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Fabricating Small Round Bezels Tips

So many people have mentioned difficulties making small round bezels
that I thought I’d give some tips on how I do it. My designs call
for lots of round accent stones, from 2-5 mm, and over the years I’ve
developed some techniques for speeding up the bezel-forming process.
Fabricating bezel cups will never be as fast as purchasing them
pre-made, but at least you won’t have to worry about improperly
calibrated cabs if you make your own bezels.

The main issue for me was always that round-nose pliers were
inefficient, because of the taper, and chain-nose pliers leave marks
(plus they aren’t round :-). What I needed was a set of non-tapering
mandrels and I found them in a hardware store. They’re brass
rods/dowels which I discovered in widths as small as 2 1/4 mm. I
bought one in each size up to what I thought I might need and I sawed
off about a 3" piece of each. Here’s how I use them – and note that
I work with 22K or fine silver bezel wire; 14K or sterling silver
will make the job that much harder.

I find the brass rod that is closest in size, but not larger than
(if at all possible) the cab I’m working with. Then I take a length
of bezel wire and start a curve using chain-nose pliers. I hook the
curved end of the bezel wire around the rod and use my fingers (thumb
and first or second finger) to roll the bezel around the rod till the
leading edge meets or slightly “underlaps” the excess wire. Think of
the finger motion as similar to rolling a cigarette.

Next I place the now-round bezel wire over the cab. If the mandrel
was exactly the size of the cab all I have to do is mark and cut. If
the mandrel was slightly smaller, as is usually the case, I use
gentle force to push the rounded bezel wire down over the cab; this
causes the curved bezel wire to open out to fit the cab. Finally I
mark where the end of the wire meets the overlap and snip using a
(high quality!) flush cutter. Even a good flush cutter leaves a tiny
tang so I open the bezel a bit and pass a file across the edge once
or twice.

I should mention that I don’t always get a perfect fit on the first
try, but I do more often than not. I try to err, if at all, on the
too-big side so that all I have to do is use the flush cutter to snip
off a tiny bit more and re-file.

Once the bezel is sized, I solder as with any bezel, first butting
the edges together. The keys to a great looking bezel are getting
the size right and butting the ends of the wire perfectly. When the
butt join is complete, I true up the bezel using a super-small, round
bezel mandrel (available from most suppliers), try it on the cab, and
then solder it down to sheet making sure both the sheet and the
bottom edge of the bezel are clean.

Cleaning up a tiny, round bezel cup is no different from cleaning any
other size, except that the little one is harder to hold on to. I
use flex shaft tools, not files, for this process because I find it
easier (and I hate filing :-). I do the initial clean up with
Adalox sanding discs and the finish with a flexible,
silicon-impregnated, pre-polish wheel, from which I can go to the
final polish.

I can usually complete a 2-3 mm bezel in 15 minutes – 10 if I push
it – but I’ve known of others who can do it in 5! YMMV :-).

Beth

1 Like

I will try to explain how I make small round bezels. If it helps
anyone great! I am just a hobbyist and do very little jewelry work.
I like the bezels to fit tight but it is hard to fit a bezel to a
loose stone that moves around.

I glue the stone to a small dowel with super glue. Say the dowel is
1/8 inch by six inches. I have a piece of ply wood say 4 by 2
inches with a 1/8 inch hole drilled though it. I put the dowel with
the stone though the plywood. Now the stone is setting flat on the
plywood base. I can wrap the bezel tight around the stone and it
sets square on the wood base so it is level and no sanding the
bezel flat.

Now to hold this base still I glued a smaller piece of wood to the
bottom. It has the hole going through it also. Now I just grab the
bottom board with the vise and there is a steady work surface to
hold the stone while I make the bezel. I reshape the finished bezel
to the stone and flip it and shape it again. Now I have s square
tight fitting bezel.

I hope I was clear in my description and of some help. You have been
a great source of info for me. Thank You!

John Daly
Grand Junction, CO.

John,

Interesting solution. Do you think Tinker Toys would work, if one
can find them that is?

Thanks
Terrie

I will try to explain how I make small round  bezels. If it helps
anyone great! I am just a hobbyist and do very little  jewelry
work. I like the bezels to fit tight but it is hard to fit a bezel
to a loose stone that moves around 

I could wrap the bezel strip around a cab, cut it and solder it
about as fast as I can read the rest of the above e-mail.

1 Like
    I glue the stone to a small dowel with super glue.  Say the
dowel is 1/8 inch by six inches. I have a piece of ply wood say 4
by 2 inches with a 1/8 inch hole drilled though it.... 

Sounds like a great system, but one question, what about removing the
glue when done?

Tim…

Terrie,

Yes, you could make them work. It would be just as easy starting
from scratch and not destroy a good toy. You still need to drill
the round sprocket of the tinker toy so the rod will slide all the
way trough the sprocket. It has to stick up far enough to glue on
the stone. If memory serves me correct tinker toy rods are split on
the end which allows the rod to enter the sprocket but not all the
way though.

The dowel is in the two pieces of plywood and sticks out the
bottom. This much plywood (each piece 3/4 inch thick) holds the
dowel tight enough that the stone does not turn or lift up as you
wrap the bezel material around it. I hope this makes things
clearer.

John
Grand Junction, CO.

For the stone faceting device yes it does work although you are
limited in the amount of angles you can produce. If you measure and
make lines [45] is a good number because you can figure degrees
then.

John

I use a very small dot of super glue. When done I pop off the stone
with my thumb and cut off the glue on with a razor blade or just
leave it and set the stone.

John
Grand Junction, CO.