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Holding small pieces of silver while drilling


#1

I am currently experimenting with linked bracelets made of sterling
silver wire flattened on the ends and stamped flat wire. Each of
these pieces need small holes drilled in the ends to attach them to
one another. How can I hold these tiny pieces while drilling?

Thanks,
sarah


#2

I would suggest chucking the pieces in a pin vise to hold them while
drilling.


#3

I was just pondering this problem yesterday and remembered thermal
plastic like Jet Set. Plyer jaws can be cusomized with thermal
palstic in a few minutes and jigs for holding many small parts can be
created quickly as well. These would not be permenant fixtures but
cheap and quick, which is just the ticket for many holding problems.
The reason I was thinking of it was to hold bezels while filing
around their edge and maybe even during polishing. My dad used to
have a plyer with a hook nose which I would use to hold bezels for
filing but, in my genius I started using a drum sander to do much of
my sanding and running it under water as a coolant. These plyers
would soon rust away so I stopped using them for that purpose, plus
they broke and I just forgot about them in general. Using thermal
plastic would preclude the rust problem and allow me to make a jig
for any size bezel I had.

Sam Patania, Tucson
www.patanias.com


#4

When I have to drill into tiny pieces I usually mark the starter
hole with a sharpie then use a good masking tape to tape the piece to
a wood block. It keeps it in place while I drill and I can still see
and feel the starter hole.

Grace


#5

Sarah,

After center punching, hold 'em against a flat wooden surface with
your off hand index finger and drill 'em with your flex shaft.

Jerry in Kodiak


#6

Hello, Sarah

I would simply put those tiny pieces onto the surface of
thermoplastic resin. The resin I use starts to become soft around
63C, so all one needs to do is to soak a small block of resin in hot
water for about a minute. Then push silver pieces gently onto the
surface of softened resin, and cool down the block under a running
water for a few minute to make it hard again. After drilling holes,
you can detatch pieces by softening the resin again.

Akiko


#7

Here’s what you need right here: http://www.ottofrei.com
Product 7568 Or similar, of course…


#8

Hi Sarah,

I’ve found that using a ring clamp while drilling comes in very
handy. It’s also safer than holding on to small metal pieces with
your fingers.

I use a regular wooden ring clamp with the “wedge” to adjust the
tension. I hold it in my left hand and run the drill press with my
right. If you are drilling by hand, you might want to consider
purchasing a drill press. I got mine from Big Lots when they were on
sale – even put the thing together myself.

Tracy


#9

I had the same need a while back and after experimenting with
drilling (I adapted a foredom handpiece to an old Dremel drill
press) I found that it was easier and quicker to punch the holes. I
am lucky to have a home machine shop, so I made a punch and die that
fit my Heinrich lever punch (they are about $350). The punch is a
piece of 3/8" steel, tapped for most of it’s length, with a short
section left to take a HSS drill blank of the diameter needed for my
hole (I think it’s about a #56, I can check later). A screw adjusts
the length of drill blank protruding, and a screw from the side
locks it in place.

The die is just a piece of tool steel drilled to the same size as
the punch. I didn’t bother hardening the die. I built a hold down
into the die that you slip the piece under, so that after punching
the punch doesn’t lift the piece up with it.

I should take some pics of this. Now this is not a simple project…

What I found worked when drilling was high speed (foredom speeds)
and a good sharp drill (I used carbide). when the drill hits the
work, the work wants to rotate in the same direction. So you need to
constrain it against moving in the direction. It can be as simple as
a piece of shim stock glued to the table of the drill press. You
also want to hold the piece down so that when you retract the drill
bit (or when the piece tries to screw itself up the flutes of the
drill) it doesn’t lift up with the bit. In this case another piece
of (relatively heavy) brass stock, fastened from behind with a notch
in it, and doglegged slightly to fit over your piece, will help.
Reading a book on jig&fixture work will show the principles and
mechanics of drill jigs. Again, not really a direct answer that is
quick to implement.

But punching is a lot less violent, and yields a better hole (and
tiny little discs of material that can be used for granulation!)

@Felice_Luftschein_an is Nicholas Carter and Felice Luftschein. See our
homepage at www.cartertools.com/nfhome.html


#10

Hello Sarah,

made of sterling silver wire flattened on the ends 

Hopefully I don’t sound smart-arsed but if you have a piece of wire
to begin with, why not drill the holes before you cut it into links.

Tony.
Anthony Lloyd-Rees.
www.OpalsInTheBag.com
www.TheGemDoctor.com
Vancouver,
Beautiful British Columbia.


#11

Sarah, do you have a flex shaft or drill press? This makes things
much easier to hold, since one hand is free to hold the work. I
usually drill with my flex shaft, against the side of my bench pin,
holding the work in my fingers or with a parallel grip pliers. Back
when I drilled by hand with a rotary hand drill, I had a bench pin
that was screwed to the top of my bench, and I used to jam the piece
right up next to the small vertical wood of the bench pin so that it
could not rotate as I drilled it. This worked for all but round
objects that were being drilled in their center; they still could
rotate. Of course, I got holes in the bench top or in the side of the
bench pin. That’s okay with me.

Alternatively, make a piece of wood with a stair shape on it, and
fasten it to the bench. Low tech is sometimes best. You don’t want to
have to do a lot of set-up every time you drill, so I suggest that
you have an easy place to drill and leave it set up at all times.

Now, let’s see how many higher-tech suggestions come in, which could
cost you hundreds of dollars to buy. :wink:

M’lou Brubaker, Jeweler
Goodland, MN
www.craftswomen.com


#12
I am currently experimenting with linked bracelets made of
sterling silver wire flattened on the ends and stamped flat wire.
Each of these pieces need small holes drilled in the ends to attach
them to one another. How can I hold these tiny pieces while
drilling?

Hi Sarah,

The answer to holding small pieces like this is to stick them to a
bigger piece of metal which can act as a handle. In this case I would
use a piece of brass sheet maybe 4" x 1" x 1/16" and I would melt a
puddle of shellac (or hot glue) onto one end of the flat surface. The
wires can then be melted into this shellac either singly or several
at a time and then drilled easily.To remove them either gently prise
them off or remelt the shellac depending on how much you have used,
and remove the remaining shellac by either soaking or boiling the
pieces in denatured alcohol (methylated spirit).

Best Wishes
Ian

Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK


#13

Hi, John,

When I followed your lead to Otto Frei, the search produced no
results. Can you try again? I’d really like to follow-up on your
solution.

Thanks.
AyallaD.


#14

Sarah,

If I understand you right you are making links out of round wire by
flattening the ends of the wire? Why don’t you flatten the links
first and then drill them and then cut them apart? That way you could
easily have control of the drilling process!


#15
I am currently experimenting with linked bracelets made of sterling
silver wire flattened on the ends and stamped flat wire. Each of
these pieces need small holes drilled in the ends to attach them to
one another. How can I hold these tiny pieces while drilling?

Hi Ian,

Depending on the flattened wire size (width and thickness) and hole
size that you need, I wouldn’t even drill. Try using a “hole punch
plier” or a “screw punch” (both available at Rio Grande) to make the
hole. The way either tools are shaped, they have a “table” and since
you make the hole manually and without electricity, the piece won’t
move (or spin) on you. Even though my flex shaft is all set up and
ready to go, I rarely use it due to these two tools.

Iris in San Francisco
www.sandkuhler.com