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Hammer Handpiece WOES

Hello to the wonderful Ganoksin Bank of Information,

I purchased a Foredom hammer handpiece (H15), and am attempting to bezel-set oval moonstones into sterling. My bezel is 28 gauge, my moonstones are @14 x 10 mm.

I have annealed the metal and turned the handpiece to its most aggressive setting.

My metal is NOT MOVING! What can I do to make this work?

This handpiece should not require massive arm strength on the part of the user, right?


How are you securing the piece into which the moonstones are being set? It needs to be very securely held in a way that allows all the energy of your hammer piece to be transmitted to the bezel and not to the piece allowing it to move. 28 gauge is very thin. Why not just use a bezel burnisher? There has been a lot of discussion about bezel setting in the last 6 - 12 months, especially about using brass bezel pushers that are hammered to move the bezel. Most of this discussion is around setting heavier bezels, but you may find some guidance in these discussions. Good luck and know that you aren’t alone in your frustration…Rob

Thanks Rob. You may have hit upon the issue. I was not securing the work except with my own hands.
(I’ve tried the brass bezel pusher too, although not with the hammer, and it still wasn’t moving much. But maybe it’s the same issue.)
I will try your suggestion!

And PS, this is the first I’ve used the hammer handpiece, and it’s really sort of in practice for a heavier ring setting that I will be having cast.

I have owned two hammers over the years, both Foredom pieces. I wrecked the first one running it too fast. The second one is run on an old Foredom motor that is geared down to control the speed. I too started out planning on using it to set thin bezels. I quickly went back to burnishers. I have since been making thicker bezels, mainly because I like the look. You can move them with a flexshaft driven hammer, but I like the precision of a brass pusher and hammer. Again, it is very important to have the piece securely held with some mass behind it to push back on whatever you are using to move the metal. I used a small machine vise for a long time, but recently purchased a GRS Standard vise. I embed the piece in thermoplastic and then hold it in the vise. It works well, but stay as close to the center of the ball as you can. So what do I do with my hammer? I use it to move metal once in a while, but I use it a lot to apply various textures to the finished surface of pieces to create contrast. Stone setters use flexshaft hammers a lot, but I don’t set faceted stones. Maybe some setters among us will chime in with how they use their flexshaft hammer. Good luck…Rob

Hi Rob and all!
I use my Bedaco on ”light, to medium pressure”. I NEVER
use anything stronger & I even keep the speed down a minimum. I focus on just where the anvil is touching!

Faceted stones are a non-issue for me. The interesting feature of an rectangular shaped anvil is that you can apply pressure to a wide or narrow ”contact spot”.
As the adage in driving is ”speed kills” its the same with a reciprocating hammer. Keep your speed low or your anvil might ”jump around” and give you little to poor overall control.

Hope this helps…:wink:

Gerry, on my iPhone

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Thanks Rob! I do have a project that I am looking forward to applying texture to. I have not gotten to the setting task on the bench yet, but I am hoping that secure holding will do the trick…

It’s interesting that you reference driving in how you describe focusing on the contact point - I remember driving along a very curvy freeway with a frantic baby in the back (tired 1 month old), and just “bonding with the road.” Mentally this is what kept me driving safely, just this feeling of bonding with the road. It really reminds me of how you describe your hammer setting process. Focus is quite a miraculous trick sometimes.

I believe that many starting out with a hammer handpiece are holding the anvil against the bezel, using the “hardest” setting and are frustrated because it’s not working.
As previously mentioned the piece has to be secure - holding it in a ring clamp absorbs too much energy. In my experience (I don’t use it for stones - mostly for flush rivets) the anvil has to be held slightly away from the bezel or rivet. That way the anvil actually
“hits” the piece. Works like a charm and very controllable. I think an optivisor or other magnifier is required for observing the action and making sure that you don’t hit the stone.

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Been a while, good to be back…as to hammer handpiece and bezels, I believe we’re talking about inertia and acceleration…each hammer blow gains acceleration from a standing start and reaches a maximum force at maximum acceleration,which occurs just before the anvil reverses direction and returns to start…hence the need to hold the hammer off the work surface a little. Easy to determine about how far with a little trial and error.

Then, as Rob Meixner notes, a firm hold means the piece that is hit has a greater overall mass (mass of piece plus holding device, assuming a rather rigid hold through a set of jaws or mostly rigid glue of some kind). Wanting something quick, I wonder if a typical bezel setting could be held against the side of a rigid bench pin, anvil or some such. Then it could easily be turned by one hand while the handpiece was directed 180 degrees from where the bezel made contact with the bench pin/bracing surface. I also have a cheap “universal work holder” with moveable pins and jaws which I can hold in a vise, so various workpiece dimensions can be accommodated. I’ll have to give this a try…HTH someone else…royjohn

That’s very helpful, thank you. I’m trying production level making for the first time - usually I’ve always made one piece at a time, but I’m trying a whole bunch of earring pairs right now. All this is to say that I have yet to set stones - I’m still filing and soldering bezels. With a full time job that uses a lot of my energy, I am mostly at the bench on weekends (although trying to create the new habit of doing something every night). So thanks for your input; I look forward to trying it out.
Also, I hadn’t thought of using the hammer handpiece for rivets! :slight_smile:

Since I have that first pair of earrings that has proved so difficult, I can use it as the experimental prototype, and try that very method with the bench pin…although I think I originally had it on my steel block, and that wasn’t working for me. I want the earring pairs waiting in the wings to be perfect, but this first pair, yes, I really should subject it to different experiments and learn a few things.