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Bezel Stretching


#1

Hi Folks, From time to time I’ll end up making a bezel that somehow
turns out to be a bit too small for the intended stone. My thought
then turns to stretching the bezel a bit to get it to fit.
Unfortunately, I always end up with some form of distortion, so the
edges of the bezel are no longer straight and parallel. I’ve tried
tapping with a goldsmiths hammer on the horn of a mini anvil, a ring
roller, and probably a couple other ideas.

Anyone have a successful and repeatable solution? Is tapping with a
hammer the right answer and I just need to be doing it more
accurately?

Thanks in advance!

Dave
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com


#2

Dave, it can take a little finesse to get a bezel stretched right
but perhaps this will help. I am sure you are aware of the bezel
blocks that you can buy to make your own bezels. They are a little
on the expensive side if you don’t use it often, however, Frei and
Borel will sell just the tapered punch as a replacement since these
things do break every now and then. Make sure the bezel is annealed
evenly before starting. You can take that punch and place the bezel
on a block with graduated holes. Choose a hole that will totally
support the bottom of the bezel and use the punch to increase the
size. If the hole in the block is too small and the punch is
touching the block, move the bezel to the next larger hole.

The advantage of having the corresponding block is that you can make
bezels that are too large, smaller. You can use a drawplate to make
a bezel smaller, too, by hammering it lightly into the holes.
Always start with the hole that offers the least resistance and then
work your way down. Use a flat steel punch so that the bezel is not
deformed and make sure the punch doesn’t touch the drawplate as you
are forcing the bezel in. You could damage the plate. Don’t try
this with a carbide drawplate as carbide is brittle and will crack
(do I hear the faint footsteps of experience here? ouch…), make
sure the bezel is annealed. The angle of an angled bezel will
change of course. This is a compromise you have to make when you
don’t have the corresponding bezel block.

Good luck,
Larry


#3

Dave, This works great. Anneal your bezel carefully. Have you ever
rolled a piece of clay on a flat surface? Take your bezel and put a
dapping punch through it. A steel bar will work too. Lay the bar on
the steel block with your bezel upright and facing you vertically.
Lay your hands flat on the bar on each side of the bezel and roll
gently. It does not take much pressure. Experiment. Make sure the
seam on your bezel is filed flat. After rolling refit the bezel
around the stone.

Regards J Morley Coyote Ridge Studio


#4

Dear Dave I use a standrd ring mandrel and with the bezel well
annealed I tap on that with a rawhide or nylon mallet counting how
many taps and streching it about 1/2 the size I need then reverse it
and do the same …be very careful it is easy to make it to big…I
have never had a problem when doing this all the edges stay flat and
parallel…you may have to tap gently on the edges to reflatten them
…the key I think is a very light touch HTH Ron


#5

I put something round like the shaft of a ball punch into the bezel
and roll it on a steel plate. I’m not trying to stretch it a lot
because it’s pretty thin to start with. Sometimes bezel wire takes a
concave curve after it is soldered into a ring and it’s enough to
just get the sides vertical and the ring, a tiny bit bigger. Marilyn
Smith


#6

I was taught to roll the bezel on a steel block to stretch it - that
is put a steel rod inside the bezel and then roll back and forth
around the whole bezel until it stretches to the size you need.
This will not distort the bezel and will also “iron” out any crimps
in the bezel itself. Depending on the size of the bezel I use
varying sizes of dappling punches for the rod, if it is a very small
bezel I use a nail punch with a tapered end.

Thanks for your many contributions to this forum - to everyone, I
learn so much!

Jan McClellan
http://www.designjewel.com


#7

Hello Dave, I assume you anneal before stretching. If the bezel is
a regular shape (round or oval) use a tapered bezel mandrel and
stretch as one does a ring. I’ve had some luck with stretching a
slightly irregular shape on the bezel or ring mandrel, then
annealing and reshaping with patience and pliers. Please note, I
said SOME luck - didn’t always work.

When the bezel comes out too small, I always wonder if the stone

grew a bit… I couldn’t have made an error, could I?? ;-} With
warm regards, Judy in Kansas

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936


#8

Dave, What you describe is a common problem but a necessary one.
When I teach bezel making I always stress that it is better to make
the bezel a bit small rather than too large. When too large, it must
be cut and resoldered. Unless one has had a lot of practice, this can
result in even more problems including a burned bezel!

I don’t know what sort of bezel you are making. Is it with gallary
wire (these require stretching with a ring sizer otherwise the design
will be marred), does the bezel have a bearing attached (this will
often lead to unequal stretching) or is it a flat bezel (in which
case you simply have to be a bit more careful when hammering it).

ANNEAL THE PIECE. Even though you have just soldered it, it could
well not be equally soft through and through. Then just tap it up on
some round steel stock…sometimes it will be the end of a file or a
pliers handle, sometimes it will be a mandrel – depends on the size
and shape. Tap it only on one side – hang the stock or mandrel over
an open space so you are not tapping the top while flattening the
bottom. Tap very lightly three or four times while turning it and
switch sides, do the same and turn it again. Do this two or three
times until it fits snugly. Slight bottom distortion can be removed
by sanding it on a piece of 400 grit layed flat on a bench block.
Hope that helps. Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL
where simple elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut1.


#9

Dave, I formerly did a lot of silversmithing and the following is an
easy trick for stretching bezels. First of all always use .999
silver for bezels; it configures much more readily than sterling.
Second: make sure you have a good solder joint. Third: Find two
hardwood dowels about a half inch in diameter and maybe six to eight
inches long. Fourth: insert the ends of the dowels into the bezel.
Fifth: find a small cylindrical object such as another smaller dowel
or a dapping tool and use it as a fulcrum between the two dowels
that are holding the bezel. It is then just a matter of squeezing
the other ends of the dowels together and the bezel stretches very
uniformly and easily. ( My apologies to the metric community for
using our archaic measuring system ! ) Ron at Mills Gem, Los
Osos, CA.

P.S. It goes without saying that the size of the bezel dictates the
size of the components. If you have small bezels this technique
works best with tool steel rods.


#10

Hi Dave: I was taught to “roll” the bezel to stretch it. Place the
bezel on its side, perpendicular, on your anvil surface, place the
appropriate size “roller”, I use the metal handle of a punch since I
have them in all sizes, through the bezel, and then using the punch
handle like a teeny rolling pin, “roll” the bezel back and forth
using light pressure on the punch handle. This keeps the edges of
the bezel flat as it stretches. I’ve successfully enlarged many
bezels using the technique. It doesn’t distort the edges like
hammering does.

Kay


#11

Dave - For standard shape bezels there exist a set of multiple
mandrels in the various shapes, strictly for use in stretching
bezels. They start out very small/slender, and have very gentle
slopes so that you can lightly tap the bezel with a leather mallet
to accomplish the stretching. I’ve made some, and purchased others.
I haven’t looked for any recently, so don’t know which catalogues to
suggest. I hope that this helps you.

Jim Small
Small Wonders


#12
      My thought then turns to stretching the bezel a bit to get
it to fit. Unfortunately, I always end up with some form of
distortion, so the edges of the bezel are no longer straight and
parallel. Anyone have a successful and repeatable solution? 

Hi Dave. I have successfully “rolled” the bezel to stretch it a bit.
I place the bezel on its side on a steel bench block, then choose a
whatzit (technical term for a round, smooth-sided rod or whatever
might be at hand) that will fit inside the bezel and use that to roll
the bezel across the block. Adjust pressure and amount of rolling
slowly or you’ll be cutting it down to make it smaller again. :slight_smile:

HTH.
Pam Chott
Song of the Phoenix


#13

bezel stretching: I put the bezel on a mandrel and use a dapping
block that has different size half circles on the edge, gently tap
and rotate the mandrel. I also use a circle cutter for stamping out
circles upside down the same way.

Richard Hart


#14

Hi Dave, I’ve encountered the same thing more times than I’d like to
admit! When a bezel is a little small, I put a dapping tool that is
just under the diameter of the bezel in a vice, and carefully rotate
the bezel around it, as I tap it up. It doesn’t take much to stretch
it, so hammer gently and as evenly as possible… It’s also a good
idea to take it off and turn it around as you go…What I mean is, if
the top edge of the bezel is to the right, then change it so it’s to
the left every so often…For square or triangle bezels, hammer it on
a corresponding bezel mandrel (which is anchored in a vice), placing
it lower on the mandrel than it’s actual size… take the bezel off
and turn it, to do each side as evenly as possible. Flipping the top
edge around (as I described to do for round bezels), also helps
minimize distortion. Just do a little on each side at a time, and
anneal it if it needs it. If you have steel bezel blocks, you can
stretch tapered bezels and then just file them square on the top and
bottom.

Jesse


#15

Dave I habitually make fine silver bezels (for rounds and ovals at
least) slightly smaller than needed and stretch them up on a triblet
(tapered ring mandrel) with a hide hammer. Reversing the bezel on the
mandrel leaves it fairly parrallel (sp?). I true the base on a dry
oilstone - dead flat and doesn’t tear like emery. I have been known to
use a planishing hammer when I’ve got it completely wrong but it can
get a bit thin and marked - I just file it out with a 4 cut needle
file. If you mean after soldering the bezel to the base then I have
made a few punches that are 3mm wide with different curvatures and
swan necked like a ring stamp which will push out a bezel from
inside. I have to admit these were originally to rescue some gold
bezels that I partially melted while soldering and couldn’t face
starting again.

All this assumes fine silver bezel or at least 18ct gold since
sterling or 9ct (in the UK here) are just too much like hard work
IMHO.

Andy Parker, Agate House Lapidary
Ulverston, Cumbria, England
@Andy_Parker
www.agatehouse.co.uk
Tel: 01229 584023


#16

I’ve used the ring mandrel just to roll the bezel back and forth
against a table top or on a steel plate. Then I just gently force it
over the stone again to get the shape back. So far, no problems.

J. S. Ellington