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Bezel Setting with hammer and punch

Dear Sojourner, I am including here a few excerpts from an article
on 'Stone Setting Consideration’s, which will be published on
Ganoksin in the very near future. This portion of the article has
been taken out of context but it addresses some of the issues
concerning setting thick bezels by hand using a hammer and punch.

he majority of the setting work I do requires the use of a
hammer and punch. The metal is pounded down onto or over the
stone by hand to accomplish the setting. Although a
reciprocating hammer attachment for a flexshaft can also be
used in place of a hammer and hand held punch, personally, I
prefer the latter as it allows me to feel the movement and
compression of the metal through the punch as it is being
applied. Using a hammer and punch also allows me better control
of the force and direction of the strike which provides more
accurate effect upon the metal being moved.

There are many sizes of chasing hammers available with
differing weights and face size. It is advisable to choose a
suitable tool and use it with the right amount of force,
rather than striking too firmly with too light of a hammer
which reduces the control and the effectiveness of the punch.
The setting punches should be neither too long, which makes
them unwieldy, nor too short, which makes them difficult to
strike. A good length for most applications is 3 to 4 inches.
The punch also needs to be heavy enough to persuade the metal
to move under the strike of the hammer. The end being struck
should have sufficient surface area to allow it to be struck
soundly and without a tendency for the blow to glance off the
punch. Tape can be applied to the shaft of the punch to make
it more comfortable in the fingers and to promote a better
grip.

My favorite and most frequently used setting punches are nail
setting punches I bought at a hardware store. The nail sets
have a textured tapered shaft and a larger square end which
makes them easy to strike. They also have substantial weight
which is helpful in encouraging the metal to move when
working with a heavy bezel or thick walled tubing. By
flattening and smoothing the round face I have a punch which
is far less likely to mar the surface of the metal than a
square or rectangular face with sharp sides and corners. The
round face can be ever so slightly beveled at the edge to make
it even less likely to leave an unwanted mark on the metal
being struck.

When I am pounding down the metal on a thick walled bezel I
can achieve a planished and burnished surface on the top edge
of the bezel as the metal compresses under the punch. By
moving the tool steadily and sliding it along the bezel as the
punch is struck it leaves a very smooth even face which is
relatively free of punch marks that need to be filed or
otherwise removed. This is quite beneficial when working with
gemstones which are particularly susceptible to scratching as
it eliminates the need for running a file along the bezel
edge to correct it.

I hope this is helpful, as well as encouraging. Just like all
procedures it requires equal amounts of practical application and
examination to become confident and proficient with any new
technique. Making a series of practice exercises with thick silver
bezel and some durable cabochons is a good place to begin. Once you
develop a feel for the movement of the metal using a hammer and
punch you will find it very enjoyable. Not to mention the aesthetic
advantage a nice thick bezel adds to the piece of jewelry.

Michael David Sturlin
www.michaeldavidsturlin.com

2 Likes
    I am including here a few excerpts from an article on 'Stone
Setting Consideration's, which will be published on Ganoksin in the
very near  future. 

Thanks so much! I’m looking forward to the rest of the article. I’ve
printed that off and will take it with me to class in a couple of
weeks.

Thanks again.
Sojourner