This seems
counterintuitive to me in that a polished surface is much more apt to
slip than a matte or lightly textured one. I’d much rather spend
time cleaning up some tool marks than finding a replacement stone or
running out to the cutter’s. Finally, I’d be very reluctant to use a
sanding disc on anything other than a diamond setting unless one has
very good tool control. Aluminum oxide and silicon carbide are very
aggressive abrasives that can and will harm most stones. Try using
pummice impregnated rubber wheels for setting clean up.

Good luck, Andy Cooperman

Sarah, I haven’t noticed a need to do a lot of cleanup on my
bezels. As you may have read in my previous post I use a modified
woodcarving hand piece as a hammer handpiece. The big difference is
that the hammer action is not always on, it is pressure activated.
The harder I press the harder the hammer hits. Thus, I can be as
aggressive or delicate as I want to be allowing me to burnish more
and hammer less as I near completion.

Shane Morris

method for using a hammer handpiece that does not dent the surface
of the metal? 

Hi Sarah, While I prefer a pusher and burnisher, especially for fine
silver bezels, I do use a hammer handpiece. Most frequently on 14k
bezels, which tend to be quite springy. The first thing is that I go
over the bezel thoroughly with the hammer. This minimizes the
inconsistencies. Sometimes it almost has a burnished, or planished
effect. BTW, my hammer tip has rounded, polished edges, not sharp.

For any finishing work, I must credit Blaine Lewis (New Approach
School for Jewelers in Va. Beach) with introducing me to silicone
pumice wheels. The biggest risk at this point is using something that
will abrade the stone while trying to work on metal. The SP wheels
all but eliminate this risk, and prepare the bezel (or prongs) for

Hope this helps,

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

Dear Sarah, Marring of the surface can be a symptom of several
factors. With practice, it is possible to set without marring to the
extent of removing more metal than necessary.

Those factors includes how the hammer-piece is held, the impact
setting, type and/or condition of the tip and how securely the
jewelry piece is held.

Holding the hammer-piece at an angle would cause the tip’s edge to
leave dent marks. Hold the tip as flat with the surface as possible.

Use the lightest impact setting as possible. When moving a good deal
of metal, ‘sculpt’ the metal as if you are forming with a combination
of burnishing and chasing, leaving less marring.

The hammer-piece tip should be flat and kept smooth. I use the
standard tip that comes with the Badeco swiss hammer handpiece. I
use the Crocker Graver Sharpener and block stones to keep the tip
surface smooth and polished. Some setters like to lightly roll off
the edges of the tip to minimize ‘edge dents’ .

Secure the jewelry piece to take advantage of the ‘impact’. A wooden
clamp held against the pin vise would soften the impact. Take
advantage of the impact energy by using a more solid approach. Use
heaver metal clamps such as the BenchMate. For setting channels on
rings, a ring mandrel can be used.

Daniel Biery Jr.
Master Goldsmith
Industrial Designer

 Does anyone have a method for using a hammer handpiece that does
not dent the surface of the metal? Or... Does anyone have a simple,
quick cleanup solution? 

A pumice wheel or other fine abrasive wheel is usually the ticket.
Sometimes a bit of filing, I use a 3" barette file, #2 cut, that has
had the edges sanded to remove any remaining sharp edges to file the
surface of the bezel next to the stone.

Rick Hamilton
Custom gold and platinum jewelry
CAD/CAM and conventional modelmaking