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Using the burnisher


#1

My silversmith instructor at my local jr. college said to always use
a burnisher on a bezel setting. Could you please elaborate on why
not to use the burnisher? By the way, I never like my bezel settings.


#2
Could you please elaborate on why not to use the burnisher? By the
way, I never like my bezel settings. 

There’s nothing wrong with using the burnisher except that it’s slow
and, in my opinion, harder to get a really smooth finish than with
other methods. You have to find what works best for you and since you
say you don’t like your bezel settings, you may do better with
another method.

I use both a bezel pusher (for corners, if they exist) and a bezel
rocker to set the stone. Then I remove all marks with a
silicon-impregnated wheel on the flex shaft. Finally I “polish” the
bezel with a brass bristle brush on the flex shaft. Yes, this puts
minute scratches in the metal but it shines it up just fine. No
tripoli. No rouge. About the only time I go near my buffer any more
is if I want to touch up a stone with Zam.

This method works for me though it may not work for you, especially
if you want a mirror finish. (You can see the results I get on my
Orchid Gallery page, though the image resolution isn’t great.) I’m
sure others will post additional methods that you can try.

Beth


#3

Dear Burnisher user, Burnishers can be made in many different forms
for different projects. I use a burnisher with a slot cut into it on
my bezels and always use fine silver of various thicknesses for those
bezels. Why don’t you like your settings? Sam Patania, Tucson
@Patania_s if you want to talk off list


#4

I just thought I might share this with those who dislike their metal
burnishers. I have for years used a burnisher made of a 7mm X 22mm
cab of Hematite. It is held by epoxy in a small metal tapered
collar, which is then epoxied onto a small wooden handle. I really
like this type of burnisher because after rolling my bezel down onto
the stone with a bezel roller, the bezel will inevitably have a
light scratch or two. This burnisher when held firmly between my
thumb and index finger and gripped firmly by the remaining fingers,
then rubbing it around the bezel edge will actually remove the small
scratches as it further tightens the bezel cup around the stone. I
do this in a way that appears like I were trying to scrape the bezel
cup at the edge where it lies against the stone. It will not scratch
a stone even as soft as coral or turquoise. It works just as well on
my 2mm-3 mm snake eye turquoise cabs as my large cabs. I hope this
helps someone. Best wishes, John Barton


#5

John, Thanks for sharing your experience with your burnisher. While I
currently only have a polished metal burnisher, I intend to make
several with agate (and now hematite). I have used stone burnishers
previously and find them very easy to use. I still would not
recommend them for bringing down a bezel but they are wonderful for
smoothing scratches as you say.

By the way, many of my students worry about scratching the stone
when cleaning up their bezels with files. I remind all that, in this
case, Mohs scale is very important and they should be aware of the
hardness of all the stones they set…as well as the tools they use
on them. When setting harder stones such as jades, jaspers, agates,
etc (hardness of 6 to 7.5) you can safely use a steel file (hardness
of about 5.5) across the top of the stone without scratching it.
Same with burnishers. Of course, you must be more careful with the
softer stones such as turquoise, rhodocrosite etc. Also, it is not
wise to use steel files across faceted stones…even corrundum (ruby
and sapphire). Sometimes, if the facet edge runs with the ‘grain’ of
the stone it can chip. Likewise, I never use craytex wheels along
the top of a bezel…depending on the kind in use, they can be very
abrasive. Finally, never use silicon carbide sandpaper in the area
as it will scratch everything up through corrundum!!

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut1


#6
 Likewise, I never use craytex wheels along the top of a
bezel....depending on the kind in use, they can be very abrasive.
Finally, never use silicon carbide sandpaper in the area as it will
scratch everything up through corrundum!! 

Good insight, Don! Blaine Lewis (www.NewApproachSchool.com)
introduced me (and our class) to Silicone Pumice wheels for the flex
shaft, to clean up settings, bezels, and such. They had been staring
at me out of the catalogs for years, but I never knew what they were.
They’re awesome! They look and act a lot like rubbery Cratex wheels,
but are much less abrasive, and safe on most stones. Taking a cue
from Blaine, I mark them with an “SP” near the center hole so I can
easily identify them. I use both the knife-edge and square edge
types. A great intermediate step before hitting the tripoli and
rouge.

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


#7

One of my pet peeves is that suppliers seldom furnish information
about the Mohs hardness of their finishing abrasives. Without
I have to assume that my finishing abrasives will
damage all stones except diamond, ruby, and sapphire.

Examples of unknowns: Micrograded finishing films, radial wheels,
silicone wheels and points, rubber wheels and points, bobbing
compound, various buffing compounds and rouges.

Howard Woods
@FrodoGem
In the beautiful foothills near Eagle Idaho


#8

Howard, Totally agree with you. One note however, I have not found a
metal polishing compound that will effect any stone above a 6
hardness. Six and below will be abraided by many compounds. For
example, rhodocrosite, chrysocolla, turquoise, malachite, etc are all
effected. In fact, fabuluster and ZAM will actually polish them all
better than any lapidary polish. Opal is a different problem. A well
polished opal (lapidaries normally use cerium oxide which works well
on almost all silica based stones) may or may not be abraided with
various compounds but I have not yet found a compound that will
polish one.

Your comment about the smoothing wheels is very well taken and only
the pumice based wheels can be used safely though even then, they
could damage the carbonates.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut1


#9
 I have to assume that my finishing abrasives will damage all
stones except diamond, ruby, and sapphire. 

Be careful, Howard; your assumption that unknown abrasives won’t
harm ruby and sapphire could allow you to harm a stone. I have gone
to some trouble to find the minerals used in some of the products
your mention, and the majority of them contain either silicon
carbide (mohs hardness 9.5) or aluminum oxide (equal in hardness to
ruby and sapphire- 9.0). The 3M website has the composition of many
of the unknown products you’ve listed, but it takes forever to find
the stuff you’re looking for on the site because the company has
such a wide variety of products. In my wide array of supplier
catalogs, I usually refer to the Gesswein catalog first to find the
mineral used in an abrasive product; they have included this
more often than the other vendors. Hope this helps! Linda