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[Magnification] sore eyes

I have been working with a 5 x loupe(alternating with a 10x),
attached to my eye with rubber bands strung together

for the last 10 days , so I can see the detail of the wax model
(2 Cm lon g Aphrodite, realistic nude) .At the end of the day my
forehead and eyes are numb. I’m a green jeweler and would like
som e advice regarding best way to do this kind of work and be able
to keep doing it (my current vision is 20/20). Also, is there a
way to get around the problem of wax building up on my tools and
her face ( 3 mm high) which means spending more time cleaning
things up

than actually carving or building. I’m using McCaughin red,
Perfect Purple, and green inlay wax and they all seem to be doing
pretty much the same on this small of a scale.

Thanks, Peter Slone

Dear Peter, I purchased an Optivisor after trying one out at a
workshop (Thanks to Tom Muir) It’s great makes my aging eyes
sharp again. Comfortable to wear and useful for taking splinters
out of my kids fingers too Look in the Rio Grande or Gesswein

Hello peter, i use a freezing spray that i buy at an electronics
parts store. i will either freeze my burrs, orfreeze the wax with
the spray can. at this point, there is no build up on the tool or
patern until either one heats up a bit. The spray is made by
chemtronics and is called “freeze-it 2000” the tel. on the can
is 800-645-5244 they may be able to tell you of a dealer near
you. If you evre need those waxes cast , that is one of the
services that i offer. Dan Grandi

WOW!! that has got to be uncomfortable! I would suggest you
aquire an “Optivisor”. It’s a magnifying headset you wear like a
baseball cap. Most jewelry suppliers have them, but the best
price I have found is at Eloxite in Wheatland, WY. Phone-
307-322-3050 about $20 I think. (Shop local first as shipping to
where you are might eat your savings.) Very comfortable. I have
worn mine for hours on end. Also available are loupe lenses that
attach to the headset and pivot out of the way when not in use.
Perhaps one of the casters on the list can help with your wax
problem? later, MTR

Hi Peter,

Be sure to change your focus regularly. Focus away from the
work about 10 ft. for 30 seconds then 50 ft for 30 sec. and then
to infinity. Your lenses in your eyes are becoming fatigued
from constantly being squinsched up. I use Keeler optic 4x
magnifiers. They are the ones used by some dentists but mostly
by surgeons. They cost an arm and a leg. Mine are 14 years old
and I need to replace the frames, Many dental techs use a B&L
macroscope or similar optic. They have multiple power settings
up to at least 20x but they also have depth of field and a
large field of view (for the power). They can be had with their
own halogen lighting system. This setup costs 2 arms, 3 legs
and your firstborn (I don’t have one) but they are really nice!


Aloha Stephanie, You may want to consider a dissecting
microscope,as use in your old biology class. It has a good focal
point (and may be easier on your back and eyes!), interchangable
lenses, and is also stereo(to give you better depth of field). I
always tried not to use loupes and optivisors, because you begin
to depend on them. Loupes should be use for inspection only,take
it from a guy who is blind in one eye, and can’t see out of the
other,LOL!!! Dental inlay wax (ask Skipmiester) is nice to work
in, but requires a very exact and light touch. To polish or
remove shavings, try a q-tip using spitle (yeah) or water,
slightly warmed on a bunsen burner(or alcohol lamp)and wipe or
rub,gently. You may like to try a machineable wax like the blue
or green Matt wax. Give it a try!!

Christian Grunewald
Precision Modelmaking

Thank you all for responding to my plea for help.

Skip, do you or anyone else know where to find these keeler
optic dealies (those things physicians wear during surgery) or

And Dan, I found the freeze-it 2000 and tried it on my cat
first- - he’ s still thawing out by the fire- - but it cracks my
green inlay wax and my perfect purple but

leaves the Sierra Red from McCaughin intact – Am I using this

Thank you all for the tip on the Optivisor ( I have two), but,
working on this small of a scale (3 mm diameter faces-- imagine)
makes an Optivisor-- Obsolete. Maybe there is something I don’t
know about here, but as far as I know they only make them up to
about 5 power and any thing higher would make using them very

Hi Stephanie,

Look in your Yellow pages under Medical, Dental or Physicians
Supply. They may not stock them, but probably know where to order
them or refer you.


Optivisors are available with lenses marked from 2 to 10. The
strength is marked in the corner of the lens. You can order a new
lens to replace you r existing one for about half the price of a
new Optivisor. If your existing lens is a 5 a 10 might provide an
improved image. Try it out at a craft store first if possible.

Hi, The Keeler Optics I have, have a broken frame after 15+ years
of service, s I called and ordered new frames. While I had them
on the phone I asked them how much they now cost. I almost
needed to change my skivvies when she said $1395. Mine are 4x
and I bought them for $700. Call 1-800-555-1212 and ask the
operator for the toll free number for Keeler Instruments in
Pennsylvania. You might also want to look into a binocular
macroscope. Call Zahn Dental Supply at 1-800-496-9500 and ask
for a catalog. They have several of them in there.


Skip Meister
N.R.A. Endowment &
Certified Instructor
in all disciplines
Certified Illinois D.N.R.
Hunter Ed, Instructor

GRS sells a Meiji microscope with a half diopter objective lens.
It zooms from 3.5 to 22 power magnification and has a working
distance of about 6 inches. This long distance is important, you
have room for your tools and lighting. GRS makes a couple of
stands for it and also offers a halogen light system. I have one-
once I got used to looking in a different direction than my
hands actually were, it became very easy to use. It also has a
forehead rest. Many diamond setters use microscopes at about
6-10 power during setting, and another jeweler bought one to do
intaglio gem carving after trying out my Meiji. The Meiji scope
costs about 1/2 of what the GIA charges for their Leica, which
would not do this job very well.

The important thing is the working distance- older Nikon and
Olympus microscopes had longer focal lengths than more recent
models- they were purchased primarily by chip manufacturers for
inspecting welds and other flat work where working distance was
not critical, so the manufacturers started making them with a
shorter focus distance. Look around in computer surplus stores-
they sometimes have used inspection microscopes. You also need
good lighting and a very solid stand that is not in the way.
There are fluorescent ring lights that fit around the objective
lens and provide very even illumination. The reason I recommend
the GRS package is that I like it, and it is set up properly for
exactly the type of detail work that you describe- they sell it
as an adjunct to their engraving equipment. They now offer a
model with a video camera port- you can watch your carving on a
large TV screen!

Richard D. Hamilton
A goldsmith on Martha’s Vineyard
Fabricated 14k, 18k, 22k, and platinum Jewelry
wax carving, modelmaking, jewelry photography,
and sailing whenever I can…

   working on this small of a scale (3 mm diameter faces--
imagine) makes an Optivisor-- Obsolete. Maybe there is
something I don't know about here, but as far as I know they
only make them up to about 5 power and any thing higher would
make using them very difficult. 

The keeler optics, per an email from skip, are probably out of
the price range. At least they are for me. And though they are
likely far clearer optics, I’d expect that they magnification
(4x?) might still be too low for you.

You might wish to try what I’ve done for the last 25 years. I
use a single monocular eye loupe, and work with only one eye at a
time. this takes a bit of practice, but once you learn to keep
both eyes open and don’t squint or strain, just concentrate on
what your seeing through the loupe, then it works for me for
extended periods of time, despite my eyes having fallen victim
to various laser surgeries needed to control diabetic damage.

The key to eye loupes is the quality of their lens. Most
"watchmakers" loupes are low power single lens optics. In a
word, lousy. What you want is the quality of lens that you see
in a diamond grading loupe, a hastings triplet. A ten power
hastings triplet loupe is clear and undistorted. The working
distance is only 1 inch from the front of the lens, but you’d be
surprised at how much you can do with that once you get used to
it. I can do whole pave’ set pieces entirely within that working
distance, and carving small details on a wax is not any more
difficult. At 10x, even tiny details are easy to see, and
watching what the tool is actually doing close up makes it much
more controllable.

Obviously, the standard hand loupe isn’t the way to do this.
Get one of the baush and lomb eye loupes with the 10 x hastings
triplet. GIA sells them if you can’t find them in your local
favorite supplier’s stock. They are not cheap. last one i
bought, several years ago, ran about 45 dollars, and I expect
they are more now. They come without any headspring attached,
which is silly since they are too heavy a lens to easily hold in
an eye socket for more than a couple seconds. There is a
headspring attachment made, into which the loupe clips, but I
find it akward, too long, and funny feeling. I take a clock
spring, or the headspring pirated from one of the cheap single
lens headspring loupes, and fit it to the 10 x one. Usually
means drilling a little hole in the spring, and another two small
ones in the loupe. The end of the spring gets bent over into the
farther hole, while a rivet joins the both at the hole closer to
the edge of the loupe. Not hard to do. Then, I also take a
burr, and cut a hole, about a half inch diameter, but oval, into
the side of the loupe that will face my nose when it’s over my
eye. This way, I can move my focus from through the lens, to
through the hole, where vision with both eyes is then possible
to see what’s other than in that 1 inch from the loupe space.
Makes useing the loupe much more convienient, while still not
keeping enough light out from in back of the loupe to keep it
glare free in use. Functions then a bit like bifocals to, except
it’s glancing to the side to see normally, and back straight in
front to use the loupe. And when you don’t need the loupe for a
bit, the spring holds it to your forhead instead of to you eye,
so it’s right there when you need it again. With a little
practice, I’ve found this arrangement to be convenient and
effective, and well within my budget as well.

Hope this helps.

Peter Rowe

  Optivisors are available with lenses marked  from 2 to 10.
The strength is marked in the corner of the lens. You can order
a new lens to replace you r existing one for about half the
price of a new Optivisor. If your existing lens is a 5 a 10
might provide an improved image. Try it out at a craft store
first if possible. 

Note that the “strength” is NOT a magnification multiplier
number: a number 5 plate is not 5X magnification. The number is
a diopter measurement. The number 10 plate is a 10 diopter
magnifier, which is about as strong as you can make a simple lens
binocular magnifier before parallax effects of the single lens
design makes it harder and harder to see through clearly. It’s
somewhere around a 4x or 5X, I think. But it’s not a 10x
magnifier. Higher magnifications require that optics be used to
bring the two optical paths closer togther, so they are not
converging on the object from wildly differing angles. Binocular
microscopes do this, or you can use, in essesnce, small
telescopes, so that although high magnification is being
effected, the object viewed is still far enough in front of the
eyes that the parallax problems aren’t enough to make you

By the way, two other sources: Edmund Scientific offers a small
headband type magnifier where each eye has an individually
focussable telescope type magnifier. Probably somewhat the poor
mans version of Skip’s magnifier. I seem to recall prices in the
400 range.

And GRS, the engraving tools manufacturer, offers a nice zoom
binocular scope specifically adapted for bench jewelry work.
Nice scope. Wish I could afford one…

Hope this helps.

Peter Rowe

Skip, I now have 4 keeler optic binocular magnifiers, ranging
from 2x-5.5 x, here in my studio to try out for a few days. I find
it a little strange t o keep my head still to remain in focus; the
view seems a bit dark compared to

the traditional eye glass loupes. I dont seem to find these
really wow. These are used(maybe I will get a good deal??). Is
there something I’m missing or does it take time to get used to
these or is what I’m seei ng what I’m getting? Why do you like
yours and when do you use them and when do you use the
alternatives( i.e. loupes)
Thanks, Senior Slone


I use the 4x loupes with no glass in the frames. I don’t
experience any darkness at all. My light source is a Dazor lamp
with a ring fluorescent and an incandescent light bulb. I also
have, when necessary, a halogen 100 watt lamp used to get extra
light, or shadowless light. I like my loupes because they are
crystal clear, bright and convenient.

The good Lord gifted me with incredible close vision. You have
heard of people who wrote the Lords prayer on the head of a pin?
I used to be able to read it without magnification. Age and
diabetes have taken their toll. I went from no loupes to the
Keeler 4x, so I naturally had to get used to them. The
difficulty is not keeping your head still,but to keep your
hands/work the same distance (within focal length) from the
loupes. It is the same for all loupes. Whether you know it or
not the Kelers have a much greater focal distance and depth of
field than Optivisors etc. and are much friendlier to your
eyes. It took me about a week to get totally used to them.

I was wondering if you have the interpupilary distance adjusted
correctly. If this isn’t adjusted correctly you will be in
focus but the view will be darker and you will not have a
circular viewing area. You will have 2 overlapping circles that
are fuzzy around the edges and slightly dark.

I never use anything but the K.O. They have been my constant
companion for about 15 yrs. Right now I am lost without them
while I get new frames sent (they should arrive today I hope :).
I some times use a Hastings triplet 10x in conjunction with the
K.O. I am assuming that the factory rep brought these over to
try. Drag him over the coals! He should be able to explain

I was wondering what the focal distance of the 5.5x loupes is?
Several years after I bought mine I had heard that they had come
out with the 5.5x’s with the same focal distance as the 4x’s. I
hope that I have answered your questions. If I can be of
further assistance you may email me off the forum if you wish.

Warmest Regards,

Skip Meister
N.R.A. Endowment &
Certified Instructor
in all disciplines
Certified Illinois D.N.R.
Hunter Ed, Instructor

Hi Skip- I agree with your logic about the loupes. I sometimes
use a set that I got from Edmund Scientific, the stereomax ones,
eyeglass-type, although rather expensive ($475) They work very
well after you get used to them and get the interpupilary
distance right for you. I don’t use them except when necessary,
as I was taught by an old jeweler who was of the opinion that
magnification makes your sight loss happen faster if you rely on
them. I also have a 10x microscope I bought for $100 that came
from Russia a few years back. I figured it was worth the gamble
and it paid off as it works great. It all takes a certain amount
of getting used to as all of your directions are reversed. The
microscope from GRS is great, but too expensive for me! I hope
you’re listening Jonathan Didde. I took a base from an indicator
like machinist use and built a stand for the microscope and it
works well. Cost $150 max. If I hit the lotto maybe I’ll buy one
from GRS one day. The Russians produce very high quality optics
and this company bought when money was scarse there. We use them
to set pave’ and mine works as well as the $2000 one that a
friend brought with him from Europe where he learned to set. The
Russians are also way ahead on night vision scopes, about 1/4 of
the price here. Regards- Ricky Low Houston, Texas