Philip, et al !
One of the most almost forgotten pieces steel ever seen in a tool
supplier shop is the beading-block. If used properly, it can be a
life-saver. So let me now explain what it is and how it is used. It
can transform any bur shaft of 3/16" into a Creative diamond-setting
In my early days of yesteryear, I had to make a bead-burnishing tool
with such a block of steel. Let me just explain what it looks like,
has many rows of indentations of little inverted cups at all various
depths and widths. They have 4-5 rows of these indentations, this is
to allow if some of these ‘forming cup tips’ get worn down. These are
the “negative” for the finished cup design, as you then will need to
burnish a single bead after it’s raised OVER EACH DIAMOND.
So now lets get into how to MAKE one tool. You MUST ‘soften’ the
steel tapered point, so the steel is more maleable and easy to shape.
Soften the steel point back to a length of about one inch from the
tip. Heat it up to ORANGE colour and let it cool down. Flatten off
the sharp broken-off point with a Pillar or Triangular file so you
now have a flat surface to be hammered into the little opening on the
steel block. If the ‘flat’ is too large the point area won’t get INTO
the steel opening, get it? Round off the end edge so you can get a
point INTO the littel recess, trial and error at this time. Select a
bead size YOU need, I can’t do this for you now, only YOU have to
make this ‘corporate decision’!
Drop a little amount of oil on the whole flat surface to allow that
the little raised ‘balls’ are kept clean and very well lubricated for
hammering. With now the softened point, use now your hand-held
hammer, and with this bur shaft held perpendicular start the
hammering process. Keep in mind that you are making a recess INTO the
bur shaft now! This is going to be the ‘positive’ bead design!
Remember that ‘this size’ you selected must fit over your gold bead,
so you must select the appropriate size before the actual hammering
is to take place. When hammering, rotate and lean the point as to
have the this beading block make complete round indentation INTO the
steel shaft. Examine all the times with your 10X power loupe! Make
sure that the bead-recess is shiny, smooth and round!.:>) Afterwards
you can easily adjust the finished tip with a file, this steel is
When you ‘feel’ that all is done, now comes the hardening process.
NOW, raise the temperature of this finished bur shaft to the point
area is ALMOST READ-HOT! Then quickly drop it in to cold water. If
your file slides over the bead-burnisher (new name now), its ready
for constant use. I clean up the ‘burned area’ with emery paper as to
have no residual burs of steel cutting into your finger tips while
it’s being used.
If you find that this is too dificult to ‘master’. You can buy your
own beading tool at a local jewellery tool supplier and ask for
"Bead-Burnishing" set. They come in a large or a small set of 12
units per package/pallet! I had to make my own set of tools when I
was apprenticing so many decades ago…but times have changed, but its
still nice to know how this was accomplished! Remember one thing, the
’bead-burnishing process’ locks down the bead ONTO, and OVER the
stone. This is just why the ‘round-ball-tip’ on the block, has to be
kept clean before hammering. I sincerely hope that this has
enlightened everyone reading this little essay.