Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Reconditioning Beading Tools & Dot Punches


#1

RECONDITIONING BEADING TOOLS & DOT PUNCHES:
(Brian P. Marshall - Stockton Jewelry Arts School)

Beading tools and dot punches lose their form and become dull as you
use them. You can recondition one at least ten or twelve times, or
you may need a special size, or perfect polish for a particular job.

They can be reconditioned fairly easily. The best tool that I have
found to do this is the Bergeon 40 hole “beading block” available
from metalsmithing suppliers and jewelry tool suppliers. Made in
Switzerland, it has four rows of ten beads, set down into cone shaped
depressions in a steel block, about 1" x 2 1/4". Each row is
identical, in case you should damage one of them.

First anneal the tip of your damaged tool, whether it is a "dot"
background punch or a jewelers beading tool. I usually run the tip of
the tool and part of the shank across a bar of Ivory soap beforehand
to keep the firescale down. The tool will darken as it air cools.

Chuck it up in a #30 flexshaft handpiece and true up the cutting
edges of the cup against a sharpening stone while spinning the tool.
Do this slowly and carefully - check to see how much you’ve taken off
every few seconds. You may have to take a bit off the shank side wall
angle, as well as the actual lip of the tool.

Remove the tool from your handpiece. Place the tool into the right
sized depression in your beading block and strike it gently with a
brass or copper hammer. Check the result for depth and center. Repeat
as necessary until you get the “cup” depression to look as much like
the original tool as possible. You may need to chuck it up and spin
it against the stone to get a bit of bevel on the outside edge.
Reheat the tip to red and harden, using water or oil to quench,
depending on the type of steel the tool is made of. If you aren’t
sure, experiment with the water first. The tools are not expensive,
so if you wind up ruining a couple

When the tool is hardened, wrap a bit of 400 wet or dry sandpaper
around the bottom third and clean off the firescale - again by
chucking it in the handpiece and rotating it slowly until you achieve
a bright finish. Now you’ ll be able to see the color change as you
reheat it very gently with a bushy flame . Do this from about the
middle of the shank, watching the colors creep toward the tip.

Quench immediately when the tip reaches light straw, and finish by
polishing the cup - pressing it into a bit of diamond paste on a
piece of hardwood.

As I said earlier the tools are not real expensive, but you will
find that they are very hard to come by in the wee hours of the
morning, when that customer is gonna be at the door as soon as you
open for business… :slight_smile:


#2

Brian, thanks for the explination of sharpening a beading tool. I
bought a beading block several years ago and have found several
different methods of using it but yours, by far, seems the most
complete. Thanks again. Frank Goss


#3

The most simple solution is to purchase these tools in dozens of a
size but then again, when the one needed is not there…been there!
Learning to recondition these tools provides an easy step into
making other useful tools from the shanks of beading tools or spent
cutting burs. The annealing and hardening process is the same.

I have found the steel rod from worn or broken tools will make
wonderful burnishers. Adter the metal is annealed, the rod is
easily shaped while spinning in the flexshaft or lathe. A file does
the rough cut followed by various sandpapers to remove all marks and
to refine the shape of the tapered point. After hardening the
metal, a quick spin with a very fine paper followed with buffing to
bright polish produces a nice and tiny burnisher. I use various
tapers on the points for setting and tightening flush cut bezels,
forming nice edges on bezel inside edges and tightening some channel
sets and similar stone sets.

God Bless. Thomas. @Sp.T


#4
Remove the tool from your handpiece. Place the tool into the right
sized depression in your beading block and strike it gently with a
brass or copper hammer.

Just a little reminder to all about the above…be very positive
that your have annealed the tool before ‘striking it gently with a
hammer’. The bead block nipples are very brittle and will easily
break of if the tool tip is not very soft. I prefer to put the tool
into its handle, place the tip on the nipple at a 90 deg angle and
just twist it around several times. That normally shapes the cup
perfectly.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut1.


#5
  Just a little reminder to all about the above....be very
positive that your have annealed the tool before 'striking it
gently with a hammer'.  The bead block nipples are very brittle and
will easily break of if the tool tip is not very soft.  

Until recently, I have always had trouble annealing steel. It is
hard to know what temperature is best and heating to cherry red and
air cooling seems to cool the metal fast enough that at least some
hardening occurs. I can tell when I made a boo-boo by the way my
files and sawblades bite or do not bite.

Some time ago, I purchased some “garnet sand” from Rio for holding
small pieces for soldering. It did not work for me (perhaps that is
why I can’t any longer find it in their catalog) however, I tried
using it as a quench for annealing with great results. I just heat
my steel to red hot then poke it into the dry sand for two or three
minutes. The sand acts as insulation allowing slower cooling. I
suspect that the pumice powder (502-048/3) that Rio presently lists
in their catalog would work as well. I have no science or citations
to support this, but it works for me.

Howard Woods Eagle, Idaho where another spectacular sunrise is still
about an hour and a half away.


#6

Hi Gang,

FWIW: Ordinary clean, dry, sand will work just as well.

Dave