Hi Jane, I do a lot of little bezel cups, too. If I remember
correctly from your original post, you do three levels of filing:
coarse, medium and fine. It strikes me as possibly excessive. Unless
you have really made a mess of things, you probably only need fine
filing on edges and such. Much of your time spent medium and fine
filing is removing scratches from the coarse file!
I’m thinking of buying a pair of retaining ring pliers (that open
when squeezed) and coating the tips with plastic or epoxy. I would
then hold the little bezel reasonably securely cups from the inside,
giving me access to the entire outer surface, and not strain my
Learning and trying to keep your work piece pristine and
scratch-free can help eliminate the need for all but the most
fundamental filing. I’ve put clear Scotch tape over flat surfaces
while I’m working on a piece to keep minor nicks and abrasions from
In some cases, I’ll avoid filing altogether, and use abrasive wheels
on the flex-shaft. For example, touching up the seam on a bezel. Hit
it with a medium, then fine abrasive wheel, and you won’t have the
need to remove the scratches from a file. Using the abrasive wheels
when you really should be filing becomes apparent when your wheel
is disappearing before your eyes into a pile of gritty rubber.
Cratex wheels are a traditional standby, but some newer silicone
based wheels are cleaner and are quite effective. Over time, you’ll
probably build a collection of abrasive points and such, and learn
from experience what works best in a given situation.
I rarely go below 400 grit sandpaper, which is usually either
wrapped around a paint stirrer, or rubber cemented to a flat surface
(Delrin block). Then on to 600, 1000 and maybe 2000. Then tripoli and
after a good scrubbing, rouge or ZAM (another bar polishing
compound… great for soft stones, too).
A great Orchid tip I picked up (thanks, whoever you were) was to use
a brown rubber gum art eraser to hold small flat pieces on my sanding
block. Sliding the eraser back and forth moves the work against the
sandpaper, eliminating much of the trouble in handling a small piece.
Anyway, all the advice in the world won’t eliminate the problem,
just possibly help ease it somewhat. I get cramps in my hands, sore
fingertips, chewed up fingernails, and such… but at least I don’t
have to do something like roofing in the rain and cold (for now, at
All the best,
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)