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…