I own a few large cab stones that are bigger than what my current mandrel is. The largest I have apporoxmetly 11.5 x 12.5 and have quite a few larger stones that would like to use. I am making them in sterling silver not fine silver because be stronger then fine silver. I am wondering if anyone knows where can purchase larger mandrels or have any suggestions on how to make my your own. Best regards Amanda
You don’t need a mandrel, although I have used a baseball bat and a beer bottle for a mandrel. Wrap the bezel wire around the stone, mark the overlap spot, cut, solder and you should be good to go. Spend some time with pliers getting it back to the shape of the stone, anneal the bezel strip (very important or it will move on you as you solder), level the bottom edge with a file and solder to the backing. You may find that the bezel doesn’t want to stay in touch with the backing all the way around as you solder. You can make hold downs out of titanium rod to push the bezel down as you solder. This isn’t easy, but it gets easier as you do it more. Remember that you will be working with a lot of metal all of which needs to stay up to solder flow temperature, so don’t be shy with the heat, but keep it moving around. It is a beautiful sight to see melted solder all of a sudden flash around the joint between the bezel strip and the backing. Good luck…Rob
A couple more points to remember. Solder the bezel strip with hard solder. You will have at least two more solder operations after that. Before you solder the bezel to the back plate, make sure everything is as clean and tight as you can get it. Coat the bezel strip and back plate in a solution of boric acid and alcohol and then burn off the alcohol. Then flux the joint. Don’t be shy with the flux (I use a paste flux). Put the solder pieces (pallions) around the inside of the joint between the bezel strip and back plate. Heat the joint so that you pull the solder through the joint. You might also keep a piece of wire solder of the same melting point as the pallions handy to touch solder a specific spot just in case you need to add more when everything is up to solder flow temperature. You may have excess solder in some locations. Take an old ball bur and grind the top half off so that you have a bur with teeth on the edges, but not the top of the bur. You can use this modified bur to go around the bezel strip and backing plate joint to remove the excess solder…Rob (again)
As a lot of folks know Rob and I had the same teacher who tought us each as far as the fundamentals are concerned. So we are most often in agreement on things involving silversmithing.
In this case I will offer a different view. A mandrel of the right shape would be nice. You can buy mandrel sets from Rio. And I use mandrels when I can’t think of anything else. I have very little tactile sensation in my fingers. A little in my right hand and nearly none in my left. The lack of tactile sense means I can’t wrap a stone very well with bezel material. I have learned to use masking tape as a master measure, wrapping a stone I mark and cut the bezel measurements using the masking tape. This isn’t unusual.
I solder the bezel wire together. Then I push bezel into an ellipse diameter in a Drafters Template. A Berol R-479 Ellipse Template. I find the 45 degree Ellipse that is one size larger that the oval cab I am mounting. The 3/4" oval ellipse is the next size up from the ellipse that fits an 18mm x 13mm cab.
Soldering anneals the bezel. By fitting the bezel in the Template and running an 1/8" drill bit shank around the inside of the Template pressing the bezel into the plastic wall of the ellipse, the bezel is shaped(some what). Some manipulation is needed to flatten it out and create the final shape. Then it’s flattening and soldering like everyone else.
It isn’t always perfect and I do start over when it turns out to large. If it needs to be a little larger I put it on a round mandrel at a point that doesn’t distort my work and gently planish the side of the bezel to stretch the size.
As I said it isn’t always perfect but it works for me a bit easier than Rob’s more traditional method. And I’d probably be using the traditional method of I hadn’t been injured on the job.
As an art form increasingly populated by older people I suspect we all have developed “work arounds” for making jewelry that allow us to do something we find is now harder to do.
Try everything you can.
you could use a half round/ flat plier…bend the wire…check the fit…bend some more…correct the bend as neccessary…consider seam placement relative to your overall design…
You can purchase different size steel rods from places like McMaster. If you have a metal lathe, you can taper it on there. Or a drill press? Put the rod in the drill press and use a grinder or a file to taper it.
Or mini raising stakes?Fretz® R-2 Miniature Tapered Round Raising Bezel-Forming Stake - RioGrande
here are some bezel mandrels that might work
this oval mandrel is 11.3mm-12.46
this durston round mandrel is 5mm-20mm
this round mandrel is 11.5mm-16mm
The problem that I see in using a bezel mandrel to fit a bezel to existing stones is that the mandrel and the stone may not be the same shape of ellipse…if the major and minor axes aren’t exactly the same, the bezel may not fit or even be the right length…so I would think that the method of shaping the bezel around the stone would work better. -royjohn
Thank you! ill take a look.
Thank you for your advice, I have made bezels before for small cabs, so am aware of the process, but thank you for taking the time to write it out. With the small cabs, I have a small oval mandrel that helps with forming. I am using sterling silver, 0.7mm thick, and not pure silver, I find it’s harder to get the perfect shape when just wrapping around the stone I use half rounds pliers to help form. But finding the mandrel helps to stretch the bezel out a little as the bezel has been made a bit too tight.
Your original question seemed to be about making a bezel for a larger, irregularly shaped, stone for which no mandrel exists. Smaller oval or round cabs can be made the same way that I described earlier. In the case of smaller stones I might use a mandrel to reshape the bezel once the ends are soldered and then shape the bezel over the stone, with half round/flat pliers or even a small stake. You can also use the mandrel to stretch the bezel should it be a bit small. .7 mm is fairly thick, how do you plan on moving it over the stone when it comes time to set it?..Rob
i agree, especially with fine silver. i was thinking about use of the mandrels to rough out the form…using it as a tool to get to the desired end, along with half round pliers…one can also use the bezel mandrels, tip down in a vise along with a rawhide mallet to stretch the bezel if needed while fine tuning the fit…a round mandrel can also work for this…a round mandrel can also be used on the ends to form the curves…etc…
i think that with .70mm wire, i would be starting with a much longer length of wire, and be using a heavier duty brass jaw parallel plier ground down to a half round/ flat plier…hard to find…i find the 5-5-1/2” length parallel pliers to be a bit short for this heavier duty work…i found a larger pair on amazon…i was coveting a oair that peter keep of www.jewelrytrainingsolutions.com always uses…although his hands are bigger than mine…
i also have these heavier del rey half round/ flat pliers that work well with heavier wire…i believe they are 6”…slimmer than a parallel…but alas, not parallel…
a pepe wire bending set could be a good idea if this type of wirk is done often…
also see the extra size sets…metal or delrin
i got the smaller size delrin extra set, and they (the mandrel) were not sturdy and bent…then i saw the metal set…oy…
there is also the heavier duty pepe and durston shank bending tool, but the bend radius choices are more limited
i suggest these options if the problem is less about being able to get the desired shape mentally, and more about needing help with strength and leverage to get the job done…
actually though…. 0.70mm wire/ sheet is not very thick…probably don’t need super heavy duty pliers…although square wire can be quite contrary!
Interesting technique, thank you!
sometimes i use my benchpin or a block of wood, and sort of rock and roll to push the bezel material up against the cabochon…the bezel being sandwiched between the wood and the stone, the wood acting as a resisting object and the cabochon acting as the roller…or pinning down the bezel while i pull it around the stone…this being just for the initial shaping…
The little Fretz anvils are terrific for shaping odd bezels. With just a couple of them you have a wide variety of shapes.
And for really big bezels, shape around the stone, then burnish the bezel to the stone to work harden the bezel to the shape of the stone. And finally, use stitches to hold the bezel to the backplate as you set up for soldering.
Because I have a PUK in my shop, I can put the stone into the bezel and then tack the bezel to the back plate with the stone in place. This keeps the bezel from deforming (usually). Then remove the stone and solder as usual…Rob
Thank just I’ll take a look at them.
I just got orion 150s and I am just working out how to use it! So excited about this new tool. Thanks for the tip.
necessity is the mother of invention… kudos to those who have come up with creative solutions using everyday objects like beer bottles, baseball bats, duct tape and whatever that is on hand to work around a difficult problem without having to spend a lot of money for a specialized tool…as a former hobbyist now out of the game, I never went into selling, so each piece was made with only a basic set of hand tools, a rolling mill, die drawing plate, and an ingot mold. Rolling sheet, and drawing wire became a necessity as premade sheet and wire prices went thru the roof… My only luxury was an oxyacetylene torch that I bought not for jewelry, but for cutting steel plate, and a MIG welder for steel, although adaptable for non ferrous metals, with a lot of jury rigging. I got the steel working stuff to repair broken lawn furniture, build a rotating compost bin, and make mobiles and wind chimes, and initially to repair auto damage. One UNEXPECTED benefit was using the welding helmet glass to view a solar eclipse… we drove to Missouri to view it, I believe, in 2019 when there was a total solar eclipse…If you’re making stuff to sell, then it’s worth buying a bunch of specialized tools since they will save you a lot of time… but then you are going have to used them alot to make up the cost…
One thing i didnt see mentioned in any reply is holding your stone down if you need to, in order to work your bezel material around it. Of course a larger stone is easier to hold, but I put a slippery stone on double sticky tape to hold it. I found some really thick double stick tape on Amazon that works great.