Does anyone have an easy way to cut wide, (3/16"+) 30 Ga. fine
sterling bezel material evenly? I understand overlaping and cutting
through both pieces. How can you remove the bezel from the cab and
not have the bezel move? I have been scribing a mark then cutting
then filing for years but it isn’t as perfect as I would like.
A recent post got me thinking about this. Surely there is a 1-2-3
simple, accurate method.
Thanks for your help. Richard
Measure the bezel wire around the stone. Put a drop of crazy glue
where the metal overlaps, then saw thru the 2 layers of metal. Soak
briefly in acetone to remove glue, then solder shut. It will be a
Hi, to do a bezel fit, try this as it is the fasted way and we have
been doing it for years.
Use clear tape, the type used to wrap presents, wrap it around your
stone and over lap it over approximate one half an inch, mark it with
a fine marking pen in the middle of the overlap. Using a sharp blade
cut the tape in the middle of the mark and unroll the tape unto a
flat surface, take your bezel and lay it onto the tape, one end on
the mark, at the other end ADD twice the thickness of the bezel, cut
off square. take and hold the one end in between your fingers and
with one stroke of a very fine file take of the sheer cut left from
your cut off sheers repeat the same at the other end, DO NOT USE
YOUR FILE BACK AND FORWARD as this will round off the end. This will
leave a flat surface so it will be easier for you to aline the two
end together, solder with hard solder only, use a piece of solder the
smallest you can cut, place bezel on a solder brick with the joint
up, put a drop of flux on the joint and put the solder onto the flux,
take a piece of soft paper towel and twist a corner of it into a fine
point and use it to suck up any extra flux and position the solder
into the middle of the joint, using a small flame touch the base of
the bezel, this will expand the metal and tighten the joint, heat
the bezel joint from under the joint until the solder flows. This
will give you a perfect joint and should save you a lot of work on
You can use this method for any shape of stone. Much better then
trying to wrap bezel wire around a stone.
Hope this helps, if there is any questions please ask.
I’m not sure of an easy way to cut the material (I scribe & flush
cut most bezels) but I can recommend a way of measuring that works
I used to have problems with forming a bezel that was always just a
smidge too small once I got it soldered to the item and tried to set
I found that if I flipped the stone upside down, fit the bezel wire
with the width around the “bottom” edge, scribe & cut that I have a
much more accurate fitting bezel.
It keeps me from pinching in the sides, I suppose.
I also solder the bezel closed, check it one more time to reshape it
against the stone (also doing this with the stone upside down)…
then solder the bezel to the base.
I don’t know if this is common or not… I’m mainly book trained with
a few private lessons here and there.
I hope this is useful for people to try.
I found that if I flipped the stone upside down, fit the bezel
I was taught to use a small (2inX3/8inX3/8") bezel block when
fitting the bezel around the stone. Any small, right angled piece of
material will do. Basically the idea is to use the bezel block (not
your fingers) to run the bezel around the outside of the stone. This
prevents you from squeezing the top of the bezel over the curve of
the cab and results in a butt juint at the bottom edge.
I hope that was clear,
Use clear tape, the type used to wrap presents, wrap it around
your stone and over lap it over approximate one half an inch, mark
it with a fine marking pen in the middle of the overlap.
Your method is a stroke of genius!!! This is something I have had
trouble with on countless occasions and as you say, wrapping tape
around a stone is much easier than attempting to wrap bezel wire
around it! It’s something that is so simple but I more than likely
wouldn’t have come up with that one if you hadn’t shared it.
Another tape that works very well for this method is quilter’s tape
that can be found in any store carrying sewing supplies. It comes in
handy widths (.125",.25" to.5"), and is slightly sticky put
repositionable (pretty much like post-it notes). It works perfectly.
I hope this helps,
I was taught to use a small (2inX3/8inX3/8") bezel block when
fitting the bezel around the stone. Any small, right angled piece
of material will do. Basically the idea is to use the bezel block
(not your fingers) to run the bezel around the outside of the
stone. This prevents you from squeezing the top of the bezel over
the curve of the cab and results in a butt juint at the bottom
Good tip! I use an old wire cutter tapping along the edge with the
side of the cutter head (that’s well polished from years of use)
while holding the wire cutter and the cab and bezel flat on the
bench. I’ve had a few discussions, sometimes heated, when people
swear up and down that bezels shrink when they are soldered on to the
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado
I find that when students make their first bezels there are three
things they do almost inherently.
One is when soldering the bezel ends together they do not get the
ends square (subject of this thread) but even if they do…they use
twice or more times the solder than they need. I teach them to dangle
the bezel upside down in a third hand with the join down. After
applying flux and bubbling it, they add one SMALL snippet of hard
solder. Then preheat the sink…the opposite side of the bezel from
the join (essentially that part being held by the third hand (another
sink)). Then when the sink is heated, bring the torch down beneath
the bezel and concentrate the heat on BOTH SIDES of the join so the
solder will flow evenly through the join.
Secondly, in preparing the bezel for the back plate, FLATTEN the
bottom on a piece of fine paper laying on the table by gently rubbing
it in a circle with one’s fingers (this is another process that can
squeeze the sides inward if not careful).
Thirdly, They do not check to assure the bezel walls are 90 deg
straight up all around. So…after soldering it to the back plate
(which is another whole lesson) the bezel appears to have shrunk
while in reality it has simply canted in a degree or to.
Happy bezel making!
Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry!
When placing a cab flat on the bench, as you mentioned to measure
for a bezel, I’ve found that putting the cab on a small piece of
carpet tape that is sticky on both sides keeps it in place nicely. I
usually use a burnishing tool to push the bezel up against the cab
as it fits better than my stubby fingers.
John in Juneau
As a virtual beginner, I have of course made all the mistakes you
mention and more probably. The one thing that continues to plague me
is that I spend time getting the bottom of the bezel flat using
sandpaper as you say and also sometimes hammer the back plate flat if
needed, but then the back plate warps with the heat (only on large
back plates), making soldering almost impossible. Any suggestions
Helen…That is fairly commom too! You need to support the back
plate whilst soldering. I use two fire bricks put them on their long
sides on the bench close to the edge, corner to corner so they spread
open about 40-45 deg. Then place a piece of medium weight wire screen
across them, put the piece to be soldered on top and heat from the
What kind of torch are you using? Acetylene and Oxy? It sounds like
you are using too high a heat also. Keep moving a medium size flame
(not oxidizing) around the bottom but keep the flame just outside the
piece being soldered. That way, when the solder flows it will be
drawn outward from inside the bezel through the join. If the back
plate begins to turn red…that is too much…back off the flame and
use only the last two inches. Silver does not like to be brought up
to temp too slowly but when doing a large piece it is sometimes
necessary. So, be sure to use plenty of protective flux on the bottom
of the back plate such as Pripp’s or Stop Ox…something similar to
help preclude firescale.
Try it and let me know how it goes…there are a couple of other
things to try if this doesn’t work. Cheers, Don.
I’ll try it and let you know. One thing though - for some reason
I’ve never yet been able to get the solder to flow towards the heat
source - it’s a continual bug bear of mine.
Solder flows to the hottest area, with a uniform joint this is where
the flame is pointed. Grab a fire brick or soldering board and play
with heating a small area to ‘see’ where the heat is vs flame angle
Another thing to realise is that while the hottest part of the flame
is the tip of the inner cone the bulk of the thermal energy transfer
is much further out.
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
I've never yet been able to get the solder to flow towards the
heat source - it's a continual bug bear of mine.
I am as guilty as anyone of making this statement and until you made
yours I never realized what that mine was incorrect, what is really
meant by this, is the heat draws the solder along, or it follows the
heat, and you have to move somewhat slowly for the solder to follow.
Heat the base metal on the outside of the bezel.
Helen…that is why you want to keep the flame just outside of the
join…I tilt the flame tip in towards the join from the under side.
The heating process creates a vacuum in the join and, as the solder
becomes liquidus, it is sucked into the join. Be patient…don’t
rush…be sure the solder flashes.
Cheers and good luck, Don.
One thing though - for some reason I've never yet been able to get
the solder to flow towards the heat source - it's a continual bug
bear of mine.
Helen, keep in mind the location of the hottest area of the flame-
at the tip of the blue cone. Also remember that you can take
advantage of the flame beyond that cone to “pre-heat” the
continuation of the solder seam so that you can quickly move the
flame along the seam as the solder flows.
Hope this helps.
Dear Jeff, Terry, Lloyd, Don and Pam,
Thanks so much for your advice regarding solder flowing into a joint.
You’ve given me some pointers to work on and it’s much appreciated.
In addition to what Pam said, when the solder appears to flash, and
you are soldering a bezel onto a back plate, it is ok to circle
around in order to make certain the solder has flown into all the
Frequently, one is told to immediately remove the flame upon seeing
the flash, well after quite a few times, and having a space void of
silver, I have taken to playing the fire around and watching the
solder follow ALL around. Horrors, I have even played the flame from
on top, right inside the bezel to make certain that it really is all
around. No, rarely do I melt bezels. I no longer use thin commercial
bezels. I do have some stock left, but when that is all gone, it is
18 gauge only.