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Bezel forming


#1

I have what must be a stupid question, but the obvious answer escapes
me. I don’t understand why you would form a bezel on a stake. I just
bought a set of Fretz stakes to play with… but a bezel?? I am sure
it must be my lack of experience hindering me here. I am from that
(gasp) era when a whole generation of rockhounds became lapidary
doodlers… then moved onto metal work. Remember… it did not look
"handcrafted" unless you had a half pound stone set in some god awful
thing with firescale and gobs of solder holding together this
"thing". My mother loved them :slight_smile: I remember many years ago as I was
trying to clean up my technique… being told it did not look
"handmade" without the firescale, poor joints, etc.

So… having that background… how I learned to make a bezel was

  1. cut a stone,

  2. wrap a piece of bezel around the stone and cut it off just a
    hairlong,

  3. file it to fit,

  4. solder it and then

  5. wrap that sucker around the stone and make it fit by tapping up a
    little on a mandrel and forming it over the stone. The idea was…
    the stone was the form. It is a perfect fit every time regardless of
    the shape… as long as it does not have sharp corners… then you
    have to deal with that in fabrication. Then you sanded it down to
    the height of the stone… and did what ever you were going to do
    past that point. So if I have an irregularly shaped stone… why
    would I use stakes to make a bezel I could make by using the stone as
    a form??


#2
So if I have an irregularly shaped stone... why would I use stakes
to make a bezel I could make by using the stone as a form?? 

One of the most useful tools in goldsmith toolbox is sparrow-hawk
anvil. Bezel stakes are simply an extension of that idea. Some
bezels are made from heavy gage metal, that simply could not be
wrapped around gemstone. Another things is that bezel is a general
term. Not every bezel made to house Some bezels are made
to fit, or to house other metal parts.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#3
why would I use stakes to make a bezel I could make by using the
stone as a form?? 

You’re going to be using the stone as a template in any cast,
checking the bezel against the stone to check the fit. But I’m sure
you never put the bezel around the stone, and, finding it a bit too
tight, hammered the metal around the stone. not only would the bezel
not fit down around the stone if it were too tight, but hammering the
bezel using the stone as a mandrel is a great way to produce stone
fragments and powder.

For ordinary round bezels, the Fretz stakes are not likely needed.
Any decent round bezel mandrel does the trick. The things that get
interesting are with larger stones especially, and thicker metal than
typical silver bezel wire. Goldsmiths often use thicker gold sheet on
pieces, such as in rings, where they may wish more durability or the
heavier look. These bezels don’t just flex to fit around a stone and
stay there. You have to make them the right shape as you go, using
the stone only to check the fit. For these, the miniature Fretz
stakes are great little forming tools. Again, not so much for plain
round bezels, but for odd shapes, trillions, cushion shapes, ovals,
etc, it’s common for the shape you need to not actually be available
in a standard bezel mandrel, or you don’t have that mandrel. The
Fretz stakes are then used to forge those bezels, shaping and
stretching the metal to adjust the shape. Typically, you’d use
slightly thicker metal than the end result, and make the initial
shape just a tad small. Then, careful forging on the fretz stakes or
whatever you like, is used to stretch and adjust the bezel until the
stone is the exact fit you wish.

And of course, bezels aren’t the only use for those stakes. They are
simply a nice varied set of shapes, securely mounted to the bench,
with varied curves on which you can shape any piece of metal you wish
that fits that scale and the curves they supply. At jewelry’s small
scale, you may often want to shape small pieces that simply don’t fit
the curves of larger metalsmithing/raising stakes, dapping tools,
mandrels, etc, so these fit the bill very nicely.

Are they essential? Nope. They’re kind of pricey too. Innovative
jewelers have been using whatever bit of steel they can find in
whatever tool supplies it, to form metal around, for eons. But these
little stakes happen to be very nicely made, look great, and for the
jobs where they’re suited, they sometimes are able to get the job
done better than jerry rigged improvised tools might, and with less
time and frustration. I can’t say I use mine as often as I thought I
might when I bought them, but they get enough use that I’m not at all
sorry to have done so. Some jewelers might find they get constant
use, and others might use them only rarely. For me, they’ve paid for
themselves, I think. Many times over? No, probably not. But enough.
And they’re really cool looking too… (grin)

Peter


#4
wrap that sucker around the stone and make it fit by tapping up a
little on a mandrel and forming it over the stone. The idea
was.... the stone was the form. It is a perfect fit every time
regardless of the shape... as long as it does not have sharp
corners.. 

That’s all fine and good - to make bezels with 28 gauge fine silver -
but how would you do that with 18 gauge sterling or 20 gauge 14K?
Then the little stakes are invaluable. You don’t need the little
stakes if you don’t change your designs to heavy bezels. There are
many ways to make heavy bezels, the little stakes just save time.

Judy Hoch


#5

Dear Brent,

I have what must be a stupid question, but the obvious answer
escapes me. I don't understand why you would form a bezel on a
stake. 

Your comment was humorous. Now that I’ve stopped laughing, you have
a lot to learn beyond simple cabbing and stone setting. I’m sure
many here on Orchid will set you straight. Congratulations on
accelerating your learning curve with your posted comment.

Ray Brown (Where there’s life beyond a Genie and a Titan)


#6

Judy,

There are many ways to make heavy bezels, the little stakes just
save time. 

I frequently make 20 ga bezels, sometimes with ease and sometimes
with difficulty. I don’t have the luxury of the little stakes. I’m
intrigued by your comment regarding many ways to make heavy bezels.
Can you please enumerate them (in an abbreviated manner) so I can
ensure that I’m using the best methods for my needs.

Thank you.
Jamie


#7
They're kind of pricey too. Innovative jewelers have been using
whatever bit of steel they can find in whatever tool supplies it,
to form metal around, for eons. But these little stakes happen to
be very nicely made, look great, and for the jobs where they're
suited, they sometimes are able to get the job done better than
jerry rigged improvised tools might, and with less time and
frustration. I can't say I use mine as often as I thought I might
when I bought them, but they get enough use that I'm not at all
sorry to have done so. Some jewelers might find they get constant
use, and others might use them only rarely. For me, they've paid
for themselves, I think. Many times over? No, probably not. But
enough. And they're really cool looking too... (grin) 

Thanks Peter. I probably am fixing to make one hell of a mess here
anyway. My goal is to “teach myself” anticlastic raising. Mind you, I
have zero forming experience. I figure we are all self-taught
anyway… but it helps to have a master to say “why don’t you try
this” after you struggle a bit. I am thinking I’ll ruin a couple
sheets of copper (you know I am not stupid enough to start in silver
or gold) before I break down and take a workshop… but at least that
way I’ll have enough experience to actually learn something. I just
don’t do well with short term instruction… I really need to play
with it a while to get a feel for what is going. I did not fall off
the turnip truck just yesterday either :slight_smile:

I have to admit too I am tool junkie. I have a good understanding how
to make my own tools and frequently do if I can’t find something that
works for me… but I do love my Fretz hammers. I wanted the stakes
anyway to expand my abilities a bit… but I do tend to bite off more
than I can chew sometimes. They do look cool on the bench… but…
that was not my motivation to buy them.

I think this listserv is wonderful! Honestly, I don’t think I have
ever seen another group where those of you who are on the top of the
game… yet are so willing to help and be gentle with the wide range
of questions that get posted. You have spirited debates about complex
subjects… yet you answer the most basic questions without making the
person look stupid. Thanks!

Brent


#8

Melt, hammer, bend, saw, have at it. If you want heavy gauge copper,
go to a plumbing contractor and see if they will sell you copper
pipe cut-offs. The bigger the diameter, the thicker the metal. Anneal
your cut-offs. Saw, or cut open with a heavy duty snips and you have
wonderful heavy gauge sheet. Flatten the softened round pipe.
Another learning experience. The same for an electrician. It is a
quality metal at an affordable price. Offer a slight premium over
scrap price. Hammer on the wire to experience the movement of the
metal. No attempt at self-promotion, but copper was my first love…
this is a picture of a setting I made using about a four gauge
copper, electrical ground wire, rolled to (?) thickness… offered as
an illustration…


#9

If you are making bezels for calibrated and round stones and you want
more than one then staking the bezels is a quick way of doing them.
Imagine you want to set 3 stones as a ring, your method comes unstuck
for practical purposes after you have done the first one. They are
really for people who want repeatability and speeded up production.
They are not the be all and end all, just another method of achieving
an end.

Nick Royall