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Pumice Wheels @ #180 Grit!

                        “**_Pumice Wheels @ #180 grit!_**”

There are many tools on the market these days that are used constantly in the “Diamond & Gemstone Setting” processes. The one that I believe is most important, is not the Pillar or Triangular file, but the often ignored and the very reasonably priced, Pumice Wheel”.

Many setters that I know, including myself, use only the #180 Grit. There are many smoother grits a.k.a. #240 available, I prefer the basic #180, why so? It’s not so aggressive by nature, but still it cleans and is really very gentle around anything that you are setting & even cleaning. Let’s suppose that after you complete your filing around Claws, Bezels and even the Channel-Setting, try these fantastic Pumice Wheels.

If you are not using them, you have just nothing to lose, the results that you are going to find are just mind-boggling! You should now experiment where you could find other uses for them. In your jewellery fabrication, these can be a ‘real life-saver & gift’ for your cleaning, even prior to the polishing with your wheel-buffs.

“Pumice Wheels have a symbiotic relationship with that in setting of gemstones”. To put it another way, they both live in harmony and each depend on the other…“it’s like a happy marriage!”

After your filing, there are even little striations left on the metal, so how do you remove them? Don’t polish them off, why not? Easy answer, you’d be then making all the ‘squared-off’ claws or flat surfaces, actually will be then rounded, not too nice to see after your hard labour. (I type and use the “Canadian-spelling” version, in all of my essays.)

To continue on; let’s suppose you’ve used your ‘Emery Disks” just to do some last minute cleaning and you still notice some rough surfaces. You say to yourself, “What happened, they weren’t there before?” The ‘Fine’ or ‘Medium’ grit on the sanding disks are to blame, STOP! Get out your Pumice wheel and ‘redo’ those rough-textured surfaces, the end result is that they will now be so very smooth!

In the ‘demo’ photographs, many of the rings are ‘staged’ just for this essay. Of course, I wouldn’t be holding or supporting the rings on that soft material shown on my bench that way. They are only to demonstrate how the wheel will be in ‘contact to the claws and surfaces’.

What stones can I use these wheels next to? With great care and experience, these can be used literally beside any soft stone! Although it does need some practice to use them near Blue Zircon, Amethyst, Turquoise, Opal and very, very carefully…Pearls! Anything over 8.0 on the ‘Mohs Scale of Hardness’ is acceptable.

For example on the Gypsy/Flush setting, just use a Flat-Faced wheel and ever so lightly making contact with the outer rim of the delicate stone. Don’t let the Pumice wheel get too close to the Cubic Zirconia or as it will graze and destroy the facets; a.k.a. 'Woops! Good-bye stone"

I have 12-15 of the ‘wheel mandrels’ in my container of assortment of new and used wheels. Why so many? The time you are spending using the wheels, you might be just wasting precious time removing one wheel off of the mandrel, from one shape to another. Just buy many of the mandrels as you can and keep your mind on your work, not stopping to remove, put another wheel on, taking it off…ad infinitum!

I, even at times, use the ‘worn out’ wheels to clean the inside of the ring. There are so many other uses, all you have to do now is to be creative!! I always use these to finish off setting of the Princess claw “vee-shapes”. . On Bezel settings I use them as a rule on the top of the Bezel wall. “The Pumice wheel is a precursor to Tripoli and Rouge polishing on any style of gemstone setting.” After casting, there will sometimes be a need to remove little amounts of extra metal that a file cannot clean, and then prepare for setting. This fantastic wheel removes & cleans in one simple action!

After a short period of time, you need to keep your flat surfaces FLAT, how would you manage this? You could use your ‘sanding disk’ or a Corundum (Separating Disk) and just reshape your Pumice Wheel, as needed! It’s really not rocket science! You can just reshape them on any rough surface you have, even 'Emery Paper". Just keep those wheels ‘trimmed and cleaned’ then they’re ready to be used again.

In my opening remarks, I did say that these wheels are a ‘gift’ to your jewellery bench. Learn to use them as often as you can, explore those little areas that you need to be cleaned.

BTW, I even use the #1,000 grit “Pink Wheel” as these could be used in lieu of the polishing cloth-wheels. Why use the (almost-aggressive) “Tripoli or Rouge cloth-wheels”? You have been using them with little success, you could now use the #1,000 grit instead! Now you can ‘set’ those delicate myriad of stones while in their claws and have them cleaned so easily.

I sincerely hope that you have 'found a new friend for your bench work’, they are the Pumice Wheels! Two words for you to remember, they are; “Enjoy & Enjoy!”


Hi Jerry,
Interesting writing about these wheels. We all have to do finishing in one way or another, but all your writing and pictures have little meaning without some proper technical information,
Pumice? means nothing. Can you put out the full tech data, ie sintered or rubber bonded? or like a scotch brite compressed wheels? operating speeds, suppliers? costs? etc.
I know what pumice is have it here but its far too coarse in its natural state.
After all, our work is firstly technical, so this data is essential .

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So I am curious, pumice is listed on the
mohs scale at 6, cubic zirconia is listed at 8.
Theoretically something with a hardness
of 8 would not be affected by something with
a hardness of 6.

Pumice is volcanic rock, I do not think
pumice can be sintered.
The one jewelry pumice wheel I could find
that listed the base material was silicone.
Scotch brite wheels come with different
abrasives, I use the aluminum oxide 6” fine
and medium.I know there are silicon carbide
fiber wheels, those are too course for my use.
I always hated Cratex silicon carbide rubber

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Hi Richard,
Sintering is using a ceramic bonding agent mixed with what ever mineral ground down to what ever mesh wanted. Then its fused above 500 C in a tunnel kiln. Thats the way hard ie as solid grinding wheels are made. Using as you will know ali ox, sil carb, boron nitride and pumice if the maker thinks there is a need or market. And yes I do know pumice is an igneous rock caused by liquid lava filled with gases before it solidifies.
As for the scotch brite wheels have these as well and for what its worth if you ever need to polish titanium the only wheel that is suitabe prior to a hyfin compound id the scotchbrite compressed wheels that have 1000 mesh silicon carbide.
Use them here.
Await Jerry’s reply.

The blue pumice wheels have been the standard in the US industry for cleaning toolmarks on prongs and other settings for I don’t know how long. I was taught to use them for that purpose, and I’m not a setter. Here’s the page from Contenti’s catalog.

There are different shades of “blue”, confusing even for the tool suppliers. Dark blue, light blue, medium blue, grey-ish blue…;(…yuk!

Gerry! On my Teaching iPhone!

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Will you name the tool suppliers or manufacturers who describe their pumice wheels by grit?

Marketing descriptions of pumice wheels tend to define levels of aggressiveness with colors and words like fine or medium, instead of numbers.

Thanks Elliot,
looked them up and as I thought rubber bonded with pumice .
Surprised Jerry didnt respond. Perhaps his teaching phone was switched off.

My (6) tool suppliers here in Toronto have them in different colours…BUT
you should ask them also for the GRIT as well. Even bench-jewellers use
them for their own varied purposes, they come in “dozen” and
BTW, the reason why I say “bench-jewellers”, is that up here it is
generally known that ‘setters’ do not do their own fabrication, we leave
that to the ‘bench-jewellers’ to do their own work. We keep these two
disciplines completely separate!!!

*Gerry Lewy *

  • (905) 886-5961 *

Two part answers!!!


As a tool supply sales professional, this really makes me crazy. When catalogs are printed these shades of blue can be totally misleading. After all these years I still have jewelers coming out of the shop with a wheel in their hand. When asked for the packaging with the item number I am greeted with a puzzled look. If keeping the entire original packaging intact causes storage problems, just cut the part of the box with the item number and keep it with the wheels. Or mark the secondary storage container with the item number. We really want to get you what you need the first time every time!


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Hi Gerry

Always like your posts. I agree about pumice wheels. They are the best. Use to get them from Swest back in the day but now seem hard to find at least for me. Thanks to Elliot for posting link to Contenti.

Happy Holidays
A bench jeweler who sets


If manufacturers and sellers really wanted to help us, they would lose the imprecise colors and vague words in their product descriptions. Even if it requires admitting compromises; for example, if a pumice wheel is comprised of percentages of several different grits, then provide that accurate description, instead of saying the wheel is medium aggressive.

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Unfortunately the use of these abrasive wheels in the jewelry industry pales compared to the dental and other industries. In addition, each manufacturer has their proprietary formulations which they have no interest revealing to their competitors and they do not consult each other to discuss colorings of their products. My only suggestion is when you find a wheel that fits your needs make sure you purchase enough to last a while and keep the item data available so reordering is not a hassle. Over the years many formulations and manufacturers have been discontinued or out of business unfortunately.

I occasionally buy assortments of abrasive wheels just to see if I can find anything new that I might like better than the tried and true wheels I use daily. Occasionally have found a good one to add to my selections that way.

I store the ones I like in small labeled drawers with all the needed reorder info. Simple but works for me.

The only suggestion I’d make is to label your tray of “goodies” with the information for future retrieval purposes. The ‘label’ could say the “tool supplier”. Their “SQU number”, the “grit” numbers and other pertinent information. When you need to order more…it’s all there at your fingertips…so to speak…no pun intended.:>) BTW, I would just never buy one dozen.

When I had my own office, some years back, I’d buy a gross (144) of the #180 Tapered & then another gross of Flat shaped…Then a 1/2 gross, of the PINK-coloured #1,000 grit Flat & the Tapered…Sure enough, after a year at the bench they were all used up!!!

Some money was initially spent, but I was happy, my client was more than happy & less time at the polishing machine. Not to mention you won’t have anymore “rounded, square-corners” on the engagement rings! If you get a ring with ‘clean & exacting corners’, then leave those ‘corners’ in the same condition they were given to you.:>) Gerry!