Perhaps some explanation is in order. that is, why do I mess with
the details of the tools? what is the point in spending the time to
"build my own" when I can more easily write a check for a completely
Even with an engineering degree, and at that time 30 years gem
cutting experience, i just didn't quite get it, until I took a class
in bead, flush and channel setting, taught by a master by the name
of Shep waldman in denver. For the first two days, we did nothing but
learn how to sharpen gravers. For the first day, i was quite pissed,
and wondered why I had spent good money to watch some guy put nails
to a grinding wheel. About halfway through the second day, as we
were just getting started making a few setting cuts, the light bulb
went off: I can now make the exact tool that I need, right now, for
the exact thing that i want to do, and I can do it in 30 seconds. The
exact tool. For what I want to do. Now. I don't need to order it; i
don't need to explain it to someone;
that was my "eureka", or perhaps simply "oh that's why it is done
that way" moment - at that moment, I suddenly became a toolmaker.
Not because I am that great at it, but because it became clear to me
that it was easier, faster, better, more personal, yes cheaper, and a
time saver, to make just what I needed, now.
As I moved to gem carving, the toolmaker mentality went with - for
one project, I built a carving machine, which will hold the insane
resolution of 0.00008" (yes, 8/100,000's of an inch), from mechanisms
laying around the shop, completely manually operated. Machine built
in about 10 hours of assembly time, 10 minutes of cussing. Same
reason as we were sharpening gravers: that was the best way, to do
the exact job required, now. My first test piece off of this carving
machine, just to see if the thing worked and which end of the tool
did the cutting, sold to the first person who saw it.
So, CNC. A programmable tool. Just think, you don't have to sharpen
your graver anymore, the graver is now whatever you code it, in
software, to be. If you want to make 300,000 cuts to have a project
just so, great, turn the machine on, hit the start button and come
back in a day or two. I wanted to build my own; same reason as
sharpening the graver.
I am glad to hear that others use other versions of mills; i
encourage you to customize them to do exactly what you need. i
encourage you to experiment; to make new fixtures and try new types
of holders, to try your old metal texturing technique on wax, or
even on a tourmaline, see what happens. the freedom of thinking that
results from creating a new tool inevitably flows through into your
finished work, suddenly you find that, viola, you have a new style
and work that is unique as yourself.
by the way, my instructor, shep waldman, at that time had 53 years of
doing nothing but gem setting. truely a master - he had some projects
going on of over 300 stones, he was flush setting, on one piece. if I
remember correctly, it took him most of a long day.