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Pitch bowl

I like your site and thanks for all the Maybe I can
offer a little. I see I am not the only one with the bowling ball /
pitch bowl idea. To make mine I found a steel rod that fit in the
thumb hole and made sure it would turn freely in the ball. I mounted
the rod vertically in a vise and set the ball on it. With one hand I
spun the ball, and the other hand was resting on the vise with a felt
tip marker, making a line around the ball. The rod was then put in
the vise at about a 15 degrees above horizontal. and the ball slid
on. I used a plastic pipe saw and cut a groove around the ball on the
line. Cut a little at a time and keep turning. Follow the groove and
continue the cut around the ball until through. This makes a very
flat cut on the ball in a reasonable length of time. I next made a 10
by 10 inch pitch tray from 1/4" plate and 1/8" by 1" strap was bent
and welded on for sides. This holds around 4 pounds of pitch. Now get
a speaker magnet and set it on the center of the flat spot and mark
the OD. Cut the center to fit the magnet (chisel, chop, mill, ect).
The center is hard plastic like automotive body filler and will cut
and chip away but it can be dusty. The hole doesn’t need to be exact
plenty of slop is ok, as long as the magnet can go below the flat
surface. Epoxy the magnet into the hole being sure to fill the voids,
and lay a couple sheets of plastic over the ball. Put the tray on the
ball and let the epoxy harden. This makes a large surface on the ball
to work on and I use the tray on my lap quite often.

Another pitch bowl is a weld on pipe cap. The cap has a nice shape
with a rounded end and it is very strong. The caps are welded on the
exterior of the pipe so they are larger than the pipe. A 2 inch ID
pipe uses a cap that has about a 3 inch ID. These are great for
traveling with.

I like cast iron frying pans many sizes to choose from and totally
stable the handle makes it easy to move and control…I really
like the 7 inch size big enough for most projects …hth

Oooooh! You are a genius! Thanks for the tip.

-Jo Haemer

I used a cast iron fry pan, glued to a wood hemisphere (turned by a
friend) , with the whole assembly on a Harbor Freight lawnmower tire
with the center hub knocked out. Turns any direction/angle desired.


In my March Lapidary Journal magazine there is an article that shows
how to make a pendant. The maker uses a pitch bowl to hold the
pendant while texturing the component parts. It also shows setting
the stone in a traditional bezel while it is stuck in the pitch.

I am not familiar with how the pitch works. Would this be a logical
way to hold a pendant while setting the stone? I sometimes struggle
with holding my piece while applying pressure to the bezel with a
bezel pusher. I’ve tried various ways of doing this with limited

Jean Menden

Hi Jean,

For bezel setting, I like using a glob of thermoplastic (e. g. Jett
Set or similar from the usual suppliers). Heat in water to make it
soft and pliable, clamp part of it in the jaws of a vise and push the
pendant into it. Whenit cools it is quite hard and will resist the
pushing needed to move the bezel (I use 0.5mm sterling, so some force
is needed). Sometimes takes a bitof fiddling to hold the pendant
securely without blocking access to the bezel. When setting is
complete, warm up again to release. Perhaps it is lack of practice,
but a pitch bowl has been much more of a pain. Though I can see the
need for it when texturing metal, it would not be my first choice for

Hope this helps,

When I’m setting Bezels, or Cabochons I use a simple ‘shellac
stick’. This ‘stick’ has shellac secured to the top of the wooden
dowel. The width of the dowel should really fit your hand as it wraps
around the dowel…



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Hello Jean,

I use my engraving block to hold my work while setting stones. I use
it for engraving, too, and other tasks, so though it was a costly
purchase, it has paid for itself over and over again because it is a
multi-tasking tool.

Linda K-M


Regarding whether to use pitch to hold a pendant for setting a
stone, I’ve found that the thermoplastic “Jett-Sett” is perfect
forthat use. It’s available from about any jewelers supply company.
Much neater than pitch in my opinion.

Jerry in Kodiak

Yes, it is a good way of holding a piece wile setting.

Pitch is a very messy media to use to set a stone, and there are
better alternatives as some of the other posters have suggested.
While it will hold a a pendant while you set the stone, you have to
use heat - either a torch or a heat gun - to get the pendant out of
the pitch and then again to get the pitch cleaned off of the
pendant. Some stones are better off without that; some won’t take a
torch at all. It’s a big production, and some of the thermoplast
products or the traditional shellac are much easier. I like the
engraver’s ball the best.

Marcie Rae