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Finishing using flex shaft


#1

Hi all,

This is only the second time I’ve posted, but I love reading the
emails. They’re so helpful. You guys and gals are so knowledgeable. I
have a question about finishing. I had a ring where the solder didn’t
flow as nicely as I had hoped and I had to file and sand and sand and
sand. Is there an easier way (other than doing a better job at
soldering, which I’m still working on) to finish my metal other than
hand work? The ring had some rather awkward angles to get to with
sand and finishing papers. I was wondering if I could use my flex
shaft but I don’t know where to start. What sanding disks do I use?
and what sequence to get a nice finish. I’m really kinda lost here.
Any help would be so appreciated. I mean it, any help! Thanks in
advance.

Sue


#2

Dear Susan, my advice to you is always carefully inspect a ring
after the soldering stage and unless it is perfect do not think you
will correct it by any amount of sanding and finishing.

Sam.


#3
my advice to you is always carefully inspect a ring after the
soldering stage and unless it is perfect do not think you will
correct it by any amount of sanding and finishing. 

Susan, Sam’s advice is right on. Chalk this one up to experience.

Something else that may help you to develop your soldering skills is
making a sampler. Use red brass in 16 ga. Cut some things to make
butt or T joints, solder a wire jump ring, then solder that to a
sheet in several different configurations. Make some lapped joints.
Anything you can think of, try it on a sampler first until you get
the technique down. Just be aware that red brass can take much higher
temperatures than silver, but it does serve to develop your soldering
skills.

For the rest of it: On rings, if I’m sizing, I use a piece that is a
little higher than the rest of the band, and a little wider. Than I
grind it down with a Mizzy wheel to conform with the rest of the
band. The rest of the operation is what you will do for finishing a
ring. After the Mizzy, use a split mandrel with emery sandpaper cut
into a strip. Start with 100-120 grit, then 220-240, followed by 400.
After this stage, you can use a 1" muslin buff with tripoli, then a
different 1" buff with rouge to bring it to a high shine.

If you have a lot of intricate detail, the 3M radial bristle disks
are superb, and they come in a set that goes from fairly coarse to
final polish.

Usual disclaimer.


#4
my advice to you is always carefully inspect a ring after the
soldering stage and unless it is perfect do not think you will
correct it by any amount of sanding and finishing. 

OK, Sam, I’ll admit I woke up grumpy this morning, so maybe I’m
missing the point, but what are you suggesting she do? Throw it away
and start over? Of course you can fix things with filing, sanding
and polishing. That’s what those techniques are for! What am I
missing here?

Noel


#5

Susan, You should try the 3M Bristle Discs. They come in various
grits and can get into hard to reach places. They have small ones
for use with a flex shaft and large ones to use on a polishing
machine.

Ronda Coryell
ronda@rondacoryell.com


#6

Susan,

I used to have a difficult time using sanding papers on some of my
pieces for the same reasons you described. One of my instructors
introduced me to 3M Radial discs. I love them. The con is that they
are expensive and don’t last very long but I have decided the
additional cost is worth it. I know Rio carries them and they are
color coded for different grits. I use yellow, blue, red, and then
peach to get a finish before I final with bobbing compound and zam.
Be sure to put a few of them on at a time and that they all face the
same direction. I use three at a time. Just a thought. ; )

Delias
ps. They are for your flex shaft.


#7
I'll admit I woke up grumpy this morning, so maybe I'm missing the
point, but what are you suggesting she do? Throw it away and start
over? 

Sorry Noel I did not make myself clear, what I should have said was
that if the soldering is perfect a lot of time can be saved in
producing the finished article.

Sam.


#8

Sam

Thanks for the advice. I realize I need to improve my soldering
skills. I put so much work into the ring I guess I just hated the
thought of backing up. Thought I could maybe save it by filing and
sanding. Not the best recourse. Guess I just got a little frustrated
and looking for a shortcut. I appreciate your input.

Sue


#9

Susan, I am so glad that I did not offend you with my remarks, In
the past I have reached that point in soldering a piece where I know
it is not perfect but am scared the whole thing might fall apart if I
try and go for perfection.

I have always regretted doing this because as I said before all the
cover up work will never give the same satisfaction.

Sam.


#10

Hi all,

Thank you so much for all the helpful advice. I must have sounded as
if I had just fallen off the turnip truck. It’s just that I recently
(6 mons ago) did a complete turn about and decided to switch
careers. I had been doing bronze sculptures for 6 years since I
graduated from Michigan in 2000 (at 43 years old, now 49). I won’t
go into the long story about why I felt I needed a change but making
jewelry is something I wish now I had pursued in school. It’s all I
think about. I never felt this way about sculpting. I had two
jewelry classes at Mich. and felt I’d learned the basics and didn’t
think it would be that difficult to pick up the rest as I went. Boy,
was I wrong. I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on and
this website is very helpful, although most of the advanced work you
guys are doing is way beyond my comprehension. I’ve been looking at
different workshops and thinking this might be a good move at this
point. Before I pick up too many bad habits.

Thanks Noel for speaking up on my behalf. I did ask myself that same
question. Sam was ‘right on’ about needing to improve the soldering
but there are times when you have a little something to clean up and
knowing how to do that efficiently would be helpful. I am going to
order the 3M radial bristle discs. I swear I’ve been through Rio
Grande catalogs with a fine tooth comb and never saw these. Guess I
wasn’t looking, right? I also ordered 'Making the Most of your
Flexshaft" which was recommended. Okay, again, thanks to everyone.
Now that I’m well armed wish me luck on my new and exciting venture.
I’m sure I’ll be picking your brains sometime soon.

Sue


#11
introduced me to 3M Radial discs. I love them. The con is that
they are expensive and don't last very long but I have decided the
additional cost is worth it. 

You may be using too much pressure. Allowing just the tips to touch
the mettle will maximizing the life of the wheels and increased
pressure doesn’t really speed up the work enough to justify it. They
certainly get my vote as one of my favorite tools.

Dick Friesen
@Dick_Friesen


#12

Hi, Sue,

I realize I need to improve my soldering skills. I put so much work
into the ring I guess I just hated the thought of backing up.
Thought I could maybe save it by filing and sanding. Not the best
recourse. Guess I just got a little frustrated and looking for a
shortcut. 

You weren’t necessarily wrong. Yes, soldering perfectly is the best,
and we all strive for that. But I want to mention two things. First,
I tell my students, true skill is being able to fix things when they
go wrong ( when you screw up). So, try to do it right, then try to
fix it if you don’t. You’ll learn invaluable things that way.

Second, there is the “I meant that” factor. I call something an “I
meant that” when it goes wrong, but then, in the process of trying
to salvage it, you come across a solution that you like better than
what you originally intended. My favorite example is an illustration
I cut from a magazine of a fabulous brooch. It is two pieces of
stone in an elaborate gold setting. I noticed that it appears to be
an oval stone, broken into two pieces, set into separate bezels with
a triangle of space between them. No one would (I don’t think) take
a stone and cut it into two parts and set it. The artist broke it,
and got the idea to set it in two parts. Serendipity!

So, do the best job you can, but don’t give up easily, just because
things didn’t go as you intended. If you get a stone stuck in a
setting and you have to drill from the back to get it out, enlarge
the drill hole into a star or heart or some other decorative shape.
I meant that!

OK, I just came back from class and I still have my teacher hat on.

Noel


#13

Tips on Radial Bristle Discs.

  1. Make sure you are using a minimum of three, I like using 5 if
    they are smaller.

  2. It is CRUCIAL to make sure they are pointing in the correct
    direction. Look for the 3M logo and make sure it is facing downward.
    The direction should be in a clock wise rotation.

  3. The correct speed is crucial. Radial bristle discs like speed. If
    you are using a foot pedal, make sure you are pressing 3/4 the way
    down.

  4. Combined with the high speed, a stack of bristle discs, you only
    need a light pressure. At the high speed, the stack of discs will
    spread into the nooks and crannies and will create a nice polish if
    that is your goal.

I love these things and use them for all kinds of processes.

-k

Karen Christians
M E T A L W E R X
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
http://www.metalwerx.com/
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio


#14

Hi Karen:

At the high speed, the stack of discs will spread into the nooks
and crannies and will create a nice polish if that is your goal. I
love these things and use them for all kinds of processes. 

When just starting out, can the 3M disks be used as a good
alternative to a polishing cabinet/motor?

Thanks
Kim Starbard


#15
Radial Bristle Discs. 

I agree, I use 3 different grit’s and think they are awesome. They
last quite awhile too.

Craig
www.creativecutgems.com


#16
When just starting out, can the 3M disks be used as a good
alternative to a polishing cabinet/motor? 

Yes it can be an alternative, but you will probably end up wearing a
mask all of the time to protect yourself from inhaling the dust that
will be thrown at you from sanding with a flex shaft. That dust will
also, eventually, coat everything in the surrounding area. A good
polishing cabinet should solve both of these problems. The strength
of a flex shaft is to do small, hard to get to things. It does those
well. A polishing cabinet/motor does larger work well and contains
the dust it creates. Both tools work best when used for what they
are best at.

On the other hand, you can’t use what you don’t have so improvise
and make do (but protect yourself while you do so)

Mitch Adams