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Handy use for "something" not intended for jewelry work

Have you discovered a handy or valuable use in jewelry work for
"something" not intended for jewelry work in the first place? Is
there a “something” used in jewelry work for which you have found
other valuable applications?

I ask this long question in hope of finding some of the little
discoveries we may share with eachother. Please do not limit ideas
to the new or spectacular. For example, here are examples all of
differing qualifications, yet all useful indeed. These examples are
not at all new and are provided to let you know the kinds of ideas I

1.Wite-out or paper correction fluid used as a extremely effective
solder block.

2.Common commercial “silver dip” used to clean gold filled and to
restore color to discolored solder joints on old gold items.

3.Wide blade, with fine point nurses medical tweezers to substitute
for standard fine point twezers. Heat the shank to create a soft
touch tweezer. Once used to the soft touch and wide finger area, you
will not want to return to narrow watch tweezers again.

4.A watch parts can(or other item) full of water as a heat sink for
delicate gems when soldering. Sure, it is commonplace to use water.
Yet, when just starting, many think commercial “heatshied” is a
must. Truly, there is not a messier way to protect a stone. Water is
so simple and even costs less! Ha!

Thanks. Let those inventive minds stir the pot we share together.

Peace, Thomas.

Hello Thomas, This could be a very good thread! A few more for the

~ Super glue to hold metal pieces together for soldering
~ StickTac (malleable clay-like material used to hold posters to the 
   wall) used to hold drill bits and other small tools in a convenient  
~ Citric acid pickel
~ Carpet (or other thin cushion) placed under buffing wheels to 
   protect pieces that get "caught" and thrown by the wheel
~ Nasal sprayers and fine mist sprayers to spray on Prip's flux (fill 
   cap with water and store bottle upside down to keep sprayer clog-
~ Line glass or plastic container with aluminum foil, pour in boiling 
   water and half-cup or so baking soda - place tarnished silver in 
   contact with foil - removes tarnish

Judy in Kansas
Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936

I use plastic suture tweezers that my Daughter brings home from the
ER for removing items in acid soaks. I have also modified the tips so
that I could pick up beads

 Have you discovered a handy or valuable use in jewelry work for
"something" not intended for jewelry work in the first place? 

If you’ve got a few bucks to spare, an eclectic collection of these
kind of tips is available in a book compiled by Orchid member Charles
Lewton-Brain. Its called “Cheap Thrills in the Toolshop.” Its
soft-bound, and runs about US$25 from most booksellers and jewelry
suppliers. If you order directly from Brain Press, you might be able
to talk Charles into autographing it for you! :wink: I pull my copy out
once or twice a year and go through it to see if I can glean any new
tricks. Also contains great tips on modifying and jewelry tools for
specific tasks and to work more efficiently.

Read more about this book (and Charles’ other books) on the Ganoksin
Web site:

All the best,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

Good topic. My all time favorite is spit. Yes, spit. Spittle,
saliva use whatever term you want. I have a tool, well, basically
an exacto knife that I have ground down the blade on so that it
won’t cut, that, when lightly touched to the tongue and then touched
to a stone will pick up any small diamond or small colored stone.
The hold on the stone is such that once it is placed it will easily
come off of the tool but won’t fall off.

Spit, besides being readily available, has the added benefit of
being a great temporary adhesive when pave or bead setting. If you
want to place stones next to each other to see how many you will
need just pick up the stones with the tool by the table of the stone
and place them face down on the surface of the item. The small
amount that adheres to the stone is all that you need and as the
saliva dries it holds the stone in place. The stone won’t come off
unless it is prodded so you have to be somewhat careful. Still a
good, available resource. A caveat: Make sure the tool is kept
clean and in a special place where it won’t get contaminated by
chemicals. Keep it clean. I have made a special holder for my
bench that keeps it handy but out of the way and protected.


Have you discovered a handy or valuable use in jewelry work for
"something" not intended for jewelry work in the first place? 

Well, this may qualify, in a very simple way. There may be some of
you who have not come across this… If a stone (cabochon) gets put
into a bezel prematurely and doesn’t want to fall out, put the piece
into a small-to-medium closed cardboard box, and shake it like a
maniac. At least 9 times out of ten, it will come loose.


In a gourmet or housewares shop, one can find a permanent "tea bag"
made of stainless steel wire mesh hemispheres which are spring loaded
on a handle. Ideal for putting a single ring into your ultrasonic
cleaner…if a stone comes out, it will be in the basket. I have seen
them in JEWELRY SUPPLY catalogs for $5 or $6 (U.S.) I paid $1.50 for
mine in a housewares store. David Barzilay, Lord of the Rings

Baseball bat as a former (mandrel) for bracelets.

Gym weights as a mandrel for necklaces (lots of different sizes!)

Cooks brulee torch for melting wax.

Aquarium filter charcoal for filling a soldering pan.

Small tomato puree tins for casting flasks.

Old tobacco tins to make granules.

Mayonnaise bottles for tumbling small pieces in.

Knitting needles for making jump rings

Cheese grater for cutting up thermosetting plastic.

“Dungeon and Dragon” cards plastic boxes for storing gold and silver

Tony Konrath
Gold and Stone

  1. Flux from plumbers suppliers called easiflo that they use when
    silver-brazing copper and brass. Great for gold and silver. I always
    use the powder form and apply it with a hot soldering pick.

  2. Wooden swage block with large grooves for forming ring bands.
    Better than a steel one and (if you know a wood-worker) 1/100th the


B r i a n A d a m

My favorite is to take those cheap (used to be 10 cents) Bic ball
point pens, remove the ball point mechanism from the inside, then
place your saw blades in them, replace the cap and you’re set. I wrap
a strip of plain white adhesive tape around the cap and mark the
blade size on it with an indelible marker. Easy way to store blades,
keeps them safe and doesn’t take up much space in the drawer. I
store my pen (saw blade holding) cases in an old pencil holder.


This is a great thread.

Sanding Sicks. Pick up a selection of Wet or Dry at the hardware
store. Also pick up a can of spray Contact Cement, Scotch seems to
work well for this project. Now go to the craft store and pick up a
box of craft sticks (popsicle sticks without the flavor added). Lay
a sheet of the Wet or Dry face down on some newspaper. This is best
done outside. Spray the back with a liberal coat of the adhesive.
Now cover the Wet or Dry with the Craft sticks. As close as you can
pack them on. Let things setup for a couple hours. Then use your
Xacto knife and cut out the paper using the craft sticks as your
pattern. A couple sheets of Wet or Dry will usually give you a 100
or so sticks. You can carve them for special places. I keep a small
hobby plane around to shave down the back so as to be able to get
into the very narrow places. Just remember, when cutting the paper,
make sure you are cutting from the back. The knife last longer that
way. One more thing, Color code the sticks for grit. It is
sometimes difficult to tell what grit you have in hand just by
looking at it. The color code is easier than writing 600 a hundred
times, 400, you get the idea.

Another is to use a single edge razor blade as a heat shield when
repairing chains. Position the center hole of the razor blade over
the repair joint and the blade will deflect most of the torch other
than what shows through the hole. I don’t remember where I found
this tip, it might have been one of Tim McGreigh’s books, but it is
not an original idea of mine.

Don Rogers

There is a small plastic tea strainer with plastic mesh, looks like a
round box on the end of a stick, which is perfect for immersing very
small parts in the pickle. It’s usually a bright orange plastic and
available from housewares stores. Donna in VA

I’ll second Larry’s use of spit. Another use for saliva is to help
place platinum solder to the pieces to be connected. After the
pieces are set in place preheat the work and pick up the necessary
amount of precut solder with a fine pair of tweezers, touch it to
your tongue and set it in place. The saliva will instantly boil off
and the solder chip will remain in place. No reason to use flux on
platinum and plenty of reasons for skipping it.

This tip was picked up from Ed Freedman (I think that’s it) at The
Revere Academy during a platinum fabrication course several years

John Sholl
Littleton, Colorado

Pre made sanding stix…Go to drug store…and go to the nail polish
department. In the section for the acrylic nails (i.e. sculptured
nails) section there are wonderful sanding stix. You have to choice
the grits by touch and they have a foam backing that gives a nice
cushion. If you are using conventional sandpaper and craft or
stirring sticks I put a few layers of paper or apply the new
sandpaper over the old to create a cushion or padding. It seems to
make the stick more effective. Also while in the nail polish section
get red non metallic polish. If you ever need to seal two pieces of
wax, say spiral wire wax on flat sheet you can paint the whole thing
carefully with nail polish and it will seal the wax without taking
away from detail. It burns out great. Warning the metallic or
’pearlized’ polish has metal particles and will injure the surface.

Okay, fun string. . . can’t resist diving in with a few . . .

A plastic strainer (as opposed to the metal screen type) of a size
to fit in the ultrasonic cleaner. The plastic doesn’t scratch the
jewelry and I just hook one of the deals (from the edge of the
strainer) - to keep it off the floor of the ultrasonic. It is
lopsided - but works fine. Sometimes, I’ll poke the earring backs
through different locations in the strainer - so they don’t touch
each other while vibrating. Also, the strainer handle is easy to
use to carry the pieces over to rinse in the sink - without getting
the hands involved in the cleaning solution. Think I got this
strainer at a garage sale or thrift store - really cheap!

Another, even “cheaper” idea is to drill lots of holes in a plastic
recycled container to submerge. This idea actually fits better in
the ultrasonic and allows the cover to be on while using it. Also,
you can somehow rig up a way to hook the basket over the edges of the
machine, to keep it elevated above the floor of the ultrasonic.

And. . . a paperclip opened on one end works well to hold certain
items while polishing - especially, small pieces with jumprings or
holes. (This one is pretty basic - but, thought i’d mention it.) I
also like to use old paperclips opened up to mix 2 part epoxy.

Speaking of gluing. . . wooden clothes pins (with the metal spring)
are great to hold pearls on posts - while the glue sets. Just take
it apart and cut a slit down the middle of of one side of the
clamping action end of the clothespin. Both sides can be filed or
reshaped as necessary to accomodate the roundness or shape of the
pearl or whatever needs gluing. Then reconnect the clothespin. The
earring post slides through the slit side.

I love the “spit” feedback from Larry . . . are you sure you weren’t
eating a candy to make it stickier? Really amazing! Spit also works
when you’re in a pinch with the application of kum-boo. It burns off
clean. (That one came from Komelia’s workshop).

Cynthia :slight_smile:

I use glass cigar tubes for my saw blades. I drilled holes in a
wooden block with a paddle bit to hold the different tubes, thus
giving me one more item to clutter up my bench! Michael

Well, this may qualify, in a very simple way. If a stone (cabochon)
gets put into a bezel prematurely and doesn't want to fall out, put
the piece into a small-to-medium closed cardboard box, and shake it
like a maniac. At least 9 times out of ten, it will come loose.                    

My approach is to clean the surface of the cab and the head of a nail
with alcohol, apply a drop of gel super glue to the head of the nail
and then invert the nail so that the glue touches the cab. Make sure
the superglue does not run down to the bezel (this is why I prefer the
gel form. Wait until the glue sets, and pull the cab out. Toss the
cab and nail into acetone to disolve the glue. Repeat as often as
necessary. (I know the “correct” technique is to drill a hole through
the base of the bezel plate before inserting the stone, but I never
liked the look of this.)

Michael Conlin

Empty Tic Tac candy containers make excellent storage boxes for
small items like jump rings

More storage hints: 1 for small size drill bits and burs–the nifty
plastic containers for

Pentel pencil leads 2. for miscellaneous findings…PEZ mint

  1. for solder paillons or granules–contact lens cases.

  2. for whatever you want to protect: spring-closing hard eyeglass
    case Dee

I just lay a couple of pieces of dental floss across the bezel cup,
drop the stone in, if it gets “stuck” just pull it out with the
dental floss. Works like a charm.