How do you heat/ soften stone setters shellac (stick or flake)


i am curious to know how you all heat/ soften stone setters shellac and/ or dopping wax used as such…?

i struggle to get the exact perfect temp needed to soften the shellac without it getting “puffy and shrinking up” without getting sticky… or catching of fire…

i get it to work ok…it hardens…and holds the setting…i am just wondering if there is a more correct way…all my books say to take care not to burn the shellac or it will become brittle and not work…i have had it become brittle…or plasticy puffy/non sticky…

i think i would want it to get glossy runny and sticky(?) for a quick second…?

should i be aiming for sticky at all…?

how thick of a base layer is recommended?

i have tried the following heat sources:

  1. smith little torch using propane only, no oxygen
    (what length flame us recommended?)

  2. small butane “Blazer” hand held torch

  3. furno 500 heat gun, set to mid

someone on istagram who uses green dop wax suggested a craft mini heat gun. I looked then up and the seend to be a bit smaller than my heat gun and dusl heat range is around 150/300F

protecting heat sensitive stones is also a question
i tend to shellac base lightly and pop the setting loose…

any advise would be appreciated

i have been curious forever


Hi, here are a few pics of what my orange stick shellac on wooden stick looks like after i heat and mount the setting…this has been used around 10-25 times, but it pretty much looks like that after i mount the first setting…

does this look horribly incorrect?



so…looking at the heating temperatures of holding products:

thermo-loc at 145F
Jett Sett Basic at 145-170F
Jett Sett Ballistic at 150-165F
setters shellac/ shellac flake at ? temp
dopping wax at 150F

is this temperature safe for heat sensitive stones?

Ultrasonic heat range is around 86-176F
and are usually to be avoided with heat sensitive stones…?…so I would think not…?

at least with shellac one can crack/ chip the piece loose, and remove residue with denatured alcohol (is alcohol safe for sensitive stones…?), or…rubber wheels…

looking at their specs…craft mini heat gun temps seem kinda too hot…?…at 300F and up

weirdly, my bigger Furno 500 heat gun has a broader variable temp range of 150-1200F)

i use it for my chasers pitch, which melts at around 250-300F…

i think i will try it with the shellac and thermoplastics…

an interesting side note…”diamond setters cement” recommended in an older post as a shellac alternative…is shellac mixed with wax…below listing says it is stronger and less brittle than shellac…

i just learned that dopping wax is also a mixture (1:1) of shellac and wax…i always wondered why it was called dopping “wax”…mystery solved!

i have dopping wax already…perhaps i will try working with it next…according to past experience it should break off cleanly at colder temperatures

i am having a deep conversation with myself today!



Sorry Julie! I’m no help here. I quit using shellac for stone setting many years ago, once Otto Frei started selling Plastiform, which eventually morphed into Jett Sett Basic. Now if I have to hold an object for stone setting and I can’t figure out another way, I use Jett Sett Basic.

I did use shellac for a long time before I found Jett Sett Basic, but I found it to be endlessly frustrating because it’s so brittle.

The mixture of wax and shellac that you describe sounds interesting, since it’s less brittle.

Also, I forgot that shellac dissolves in alcohol. That is a very handy quality! One of the things that sucks about Jett Sett is that it can get caught in hard to reach places. There was a recent thread about that.

I do use dop wax for lapidary work and I melt that with a heat gun on low. That works well. You probably know this trick, but just in case. With lapidary dop wax after your stone is ground and polished you put the stick and the stone in the freezer for 15ish minutes. Once it’s frozen the stone pops off usually without much dop wax residue. I have no idea if that trick works with metal, but might be worth a try.

Whenever possible though, I try to hold objects for stone setting in other ways. I’m a big fan of super sticky double stick tape. (I don’t know the name of it right now. I get it from a wood worker buddy who uses it to hold wood onto a lathe. He buys it by the case.) It works good for flat objects. My second choice is double stick carpet tape. I usually put the double stick tape and setting on the flat part of my gravers ball.

Another thing that I learned at the Revere academy is to sandwich a ring between two pieces of soft wood in a vise. (soft wooden yardstick is a good option) The soft wood squishes into the center of the ring shape and holds it inside and out. That only works with certain shaped rings, but when it works, it works great! I usually use my graver’s ball as a vise.

You’re so good at the deep dives Julie!! You should write a book!!



Julie…Lots of good information here. Thanks for digging for it. I use therm-loc for stone setting and any time I need to secure something freeing my hands to do other things. I use green dop wax for securing stones to a dop stick. I use aluminum rod and wooden dowels as dop sticks. If I am working on a very small stone, I may use the head of a nail and super glue. You should grind the head flat before you glue the stone to it. If you hang the nail and stone upside down over a soft material and slowly heat the nail, the glue will let go once the heat reaches it and melts it. Just leave the stone there until it cools off. My dop wax may be 45 years old. I heat it in a small dop wax heater that maintains it at just the right temperature. The wax does take some time to melt. I place a sheet of aluminum foil over the dop pot and then a cooking mitt. This speeds up the process. Don’t leave the cover there after the wax is up temperature or it can begin to boil. This isn’t my discovery, it was taught to me by another lapidary in the club that I belong to. Thanks again…Rob


Hey Julie,
Looking at MS Rau antiques site they say:
<<Ultrasonic cleaning is a great way to care for precious metals such as gold and platinum, diamonds, and many other untreated or softer gemstones. If you are working with softer gemstones or other precious metals, make sure to be gentle and avoid a harsh cleaning solution.

A bath of hot water with ammonia, or steaming are also great ways to clean harder gems, including diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and alexandrite.

However, there are several softer gemstones that cannot be cleaned this way: Never clean the following delicate gemstones in an ultrasonic cleaner or steamer, as they are naturally more susceptible to temperature changes: These include emeralds, aquamarine, tanzanite, feldspar, fluorite, iolite, kunzite, lapis lazuli, malachite, opal, topaz, turquoise, and zircon.

Organic materials such as amber, pearls, coral or ivory should never be treated in an ultrasonic cleaner.>>

I know this has been discussed here before, and this list sounds about right to me. I would add that tourmaline crystals can have stress in them and respond to cutting by cracking, so faceters usually grind off the rind of the crystal before dopping, holding the crystal by hand with the C axis perpendicular to the lap radius.

As far as wax dopping, green (cabbing) wax that I am familiar with melts at 160F and the brown, red and black faceting wax melts at about 185 to 190F. You don’t use cabbing wax in faceting because the polishing can generate heat and shift the stone and that throws all your subsequent facets out of line. While most stones can tolerate 190*F for dopping, and most commercial faceters I know use the black wax, I’m very conservative about thermal shock and high temps. I started using a hybrid technique where you push the stone into soft, but not melted wax to make an impression and then use superglue to glue the stone into the depression. This way you use minimal heat, but if the stone comes off the dop, there’s a unique breakage pattern and you can re-register the stone exactly and superglue it again. I have done it and it works! That said, recently a faceting mentor taught me to use only superglue and to build it up in layers using a drop or superglue and then a drop of accelerator until you have the amount you need. To remove, you heat up the back side of the metal dop and when the superglue gets the least bit warm, it lets go.

Of course, if you are dopping emerald, all bets are off and you probably use white glue to dop and no heat at all! More than most of you wanted to know, I’m sure… -royjohn


Hi Royjohn,

interesting…white glue…interesting! thank you! I will experiment!

i often see a “glue” being used to secure settings and oractice plates…i assumed it was cyanoacrylic…but perhaps not…



so, in practice i have not yet had to remove a setting with a heat sensitive stone from thermoplastic or shellac/ dopping wax…but i am always wondering about using to heat to release…

i am guessing that objects can probably be released using a lower heat…just getting the surface of the product to soften just a bit, which is probably lower than the stated melting temperatures…but i would need to use great care in controlling the heat (water, flame, heat gun)

there are other options that avoid heat:

  • a 2 part fixture where each piece is wrapped in saran wrap to avoid them sticking together when setting up

  • a fixture with a split/ hinge that allows the fixture to be bent slightly…grs sells a tool for this but it is too large for my needs

  • leaving a gap below the object so that it can be popped out…as long as there are no undercuts

i am not a fan of using water with the thermoplastics when molding the product on small things…i struggle…


I always use water to soften thermo-loc. I remove what I can immediately and then, if you get it at the right time, you can just pull it off in larger pieces. I do have to use a tooth pick to get it out of close places. I like your idea of using plastic wrap and may give it a try next time. Thanks…Rob

I recently joined the New Mexico Faceters Guild and went to their January workshop. They only dop with superglue and they generally use acetone to dissolve the superglue. I say generally because they sometimes heat the top of the dop as mentioned earlier in this thread. I was surprised that everyone used superglue. It was not even a point of discussion.


I’ve set opals and other delicate stones using Jett Sett basic many times with no problems. My biggest concern is always thermal shock, so to remove the setting and stones from Jett Sett basic, I put the setting and stones into the hot water gradually and slowly. Once the metal is warm, it usually melts the Jett Sett just around the setting so I’m usually able to pull it out without melting the whole blob of Jett Sett. That technique has always worked well.

Unrelated to Jett Sett, Bill Gangi, the lapidary artist, told me once that his method of holding stones for cabbing is to super glue them onto appropriately wide aluminum rods. So there’s another person who uses super glue to attach stones for lapidary work.


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Hi RoyJohn,

are lab- grown ruby , blue sapphire, and emerald less heat resistant…?

I am making a grandmothers cross with 10 bezel set stones…

there is also natural aqua marine and london blue topaz…

and amythyst, peridot…

i may just use pins in my ball vise…still in contemplation mode

i am going to search for the heavy double stick tape mentioned about as well!


Hi Jeff,

Do any of these sticky double sided woodworking tapes look familiar to you?


Lab grown ruby and sapphire are just as heat resistant as their natural counterparts. Lab emerald would not have all the cracks and fissures and heavy inclusions of many natural emeralds, so they would be less fragile. However, the melting point of beryl is about 1650F and I don’t know at what point before that the color would be driven off, so I wouldn’t subject it to a torch. I haven’t cut it, but I assume you could use dop wax if you heated it gradually. I myself would use the hybrid procedure I described or just use straight CA glue and accelerator. The other stones you mention would probably have color changes at torch temps, but they are typically dopped with wax, so under 200F should be safe. Just don’t shock it, use a gradual temperature rise, like playing a tweezer with the stone in it over an alcohol flame to warm it up or putting it under an incandescent floodlight or similar… -royjohn

Hi RoyJohn,
thank you! you are always a wealth of good information!

incandescent flood lamp!…i have those clamp on shop lamps…maybe i will give that a go too!

white glue
CA glue
sticky tape
flood lamp



Hi Jeff

ah! so! slowly submerging the metal portion and letting the metal heat the thermoplastic…versus dunking the whole thing in the hot water!

thank you for that advice!

so obvious! but not to me, when my brain gets over-complicated​:rofl::joy:


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My friend works Tues-Sat. I texted him yesterday. He said that he uses two type of tape. One (that he gave me) is thin. He got that from McMaster Carr. The other is thicker cloth tape and he gets it from a company in Utah, but he couldn’t remember the name.

I looked on McMaster Carr’s site and I couldn’t figure out which tape he uses. I’ve got a big roll and have had it for a while. Most of the label is worn away. All I could read is that the brand name is Permacel. I googled that and they make a variety of tapes. Lots are on Amazon.

I was pretty happy with double stick cloth carpet tape that you could get at any hardware store. Sadly, the hardware store in my little town closed a few years ago, so I’d have to order from Amazon or drive 12 miles. That’s why I got some from my friend.

I’m pretty sure that any of those tapes you see in the Woodsmith Review that advertise themselves as super sticky will be fine. It’s probably best for you to pick one and see if you like it.

Sometimes it can be hard to pry the jewelry object off of super sticky tape without scratching the metal. My favorite way to remove an object is to put it in the middle of my gravers ball with the jaws closed, so half of the object is on each side of the jaws. Then when it’s time to remove it, I open the jaws which pulls the tape off without scratching the metal. If I can’t do that for some reason, then I often gently pry it off with a polished burnisher. There’s not one answer for everything, because it depends on what you’re doing.

Hope all that helps!



Hi Jeff,

i saw this thin paper double stick tape on a woodworking video…(the first link) before i saw your latest post (thank you!!! l)

I am gravitating toward the ease of tape, and it should work well since my grandmother cross object will be broad and flat backed…i wonder what the holding power would be for the bottom surface of a little 6x8 tapered test bezel…as above photo…

(from Taylor woodworking- brand unknown)
adhesion- 47 oz per inch (on stainkess steel panel test)
(approx $12 a roll)

(and here is the Permacel, from Amazon)
adhesion- 81 oz per inch (on stainless steel panel test)
(aporox $25 a roll)

both are thin tapes, rubber and resin, on paper backing
both are recommended for woodworkers and machinists…

i am going to try the Permacel

exciting!! i love learning about useful products!!

thanks everyone!




i am happy to report that my first test using the Permacel P-01 Nitto double sided tape was successful!

it held a small bezel i made, out of 1mm x 4.25mm strip (SS)

so, basically the walls were 1mm thick…and the oval was around 6x8mm…

i filed the bottom flat, and taped it to a piece of wood

i held the wood in my hand and burred the seat

i wasnt sure if there was enough surface area making contact with the tape to get a secure enough hold…

it held!!

woohoo! thank you jeff!


taped to wood

the underside surface area

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second test…using a new piece of tape…and the sane bezel as above…

hammering the bezel with a badeco hammer handpiece…1mm thickness bezel wall…hammered at a 45 degree angle (no bevel filed)…as well as straight down…

i started with my thumb pressing down on the bezel whole hammering…when i removed my thumb and kept hammering, the tape held!

p.s. the tape bonds together really well…i can see using it to “strap down” pieces further…