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How to notch very small prongs for faceted stones?

Hi - I’ve got some unnotched, preformed prong settings 3 x 5 mm. How do I notch them? I just tried a cutting disk but it chopped one prong off straight away. My saw skids too much to make 4 consistent accurate notches. Even needle files seem too big to make the notches. Any suggestions?

If you have a flex shaft handpiece, you need a set of hart burs.
You cut in approximately 1/3 the depth of the prong.


you could start by using your divider…dragging the sharp point of one leg to uniformly scribe a teeny notch on your prong…with the other leg on the top of the prong to maintain a consistent distance down… this is to give your sawblade something to track on…

you could then use a 4/0, 6/0 saw blade, guided by your fingernail, to make the notch a teeny bit bigger…this is to give your triangle or square file something to track on…

you would be just using the small tapered end of the file to open up the seat…you could then use a round needle file if you need to

escapement files are handy for this…they are smaller than needle files

my favorites escapement files are safety barrette, triangle, square, and especially round in 2,4, and 6 cut

artco has a broad selection of shapes and cuts


Thank you very much for this Julie. I didn’t expect such a helpful reply so quickly. Brilliant!
All the best

I find they’re called Busch burrs here in UK. Am ordering some now!
Thanks again

Busch is the brand name. Busch makes a very extensive line of burs and is probably the most widely sold brand.
That said, if you’re new to prong setting I suggest starting with needle files or escapement files. You’ll have much better control while you’re learning to get the seats at equal heights and depth.
All you need is a four-square escapement file and a barrette needle file to get the job done. The four-square to cut the seats and the barrette to clean up the prongs after you push them. Get them in cut #4.

how much is “teeny-notch”, a “fingernail” measurement? how do you “chop off a prong”? What tool do you use to chop a claw? I tried to Google these names but to no avail. Remember this forum goes to many countries, please, in all honesty, use better measurements, PLEASE! How long is a “consistent distance down”? Down from where to where? please be more precise in your measurements!!.":>(
Gerry Lewy!

hi Gerry,

thank you for your reply…i did not mean to upset…

my post was merely to suggest some tools to use…i was not giving instructions on the fine art of stone setting…

i hope you are doing well


hi David,

i forgot to mention, regarding when using saw blades to make a teeny notch (just a stroke or two)…if you drag the saw blade backward toward you, it will still cut/score the metal and be less likely to skitter off your mark…


You didn’t upset me one iota! I just wanted your instructions to be more easy to understand. Even I found some of your instructions somewhat difficult to understand.
Let’s put your comments into the mind of a jewellery-person who lives in a foreign country.
Would they be able to figure out what you were trying to talk about? Would these people know what a “notch” is?
When I write my essays, I have to write in a basic “easy to understand” language.
My apologies to you, I meant you no disrespect in your writing!
Have a great day!

“Gerry, on my iPhone”

Hi Gerry - thanks for your consideration regarding clarity of writing - as a former Principal Medical Writer at a medical communications agency, that was really important to me. I stressed to the writers I mentored the importance of using ‘Plain English’ wherever possible. But don’t worry - I even used the word ‘notch’ in my original question, so no problem there. I took up silversmithing again when I retired from that line of work in April 2021. I’d learned the basics in metalwork at school, then met a Canadian guy in Amsterdam who showed me that the techniques I’d learned also applied to silver and then I spent 18 months travelling the USA in the late 1970s, earning my living and travel costs by making and selling silver jewellery - at Jacksons Square, New Orleans, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco and 3 months in Albuquerque NM. I’ve dabbled a bit in silversmithing over the years since then, but was mainly working as a medical writer. My trouble is I’ve forgotten a lot of stuff I used to know - e.g. mounting stones in tiny claw settings (I call the claws ‘prongs’) But you, Julie and your Ganoksin colleagues have been truly wonderful with your generous and helpful responses to my question. Thank you all.