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Pickle tongs

Hi, Karen, Will you explain how baby socks help prevent dinged
hammers? Maybe I’m just being a bit dim… but the damage students
do to equipment, especially hammers, blocks and mandrels, makes me
nuts! All suggestions are welcome!


It is amazing what students can do to equipment. 

My earliest courses in jewelry fabrication were presided over by a
martinet who worshiped all tools and considered any desecration of
them a blasphemy. First of all, we spent half of the term learning
safety regulations. The second half of the term was devoted to the
proper use, care and maintenance of all hand tools we were to use.
If we were to saw, we had to practice putting the blade in
correctly, using beeswax or Bur-Life on it, and sawing with the
proper motion. If we didn’t do it right, we had to start all over
from the beginning, while more proficient students went on to the
next tool.If you scratched the face of a hammer you were instructed
in how to polish out the scratch. (I could go on and on…) Nobody
left the class until every tool was cleaned and put away in its
place in the bin. And Heaven forbid that you use a tool for any
other purpose than what it was intended for. We didn’t learn much
about jewelry making, but we sure learned how to use and take care
of our tools and our work stations. The following term (from which
the most careless students were excluded), we learned how to create
pieces from start to finish, and everyone did well. I hated that
first term, but as a result of the discipline I have accumulated a
great collection of tools, all carefully maintained. I subsequently
found out that the instructor was operating on a very limited budget
and the only way he could keep the classes going was to make sure
the equipment didn’t have to be replaced.


Noel…If you can charge an equipment fee that entitles each student
to his own hammer and block, (which only he/she can use) , you may
be pleasantly surprised at how well they take care of what they own.


Hello all,

When I was studying we had some strict rules about taking care off
the tools. At the end off every schoolyear we had to stay in the
workshop for an additional day to clean up the tools until the were
shiny again. The teacher really made us do the hard work. And right
she was. Because next year we kept them nice during the year already
and warned the younger students so they would do the same. It worked
quit well. I still do a cleanup-day every year so my tools look like
new again. Unfortunately this teacher doesn’t teach there anymore,
with the result that the workshop is a total mess. You just can’t
find a tool without scratches or bumps over there anymore. What a

Another thing which gave us some respect for the tools is that we
had to buy a lot of handtools (files, burs, hammers, saw,…)
ourselves. Already the first week we got a bill for about 300 euro.
When students know exact how much things cost, they will think a
second time before abusing. At least we did.

Kristel Verhaert
Peter Benoitstraat 21 bus 5
3500 Hasselt