I recently purchased the Italian made round bezel forming punch set
from Rio Grande. The problem is that when I try to form a bezel, the
punch tears through the metal. I have tried silver which was work
hardened, annealed, thick, thin, started working from the largest
hole, the smallest hole, medium sized hole. I tried dapping the
metal first. I tried light blows and heavy blows. The result is
always the same; the punch goes through the metal causing it to tear
the silver along three lines.
The punch is designed to fit all the holes in the plate at 17
degrees from the largest to the smallest. The tip of the punch comes
to an acute point. The point is so sharp it could easily penetrate
skin and muscle, not to mention silver flat stock.
I am thinking that the point of the punch is too sharp and needs to
be rounded off. But I am loathe to modify a $100 tool, voiding the
warranty and making it un-returnable before checking with others.
You all are the others.
Has anyone else had this problem? Did you fix it? How? Any and all
ideas are appreciated.
I recently purchased the Italian made round bezel forming punch
set from Rio Grande. The problem is that when I try to form a
bezel, the punch tears through the metal. I have tried silver which
was work hardened, annealed, thick, thin, started working from the
largest hole, the smallest hole, medium sized hole. I tried dapping
the metal first. I tried light blows and heavy blows. The result is
always the same; the punch goes through the metal causing it to
tear the silver along three lines.
The tool that you refer to is called bezel block. It is extremely
useful if used correctly.
The bezel is formed using pliers first. One must be able to calculate
proper length of the strip, which is generally equal to mean stone
diameter + one thickness, and the resulting sum should be multiplied
by 3. Theoretically it is 3.14. Once bezel is shaped approximately,
the bezel block is used to refine the shape. and it is multi-step
process. The punch itself is used only in the very last step. Before
using punch, bezel must be conformed to the block.
I have a DVD “Coronet Cluster”, where I demonstrate the use of bezel
block among other things. You will find more about the
DVD on my website.
Those blocks are tricky, I have only been able to use them to true
conical bezels and even then they are tricky since centering is
always a problem. If you are trying to make bezel cups you will
never succeed. You need to start with a cone not a disk or cylinder.
Formulas for cones can be found in Murray Bovin’s and other books.
And since you are starting with a cone the blocks are not much help.
I bought a bunch of different shapes of those blocks thinking they
would speed up production of the different shapes only to find I
needed to have the bezels almost perfect to fit into the blocks in
the first place. So I could never really figure out how they were
supposed to help.
Your problem is trying to produce a bezel from a solid flat disk.
That will tear just about every time. Not how it’s done. Start with a
washer shape, a disk with a clean, centered, smooth hole in the
middle such that the remaining rim is as wide as you wish your bezel
to be tall. Making a bezel this way tends to produce one with a
thicker upper edge and a thinner base, which is not always what you
might wish, but if it is, that’s how to get there.
Or, alternatively (and this is how I most frequently use these),
make a straight sided bezel, that drops down a bit into the desired
hole (ie, a short, thick walled tube). Use the punch to flare it to
the clean tapered shape. You can even start with a tube shape as wide
as your desired bezel will be on top, but then, instead of using the
punch to flare it, you have to press it down into the appropriate
hole. This compresses the base of the bezel, thickening it, while
leaving the top edge the same thickness. You get it “about there”
this way, then clean it up with the punch. You can press it down into
the hole with an actual press, a vise if you hold the whole thing
vertically (clumsy, but it works) or with a hammer (use a flat block
on top of the bezel to keep things level, and hammer the block down)
I most commonly use a small arbor press for this, myself.
Instead of thinking of bezel blocks as neato quickie tools that do
the whole job for you, of making a beze or the preform for making a
crown headl, instead think of them as forming dies who’s main role is
to take a preshaped bit of metal and refine that shape into a
perfectly uniform one. You have to start with something closer to the
end result than just a flat disk.
If you’re talking about making a round bezel that conforms to a cone
shape in the block hears what you need to do. When making a bezel to
fit a certain stone size, I measure the outside diameter of the
stone. Your block will have the different size holes in millimeters
stamped on it. Make a round bezel smaller then you need to fit the
stone. Now take the round bezel and place it in a larger hole then
you need and with a hammer with a smooth face pound it into the hole.
This will start the cone shape and compress the metal so that when
you insert the forming tool it will start to spread the cone open.
You must anneal the silver after each stretching to prevent the
tearing you described. Go slow and see how that works for you and
keep checking the stone for fit. You want to have the stone sit just
on top of the bezel or just inside, then use your stone setting burs
to make your final seat to fit.
You’ve purchased a 17 degree tapered bezel block for round stones.
Strictly speaking this tool doesn’t make bezels only. It is designed
to produce a round hollow cone or hollow frustum(a conic section
bisected between two parallel planes at ninety degrees to the main
axis of the cone). The blank produced can be used to make crowns or
heads, under bezels for prong settings or just neat cone sections
for fabrication. I never had much success using it to make thin
bezels out of sheet metal discs for cabs even if I punched a hole for
the tip of the punch through the metal disc first. This tool does
excel at producing thick walled bezels for setting faceted stones or
making prong settings. I usually start by creating a thick walled
bezel (.8 -1mm thick) with a fused or hard soldered butt joint. This
tube(bezel ) is forced into the appropriate tapered hole(start on a
hole larger in diameter than desired bezel that leaves just a bit of
the tube protruding above the block) by gently tapping the top of the
tube with a planishing hammer. Do your best to keep your hammer blows
parallel with the flat surface of the block. When the tube top is
even with surface of the block move to the next smaller hole until
you reach the desired setting size. An arbor or hydraulic press is
an even better way to force the metal into the tapered hole( less
distortion to the top of the bezel). Anneal the metal along the way
as it hardens and especially after you reach the desired tapered
hole. Only after I reached the desired taper size do I use the punch
to force the metal blank up against the inside of the tapered die
hole. I file of the top of the frustum flush with the bezel block
(while still in the tapered hole) to establish reference surface
perpendicular to the main axis of the conic section. I use this flat
surface to establish other parrell surfaces and trim the height of
the conic section. Since pictures are worth a thousand words I’m
going to refer you to a hidi (how I do It) by Hans Meevis:
am thinking that the point of the punch is too sharp and needs to
be rounded off.
Ummm, that suggests to me that you are trying to form the bezel with
sheet metal with no hole, such as a disc. If that’s what you do then
that’s the problem.
You’d use a washer or make a preform with flat wire. Either way
there’s a hole in the middle of the piece. The punch tip is not used.
I often use heavy gauge flatwire for my bezels for this block and
punch. But because its soldered, there is a tendency to rip the seam
apart. One way around that is to first hammer the tube into a tapered
hole to shrink the base, not like crazy, just some. Like a mm or so
into the hole. The top now has less expanding to do to come to size.
Sometimes if needed you can finish off by using the 28 degree punch
on the bezel while its still in the 17 block That nicely rams the
edge home for crisp clean top.
You can, with practice, turn a washer into a cone or collet. No
seams. The main problem that you have encountered, I think, is that
you are using a disc–no hole.
I usually dap or dome the washer first and then proceed to the
plate. As with many things in this field we tend to think of a
process, especially when it involves a die, as a one step thing.
The collet plate/punch is really a refining tool. In this case, it
refines the dapped washer into a cone. And then the cone is further
refined. I often hammer the top without a punch into the plate and
then refine with the punch in the plate.
I also often use it to turn a thick walled tube into a cone/collet/
bezel. I have several plates and punches: 28 degree, 17 degree and a
The one thing that I’m not great at is the math of predicting what a
tube or dapped washer will yield dimensionally. I usually go from the
So I could never really figure out how they were supposed to help.
they work best and compression dies. Start with a straight walled
version of your shape, about equal to the desired “top edge” size.
Use a hammer or arbor press etc to press that down into the block to
force it to a uniform taper. Finish with the punch to clean it up
and perfect it. Then, still with it jammed down into the block, you
can file the top flat and parallell to the top of the block, which
gives you a squared up horizontal reference surface for further work
if you need.
The punch is designed to turn a round bezel or a washer into a
conical bezel - not to pierce sheet.
It is possible to use bezel block with washers, but it limits
application to thinner gages, concentricity becomes an issue, only
applicable to round types, and so on. The list of objections is quite
long. The main benefit of bezel block is converting strip of metal in
3 dimensional setting without generating too much scrap. With today’s
metal prices and labour surcharges on sheet metal, it is especially
significant. Making washers defeats it’s scrap saving feature.
That said, washer technique produced setting without a seam. While
working with platinum, it is a desired property, and extra waste
generated by technique is justified. Of course one must have tools
for making accurate washers as well, and arbor press becomes almost a
must. Also, washers must be annealed to perfection to produce
If you hammer the bezel into the hole & then file flat, won’t it get
stuck? And if so, how would you suggest to get it out’ thank you all
in advance- you’ve been so helpful & I’ve learned so much from you.