Shop Tips

people, it’s the giving season - here are some little workbench

  1. for jabs, cuts, slices, punctures, any injury short of needing 2
    sutures, keep the cyanacrylic [super] glue handy. hold the hurt up
    above your heart level (lessens blood glow) and immediately dab a
    drop on the boo-boo. you’ll be surprised how cuts out that dull ache
    from metal punctures, sterilizes and heals quicker. (but it doesn’t
    slice and dice)

  2. a ready made burnisher from a catalog was not as good as the ones
    i make from shanks of knackered, headless burs. put shank in
    flexshaft and grind into point with slightly rounded tip.
    sand/smoothe 1/4 inch down from tip, keep sanding until it doesn’t
    leave mark when tested on metal. make several, they’re free.

  3. cut off sides of bezel pusher, leaving about 1/4 - 3/8 inch in
    the center, file a groove across and sand it smoothe - keeps the
    pusher from slipping off the bezel under pressure.

  4. the 5 minute epoxies with connected double tubes that promise to
    dole out equal amounts from each side… they lie. cut the 'bridge’
    between the tubes and trim so they don’t snag on each other. stick a
    piece of binding wire through the hole at the top, twist a loop so it
    won’t come out, bend another loop at other end and hang. cut a strip
    off down the label so you can see the glue level while you carefully
    ease each separated plunger down the tube. don’t forget to pull up on
    plunger immediately when you’ve pushed out enough glue. stick short
    piece of plastic tape, with a tab folded at one end, on bench plate
    for epoxy blending - doesn’t waste as much as those little tub

  5. for repair/replacement stones you carry to shows for emergencies,
    a multi sectioned pill box with separate lids is great - use sharpie
    to write the contents on lids.

  6. ‘lean cuisine’ rectangular entree dishes make good temporary
    trays for gemstones/beads, findings, for a project on the workbench
    or to sort through small stuff.

  7. make your own jump rings? gather different diameter wood dowels,
    cut into comfortable to handle lengths. drill a smallish hole 1/8 of
    an inch from end. bend 1/8 inch end of wire 90 degrees. stick wire in
    hole and start twisting wire around dowel, keep wire coil taut and
    secure by holding tightly - you don’t need to cut wire from coil yet
    but you can. advance coil to end to saw. as you saw off each link let
    it drop onto towel on benchtop - keeps them from wandering. trim off
    cut wood section. drill another hole 1/8" from end… (think)

  8. rotating kitchen utensil caddies or desktop carousels with
    compartments are great for pliers, punches, absolutely anything that

  9. glue magnets, 1 inch + - in diameter, to handy spots to hold up
    metal scale [ruler], # 9 above, etc.

  10. kits like the smallest tap and die, polishing pins and mandrels,
    twist bits, etc., can go into a snap lid prescription bottle, glue 2
    magnets (one near top and one below) on one side. stick onto any
    metal in benchtop work area.

  11. a handy burnishing corral can be made from a bench block size
    sample of ‘corian’ or other composite material (or even a 1" x 4"
    block of wood) cut lathing pieces to fit one side, pre-drill holes
    and screw together, cut another lathing strip to fit next side,
    overlap wood on first side - like an ‘L’ - and screw on. that
    provides a corner for corralling flat work while burnishing and
    pushing around those bezels. you’ll figure it out.

  12. for lapidaries, cut a slot in edge of slab with diamond
    flexshaft bur before taking to trim saw - blade will catch in slot
    and won’t chitter along uneven edge.

  13. for sanding and polishing disk users, a repositionable adhesive
    called “tack-it” can be bought or ordered from fabric stores for less
    than lapidary feathering adhesive.

tips: if you use ‘tarnex’ dip and rinse silver cleaner (NEVER NEVER
use the other ‘tarnex’, EVER, it will kill the finish and take hours
to restore) the key: rinse, rinse, rinse ~ to quick dry pieces, place
towel on floor in front of refrigerator and lay pieces on it - they
will dry in no time (even a pair of tennis shoes will dry overnight)
~ if your tanks are in a hard to reach place, tie the
’jumps-off-all-the-time-and-i-can’t-reach-it handle’ on acetylene or
propane tanks to a cord and anchor to a hook you can reach. ~ when
transporting tanks to be refilled, lay them on car floor on old
towel or rug with bottom facing away from driver’s side - they will
shoot rocket-like away from valve end (can you say “v-2 rockets”)) ~
if you own your tanks, always check that yours have been refilled and
not just replaced with their full tanks. ~ no room on soldering
surface? use one of those wire baskets that hook under a shelf to put
torches, rolled hoses, and igniter out of the way. my counter was
too thick for ‘arms’ so i screwed 4 eye hooks/bolts underneath and
slid the 2 arms through those. figure it out.

who just cut and polished some gorgeous purple labradorite.

nice job, nice collection of comments and tips!! Thank you!


even with three foredoms and most of the handpieces i wind up using
one of my dremels in the r.v., so here’s one for dremel users:

  1. instead of buying all those different sized collets for all
    those different sized shanks, dremel makes a chuck just like the
    keyless chuck for 1/4" electric drills. it has the three adjustable
    grippers in the chuck that will hold any sized shank and you won’t
    have to keep putting in and taking out a collet to use a different
    bur. it’s #4486 in their catalog, or online.