Favorite tips

some of the threads going on now are somewhat uninspiring, but
thats me, so I thought I’d start a new one…favorite tips.
Here’s mine…

Some of my favorite stupid tools aRe: a pin vise with a fat
sewing needle in it which serves as wax welder, moving solder to
where its supposed to go during soldering, spreading solder,
pushing parts around during soldering and more…

a cheap sharpening stone which I use for shaping rubber and
silicone wheels, as a lathe cutter while turning parts in my
Foredom, occasional sharpening…

Florists sticky putty for holding stones during mounting…

a vitamin bottle with a hole in the lid for a cheap artist’s
atomizer for spraying Pripp’s flux on my silver work to prevent

a fat piece of styrofoam to hold all those hundreds of rubber
wheels on mandrels, burs, brushes, tweezers etc. just jam em into
the styrofoam and instant organizer, very cheap…

a steel pie pan with charcoal for aquariums as an
annealing/soldering pan…

a steel coffee can as a plier organizer, they sit nicely on the
edges all in a circle…

a large piece of flat glass as a work space, wax working space
and flat place to lay down sandpaper while sanding pieces
flat/bezels etc…


Crystalguy Jewelry, the first art jewelry site on the net
Art jewelry with a mystic touch / Now accepting credit cards
Paddle Jewelry for River Addicts

Dave, Please explain this gizmo:

great idea for a thread… My favorite tool is a package of
bamboo skewers. I use them to mix and apply epoxy, and to apply
paste solder. - Deb in Rockford, IL but on my way to a show in
Kansas City

What a great idea for a thread (although I’m inspired by all the
threads, being such a neophyte)… what a gift if everyone had
one or two… thanks to Dave and anyone else who sends them! ryr

I agree that it would be a great thread. Deb, I use toothpicks
for that task, an I mix epoxy on a broken piece of mirror so I
can scrape the dried epoxy off with a blade. Curtis

I also like using the pin vices. In addition to the regular
needles, I shape some into small knife blades or whatever
special shape I need. They are great for custom wax tools.

Alan, I use a nasal atomizer, the kind with finger space at the
base of the nasal insert that you push down to spray. That was
suggested some time ago by someone on line and it works really
well. the spray is fine and coverage excellent.

Products such as NasalCrom, Vancenase, etc. come in this
container. It is for aqueous solutions. Teresa

My favorite is for cleaning files. Anneal one half of 4 inch
brass tubing (small). Smoosh the end and dig out the lines. The
softened brass conforms to the teeth of the files.

Karen Christians
416 Main St.
Woburn, MA 01801

Current Artwork:

Bamboo skewers are also great to cut down ase to polish into
small holes and other areas. Just cut to about 2 to 2.5 inches,
chuck into dremal or flex shaft and shape with sand paper, add
polishing compound. Polish!

2nd Tip; I use a 8" terra cotta flower pot saucer filled with
pumice pebbles as a soldering/annealing pan (no rust,
contamination worries), I’ve got it mounted on a lazy-susan
devise and it’s handy for me!

I like this “tips” thread! efw

Every once in a while the landscape architect down the street
from me tosses a bunch of those stapled together landscape
drawing/elevation study things…nice and clean and pretty big
to work on. I cover my enameling area where I work on plaques
and use it to work on until it’s soiled and then slice it off and
toss or recycle it…like a desk blotter but free and clean,
there are anywhere from 10-20 pages per roll.

Karen, in Northern Illinois who is moving and needs to find a new
architect to mooch off of.

Favorite tips : )

Playdough for a quick imprint of a design that the customer
wants but needs to take the piece with them.

Shrinky dink, (kids shrink plastic), makes castable designs and
bonds together in the heating process, a small drop of glue holds
it together until it bonds in the oven.

Salt shaker with the holes bored out holds my thin picks,
needles etc.

Got an organic piece that is to thin to cast? Paraffin wax
works for this. just dip the piece in a pot of the melted wax and
let it drip the excess off. makes the piece thick enough to work
with or thick enough to cast.

Also a pasta roller to thin out clays etc…

I like this topic also…Char

All, When carving waxes I use my lapidary arbor with an
expandable drum and an 80 grit belt( no water) to grind the
majority of the wax away"roughing it out."Don’t push too hard or
the wax will melt.It works best with the harder waxes.I use Kerr
green.After using the wheel I fileit to the desired shape with a
wax file and burrs for stones.Then I sand it with medium thru
fine carborundum sand papers and for a final polish use the toe
of my wifes panty hose. No she is not in them.It is cut off. I
put my fingers in the toe section stretch it taught and drop a
few drops of lighter fluid on the panty hose.Stretching it seems
to aid in the polishingThe toe section is thicker than the rest
of the panty hose so it seems to work better also.Too much
lighter fluid will turn your wax mooshie.Thats a technical
term.Also watch out for prongs and detail work.Experiment on
some wax scrap first.Always use lighter fluid in a well
ventilated area and away from flame.Hot water heaters have
flames as do some pressure washers that have preheaters in
them.For all you folks with shops in your garages or utilitie
rooms.It is also a good idea not to breath waxs particals such
as those that become airborn from the wheel. Happy

J Morley
Coyote Ridge Studio
J Morley Goldsmiths

I love this thread! Caution, I’m likely to run on here…

   great idea for a thread...... My favorite tool is a package
of bamboo skewers.  I use them to mix and apply epoxy, and to
apply paste solder. 

Let me add toothpicks to that. Break 'em in half and they fit
nicely in your flex-shaft. Use them w/ polishing compounds to get
into tight areas nothing else on the bench will reach. Also, if
you nip a bit off the point and file both ends a tad, they’re
gentle enough to use to hammer an escaped invisible set stone
back into it’s place or to nudge a crooked stone back to it’s
proper seat as you set/re-set.

Another great epoxy tool is those flat-spade coffee stirrers you
get for free at McDonalds. Also nice for mixing up those minute
amounts of soldering plaster or applying heat shield <gah, nasty
stuff to touch!>

Need a quarter or a half size from a ring you’d really rather
not cut and bend and fear to stretch? Check the depth of the
stones first from the back, then ream almost to the size you need
w/ one of those aggressive barrel shaped rotary files, then emery
to full polish w/ regular emery and strips of polishing papers.
You lose almost nothing visually or structurally and all that’s
needed when done is a kiss of rouge.

Wax carving tools… my favorites are a cheap set of hobbyist’s
wood/linoleum carving tools sharpened to my preferences. Modified
jewelers screwdrivers and x-acto blades are great for cutting in
channels. Finish them off w/ your onglette and flat gravers so
they’re perfect as can be.

For setting larger stones in bezels or flush (credit to Blaine
Lewis for this one), lay a little strip of tough clear packing
tape over it, then hammer and watch the stone NOT move. The heavy
tape is also just that least bit of extra padding too.

Have to refinish a stainless steel Rolex? Compound the scratches
and dings out w/ emery and silicone wheels, then use Gesswein’s
platinum polishes <with a separate set of wheels!>. Fast and as
close to painless as I know of. They look like new when you’re

I’ve got a pile more of these but I think I’ll leave well enough
alone and go back to my coffee and the task of waking up. Please
share your best “stupid bench tricks” with us :slight_smile:


Jane Armstrong/@Jane_Armstrong

I also use toothpicks, but I use up my scrap computer print out
paper to mix epoxy on. I like your idea of mirror . . . glass
would also work (less to go into the landfill!)

Hi all, A tool to find the gravity center of a non symmetrical
pendant when you want to put a bail. Just bend the ends of a
tweezers in the inside, for only the points touch together, and
use it to hold the pendant and let it balance between it. You
will find the exact place to put the bail. Vincent Guy Audette


I have to agree with you about the latest posts. Here’s a few
ideas of mine I’d like to offer as well:

A medium-sized plastic perscription bottle w/o the "child safe"
lid for liquid flux - simply drill a hole in the top, insert an
artist’s brush (plastic) and you’ll find that when you put the
brush back into the flux, you will cover the bottle opening as
well preventing much dirt from contaminating it. At the end of
the day, simply snap the lid with the brush still inserted closed
to seal it for the night.

Using a cut-off disk to resharpen dull drills by regrinding the
angled tip sharp again.

Old-fashioned metal watch material cans for underwater soldering
with sand or just water alone.

Wire cloths hangers bent into an elongated “U” for steaming
tongs. Use wire insulation on the ends.

Hope these are found to be useful out there.

Best to all;


I love this thread! Thanks to everyone for all the great tips!

Here’s some of my faves:

In place of steel wool and sometimes even sandpaper, I love to
use Scotchbrite!

I take a small mounted (9/16") bristle brush, some self-stick
velcro (the “rough” side - cut into small squares) and stick it
on the end of the brush (flat part). Then cut some Scotchbrite
into small squares and stick it to the velcro…mount in your
flex shaft and use to sand and clean all sorts of surfaces.

Scotchbrite layered in a screw mandrel works wonders for a matte
finish inside rings, too!

For the “soft” part of the velcro used above, I use it to line
the jaws of my 1/2 round/flat pliers when I have to bend stuff
and don’t want to mark it at all. It peels off pretty easily,
and some used scotchbrite will take off any residue.

Marlo M. Hmm…I guess I like that scotchbrite stuff, huh?
hehe…well, I did buy one of those bulk packages from Costco
about a year ago!

Hello Jane! I’ve been silent for a while. Just watching the
"questions and answers" fly by. I’ve got one good tip for this
great “rope” that’s been created.

When using sanding discs, use regular sandpaper (80# 100# or
whatever) on the paper side to dress and renew the disc! I
routinely shave them down to 2mm from the hub. At that dimension
they are quite usefull for cleanup of graver work around bright
cut and channel work. When you have a tight crevise beyond the
reach of knife edge rubber wheels and brushes; snap the disc on
backwards (paperside) and dress with tripoli or rouge to

			Keep it up!

Since I’m basically a 1-handed jewelry, I’ve had to create a few

  • On a rotary skill saw, slice up a fire brick into slabs. Then
    break the slabs into smaller chunks that can be stacked. For
    soldering from the bottoms of stuff, hang half the piece off the
    stack of brick pieces, with 1 extra piece on top of the piece on
    the stack to hold it down. I can also prop metal components
    between 2 stacks of piled up slabs. And it’s easy to carve the
    slabs to hold weird shaped pieces

  • I can’t do pick soldering, so instead I put little solder bits
    on a charcoal block and make them into little balls. Then place
    the balls with tweezers on my piece. When the the fluid
    evaporates off the flux, the little balls are stuck in place.

  • Use a big staple to hold 2 pieces together-one on top of
    another. The legs of the staple go into the charcoal block or
    the fire brick.

  • A flat graver to do a bright cut on the top of my bezels.


Virginia Lyons

Let me add toothpicks to that. Break 'em in half and they fit

And Q-tips are amost as effective as those little felt cone
buffs, but a whole lot cheaper, for things like polishing inside
a head or other such small round opening. Use the wood handle
types. The paper ones break to quickly.

   For setting larger stones in bezels or flush (credit to
Blaine Lewis for this one), lay a little strip of tough clear
packing tape over it, then hammer and watch the stone NOT move.
The heavy tape is also just that least bit of extra padding

A variation of this, that isn’t so sticky, is to take one of
those ubiquitous zip lock bags that always seem to be all over
the bench pan, and snip off the bottom seam, the snip off another
thin strip, giving you a clear plastic loop. The plastic can be
easily stretched over the top of the setting, holding the stone
in place, while your little finger, also in the plastic loop,
keeps tension on it. Takes a little more practice than the tape,
and doesn’t always work as easily. But also doesn’t need
adhesive residues to be cleaned off, and can quickly be moved
from one stone to another, or removed to check if a stone is yet
tight or not, and replaced for more hammering if needed.
Practical mostly only if you’re hammering with a hammer handpiece
and holding the work in the other hand…

But I still like Ray Elsey’s trick for holding stones in place
while hammering. Take a bit of the soft red “boxing” wax, and
smear just a little over the stone, at the girdle, after putting
it in the seat. The result, of course, is a bit messy, and holds
the stone in, but obscures it too much to see quite what you’re
doing. So, touch it with just a tiny flame. The diamond heats
up, melts the wax, which sucks down under the diamond. In a
moment, it’s held nicely waxed in place, won’t move, and you can
easily see all the metal for hammering. A quick blast with the
steamer when you’re done removes the wax. This seems to work
better for me than tape (etc.) when, for example, hammering over
the channels on a row of baguettes, where the stones need to
follow a curve or contour that the tape doesn’t do as well…