Yes, Dave (Stephens), if you can find Peter Rowe's guide to the
"perfect bezel" I'd like to see it posted in Orchid (with his
permission, of course). I've made hundreds of bezels but I'm
always interested in learning what others do. You provided great
info and I had some thoughts as I read it.
I've often felt I need a couple more hands when wrapping bezel
wire around stones (particularly small ones) to mark the wire for
cutting. The following low-tech but effective device helps a lot.
Locate an L-shaped steel bracket used to reinforce corners in
window frames and other stuff made of wood. They come in a range
of sizes and hardware stores have them for pennies. They have
pre-drilled screw holes. Select an appropriate size and screw it
down to a small piece of board or your bench top. (I compromised
by drilling a couple of holes thru the board and into the bench.
When I want to make a bunch of bezels I align the holes and drop
a couple of flat-head nails into them to hold the board
temporarily in place).
Wrap the wire loosely around the stone, overlapping the
joint-to-be. Then jam the overlapped area against the inside
corner of the L so the bezel wire is held in position. This
frees one hand to tighten the wire the desired amount and mark it
precisely. Precision marking and cutting result in
professional-looking (and fitting) bezels.
Another thought. A light graver cut around the top edge of a
bezel is the perfect finishing touch. But beginners are
sometimes afraid to try (isn't it amazing how tiny glitches
can draw the eye?) If the style of the piece is appropriate,
small learning-curve goof-ups can be hidden by milgraining the
top bezel edge. The milgrain tool can also be used to create
complementary textures in other areas of the design. While
milgraining has an old-fashioned connation, I've used it
effectively (I think!) in contemporary pieces.