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Setting burs re: graver setting and pave

for the stonesetters among us: I am learning/ doing linear ( single line of stones) and pave graver setting in silver. I am experiencing my burrs smearing and clogging up in the fine cutting flutes dues to the softness of s.s… resulting in too slow preparing seats for final setting bur application. Is there another coarser bur I should be using on s.s. to achieve faster and more accurate roughing out of seats? Thanks in advance for your help.

Can tell us what kind of burs that you’re using?
Is it possible you can take a photo to show us what you’re doing?
I’m Gerry, On my iPhone!

Try some high-speed steel burs. They typically are cut to lower standards of quality; the diameters can vary a bit and their angles and height of the cutting portion can vary, but the flutes are deeper and more coarse, so they don’t tend to clog as much as higher priced burs do in softer metals. They also tend to be cheaper than their high-quality equivalents

Use a light touch and use plenty of bur lube. Don’t let them get hot and they can last a surprisingly long time.


David, and all!
The HSS burs are only used to carve out metal for the Pavilion facets. The 156C, Carbide burs at 90-degree angle are not suited for aggressive cutting. I have about 150 of these HSS burs. The sizes range from 1.25 - 5.00mm’s. Everyone of them are at 90-degree angles.
I find that the Carbide burs are too delicate & gentle for setting large sized Diamonds. If you overheat a 156C bur… good-bye $$’s.
BTW, I recut my worn-down HSS burs myself. Because of this innovative process, I can make these burs last for literally years!!!

I’m Gerry, On my iPhone!

Thank you,gentlemen, for your replies. will download photos when I figure out how to do it…the project that inspired the question involved setting 18 3mm garnets in a heavy SS cuff bracelet, w/ overlaid 3 band stripe and leaf motif…my first " real linear bead & bright cut"
( real meaning break a bead off and saleable quality bye bye…) anyway, took me forever to rough out seats using bud or ball burrs due to the “smeary” quality of SS. I am assuming 14k is what the cutting flukes of most good burrs are tooled for.I am going to try the narrow cone burs with teeth instead of flutes I recently saw…anyway, just wanted to thank for taking the time to respond.


Quick question…did you happen to drill holes for the stones first, before cutting the seats? This removes some of the metal faster.

best regards,

Yes and traditional round and bud burrs. The soft silver clogs the flutes of these burrs. Thanks for reply

Soft silver does not clog up the teeth of the bur. Have you used any oil
during the time you use your burs? I have had no problems with my (.925)
silver! I have an oil container right at my bench-peg and my burs are well
oiled 100% of the time!!

*Gerry Lewy *

thanks gerry, could be a “duh” moment, been using the gummy bur life ( the paste and he liquid, will try fine oil…just got to speed up the layout and roughing out , or cobwebs will be forming on my bench chair on multi-stone jobs!

The oil that I use is basically “3 in 1”. I’ve been using it for numerous (5) decades.
Don’t use “Oil of Wintergreen” very dangerous, if it gets near your eyes it will burn and sting like bloody hell! I know this personally!

I’m Gerry, On my iPhone!

How did “Oil of Wintergreen” become popular for this use?

It comes from the hand engraving tradition. Gravers would be touched in oil of peppermint. Pushing a graver is not going to spin off drops of oil into your face.
Mineral oil is very good for lubricating drill bit and burs. It also has no fragrance to speak of, whereas many industrial oils smell. Thinner oils are better for lubrication while cutting, which is why peppermint or wintergreen oils were popular with engravers.
Sewing machine oil is also an excellent thin-weight oil.

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Betty, oil of wintergreen was used for
lubrication of burs when I took a class at GIA
in 1977…

Richard and all!
When I was using this Oil of Wintergreen while I was learning, my experience was not kind!
That oil got on my finger tip and I happened to rub my eye. I literally screamed in pain, why?
This kind of oil on sensitive skin such as eyes and around the lip areas just burned like hell.
I had to run to the “eye-cleaning faucet” and wash out my eyes, till the oil went away. Because of that the other 5 setters changed to ordinary “3&1” oil!
If you wish to use that kind of oil, please do so at your own risk! But also remember what happened to my eyes & face areas.

I’m Gerry, On my iPhone!