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Holding small pieces to work on


#1

I want to work more efficiently and would like to have your tips on
how to hold a small piece to work on, say the size of a coin. It’s
not that I am afraid of hard work, but if there is a way to hold
small pieces without as much hand cramping and more control I would
love to learn. I am a sign language interpreter and I don’t want to
do major damage to my hands either.

thx!
brenda


#2

Hi Brenda,

It would be helpful if we knew “hold them how” or what kind of shape
you were talking about, and what you wanted to do to it.

Holding a quarter to saw out the shape of the state logo is quite
different than hanging on to a piece of 3mm tube to set a stone into
the end of it.

The short answers are ring clamps, pliers and jett-set plastic, but
it depends entirely on what you’re trying to hang onto.

FWIW,
Brian


#3
I want to work more efficiently and would like to have your tips
on how to hold a small piece to work on, say the size of a coin. 

You can make a fixture for pretty much anything with thermoset
plastic like Jett Sett. You put it in hot water til it’s soft, shape
it to hold your piece (you can even form “prongs” that curl around
the edges) and grab the back in a vise or what-have-you, then let it
cool. Back in hot water to remove.

I always snip it back into little pieces before it cools too much–
much easier to re-use that way.

One more tip-- the stuff they use for casts and splints these days
works great for this purpose, so if you or someone you know has one,
save it when it isn’t needed anymore!

Noel


#4

The trick is in correct use of bench pin. Hand is actually never
holds anything. Hand is only stabilize part that you working on.
Bench pin does all the work of countering and distributing forces.
It is possible to use pliers, all kind of hand vises, and etc.
Sometimes glues and cements are employed, but the most efficient is
to learn how to use bench pin. Check out any of my DVD(s) for actual
demonstration. Big part of any project planning is to think ahead of
how to hold things.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#5

Brenda, GRS makes some great and widely used tools for holding and
manipulating small jewelry objects. The benchmate and the small
engraving ball are the two tools I use ever day to hold whatever I’m
working on. The odd shaped, small or fragile object is often held in
thermo-plastic that is then held in the benchmate or engraving ball.
GRS also sells a thermo-plastic that I like, I think they call it
thermo-loc. All you do it heat up a beaker of water in the
microwave, then drop in the hard therm-loc, after a couple of minutes
take it out with tweezers and it’s like warm silly putty, you shape
it to fit in your holding device and push your object into it. After
3-5 minutes it’s cool and hard as a rock. After you’re done doing
your work you either just lift out your piece, or if it’s locked in
you drop it back in hot water for a few seconds and then remove the
object from the softening material. The beauty of it is you can use
it over and over for years. The only downside is that you can’t
dissolve it with solvent, so if you get it packed way in to filigree
or deep undercuts, you have to steam and pick it out with tweezers.
If you think about that when you place the object, you won’t have a
problem. Mark

PS GRS products seem to be cheaper from distributors than if you buy
them directly from GRS.


#6

Brenda -

I can suggest two things - a ring clamp (even if the work is not a
ring!) will hold lots of things, and the clamps are easy to hold; or
a 3" C-clamp with padded jaws.

Tape the jaws of the C-clamp or use thermoplastic to protect the
work. In fact if thermoplastic, you could slightly embed the work for
a better grip. Then hold the clamp by the back of the C shape.

I do a lot of piercing, and have tried the special bench pin with
spring clamp that holds the work. I didnn’t like it because the
spring action was TOO hard, and I could not easily reposition the
work. It really slowed me down, got in my way. Improved sawing
technique with my dommintant hand made holding the work easy. (That,
and a 6/0 blade for everything.)

best regards,
Kelley Dragon


#7

I have two sizes of clamps, and use them, but I am a beader that is
getting started in metalsmithing. One thing I use for necklaces that
might help, I have taken a simple hook andeye clasp (the eye has two
holes.) I have wired a set to every lamp on my work table, and I have
6 stations. This is used to hold numerous things. Right now I am
using it for bracelets that are two strands of leather and beads, and
braiding. Will watch your subject, blessings pat


#8

I would recommend the unfolded paperclip, a useful tool I learned
about years ago on this great forum and it works great! Leave one
looped end and the long straight “handle” is wonderful for sliding
metal beads onto for polishing.

Thank you, Orchid!!!
Reba


#9

Most folks on here are much more experienced than me, but one thing
I discovered on my own was to use a wad of poster mount putty (I
think its called ticky tacky???) spread out on my steel bench block
with the piece squished onto it. It gently holds small pieces so two
hands are free to, say, tap a bezel pusher with a hammer. Just peel
it off the block and the piece, then roll it up in plastic so it
won’t get hard.


#10

Brenda, I have several suggestions. If you’re going to work on the
edge of something roughly coin-shaped, you could hold it in a
"table-top swivel-vise" which clamps to the edge of your bench. You
could also perhaps hold your piece in the usual “ring-holder” tool.
They’re made in wood and plastic. But a little tool I’ve used for
this sort of job over the years is called a “Universal Work-Holder”
(Rio Grande #113089 at ~$14 USD) There are 4 metal pegs which fit
into holes in a metal disk which is split, so that you can screw the
halves closer together or farther apart. And there’s a small wooden
handle at 90 degrees. If you need both hands to do your work, then
clasp that handle in a vise. And knowing the innovation of jewelers,
you’ll probably get 100s of other very useful ideas here.

Gary Strickland,


#11

I use jett set also, great product, also try using shellac. I used
it for years when I worked for manufacturers. One more tip, when I
polish small items such as pendants, I put a paperclip thru the bail
to help me hold on to it tighter. Never fails!

Steve arista designs


#12

Hi, Noel and Folks…

One more tip-- the stuff they use for casts and splints these days
works great for this purpose, so if you or someone you know has
one, save it when it isn't needed anymore!

Has been a while since I posted, but Noel is right on about the that
type of splint plastic…Allows a splint to be custom crafted, on
the spot…

I had a Stroke in 2008 (late 2007, actually), and have had a splint
made for my hand twice, since then, by an Occupational
Therapist…On my kitchen stove…! The stuff is white, and turns
clear, when immersed in hot water in a heated skillet, for long
enough…Then you mold it for whatever you want…

I do not know its name, it comes in sheets of various
thicknesses…If you know someone who is a OT or PT (Occupational or
Physical Therapist/Terrorist [G]!) they probably have access to
scraps…Otherwise, I got the impression the stuff is pricey…

And, of course, an old splint can be recycled…You cut it with a
utility knife, a heavy duty scissors, or shears depending…

Care…

Gary W. Bourbonais
L’Hermite Aromatique
A.J.P. (GIA)


#13

Hi Brenda-

I work with small stones- carving them for jewelry.

Using powder fired concrete nails(Ramset). You can get at any
builder supply. As the holding fixture(dop).

Superglue the item to be worked on with the instant accelerator.
Then use acetone in a glass jar to melt the superglue- when done.

Works extremely well for my diamond abrasive work.

James


#14

Leonin, I am very interested in one of the goldsmiths most useful
tool…the bench pin. Is this about the modifications to
a bench pin on your site, or must I buy your videos? …Teddy


#15

Another tip for polishing chains is to use a large wooden flat wheel
and lay the chain or bracelet across it and put it to the polishing
wheel.

Enjoy!!!


#16

I will use double stick tape on pliers jaws for holding very small
parts. Also, if I have to file a small, flat part, I will use double
stick foam tape to hold the piece to my finger while sanding. Works
for me… …Teddy


#17

Leonid

Your fingers move like a ballet dancer in miniature. Thank you for
the suggestion to view the bench pin work. I would never have used
it so freely. Very funny the uses of corners and angles.

Ruth Mary


#18

One source/product is Adapt-it and is sold by Douglas and Sturgess in
San Francisco. They have it in sheep and pellet form. Artie Cordisco
is the owner, nice guy but so is the help. Their web site is
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1ph They have all sorts of mold
materials, tools, plaster, gypsum, colorants and who knows what else
(look in the catalog or on their web site). I use the plastic to
hold small pewters and other "things, both to work on them and to
make custom “tools”… I get all my mold materials from them as
well as other things. I have known them (arty) for decades. Also if
you have problems (like this one) or questions, they are a great
help/materials resource.

John Dach


#19
I am very interested in one of the goldsmiths most useful
tool...the bench pin. Is this about the modifications
to a bench pin on your site, or must I buy your videos? 

Purchasing DVDs will be helpful. Or one can develop a habit of using
pin by self-imposed discipline. There are no specific modifications.
It is a way of thinking and practice. DVD(s) simply would provide
visual ideas and approaches. Let me expand on that.

Case 1: Simple piercing. We place metal on top of the pin. Why ? The
downward force generated is counter-acted by the pin. Not much effort
requires from another hand, except preventing side-by-side motion.

Case 2: Drilling a hole. The forces are rotational. If piece is any
shape but round, simple bringing in contact with pin along shortest
distance from center to the pin, solves the problem. If piece is
round, it is still possible to do by maintaining contact with the
pin. But intelligence from the drilling hand is required. Low RPMs,
holding it straight, and etc.

Case 3: Filling. Forces are in the direction of filling. A lot of
times it is possible to file simply utilizing friction between
holding hand and the piece. More holding power is obtained by holding
the piece against the pin. Small pieces require some pin modification
like a slot or a groove.

There are many other uses of bench pin like stabilizing tools during
operations and many others. The pin modifications are on individual
basis. There is no way to describe it all. It is precisely the case
when a picture worth a thousand words.

One can discover all these and many other techniques on his/her own.
After all, I did and many others. I remember the times when it was
easier to pull goldsmith’s fingernails than his secrets. So it is not
necessary to purchase my DVD(s) or any other educational material. If
one has enough time and patience, everything can be re-discoverd at
one’s bench. DVD(s) simply make it easier and more time efficient.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#20
The only downside is that you can't dissolve it with solvent, so if
you get it packed way in to filigree or deep undercuts, you have to
steam and pick it out with tweezers. If you think about that when
you place the object, you won't have a problem. 

I have another way to handle this. While the piece is still quite
warm, use a very warm to hot blob of the thermo-plastic and press it
against the filigree or tube where small pieces remain. They will
adhere and can be pulled out. These pieces respond better sometimes
with a “snap” out rather than a steady pull. The force needn’t be
great but keep in mind the delicacy of your work.

Pam Chott
www.songofthephoenix.com