Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Newbie, specific questions regarding tools needed

I am in the early stage of assembling the supplies, tools and equipment I’ll need to begin a nascent jewelry-fabricating enterprise.

I will be 3d printing (DLP),
making my investment mold,
casting in gold, 925 and sterling (and perhaps occasionally brass),
Post-cast processing (cleaning, polishing, etc)
Ring Sizing to order (occasionally, as I may want a small inventory on hand)
And at some point stone-setting

  1. I need to purchase a handpiece yet. Recommendations for a versatile, quality tool, or what factors I should be considering for this purchase?
  2. (for above) I need to also know what fittings (rotary bits) I will want to buy for stone-setting/polishing – what sizes, shapes, etc?
  3. I purchased an ultrasonic cleaner (temp controlled) from pepetools, but I guess I am not certain whether I should buy a tumbler or some type of automated polishing device, and what type(s) of tumbling material(s) I should use with the different metals?
  4. I did purchase some (I think they are called trendsetter wheels) for learning channel, prong, bezel setting of stones. What tools will I need to set stones with the trendsetter wheel?
  5. I purchased a kiln, but I don’t think it is going to work for burnouts, just for melting metal. Anyone can suggest a burnout oven I should look at or what features an oven should have?

Thanks in advance.

Why wont your kiln work for burnouts?

As far as a tumbler is concerned, i was super obsessed with its importance till i realized its not super used unless have bulk amount of things to burnish/polish or harden.

Vibratory tumblr is much faster than rotary tumbler. Rotary is better for rocks, or flashing large batches of parts i think, probably not worth getting at all. If money isnt an issue, get a magnetic tumbler and you dont care about media, its just steel pins.
Vibratory tumbler, mixed stainless steel shot, no pins. Thatll do your burnishing and hardening. Probably the only thing you really need. If you need to polish many things and time isnt an issue, use walnut shell and rouge and leave running for 24 hrs +.
If you want to flash and clean batches of cast parts, then you need to start looking at ceramic or poly media. At that point, call a supplier and ask. Too many variables.

As for everything else, you’re kind of asking everything, which feels kind of weird. Have you never used tools you like before? Buy those. Its impossible to tell you which burrs youll need or handheld suits you best. People will argue between paper sanding disks and plastic. My wife and i think the other is nuts for using the parts they use, instead of the ones we use. (I dunno if that made any sense. )

Pro tip: try to narrow your questions down, as people tend not to respond to something so broad as that can be broken down and researched individually.

Best luck

Oh. Ps. 925 is sterling…

1 Like

You use the term fabricating in your post, but you haven’t listed any basic fabrication tools. Do you already have files, hammers, a bench plate, torch, soldering supplies, pliers, polishing motor of some sort (it can be a flexshaft), finishing wheels, polishing compounds, bench and stool. If you haven’t already, you need to learn how to forge, fabricate and finish metal. It can be copper or brass to start, but they work a bit differently than silver and gold. Once you have a feel for how metals behave, move on to casting and stone setting. Good luck…Rob

1 Like

I have a work space (benches and stool, of course). I have a lot of experience working with metals in an industrial environment and from shop in school (annealing, hardening, soldering, welding, etc). I realize that I will need to learn silversmithing/goldsmithing, which I am going to do. I have a smith torch suitable for silver work. I have files, hammers, polishing wheel (a couple of bench grinders, one is slow speed), pliers–a lot of tools on hand that just happen to be needed for metal smithing. Have a large air compressor, etc. A lot of stuff, as my step father had purchased high-quality tools for just about any job you can think of, for 40 years. He passed a few years back, and I inherited those tools and his large heated, detached work/tool garage.

Of course I am just starting out. When I say ‘just’, I mean in the last couple of months, trying to put my business accounts together, learn what I can online, etc. So that is why I am on here now, asking the questions that I just asked.

If somene can help advise me regarding the 4 or 5 tool questions I specified, that would be of great help to me.


Thanks for this great advice, Brian!

Ok… now thats a bit more to work from!

So im pretty new too.
What i found is getting everything at once, ends up being flustering and stressful: i want to do everything, but only have 2 arms and so much time.
Consider starting with one or two styles or things, doing those for a few months at a time, and tool up as you go to new things.

Flexshaft: foredom is the big best brand. I bought a generic chinese flexshaft off amazon that has been great, just really great for me, for under 100 cad.

On that note if you have air power, why not get a pneumatic rotary pen grinder? Air tools look less expensive if you have the air an tanks, a mini die grinder can give you sanding and polishing, and you coild use sandblasting for cleaning and finishing!
Burrs: this is the toughest because of variety. If you have no price concerns, check someone like Rio Grande for sets. If you want to pay less, but get a starting point, buy a dremel set of burrs and disks and things, and then as you need or plan new projects, order them as you go.
Off the top of my head what you need: assortment ball burrs, some cylinder burrs, sanding drums or cartriges, set of miniature drill bits, bees wax or burr lube is a must, maybe a few Krause burrs for cleaning up fine edges. (Thats just a favorite of mine)
Some diamond costed cylinders, and disks cam be verastile too. Umm, sepearating disks are the metal cutting disks, much finer than the types used on a die grinder or dremel.

I use a 1x30 belt sander a fair bit, but you can get a Wolf brand (i think) mini belt sander tgat attaches to a flexshaft. Im currently building one.

I would suggest a rolling mill, for sizing up stock and recycling melts for wire and sheets. Again, i started with a cheap generic i found on a site called Vevor. Very cheap indian or chinese, but for starting was enough for me. Less than 150 cad, where any “real” brands will start at the 1k range. One day!!!

As for burnouts, what id do first is check the website of the type of kiln you got, or call them, and ask if they have info. If its a programmable kiln, you should be able to burn out with it. If not, maybe can build one for fairly cheap.

I do plan just to start with simple ring designs (plain bands) and work my way into embellishments, and then setting stones. I want to buy quality tools. I do have some cash to invest, but of course I also want to save as much as I can for digital marketing once I begin to product sellable quality items. I have a very strong background in programming, ecommerce, SEO/SEM and ad-management.

I do happen to have a dremel. Bought it a few years ago and never really used it for anything. I also have a very large air compressor tank in the garage with long (30 ft) hose. So I was thinking about air-powered tools. Thanks a lot for your advice, Brian. Feel free to chime in and share all you want. I put a lot of stock in any insights your guys and gals on Ganoksin are willing to generously share.

You are ready to go. Don’t worry too much about messing up and having to scrap a piece. I still do it after nearly 50 years. That’s one way to learn. If you can find some local classes, great, take them. Find a mentor and keep asking questions. With a few exceptions, there is no one way to make jewelry. Find your way. Selling what you make is another whole story, but make something that you like and are proud of first, then try to sell it. Good luck…Rob

1 Like

hello how to share work on this site i am new

Welcome to the Orchid Community! You talk mostly about casting, but I think it would be good to learn some fabrication skills, too. A lot of jewelry can be made with minimal tools…files, a jeweler’s saw, a small torch of some kind, maybe some stamps, a sandbag or lead block. You might be interested in reading about the Native American jewelry of the Southwest. They worked with minimal tools and produced great work. There is a wonderful book by W. Ben Hunt (Indian Silversmithing) that gives the history and a bunch of step by step projects…possibly your library has a copy. Just another thought. If you get interested in stamps, there is a great book by Matthieu Cheminee on making stamps (The Art of Stamping) and another on West African jewelry. What the African jewelers do with minimal tools is truly inspiring.

1- handpiece: I have been very happy with the Foredom quickchange handpiece. Changing bits easily is great for workflow.

2- burs: Get a few round and setting burs for the design you want to make. As you watch videos/ read books/go to classes/practice, you will discover if your preferred method will require flame burs, hart burs, cross cuts etc. But you can set with just these two. You probably want to get a size just under the mm of the stone as well as the actual size. (So for a 2mm stone, get 1.9 and 2mm burs.) Or just get a set.

3- tumblers: I use a rotary tumbler all the time but others don’t. They don’t truly “polish” in the sense of the way jewelers use the word, but they can achieve a very bright finish. I have a magnetic pin polisher too, but use it much less.

4- trendsetter wheels: These all have instructional videos on Rio/YouTube. You can see what Blaine Lewis uses in those and then get the same. I think he has many more videos on his own channel demonstrating these. He’s a great setting teacher.

1 Like

Specific to your tool questions: I have used a Foredom flexshaft for years, first with #30 chuck and then a quick change. I also have a hammer piece that I use mainly for stippling. A flexshaft is one of several tools that I would go into debt to replace if I had to as just about everything that I make is touched by it. The #30 will take anything that you can fit into it, all the rest of the hand pieces have 3/32 collets. There are less expensive flexshafts that cross over with Foredom. Look at micro motors too. Many on this discussion board use them and speak well of them. You may be disappointed if you try to use air driven tools as a substitute. I have two compressors. One is in my garage and the other drives my pneumatic engraving tools. You might start with a packaged set of flexshaft tools. You can then try them out and see what works for you. If you plan on doing any drilling, buy a set of drills with 3/32 shafts or use the #30 hand piece. You say that you have a lot of hand tools and a torch. Study up on soldering and buy some soldering supplies. Many of us use pH down for pickle. It is cheaper than sparex and appears to be the same thing, although pool chemicals have gotten real expensive lately. Soldering is a messy operation, so plan on giving it some space. Study fluxes, You can get dazzled by the catalogs, but stick to borax and water, borax and alcohol for barrier flux, handiflux and look at how to make prips. Buy Tim McCreight’s book : “The Complete Metalsmith”. It will be one of the most used tools in your shop. Mine is worn with dirty finger prints and full of sticky tabs. Keep asking questions and we will try to answer them, but don’t wait too long to get started teaching yourself by your own experience. Good luck…Rob

1 Like

I forgot to mention tumblers. I have four vibratory tumblers with ceramic, plastic and treated sawdust media and one rotary with stainless steel media. I use the rotary a lot more than the vibratory tumblers. I was taught that a piece of jewelry isn’t done until it has a high polish. You may go on to texture the piece, but it should first be polished otherwise you are just covering up imperfections. In my experience, this can only be done on a large wheel with tripoli then rouge. I have since learned that there are several other ways to get a high polish, but tripoli and rouge are my go to for my larger pieces. Regardless of what I have made, it will first be lightly sanded using a flexshaft mounted rubber abrasive wheel or abrasive pads. There are other flexshaft mounted wheels to use, but this is what works for me. Many people do all of their polishing with a flexshaft. You might also look at JoolTool. I have never used one, but have been tempted. Smaller earrings and ear wires go directly to the SS shot rotary, but only after the ends have been rounded and the piece marked. I have a PUK 5.1 and have found it to be the best way to finish the ends of little pieces of wire so that they are no longer sharp. It also makes great little rivets. So, in summary, is a tumbler necessary, No. Do they do a great job of polishing by themselves, No. But they can help you polish a lot of your work quickly getting to the point when you just have to do some touch up on the wheel. Look at Judy Hoch’s book "Tumble Finishing for Handmade Jewelry. You will find a lot of good information about mass finishing “tumbling”. Others may have different ideas about tumbling, these are just mine…Rob

1 Like

Very helpful. Valuable insights that you have to share. Thanks. I am going to apply you experiences to my purchase decisions, I assure you.

1 Like



a polishing lathe/ dust collector unit
and 4” buffs (yellow treated, stitched muslin for pre-polish, and unstitched balloon cloth buffs for final polish.

(polishing lathe like this Baldor, but i suggest the 2-speed model)

(dust collector like this 2 sided unit)

and for bench work, a dust collector like this)

(you can make or buy a setup fir a bench pin with a hole in it, to jack the hose into, with a face shield- like this)

perhaps get an assortment of polishing compounds
(i use graystar for pre-polish, and picasso blue for final polish for sterling, but have a few different luxi compounds as well)

as for flexshaft i suggest foredom SR with forward and reverse
with a #30 handpiece to start (will take diff bur shaft sizes instead of only 3/32 like quick change handpieces

as for flex shaft burs, i suggest:
a set of twist drills-.50mm thru maybe 2.0mm
a set of round ball burs- .59mm thru maybe 3.0mm
sanding discs (coarse, medium, fine) and snap-on mandrels
emery paper- grits 320,400,600,800,1000,1200,1500,2000,2500)
sanding sticks, that you can later wrap emery oaper around to refresh
split mandrels (to slot in emery paper)
unmounted muslin and balloon cloth buffs and screw top mandrels
small screwdriver
mounted goats hair brustle brush wheels

a good set of needle files, and escapement files
a half round hand file, half round ring hand file, flat hand file
exacto knife

saw frame
saw blades (3/0, 4/0, 6/0, 8/0)

set of ring sizer mandrel, ring mandrel (both round and the one with a flat side to accomodate settings (sets are calibrated to match each other)

starett dividers
6” metal ruler with inches and metric
thin burnisher
bezel pusher

goldsmith hammer
rawhide mallet
chasing hammer (to hit steel punctes etc)
forging hammer

combination ingot mold
crucible and holder

combination rolling mill (square wire/ flat (i suggest 80mm flat side min)

b&s gauge
digital caliper
digital stone gauge

stone tweezers

soldering tweezers
solderite board
flux brush/ small paint brush

half round
flat/ half round
parrallel flat
ring bending pliers

solder snips

i am sure i am forgetting things…


ring clamp
bench pin
grs mounting system

ooops, i meant 6” buffs


steel block(s), anvil
a forging hammer

i have 2.5lb (40 oz.) forging hammer that i found on ebay, but i think the boxy side of mine is too long and wags the hammer when i am using the cross peen side…

shown here next to the Fretz forging hammer…i like the 20oz weight of the Fretz, and the handle is wonderful, but the cross peen is too narrow for my ingot and rod forging needs

Saigne Charlestein has a smaller Thor’s forging hammer that looks like the balance i need…

for the one i got on ebay, i think the bigger side weight needs to be more at center mass…:thinking:…it is also a bit heavier than i like 2.5lbs (40oz)…so i am sending to Tim at TR Forge (below etsy link) to reshape and put on a better handle

based on my above comments, i am really liking the look of the design of these japanese forging hammers by Saign, and would love to get them…one day…

gotta save some beans!


Thanks. I have been selecting tools, supplies, etc. That’s a thorough list (thank you!)

I don’t understand the reason for the design of the Japanese-style hammers. Explanation welcomed. The length from working face to shaft seems illogical. If you strike a bit canted it seems that the handle should twist in one’s hand. Of course that may be a way to teach you to perfect your swing…

Neil A