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Using a flex shaft to cut a groove


#1

I am in need of some expert advice. Is there a way I can use my flex
shaft to cut a thin groove around the perimeter of dichroic glass and
beach glass pieces as well as agates and other stones in order to
"bezel" them with 21 or 22 g wire that fits right into the groove
leaving a clean looking piece with only a simple wire around the
outside edge? I am quite limited in my tool inventory, so any
suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks to so many knowledgeable people for sharing so much with those
of us who need it so badly. Your generosity is surely appreciated.

Trudy


#2

Trudy, Your best bet is to purchase a beveled diamond wheel about 1/2
to 1 inch in diameter. You might find some at Harbor Freight or a
local flea market. Carefully girdle the piece you want to cut
ensuring the piece and the wheel are kept wet. At medium speed,
slowly go around the piece until you reach the depth you want. The
angle of the groove can be adjusted to accept the bezel you intend to
use.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut


#3

To cut a groove in glass (stones, pottery, etc.) you can use a
separating disc on a mandrel in your flex shaft. These are fragile
cutting discs, but once you get used to their strengths you will be
able to use them without them breaking. They are not expensive and
usually are purchased in boxes of 100. They can also be used to cut
sprues off of castings, to cut simple decorative lines in metal, to
cut apart coils of jump rings and other uses. Hope this helps.
Linda K


#4
Is there a way I can use my flex shaft to cut a thin groove around
the perimeter... 

Hi Trudy, I would recommend using a separating disk (or two, stacked)
on a mandrel in the flex shaft. These are hard, thin (and relatively
brittle) abrasive disks that are great for slotting, creating
grooves, or small cutting tasks. Be sure to use eye and breathing
protection. You should probably also dip the work piece in water
frequently to keep the glass dust down and keep the work cool.

All the best,
Dave
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com


#5

Trudy, This is what my wife and I do for 90% of our jewelry. You can
see pictures at http://www.cartertools.com/jewelry.html The procedure
I use has evolved over the years into the following: I have the flex
shaft rigidly mounted in a horizontal position to my right A sintered
diamond saw 1" dia (from national Diamond Labs, but you could use any
diamond saw, cutoff wheel, etc.) is mounted in the flex shaft. I
setup a simple drip system from an overhead bucket so that water
continously drips on the saw. A shop vac hose is placed so that the
suction will get most of the spray. The entire think is mounted over
a tub set into my bench, you could just mount a tub on the bench, to
catch the water that drips down, and a small arcylic splashguard is
put so as to stop the rest of the spray. You may or may not want to
wear a dust mask as well (and always safety goggles, etc) With all
that apparatus jury-rigged together, you can then groove the stone.

I hold the stone so that the saw is aligned with the axis around
which you want to place the groove I then rotate the stone under the
saw, making sure that I stay on track. After the first 1000 pieces or
so you will be able to do it blindfolded. Glass wants slower speeds
than stone, or so it seems, high speeds exacerbate any vibration in
the system, which can cause chipping. I actually use a dremel dial
speed control now, so I can just dial a slower speed and not have to
hold my foot in a discrete position on the footpedal. Don’t go too
fast, don’t use much pressure, don’t let the work get dry.

I put together a quick webpage just now showing the setup, I’ll try
and add some pictures of the actual operation soon.
http://www.cartertools.com/groove.html

felice@casco.net is Felice Luftschein and Nicholas Carter. See our web pages
http://www.cartertools.com/nfhome.html


#6

Nick - Your stone grooving setup is very interesting - makes me
wonder how long that flex shaft has been there and subjected to the
stone / glass dust? Have you even had problems from stone dust in the
flex shaft mechanism?

Ivy


#7

I have been using the handpiece for at least 6 years in this
capacity. I had to replace the bearings once, and I probably should
again as I used skateboard bearings the last time as an emergency
measure, and never bothered to replace those with Foredom bearings. I
spray the whole thing down with WD-40 after each use (which will,
with time, wash all the grease out of the bearings). This is pretty
harsh duty for the handpiece, but it has held up well. I don’t use
the handpiece for anything else though as I don’t want to remove the
saw arbor which is running true right now, or drag grit into the
chuck mechanism. I lube the sheath and cable every year or two. The
setup probably gets run about 4 hours a week. You could probably use
one of the cheap import flex shafts for duty like this.