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Using bezel blocks


#1

Has anyone out there ever used a bezel block for creating bezels
from = flat stock? Just wondering if you find it an invaluable tool
or not?

Jennifer
Ventura, CA where it is finally raining after 2 years without.


#2

I found bezel blocks not very usefull. If I bought them to save time,
it was a complete failure. If I bought them to get a shape that can
be gotten no other way then they were expensive for that occasional
bezel. If I had a bunch of certain sized bezels to make I would
rather cast the bezels, more consistent and able to produce much
greater quantities. The bezel blocks were just not economical for me.

Sam Patania, Tucson
www.silverhuntress.com
www.bahti.com


#3

I had a 17 degree bezel block (collette block) and punch that I
bought at my first SNAG conference in 1994. It sat on the shelf and I
occasionally tried to play with it. Not much luck making tapered
bezel forms from flat stock, but they worked great for truing things
up.

Then 2 summers ago I was gearing up for an exhibition, playing a lot
and making a lot of work. For some reason I gave it another shot. I
wasn’t interested in making bezels, per se, but I wanted short
tapered forms. First I took sections of thick walled tube and
hammered them down into the block. After annealing, I drove the punch
in and had lovely forms that required a bit of evening, but not too
much.

Then I began doming washers and discs of sterling in a dapping block
and then taking that form to the bezel block for truing. It worked a
high percentage of the time and allowed me to assemble forms with
these seamless tapered tube sections. I went out and bought a 28
degree block and punch so that I could alter the curve of the
assembled forms. Lots of fun.

Take care,
andy


#4

if you have a lot of disposable income then buy the ready made one
you have wanted for a long time…they are handy for production work
or if you are using a lot of for instance, trillions with cut
corners then they can be custom machined for you fairly
inexpensively- however it is unlikely that you’ll need it daily in
the studio. It’s a tool that sounds more appealing than it is
practical, particularly if putting together a first studio- the money
can be spent more wisely on necessities. Bezel mandrels are far more
useful in creating settings and small round mandrels perhaps the most
useful aside from ‘fancy’ shapes. If you have ever attempted a 3mm
crown/ cut-down setting you know of what I speak! It is far easier
and less to finish before piercing with the pre-formed bezel slipping
off a mandrel than to try and sight bend the piece. the same applies
to small bezels of most any shape. I would then recommend getting a
couple of small sized mandrels and still have change from the
difference respective to buying the block. If you do want a block
look for the most varied shapes and sizes on one face, and make sure
it comes with the punches that make using it possible. Contenti had
some on sale a month or so ago, you may want to check their site.
Bottom line is : if you are a tool junkie you’ll get it no matter
what the cost or consensus!

rer


#5

Well I seem to be the odd one out here.

I’ve used bezel blocks for years and wouldn’t be without them. I
make all my own bezels in silver, gold, platinum and palladium from
flat stock, but help the process by cutting the stock into a fan
shape (the correct development of a truncated cone) before bending it
for soldering. I always found bending the fan very difficult until I
invented and made a special tool for doing it. I can now bend it up
in just a few seconds, solder the join and true it up in the block
in a few minutes more. Totally hand-made.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#6
Has anyone out there ever used a bezel block for creating bezels
from flat stock? Just wondering if you find it an invaluable tool
or not? 

I have found them to be extremely helpful. I have round, square and
oval blocks.

Usually, I will dap out a disk and hammer the resulting dome into
the block. trim the edges and hammer some more. Then strike with the
punch. The resulting forms make great heads. I can emulate a Tiffany
head in about an hour this way. Perfect symettry and great metal.
Lots of uses. They can also be used to make undercarriages


#7
It sat on the shelf and I occasionally tried to play with it. Not
much luck making tapered bezel forms from flat stock, but they
worked great for truing things up. 

I waited on this to let others tell their thoughts and experiences -
I’m curious myself who and how many people use them. I have ALMOST
every tool known to man, but I never had any desire for bezel
punches and blocks. Because I almost always need some other size,
angle or format than the block has, mostly. If they’re useful to you
in your particular work, whoever you may be, then no doubt they’re a
great thing. Otherwise one can’t make a 5mm x 4.5 mm bezel because
the punch is square, especially when it costs pretty major $$$$. In
my world stones are almost never standard sizes…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#8
Has anyone out there ever used a bezel block for creating bezels
from flat stock? Just wondering if you find it an invaluable tool
or not? 

I agree with Bruce. You must have these to make Heads in the
Fabrication process. Three stone rings are much easier to make. I
generally make the under wires for heads.

Thanks Johneric


#9

For awhile a few years back I used bezel blocks quite a bit. So much
that my boss at the time called me The Bezelmeister. For my way of
working their biggest advantage is the ability to make things out of
non standard gauge and alloy. Commercially available bezels come
pretty much with just one idea of thickness, which is usually
around.015-.025" depending. I like a nice chubby bezel
wall…040-.060" or more. This is pretty thick wire stock if you
making for a half carat diamond, and so its a bear to bend into a
weensie circle but it straightens out nicely with a few good whacks
of a beefy hammer.

Sometimes I would form with a 17 degree punch and block then follow
up with a few taps using the 17 block and the 28 punch. This not only
rams the top edge of bezel tight to the 17 block but gives you a
taper in the top 1/3 or so of the inside of the bezel, reducing the
amount you have to grind with a bud bur for preseating.

With the square block, the bezel corners don’t seem to go completely
into the block corners, you wind up with rounded corners… One way
around this(if you want sharp corners) is to run a filet of solder
along the inside of the corners after you have the bezel preformed.
The extra thickness allows the punch to ram the corners tightly into
the block. I’ve used this method for making models that would then
be molded and cast. Its debatable whether this is OK to use directly
on a finished piece. Solder under a prong could be problematic.


#10

I have quite a collection of bezel blocks, and while I use them
infrequently, they really are quite useful. Beside making bezels
with them, they are great for modifying the shape of cast basket
settings. I often make sterling models, and so even if the shape
isn’t quite perfect for the stone, the setting just goes through some
further modification. Several years ago I was commissioned to set a 2
ct marquis diamond in a platinum bezel, it was a perfect excuse to
buy a marquise bezel block, to form the final shape.

Rick Hamilton


#11

Another thought regarding the bezel block/punch. I use only round.
Square would be fine as well, maybe triangle too… The problem with
ovals and rectangles-- and this goes for mandrels as well-- in my
experience is that the proportions vary. Long and skinny, short and
squat, etc.

I have a collection of awls and punches all with varying tapers and
cross sections that I use as “bezel” mandrels for forming tube like
structures.

Andy


#12

I have to agree that the bezel blocks can be usefull but for the cost
I just couldn’t make money with them. They would be way down on my
list of tools to acquire as I would use them very infrequently. I had
hoped that they would save me time but if I have to make a cone for a
bezel then all the block is doing is trueing my cone which often
split and got off center inside the block. I would never recommend
them to a beginner and I would caution anyone who thinks they will
save time you will still have to have mad fabrication skills to use a
bezel block.They are not a short cut. I’d rather lathe out a wax
bezel for a cone, the squares always split in the corners, to much
stress on a bezel. Spending time wax carving seems a much better
option, not faster but cetainly a more flexible technique.

Sam Patania, Tucson
www.silverhuntress.com
www.bahti.com


#13
I have quite a collection of bezel blocks, and while I use them
infrequently, they really are quite useful. 

I bought a square one a few years ago on impulse, dwelling under the
misapprehension that you can start with a washer shape and make a
bezel in one of these. The metal tore every time. If I understand
correctly now, you start with a tube or cone and refine it in the
block. So far, so good.

But if there is anyone who is comfortable with these techniques who
is in (or is passing through) the Chicago area and would be willing
to come do a demo at one of my classes, that would be fantastic! Let
me know–

Noel


#14
They would be way down on my list of tools to acquire as I would
use them very infrequently 

This topic has been around, I guess. I could see that for someone who
is making a production line that has some repetitious part, bezel or
not, it could be the ideal tool. And I could see, as many have said,
that if one naively bought one that now sits on a shelf, that it
could come in real handy at times. But I just looked at a major
supplier, and to get a range of sizes and shapes could easily cost
you $1000, and then add a range of angles and it could be $2000 and
more. Just to pop out simple shapes. Anyway, I’m sure there are those
who use them constantly and swear by them. The point being that, like
Andy, I have an assortment of steel that I use for shaping, and I
also do a lot with the plain old dapping block. You can make a small
ring and turn it into an angled underbezel real easy, and you can
also put that into a pair of pliers and turn it into an oval real
easy. No, it won’t have straight, perfectly angled sides, and the
oval shape will have different angles as it goes around, but I don’t
think that always matters to begin with, or it is easily fixed by
filing, if needed. Very verstile tool, the dapping block.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#15
I bought a square one a few years ago on impulse, dwelling under
the misapprehension that you can start with a washer shape and make
a bezel in one of these. The metal tore every time. If I understand
correctly now, you start with a tube or cone and refine it in the
block. So far, so good. 

You could start with a washer, you just need to anneal it more
frequently to keep it from tearing. The sharper angled shapes are
more prone to tearing the metal. I do usually start with a annealed
piece of heavy wall tubing or form a conic section. I also use
forming pliers and half round pliers to shape the piece before and
sometimes after the punching process. The blocks can be useful in
forming accurate shapes faster than some other methods. You do need
to plan ahead and keep the metal soft.

Rick Hamilton


#16

Someone asked me for a live demo. I don’t think that that is going
to happen.

Some time ago, I learned that buying heads and sticking them
together made for some really repulsive pieces of jewelry. Mind you,
I have made some pretty nasty pieces, but I try to get better all of
the time.

When I make a head with a square bezel block, I start by dapping out
a hemisphere. No solder joints to shear, just a solid rolled and
dapped piece of metal. I then use a 2lb sledge or a two ton press
with a sledge to punch that hemisphere into a square hole in the
block. when I can get it no further into the hole, I take it to the
next size down. A flange will develop at the lip of my forming
pyramid. I just use some snips to trim that off and continue to the
next hole and the next until I am at the size that I need. I will
probably have annealed the pyramid a couple of times by this point.
Now I will use the punch on to to crispen the corners and thin out
the metal some. This shape can be used as a solid bezel. It can also
be used as a bearing and undercarriage for a basket setting. It just
needs a slot cut into each side to provide an airline. With the
corners flattened with a file, tapered wire prong can be sodered on
and we have a basket head.

Perfect symmetry and a minimum of solder. An additional plus is the
quality of the metal. Very easy to make a rectangular shaped head by
cutting down the pyramid before shaping.

Trying to carve these by hand in wax is not a quick job. Trying to
solder the parts all together even by using several grades of solder
can be a nightmare. I don’t investment solder on my bench.

A bezel die and punch costs about $65 to a hundred bucks. I have two
squares (different tapers), a round and an oval. Hardly a thousand
or two.


#17
But I just looked at a major supplier, and to get a range of sizes
and shapes could easily cost you $1000, and then add a range of
angles and it could be $2000 and more. 

One each round, large round, one ratio oval, marquise, emerald, pear,
square, one ratio rectangle, trillion and triangle (NOT heart,
hexagon or octagon) at a major supplier I won’t name = $2648.95. I
underestimated it - if you buy all the angles, too it would be more
like $4,000. As I said, I’m sure there are people who swear by them,
but do the math, please.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#18
I bought a square one a few years ago on impulse, dwelling under
the misapprehension that you can start with a washer shape and make
a bezel in one of these. The metal tore every time 

Yeah a square will do that if you just slam away as will a square
bezel mandrel. Sometimes you hafta coerce the metal but most times
you
persuade it. Never mind the tool the principle holds. One way is to
make your washer, dap it on a round bezel block first and then use
the square. In this way you put much less cutting force(think four
sided chisel here) when you’re squaring it out.

But while we’re on about washers…yes this will make it seam free
but what if you’re doing something in platinum, the waste is
prohibitive. You CAN use flatwire and deal with a seam. Gentle
persuasion. Its only rarely that I have seam trouble with this. The
problem mostly crops up when you’re making something rather tall, ex.
8mm, the metal is under a lot of stress to fold that far from flat.
In this case what works for me is to make a fan shape from sheet
stock first, solder the flanks then dap into form. Look at what a
bezel punch is doing to your washer. Basically you’re driving the
tool thru the inside hole, stretching til the walls start conforming
to the tapered hole. All that force is on the corners. Its good to
position the seam along a flat of the punch.

Oddly what I use the block for most on a day to day basis, is when
I’m driving a mandrel thru a bezel to stretch it, using one of those
anvils with numerous sized holes in it, and I just need a convenient
hole to accept the point of the mandrel. $65 to do that, go figure!


#19

Someone on here said something about wanting emerald shaped bezel
blocks. Otto Frei has them.