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Steel ball bearings

Hi, everyone!

Well, I bit the bullet and bought a few of the tools that hadn’t
come with my beginner’s kit from class- a Foredom SR 30 kit, a
charcoal block, a steel bench block, Tim McCreight’s The Complete
Metalsmith, some small diamond needle files (they were shiny!), a
drawplate and tongs (the crappy Euro Tool version, but they won’t see
heavy use), riveting and ball pein hammers, and a few other things I
can’t recall at the moment.

While this spending frenzy has left me almost devoid of extra money
for the moment, it’s also inspired a whole lot of questions and
problems- namely, that I don’t have several more of the things I
need for the stuff I bought to be useful! Granted, I won’t be setting
up my apartment-studio for a couple months yet, so I have plenty of
time to save and prepare. I’m doing a lot of reading and designing in
the meantime!

Sorry for all the rambling; at any rate, here are the questions I
hope the collective wisdom of Orchid can help me with:

  1. Regarding the do-it-yourself-dapping punches, WHERE do you find
    what Mr. Brain called “key stock” and steel ball bearings of
    different sizes? The hardware store in my area doesn’t seem to carry
    them, and it’s impossible to order “one steel ball of each varying
    size” online, plus shipping is stupid expensive. And once I’ve
    obtained the key stock and balls, will I be able to cut the rods to
    size with a hand saw and grind the flat spot on the balls with a flex
    shaft, or do I need special equipment for that, too?

<edit - Message split>

Thanks for reading all this, if you’ve gotten all the way through! I
look forward to your responses.


Monica (who is stuck in Naperville, IL without a car, and has been
slowly working through the email archives dating all the way back to
1997, when I was in junior high…this is going to take awhile! There
are so many stories and so much …and wow, the torch
question really does get re-hashed every few months.)

what Mr. Brain called "key stock" and steel ball bearings of
different sizes? The hardware store in my area doesn't seem to


and small parts, and mcmaster carr.

I would suggest you just buy them though. Or wait til you can. As a
beginner, you can live without dapping for a while.

For cheap daps, check Harbor Freight.

Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


While I think Charles a giant in this industry, Item number 93539 I think this may be
the answer to your quest (this has shown up only in the last year or
so). Not the best product on the market, you will have to do some
touch up on the block and possibly the punches, but it is complete,
inexpensive and nearly ready to use. Steel is so much harder than
gold, silver, brass or copper, it will never be hurt by those metals.

Another thing, in the US we have lost many of the old hardware
stores due to competition from the chains, Ace may well be the only
survivor. The Canadian’s have not suffered this fate yet, and many of
the old style hardware stores are in tact. If you still wish to
pursue making your own, the last key stock I got were from a bearing
supply, you might also try an industrial supply house either usually
carry a large stock of these types of things, but by the time you
have accumulated all the items in the range of the above set, you may
find you have spent considerably more. Another thing you might
consider is steel rod or nails.



I’m not sure you’re really saving much in making your own dapping
tools. You don’t necessarily need a full set of steel dapping
punches. One way to economize is to buy a hardwood set (like this
one: of
punches for peanuts. Add a steel forming die and you’re all set.

John Walbaum

Monica - if you go to and search for doming punches
or use this item number, 93539-1VGA, you can obtain a set of 24
punches and a block. I’m not sure of the quality, but for just
starting out, $40 is an ok price.

While it may be made in China, it’s hard to beat the price. Save
your self the drill of making these, make jewelry.

Judy Hoch

I have the harbor frieght daps and block it works fine I am also
using trailer ball hitchs to form on they are 10 bucks and cheaper on
ebay jsut don;t buy a rusty one lol

When I start making an income then I can improve the tools I use

Silver & Cameo Heritage Jewelry

Thank you Judy,

Be new to this myself, I was shopping for a dapping set (along with
most everything else). After reading your post I went up to the
Harbor Freight in my neighborhood and picked a set up. Not bad at all
for $40. Keep them oiled so they do not rust and I’m thinking that
they should work quite well.

Thank you again.
Robert Kyle

Hi everyone,

Here’s the article regarding "making your own dapping tools."

Thanks again for all your input!