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Tool marks


#1

Today I vibe-tumbled a bracelet made of 16-ga fine silver. It was
the first time that I used the tumbler, so out of curiosity I
examined the bracelet with an 8x magnifier.

Good grief–it was full of tool marks! Every time I had bent or
straightened the wire, the pliers left a dent in the surface. I
guess my pliers technique needs work.

How do you avoid making tool marks, and how do you remove them?

Janet


#2

Hi Janet, Tool marks are best avoided by using something that is
softer than the metal your trying to shape. Plastic, wood, rubber,
paper, wax, or anything at hand, can be put between the pliers and
the metal. Same thing for hammers or any other hand tool. Your going
to have to think ahead of the project and try a few things to see
what works for you. There is only one way to remove tool marks,
carefully. There are hundreds of methods. Anything that touches
metal leaves a mark at some level. Good luck. Jim


#3

Janet,

    Today I vibe-tumbled a bracelet made of 16-ga fine silver. It
was the first time that I used the tumbler, so out of curiosity I
examined the bracelet with an 8x magnifier. 

If it is any comfort to you, the customer who would be likely to do
this is extremely rare. :wink:

    Good grief--it was full of tool marks! Every time I had bent
or straightened the wire, the pliers left a dent in the surface. I
guess my pliers technique needs work. 

Maybe, maybe not. It depends on how bad they are, and on whether
you like the idea of having your work look as though it had been made
by a machine. All hand-made jewelry has tool marks or other
"imperfections", which are as unique as finger-prints. Unless they
ruin the esthetic appeal, don’t worry.

    How do you avoid *making* tool marks, and how do you *remove*
them? 

When you work with fine silver, especially, but really with any
metal, you need to have as good a finish on your tools as you wish to
have on your finished piece. I polish my pliers on the buffer until
they feel and look like jewelry, at least out on the working ends.

You can also coat your tools with various substances, or select
tools that are less of a problem. I go through a lot of wooden
chopsticks in my work, because I can poke and pry without leaving
gouges in the wire.

Loren
http://www.golden-knots.com/


#4
    How do you avoid *making* tool marks, and how do you *remove*
them? 

I don’t do a whole lot of jewelry that’s 100% wire-wrapped. But when
I do wire wrapping, I pad my pliers, etc. with layers of masking
tape, or self-adhesive “moleskin” (the soft felt-like bandage often
used to cushion corns and callouses). I’ve tried using VetWrap (aka
3M CoBan) on flat pliers, but part of the bandage coating stuck to
the jewelry as a colored waxy substance which was difficult to remove
from the crevices. I’ve also used plumbers’ Teflon tape to cushion a
pair of round-nose pliers when nothing else was handy. That worked
quite well, and didn’t leave old adhesive all over the pliers when I
removed it later.

–Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Pet Motif Jewelry
http://www.featheredgems.com


#5

To avoid making tool marks don’t use fine silver. To clean them up
try rubber wheels and then tripoli.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
617-491-6000
@spirersomes
www.spirersomes.com


#6

Janet, please first of all examine the jaws of your pliers, they
should be absolutely smooth. I remove any marks of my jaws of the
pliers with an paper disk or an emery stick of #1 emery paper, then a
#2 emery paper… THEN I use a pumice wheel of 180+ grit to really
polish the metal. NO marks should be seen on any pliers’ metal as
these marks will and can be transferred onto the gold or
silver…another point to watch for is to slightly round off the
edges of the jaws…another reason for the transferring of marks
again. sharp edges CAN make indentations onto softer metal… if these
are attended to, you will have little reason to see future
aberrations on your silver…if you wish you can also use polishing
paper (used for gravers) of 2/0 or then a 4/0 paper…but this can be
used in an extreme use…Gerry, the Cyber-Setter!


#7
    slightly round off the edges of the jaws 

Great idea, thanks! I think the flat surfaces of the pliers are
smooth, though, as they are new and never used on anything but fine
silver.

    To avoid making tool marks don't use fine silver. To clean them
up try rubber wheels and then tripoli. 

The instructions (in Jean Stark’s book) called for fine silver, but
I think that’s because the links are fused, and fine silver is
easier to fuse than than sterling. Some of the links are large
enough that they might be soldered rather than fused…it’s worth a
try.

I assume a rubber wheel is an attachment for a rotary tool (which I
don’t own), but how does it work? Is it like a sandpaper disk, only
with more friction?

    I pad my pliers, etc. with layers of masking tape, or
self-adhesive "moleskin" 
        Tool marks are best avoided by using something that is    
softer than the metal your trying to shape. 

What do you think of nylon-lined pliers? None of the jewelry books
mention them, so I guess they are not essential as long as I use the
pliers correctly.

“Correctly”–aye, there’s the rub. I have “bending pliers” with one
flat jaw and one round, tapered jaw. Since the silver wire has dents
on the outer curves, I must be using too much pressure. Squeezing
instead of securing.

Janet


#8

You can buy flexible plastic tubing - the kind used in aquariums -
and cut short pieces to put over the ends of your pliers. It comes
in two diameters (perhaps more), and can also be sliced a bit on one
end to fit over the “cone” working end of the pliers. Fast and easy
and protects the metal pretty well.

Jan
www.designjewel.com


#9

Hi, I just wrote this up as a Tech tip for AJM, but here goes: Wrap
Vet Wrap around the jaws of your pliers for great non-marring
pliers.

Best Regards,
Kate Wolf in Portland Maine- where it’s actually balmy tonight.
http://www.wolfwax.com
http://www.wolftools.biz
http://www.katewolfdesigns.com


#10
    Hi, I just wrote this up as a Tech tip for AJM, but here goes:
Wrap Vet Wrap around the jaws of your pliers for great non-marring
pliers. 

Kate What is “VetWrap” and where can it be purchased?

Thank you.
Stephane in sunny San Francisco


#11

This discussion of tool marks is very curious to me. I hope that the
novices in the audience aren’t getting the idea that experienced
metalsmiths have learned techniques that help them avoid all tool
marks.Using the right tool for the right job will minimize tool
marks, but sometimes it’s preferable to work more aggressively and
count on the polishing steps to clean up scars. If the goal is to
work efficiently, then you have to find a balance between fusiness
and speed. I have often sanded a tool surface so that it will be less
likely to slip, knowing that the polishing I will do will take care
of the slight texture I’m putting on the surface. Good luck, Jan


#12

Hi gang, I had an offline post asking more about Vet Wrap. It is a 3m
product - used to wrap the legs of horses is what I’ve heard. It is a
stretchy gauze that sticks to itself (like Alligator Skin) but it
doesn’t fray. Two wraps around the jaws of pliers seems ideal for my
uses. It is tenacious stuff- lasts longer than masking tape. I also
use it to wrap around my fingers - as it is stretchy, you don’t loos
e dexterity, since it is thin I can still feel what I’m holding. You
don’t want to wrap it too tight, and I usually go around twice with
some tension and the last wrap with out tension. It is great to wrap
around file handles and I’ve used it to make the handle s of pliers
bulkier so they are more comfortable. Most jewelry supply stores
carry it, I know Gesswein has it. If you have access to a veterinary
or farm supply they have larger rolls. The drug stor e sells it in the
band-aid section (pricier because it’s sterile, but I prefe r it over
band-aids, because it’s harder for dirt to sneak in underneath). Best
Regards- IB9m looking forward to seeing some of you in Tucson! Kate
Wolf in Portland, Maine. Hosting workshops by the bay.
http://www.wolfwax.com http://www.wolftools.biz
http://www.katewolfdesigns.com


#13

I’d like to add another to this enjoyable thread. If your work is
not too delicate, buy a pair of the plastic-jaw craft pliers at
Michaels or Joanne Fabric or the like (usually in the beading
section). They cost about $6 (even less, if you get one of their
%-off coupons) and are a wonderful purple color. If the jaws start
to creep off, just shove them back in place and keep working. Judy
Bjorkman


#14

Hi Janet, I’ve use the plastic jawed pliers and they work OK. Most of
the battle really is trying to eliminate steps out of the process.
Minimalize the times you have to alter, hold, or deform a pieces from
it’s original state. Any surface (tool) that going to touch metal
should be equal to the final finish your going to put on the
Jewellery. Most jewellery tools need to be refinished as soon as you
buy them. Imprinting, impinging, or dropping should be what your
avoiding. Jim Zimmerman @Jim_Zimmerman2 handengravingcanada.com


#15

Besides some of the attributes already described…it has one other
attribute that makes it highly prized in my life; that is, it is the
most efficient animal hair remover ever discovered. And all manner
of lint. Take the whole roll in your hand and roll it downward over
your body as you would any lint removal brush. It’s adhesive
properties will take some of the dye from a piece of clothing with
it as well but not harm the article of clothing. For this discovery,
I was awarded a 100% cotton Special Issue 3M windbreaker at the last
OVMA conference. It’s great stuff. Costs about 3 bucks a roll.


#16
    Kate What is "VetWrap" and where can it be purchased? 

I’m not Kate, but I can help. VetWrap is a bandage that’s used in
both the sports medicine field and in the veterinary field. It’s a
sort of sticky gauze that only sticks to itself–it has no actual
adhesive. VetWrap is obviously the name of the product used for
animals, but the human-use equivalent is 3M Coban. Both things are
exactly the same stuff, with different names. Coban costs about four
more than Vetwrap, however, probably for insurance billing purposes
or some other such silly reason.

You can get VetWrap quite inexpensively from most animal medical
supply catalogs. I get mine from “The Greyhound Supply Store” in
Abilene, Kansas.
http://greyhoundsupply.com/s-cart/product.phtml?ProdID=VW2-882 For a
roll that’s 2 inches wide, it’s about $1.25 a roll plus shipping.
For jewelry shop use, one roll will last a long time. And I think if
you just order one roll of VetWrap, they might be convinced to simply
mail it to you rather than using UPS or some such, to keep shipping
costs to a minimum.

–Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Pet Motif Jewelry
http://www.featheredgems.com


#17

Another good way to avoid tool marks,(other than not leaving them
there in the first place ) It to super glue thin leather strips onto
a pair of parallel jaw pliers, Rio goes so far as to make a pair with
Urethane jaws, When you start making trophy buckles these thing
just become natural , I due up around 4 pairs a year they are only 12
or 14 dollars, and they will grip most things very well Ken Ferrell
www.shadras.ocm


#18

What do I need to use to remove tool marks off sterling silver, that
can be used with a Dremel and (this may be a stretch) found in
places like Home Depot or Lowes?

Liz


#19
What do I need to use to remove tool marks off sterling silver,
that can be used with a Dremel and (this may be a stretch) found in
places like Home Depot or Lowes? 

Going to be hard work without a jewellers lathe.

You can get mops and stitched wheels for a Dremmel, but it wont be a
quick operation.

Regards Charles


#20

Liz -

While I was still working in my garage, I had lots of wet-dry
sandpaper and files from hardware stores. My buffer was a drill
press, and two buffs with shanks that fit the chuck. I found though
that Dremel-style attachments/bits just could not match the
smoothing/prepolish capability of silicon wheels.

Have fun,
Kelley Dragon