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If not an engraving ball... then what?


#1

A number of years ago I took some basic jewelry classes and was
taught something that has never worked for me…

My instructor at that time, in order to finish setting a cabochon in
a bezel setting, would wrap the outer edge of the piece in leather to
protect it… and set it in a vice for setting. Then using a bezel
pusher and hammer would continue with the work.

This was okay if your piece had straight sides…but mine never did
and I always struggled to do this. So I purchased what is called a
peg clamp, (Rio & Stuller carry them) a hand held tool to hold ‘odd
shaped’ articles. It’s never been the answer for me as it’s never
been solid enough to really work the way I would like it to and I
find it clumsy. ?

So…if one isn’t using an engraving ball…or a GRS system, what do
you use to hold your work while setting it? ?? Looking for more
affordable options…(I am not a tool maker so that probably isn’t
an option…)

Thanks for any input,

Liane


#2

You might try jet sett, a moldable plastic, to hold you piece while
setting. It can be molded onto the end of a dowel, or clamped in a
vise or ring clamp.


#3

I was taught to set odd shapes into shellac (or now Jett Set), on a
angled steel holder or in a deep cup, clamp this holder in a regular
shop vise and work with a small punch and hammer. It did the job.
Now I use an antique engraver’s block (or GRS stone setting holders),
a GRS system and Meiji microscope. There is simply no comparison
between my previous setting work and what I can do with this
combination of tools. I sat down with Joel McFaddon on the floor of
the Buffalo Bench Jewelers Conference a few years ago, and he showed
me this combination of tools, and after I played a bit right there, I
was amazed at what huge difference I saw, immediately! There is
always more than one way to get the job done, and I am always willing
to experiment a bit to see what works best, but for me having the
right tools at hand beats “making do”. If I can see a difference in
the final results, then I’ll find a way to get the tool that produces
the result I want.


#4

Hi Liane, as far as I know the simplest way is to use shellac or
wax. Me lt some on a thick wooden block, warm your piece set it in
place. Put the block in a vise and your good to go.

Use just enough to hold the piece or removal can be time consuming.
The piece may be removed by immersing in warm water, gentle heat or
denatured alcohol will dissolve wax.

Have a good one, Jim


#5

Liane,

A chunk of wood and shellac or sealing wax to hold the work. Clamp
the wood in a vice. Flat wood for flat stuff, a thick disk for
bracelets. For really awkward pieces I use a pitch bowl (pitch all
the way to the bottom, none of this 1/2 filling the bowl with cement
to save pitch$)

JeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#6

Liane, try thermo plastic, that stuff is awesome. I’ve seen a hammer
with one of the faces made of thermo plastic that is several years
old and still looks pretty good. I was able to set a lifesaver size/
shape sterling jump ring in some, mount it in a vise, and stamp it
with 1/16" letter stamps with no problem.

http://www.ottofrei.com/store/home.php?cat=745

Jason


#7

Shove your ring on the Mandrel/Triblet so it cant move around and put
a rubber band over the stone so it wont hop out while setting. Then
drill a hole in the side of your bench (just next to your peg). You
can wedge your triblet between your body and the hole without it
moving, this leaves both hands free to set your stone. Make sure you
hammer your setting tool (i use a flattened nail), at right angles
to the triblet otherwise you may find you are unintentionally pushing
up the size of the ring you are setting.

Good old fashioned way of setting signets and rub over rings!

Good luck
jon


#8
what do you use to hold your work while setting it? 

I use GRS’s Thermo-loc in an ordinary vice. It’s a thermo-plastic
that’s soft and moldable when hot and very solid when cold. I heat
it under water in my microwave, then set my piece into it securely,
making a flange underneath for the vice jaws to clamp onto. I set it
in the vice while it’s still hot so that the vice jaws flatten the
flange to the correct shape. I’ll often set the next piece in
Thermo- loc while the first one hardens. If I’m pressed for time,
I’ll remove the first piece from the vice and plunge it into cold
water to speed up the setting time of the plastic. Once you’ve set
your stones, it can be reheated in the water in the microwave and the
piece usually just falls out, ready for finishing.

Other, similar products are sold by other companies. Jett-Sett (?)
is another one that springs to mind and I think there are even less
expensive ones out there too.

I used to really struggle with the same problem until a friend
pointed this stuff out to me. It holds your piece rock-solid and lets
you get on with the business of hammering that bezel home, using two
hands - wonderful! No marks from the vice jaws but perfectly
supported jewellery. Try it, I’m sure you’ll like it.

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk
http://helensgems.ganoksin.com/blogs/


#9

Liane,

So...if one isn't using an engraving ball...or a GRS system, what
do you use to hold your work while setting it? ?? Looking for more
affordable options 

My cheapskate solution is a combination of

(1) Orange Shellac ($9.50),
http://www.progresstool.com/pd_orange.cfm

(2) A shellac fixture ($8.85),
http://www.progresstool.com/pd_handle_shellac_fixture_jig1.cfm

(3) and a bench pin for the fixture ($3.65)
http://www.progresstool.com/pd_bench_pin_for_ring_clamp_-_2-12.cfm

Jamie


#10
So...if one isn't using an engraving ball...or a GRS system, what
do you use to hold your work while setting it? 

A sand bag. For flat pieces or sides of rings etc.


#11

Actually a product called Adapt It is much better than jet sett. You
can get Adapt It from Douglas & Sturgess in San Francisco, CA.
http://www.artstuf.com

Has MANY other uses, making large handles on dental tools, custom
hammer heads, finger braces, wrist braces, etc. LOTS of uses.

I am not affiliated with Douglas & Sturgess. I am just a very long
time, happy customer.

John Dach


#12
Liane, try thermo plastic, that stuff is awesome.

I like this solution myself. I just want to point out that casts and
splints are often made of thermoplastic these days, so save them! Or
if you know someone who works in an ER or an Ortho dept, they throw
away all the trimmings, maybe they’ll save you some.

Noel


#13

Thank you everyone for your input. Alot of suggestions to look
at here and I appreciate them all. I’ve put enough ‘dings’ in bezels
over the years from unstable devices that I knew there had to be
another way…

Liane


#14

Hi Liane,

For much of my working life I used a ring clamp, you know, just two
pieces of wood that are hinged in the center, notched with leather
on each end and a wedge to secure the ring. It works great but it
ties up one of your hands for the most part. The GRS Benchmate
system is really the way to go, it holds work securely and frees up
both of your hands. I also use the GRS mini engraving ball
frequently (with a microscope), but never the big one…it just
collects dust.

Mark


#15
Actually a product called Adapt It is much better than jet sett. 

How are the two products different? Noel


#16
How are the two products different? 

Adapt it does NOT have the “chalk” fillers. Stronger and easier to
use, at least that is my experience.

John Dach


#17
The GRS Benchmate system is really the way to go, it holds work
securely and frees up both of your hands. I also use the GRS mini
engraving ball frequently (with a microscope), but never the big
one...it just collects dust. 

Hmm, I have a Standard GRS ball under my Meiji scope. What do you
like about the mini ball?


#18

Hello Orchidland,

For those who use a thermoplastic (like Jettset), ask your friendly
physical therapist for the scraps from the sheets they use to shape
supports and mold grips for spoons and such. I don’t know what it is
called, but the material becomes pliable when heated under water and
is rigid when cooled. Indefinetly reusable.

Judy in Kansas, who is a passionate reuser, recycler, repairer - or
maybe just plain cheap. ;o)


#19
Actually a product called Adapt It is much better than jet sett.
You can get Adapt It from Douglas & Sturgess in San Francisco, CA.
http://www.artstuf.com 

I just called up the website mentioned: ‘artstuf.com’ and found
’adapt-it’ under the heading thermoplastics. There’s another listed
’protoplast’ which is the better, IMHO. As with most things YGWYPF.

I’ve used protoplast; it was devised for theatrical purposes. It
looks almost translucent. I could never get ‘jett set’ into a
satisfactory consistency.

For the sake of full info Glendo (GRS) has a product called 'thermo-
loc and a website to explain its uses. I’ve seen a demo but have not
personally used it. I’m a big fan of Glendo; they make well crafted
things. And if it’s important to you they are really nice people
almost family.

KPK


#20
For much of my working life I used a ring clamp 

I first encountered this problem when I designed and made a suite of
jewellery for my daughter’s prom night. I fabricated and soldered
together a number of bezel settings in a sort of "bubble"
arrangement. Each piece, the pendant, the earrings and the ring had
a similar arrangement as its main focus. The ring was the only piece
I managed to set neatly, because it had a shank underneath the
element being set. I was able to simply clamp the shank in the vice
and set the stones.

However, there was no tool available that would hold the pendant or
earrings and so the setting job was extremely messy. They were very
early pieces and so generally very poor anyway, but I’ve remade them
a couple of months ago and it’s a suite that gets borrowed by family
members - very popular! But my point is that I realised there must
be a better way and that’s when a friend sent me some thermo-plastic.
I’ve not looked back since. You can set the strangest shaped pieces
of jewellery in it and it will be held rock-solid, freeing up both
your hands for hammer and punch should you wish to use them.

Helen
UK