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Cab calibration problems

    The solution for me was to use 4 prong pre-notch cab settings,
like Tripps, they are more forgiving.Cabs can be a little too big,
or a little too small and you can still set it easily. 

I’m not sure what Tripps are, but would any of the pre-notched
settings intended for faceted stones work OK for this? Like the
Snap Sets that Rio Grande and some other suppliers sell?

Also, what about the stud earrings I’ve seen with the flat round
pads, which I assume are intended to epoxy on a cab. I’m not a big
fan of glued-in (or on) jewelry, but I’ve seen them for sale and
probably have owned a few in the past. Can’t say I’ve ever seen one
pop off. Possibly I could use the cabs I can’t get into the bezel
cups this way? If so, what kind of epoxy would I use, and would it
make a difference whether I was gluing on a stone or a piece of
dichroic glass?

I don’t have a flex shaft and I don’t know how to cut notches. I’m
sure I’ll eventually learn, but right now that kind of works against
the quick-and-easy thing I’m going for in order to get some simple
stud earrings onto the shelf.

Thanks.
Sojourner

    There are so many companies that make bezel set earrings
inexpensively, it is silly to compete with that market, unless you
are setting something other than garnet,lapis, black onyx, mop,
ame, malachite, moonstone. 

I’m setting malachite, lapis, turquoise, coral, azurite, a bunch of
stuff, basically just about anything I can lay my hands on in 6 mm.
I haven’t seen a piece of lapis jewelry in years, outside of a
designer shop at least. Around here, there is no competition for
simple studs. If WalMart hasn’t got it, it pretty much just isn’t
available.

Sojourner

Here's a low-tech way to make stones that are too big (but pretty
close) fit:
   1. Flare bezel walls slightly with burnisher.
   2. Place stone in bezel.
   3. Tap stone with rawhide mallet until it is properly seated.
   4. Finish setting as usual.

I had thought of something along these lines but hadn’t decided how
to support the bezel while doing it. The wooden block idea is
probably cheaper than buying that stone setting set from RG to the
tune of something like $50 or whatever it is.

However, if the stone is too far off, I’m thinking of just gluing
them onto a stud post (the ones with the flat pads) instead.
Assuming I can be reasonably sure they won’t pop off, that is.

Thanks.
Sojourner

If you are not going to set them, how about using the pearl post
routine they have been discussing recently? Use a diamond tip drill
(with fluid around) to cut into the cab and then set the post that
has a small cap on it. Think would be slightly more time consuming,
but look better than just a glue-on post.

Maybe some of the others would know if this would work. I like
backings on my studs so haven’t tried it.

Belinda Brockman
1319 W. Alabama
Houston, Texas 77006
voice 713 610 1162

I'm setting malachite, lapis, turquoise, coral, azurite, a bunch of
stuff, basically just about anything I can lay my hands on in 6 mm. 
I haven't seen a piece of lapis jewelry in years, outside of a
designer shop at least.  Around here, there is no competition for
simple studs. If WalMart hasn't got it, it pretty much just isn't
available. 

I think it’s unfortunate that Walmart jewelry is considered on par
with what artists, or jewelers create.

Craig

I make a bunch of these type of things, 4-5-6 mm round cabs and
pre-punched bezel cups, not because I like to, but because if I am
out, someone invariably asks for them. I find that usually the cabs
are too tall and almost pointed (shaped kinda like this => / \ ) and
that the base is too wide for the bezel. I get these cabs and cups
from whoever I’m ordering from that day. I usually am setting
turquoise, so I take an old file and lay it on the bench and grind
off the part I don’t need. I also use the Tim McCreight thing and
have silicon carbide wetsand paper glued to Plexiglass for a quick
sand and smooth of these little buggers. I additionally have a
coarse diamond stone (like for sharpening knives) for harder stones.
I also use a dapping punch to spread the bezel and then set the
stone. Sometimes not as pretty as I like, but not everyone looks at
what they but with a 5 or 10X loupe. Also when I’m making these, I
set aside a whole evening or two (that’s when i work on jewelry) and
do nothing else. Then I get 20- 30 pairs out and I don’t have to do
any more til I run out. makes it easier to concentrate on only one
thing.

'Til later

Frank A. Finley
in NW Montana where the rains are still delaying the inevitable fire
season.

I recently purchased the Cab Cal-Away, designed by Minnie the
Moocher. It cuts a perfect cab every time! They even threw in some
Raybrite to mess around with.

Sorry , I had to get that out of my head…

Cheers!

Jeff Simkins
Cincinnati, OH

    If you are not going to set them, how about using the pearl
post routine they have been discussing recently? Use a diamond tip
drill (with fluid around) to cut into the cab and then set the post
that has a small cap on it. Think would be slightly more time
consuming, but look better than just a glue-on post. 

Yeah. I haven’t got that kind of equipment. If I did I wouldn’t be
bothering with things like 4 mm stone studs, LOL!

    Maybe some of the others would know if this would work. I like
backings on my studs so haven't tried it. 

So do I, but short of throwing out the cabs I have that WON’T FIT in
the bezel cups I have (and there’s no way I’m going to sit around
making 4 mm or even 6 mm bezel cups, ESPECIALLY considering I won’t
have my torch for at least another month or two anyway, LOL!) I
need to come up with some way to satisfy the demand for stud earrings
AND to use up the cabs I have that won’t fit in the bezel settings I
have.

I’d rather NOT glue on studs, but if I have to, I have to. Any info
on trying to use the pre-notched settings like SnapSets (I don’t
know if those are the same as the Tripps) would be appreciated. Rio
tells me the WrapTites wouldn’t work for cabs with no girdle,
although I suppose one could be filed onto the stone.

Right. I’m going to be filing a girdle onto a 4mm cab, LOL!

Boy, I’ll be glad when I have my torch (and I’ve successfully
retrained myself in its use).

In the meantime, as soon as I can scrape up the money, I guess I’ll
try some cabs from RG and see how well THEY’RE calibrated -
hopefully better than the (totally nonresponsive) folks at
Thunderbird.

Thanks.
Sojourner

    I make a bunch of these type of things, 4-5-6 mm round cabs
and pre-punched bezel cups, not because I like to, but because if I
am out, someone invariably asks for them. 

Exactly! Besides, I like stud earrings, too. They don’t get caught
in my hair (as much). Long hair and long dangly earrings don’t
always mix all that well.

I find that usually the cabs are too tall and almost pointed
(shaped kinda like this => / \ ) and that the base is too wide
for the bezel. 

It’s the too wide thing I’m having trouble with.

I’ll try some of the tips you shared - but NOT with the 4 mm cabs, I
can barely hold onto them as it is! I’m not messing with those
little 'uns anymore.

Thanks for the advice.
Sojourner

In all fairness to Thunderbird Supply Co., I checked their site and
those cabs run about 20-40 cents a piece, even less if you buy a
dozen. At that price, I guess I’d expect to have to toss some of
them or use them for something else and wouldn’t be expecting to get
superb quality at 20-40 cents - and that means calibration. Cabs of
that quality and price probably meet the needs of many people and it
bothers me to hear someone complaining that a 20 cent stone was
cheap. No kidding - it was 20 cents!!!

Indeed, I’ve been trying to solve cab and cup size issues as long as
I can remember. The problem is two fold; imprecise cabachon sizes,
and lack of standardization in cup sizes. The cabs are the greater of
the two problems. The material for cabachons comes from all over the
world and the uniformity of the cutting, most of it hand work, is
just as varied. Rio Grande does impose standards: +/- .1mm on cabs
under 5mm, and +/- .2mm on larger sizes. Quite frankly, if we imposed
a tighter standard, we’d have very little to offer you.

Because of these stone size variances, the bezel cups we manufacture
tend to be slightly oversized, knowing it is easier to deal with
building up under an undersized stone than spreading a bezel for an
oversized one. We do not manufacture every size and style, however,
and other manufacturers seem to deal with this differently.
Additionally, tooling wears, leading to even more imprecision over
time.

Of course you can add jeweler’s sawdust under undersized stones and
anneal and expand bezels (or grind the cabachon edge) for oversized
stones, but the reason for using bezel cups in the first place is to
reduce work, and for the most part, they do.

My sympathies go out to everyone who has dealt with the stone/bezel
cup combinations that are problems. I continue to look, but
unfortunately, I see no universal solution at this time.

Kevin Whitmore
Gemstone Manager,
Rio Grande

Thank you Rio for addressing this problem and having the courage to
tell us there is no solution. The truth at the very least helps me
to know I’m not insane when this happens, as well as the other
Orchids who talk about problems.

Sam Patania, Tucson
www.patanias.com

Hello Orchid land and Rio,

I appreciate the posting from Rio explaning the realities of
standardizing small cabs. Thanks for helping me understand the
reasons, so that I can plan accordingly.

Bottom line - if I want exact bezel fits on small cabs, I should plan
to pay more, make each bezel, or do some stone trimming. Useful

Thanks also to Hanuman and the Orchid community for the sharing of
both tips and problems. It’s good to know we have an outlet!!

Judy in Kansas, where moisture in any form will be gratefully
accepted! The ground is already cracking.

    In all fairness to Thunderbird Supply Co., I checked their
site and those cabs run about 20-40 cents a piece, even less if you
buy a dozen.  At that price, I guess I'd expect to have to toss
some of them or use them for something else and wouldn't be
expecting to get superb quality at 20-40 cents 

The cabs I bought were not 20 cents apiece. I was buying these
cabs from Thunderbird because I was buying other stuff (tools etc)
from them as well, and they have a greater variety of materials than
Rio Grande. Their reputation was supposed to be good. I WON’T be
buying cabs from them anymore, at least not small ones that I want
to fit into premade settings.

I’ll just have to identify other suppliers that DO pay attention to
cab size, or else resign myself to occassionally gluing a
too-large-for-the-setting cab onto a pad. Actually if it were only
OCCASSIONALLY it wouldn’t bother me that much - but over HALF the 4
mm cabs were too large for the bezels they were supposed to be set
into. About half of the 6 mm cabs were also unusable (as intended).
That’s too much waste, and no indication in their literature that
calibration is unreliable.

And what REALLY bothers me most of all is that Thunderbird STILL has
not responded - its been 3 weeks now. This is the third time I’ve
been unable to get a response out of them, so they’ve dropped to the
bottom of my list of preferred suppliers, and I certainly won’t
recommend them to anyone else anymore. There were packing issues
with this order, as well as quality issues with some turquoise they
sent me (it had black guck glued to the back of the cabs, as well as
not being what I ordered to start with). This has not left me with a
good impression at all.

I’ll stick with Rio Grande from now on, or anyone else I can
identify who pays attention to calibration of these small cabs.

Sojourner

When faced with making bezels for tiny cabs - round or oval - I
revert to geometry to find the proper length of bezel. The tiny
cabs are too hard for me to hold and manually wrap with bezel.

This is what I do for round cabs:

With a good caliper, measure the diameter of the cab. To that add
the thickness of your bezel - 28 gauge is 0.35mm thick. Multiply the
sum by 3.15. Cut your bezel, solder and fit to the stone. It will fit
perfectly.

For oval cabs, measure the length, and width of the cab. Divide by 2
to get the average diameter, and proceed as with rounds.

This is a fast, accurate and painless way to do tiny bezels. I use it
for all regularly shaped stones, it’s lots faster.

You need a decent caliper and a calculator, that’s all.

Judy Hoch, G.G.
@Judy_Hoch
www.marstal.com

You need a decent caliper and a calculator, that's all.

And a torch! LOL!

I don’t have one yet, which is why I was trying to go the pre-made
setting route. I’ve always made my bezels in the past (although
never that small).

I HOPE to have a torch by the end of the month, but given that I
haven’t used a torch but once in the past 15 years, I expect to spend
at least another month just getting back to the point where I’m not
melting stuff into unrecognizable globs.

A friend is letting me set up a torch station in his garage, which
has been a godsend as I don’t have the money to pour a cement floor
in the barn for a studio area. So until he offered me space, I
hadn’t a hope of getting a torch setup in at least the next year.
That’s been a real life saver, since nearly all of my designs require
at least SOME soldering. And especially especially since I’m not too
hot on the idea of filling up my spot at the co-op with stuff I’ve
merely assembled (though it doesn’t seem to bother the co-op folks at
all). Especially not stuff glued onto pads because they wouldn’t fit
in the pre-manufactured settings, LOL!

I wanted to thank everyone who responded with so much useful advice
about this problem. Apparently I had unrealistic expectations about
cab calibration. Knowing that now, and actually having checked some
of the prices at Thunderbird versus RG, I’ve decided that unless
Thunderbird is less than half the cost of RG, calibration issues
alone make them uneconomical. There’s also still the unresolved
contact issue (eg they won’t contact me about problems with the
order, aside from just the calibration problem).

I had checked prices between the two before, but just for Malachite
and something else that slips my mind at the moment, in any case,
Thunderbird was SLIGHTLY cheaper for those two items but not so much
as to ring alarm bells in my head.

Now had I compared Lapis prices, it would have been a different
matter, LOL !

In any case, thanks again for all the useful advice.

Sojourner

Continue from:
https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/cab-calibration-problems

Thunderbird. They finally called me back, and they were very nice.
It seems they’ve had a growth spurt and huge turnover of employees
very recently, added phone lines, etc., and communications in general
have NOT BEEN WORKING VERY WELL, LOL!

However after talking to them about the other issues pertaining to
my order (and after ascertaining from you guys that my expectations
were probably too high to start with anyway regarding cab
calibration) I feel much better.

I was also misinformed about the provenance of those cabs, they’re
NOT machined, they’re hand cut in China. Had I known that my
expectations would have been much lower to start with. Apparently
this is one of the things they already know they need to add to their
catalog.

I just can’t imagine anybody sitting around all day hand making cabs
that small! Heck, I don’t want to make BEZELS that small! Although
I’m very grateful for all the everyone has posted about
how to do it - when I have my torch station set up, I’ll try it. I
feel like I should at least know how before I categorically refuse
to do it.

Sojourner