Jewelers Bench Tips

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Having problems keeping your solder in line?

Solder Stop

Try ordinary graphite! To make a barrier line to stop solder flow,simply draw on your piece of metal with a pencil and make a heavy line. The graphite will resist and your piece will not suffer from traversing solder.

How can I renew burrs?

Renewing Burrs

If you're sick of throwing your worn burrs away, try this: First, clean your worn burrs thoroughly.I use a 20% sodium hydroxide solution warmed on a hot plate followed by steam cleaning. Dip the cleaned burrs in concentrated nitric acid and let the acid work for a half minute or less, then steam clean again. Your burrs should be sharpened. Nitric acid doesn't work on high speed steel and some other metals. The burrs will be slightly smaller each time you repeat the process. The results are just short of miraculous.

What is the recipe for making sterling silver?

Sterling Alloy

925 parts fine silver, 75 parts copper

What risks are associated with mercury?

Compounds & Effects - Mercury

Sometimes used to gild silver or used in the refining of gold and silver. Mercury is a cumulative poison affecting the nervous system, kidneys, and brain.

What risks are associated with Brittania metal?

Compounds & Effects - Britannia Metal

Skin contact may cause lesions and ulcers. Inhalation can cause respiratory irritation, possible pneumonia, liver, and kidney damage, and possible heart damage.

How do I make flux?

Hard Soldering Flux Recipe

50 grams boric acid crytals
32 grams sodium phosphate
34 grams powdered borax
1 pint distilled water.

Mix and bring to a boil.

What should I know about stone alignment?

Stone Alignment

When setting colored stones, it is extremely important to place the stone in the mounting in exactly the same position each time you test fit the stone while cutting the seat. This is due to the fact that most colored stones are cut irregularly. To assist you in
this placement, draw a line on the crown of the stone with a fine tip marker. Then line-up this mark with a distinctive design element of the mounting, a similar mark with a felt tip marker on the mounting, or a mark made on the holder holding the mounting (such as a deep file mark filed into your ring clamp). When finished setting, any remaining ink can be removed with alcohol.

What can help with channel setting stones?

Channel Setting Helper

When channel setting stones, to help keep the gems in place while hammering or burnishing, sticky wax can become your helper. After putting stones in place, drag a bit of sticky wax across the stone toward the channel wall. This will allow a little build-up of wax that will hold the gem in place. Continue setting procedures as usual, and after the stone feels tightly in place, use a steamer to blast the wax out of the channel. The channel may need some additional tightening at this point, as small bits of wax residue have been removed and will leave a minor void. This is a great way to keep your stones from going into orbit during the setting process!

How do I make shibuichi?

Shibuichi Alloy

Copper - 51-68%
Silver - 32-49%
Gold - 1-10% or less

What risks are associated with copper?

Compounds & Effects - Copper

Skin contact can cause allergies in some people. Inhalation of copper oxide fumes may cause irritation to the lungs and intestines.

How do I etch silver?

Etching non ferrous metals

This [etching metals] is usually a dangerous and toxic task, but it can be made safer and easier. You can use a Sharpie waterproof marker as an acid block and ferric chloride (available at Radio Shack - it is also used to etch circuit boards and other materials). Draw on the metal with the Sharpie where you don't want the metal eaten away, or color the whole piece and use a scribe to draw in your design.

What risks are associated with casting investment?

Compounds & Effects - Casting Investment

Manufacturers use a variety of fine particled materials, some of which may be hazardous. Some investment components deteriorate at high kiln temperatures and give off toxic fumes.

What risks are associated with beryllium?

Compounds & Effects - Beryllium

Chronic ulcers may result from skin contact. Berylliosis, a severe pneumonia-like disease, is caused by exposure to small amounts and can be fatal. Inhalation may cause bronchogenic cancer.

What risks are associated with shell gem and wood dust?

Compounds & Effects - Shell, Gem, and Wood Dust

Dust produced by cutting, grinding, or polishing these materials can always be a potential eye hazard. Free silica in some stones can cause silicosis. Some contain asbestos and toxic metallic oxides. Some wood dust can result in skin irritation, allergies, and over long periods, nasal and nasal sinus cancer.

What risks are associated with asbestos?

Compounds & Effects - Asbestos

Human carcinogen. Inhalation can cause asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, intestinal, and stomach cancer. Ingestion may be fatal.

What risks are associated with ethyl alcohol?

Compounds & Effects - Alcohol, Ethyl

Ingestion causes intoxication. Chronic ingestion can result in liver damage. Denatured ethyl alcohol contains methyl alcohol, making it poisonous.

What is the recipe for making 18k yellow gold?

18K Yellow Gold Alloy

75% fine gold
12.5% fine silver
12.5% copper

What risks are associated with sulfuric acid?

Compounds & Effects - Sulfuric Acid

A highly toxic acid used to clean metal. It is corrosive to the skin, eyes, respiratory system, and stomach. Ingestion may be fatal. The heated acid releases toxic sulfur oxide gases.

What is the recipe for making electrum?

Electrum Alloy

50 parts fine silver, 50 parts gold

How do I make shakudo?

Shakudo Alloy

Copper - 94-96%
Gold - 4-5%
Silver - 1.5% or less

How do I get a smooth cut through metal?

Sticky sawblades

When sawing metal with a jeweler's saw sometimes the blade will catch and get stuck. To prevent this,run a piece of wax once down the teeth of the saw blade. Bees wax is best, but I have used a candle in a pinch.

Guru's note: Be sure to run the wax "down" the blade, in the same direction as the cutting teeth, to avoid clogging up your sawblade.

What risks are associated with nitric acid?

Compounds & Effects - Nitric Acid

Fumes given off in metal cleaning and etching are highly toxic by inhalation and can cause bronchitis and emphysema. Contact can burn the skin. Ingestion may be fatal.

What risks are associated with acetylene?

Compounds & Effects - Acetylene

High concentrations of acetylene and carbon dioxide become asphyxiating by preventing normal supply of oxygen to the lungs. Acetylene also contains toxic impurities. Highly flammable and explosive.

How can I polish hard to reach areas?

Polishing Hard to Reach Areas

If you're trying to reach the area inside a bail, you can use the old string method we were taught at the GIA. Tie about a 1' long piece of string to your bench pin (or anything else handy!). Moisten slightly with lighterfluid. Rub a piece of Tripoli up and down the string. Thread it through your bail. Hold the string tightly with one hand and move your piece briskly up and down with the other hand, to reach all inside areas. Repeat with another piece of string and Rouge, if desired.

What risks are associated with wax?

Compounds & Effects - Wax

Many types of waxes are in use for making casting models. Manufacturers add various compounds to wax to develop desirable modeling qualities. Some add plastics which give off harmful fumes when heated and give off dust when hand worked.

What risks are associated with methyl alcohol?

Compounds & Effects - Alcohol, Methyl

Inhalation and skin absorption causes stupor and unconsciousness, nervous system damage and possibly liver and kidney damage. Ingestion can result in blindness or death.

What risks are associated with the liver and sulphur?

Compounds & Effects - Liver and Sulphur / Potassium Sulphide

Will create highly toxic fumes of oxides of sulfur when heated to decomposition. Can cause damage to the eyes and lungs.

What risks are associated with enamels?

Compounds & Effects - Enamels

Hazards throughout the enameling process are numerous. Preparation and cleaning of the base metal often involve the use of abrasives and acids. Many of the vitreous media contain hazardous oxides which can be inhaled in their raw form or in firing. The use of a kiln or torch is inherently hazardous.

What risks are associated with benzene?

Compounds & Effects - Benzene

Skin contact, ingestion, and inhalation can result in cumulative poisoning. May destroy bone marrow causing anemia and leukemia. Highly flammable.

What risks are associated with isoamly alcohol?

Compounds & Effects - Alcohol, Isoamyl

Absorbed through the skin, it can cause digestive and nervous system damage. Acute inhalation or ingestion can be fatal.

What risks are associated with Tin?

Compounds & Effects - Tin

Inorganic tin compounds can be fatal if ingested. Vapors and fumes are toxic.

What risks are associated with Ammonia?

Compounds & Effects - Ammonia

Ingestion is intensely painful and injurious to the mouth and esophagus, and can be fatal. Inhalation of vapors can cause respiratory irritation and pulmonary edema. Vapors may also damage the eyes. Skin contact should be avoided.

What risks are associated with pitch?

Compounds & Effects - Pitch

The dark black pitch is a derivative of coal tar and can be a skin irritant that could lead to skin cancer if the metalsmith is exposed to pitch for many years. The brownish pure vegetable pitch is less hazardous. Both types are fire hazards when overheated and may explode if air pockets are allowed to develop as might be the case in removing pitch from a hollow form.

What risks are associated with plastics?

Compounds & Effects - Plastics

It is safe to say that almost all plastics work and many of the components involved are hazardous. Hazards range from mild skin irritation to cancer. Toxins can enter the body through the skin, inhalation, or by ingestion.

What risks are associated with acetone?

Compounds & Effects - Acetone

High levels of acetone vapor can result in stupor and unconsciousness. Contact can cause slight skin irritation. Extremely flammable.

What risks are associated with benzene?

Compounds & Effects -

Toxic by skin contact and may cause skin cancer. Avoid inhalation and ingestion.

How can I check prong tightness?

Checking Prong Tightness

To make certain prongs are down tight on the crown of the stone, hold the stone eye level. Then, hold your index finger about 1" above the stone. This will shield direct light from the stone, causing a silhouette of the stone and prong. Then, you can easily see light coming through any gaps between the stone and prong. If necessary, tape a 3 X 5 white index card on the wall in front of your bench to provide a light background to hold the stone in front of.

How do I make flux?

Soldering Sterling Silver

To help prevent fire scale and melting,turn off your bench light when you solder. This way you can see more accurately what shade of red your pieces are at and know if you are overheating them.

What is the recipe for making silver reticulation metal?

Silver Reticulation Alloy

820 parts fine silver, 180 parts copper

What risks are associated with Silver?

Compounds & Effects - Silver

Silver in dust or vapor can cause argyria, a blue black discoloration of the skin and eyes.

What risks are associated with polishing compounds?

Compounds & Effects - Buffing, Polishing, and Buffing Materials

Due to many types in use, the information given is general. Some materials contain free silica that may cause silicosis if inhaled. All are potential eye hazards and all abrade fine metal particles which may be toxic.

What risks are associated with Bronze?

Compounds & Effects - Bronze

Skin contact may cause allergies in some people. Inhalation causes metal fume fever. Alloys containing lead can cause lead poisoning.

What risks are associated with asphaltum?

Compounds & Effects - Asphaltum

Toxic by skin contact and may cause skin cancer. Avoid inhalation and ingestion.

How can I avoid marks during metal forming?

Avoid Marks During Metal Forming

During metal forming with pliers, often even with diligent care, the surface can become marred by the pliers. To avoid this, use some leather chamois between the metal being formed and the pliers used to form it.

What risks are associated with cadmium?

Compounds & Effects - Cadmium

Constituent in some solder and brazing materials. Fumes can cause severe lung irritation and fatal pulmonary edema. Can also result in kidney damage, anemia, and damage to teeth, bones, and liver. May also cause lung and prostate cancer.

What is the recipe for making 18k white gold?

18K White Gold Alloy

75% fine gold
25% palladium

What risks are associated with Ketones?

Compounds & Effects - Ketones

Found in paint and varnish removers and used as a solvent of lacquer or plastics. All ketones are skin, eye, nose, and throat irritants. Can cause stupor and unconsciousness. Ingestion results in vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain. Chronic contact can cause nerve damage.

What risks are associated with coal?

Compounds & Effects - Coal

Dust is toxic if inhaled. Can cause black lung or a disease similar to silicosis. Toxic fumes or ash may be released upon burning.

What risks are associated with zinc?

Compounds & Effects - Zinc

Exposure to fumes often causes metal fume fever.

What risks are associated with Lead?

Compounds & Effects - Lead

Lead is a cumulative poison and is taken in through the skin and through inhalation or ingestion. Can cause damage to the nervous system, brain, blood cells, bone marrow, kidneys, and liver. May be found in some metal alloys and enamels. Lead blocks are sometimes used in metal forming.

What risks are associated with hydrochloric acid?

Compounds & Effects - Hydrochloric Acid

An irritant to the respiratory system and corrosive to the skin.

What risks are associated with styrofoam?

Compounds & Effects - Styrofoam

Sometimes used for casting models. Releases toxic gases when heated or burned.

How do I bend silver sharply?

Bending metal

To get a clean bend when folding sheet metal just score a line on the inside of the bend with a file or grinding wheel. Then a good depth to score is through 50% of the thickness of the metal.

What risks are associated with platinum?

Compounds & Effects - Platinum

Heated platinum can give off fumes that may cause lung and skin irritation.

What about resizing?

Sure Resizing

When sizing, make the ring 1/8 size too small. Clean the solder joint on the inside of the ring only. Next, place the ring on a ring mandrel and hammer across the solder joint until the ring reaches the correct size. Finally, clean up the outside of the ring with a file, emery, and polish the ring. This will help you to be more accurate in your sizing (if you are a little too large you will need to resize). In addition, this will make a stronger joint, and finishing and polishing will be easier.

What risks are associated with copper sulfate?

Compounds & Effects - Copper Sulfate

May cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat. Ingestion can cause gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, or anemia.

What risks are associated with isoamyl alcohol?

Compounds & Effects - Alcohol, Isoamyl

Absorbed through the skin, it can cause digestive and nervous system damage. Acute inhalation or ingestion can be fatal.

How can I repair 14K hollow chains?

Repairing 14K Hollow Chains

Repairing hollow chains, especially rope chains can be a real problem: they hold the dirt and shmutz so! If they are not completely clean, an imperfect solder bond can result. Ultrasonic and steam alone may not do it all no matter how long you soak the piece so try this: Using a deep pyrex dish, add some water and a small amount of Draino drain cleaner and pop the hollow chain in. Let it soak, sonic, steam and rinse, and Presto! Clean as a whistle. Please note this is recommended for 14K or higher.

What risks are associated with pewter?

Compounds & Effects - Pewter

Care must be taken when working with older pewter alloys as these may contain lead.

What risks are associated with cyanides?

Compounds & Effects - Cyanides

May cause skin rashes and be absorbed through the skin. Ingestion is often fatal, resulting from chemical asphyxia. Inhalation may also cause asphyxia. Acid added to cyanide creates extremely toxic hydrogen cyanide gas which can be quickly fatal if inhaled. Cyanide is a component in some plating solutions.

What risks are associated with Nickel?

Compounds & Effects - Nickel

Fumes of nickel may cause skin allergies and eye irritation. Chronic inhalation of fumes may cause lung or nasal cancer or irritation of the upper respiratory tract. Oxy-Acetylene welding with nickel can result in the formation of toxic nickel carbonyl gas that might cause pulmonary edema.

What risks are associated with brass?

Compounds & Effects - Brass

Skin contact may cause allergies in some people. Frequent inhalation of fumes can cause metal fume fever or lead or arsenic poisoning from certain alloys.

What is the recipe for making 14k yellow gold?

14K Yellow Gold Alloy

58.3% fine gold
20.8% fine silver
20.8% copper

What is the recipe for making 22k gold?

22k Gold Alloy

91.6% fine gold
4.2% fine silver
4.2% copper

What risks are associated with benzyl alcohol?

Compounds & Effects - Alcohol, Benzyl

Eye, nose, and throat irritation.

How can I repair hollow chains?

Repairing Hollow Chains

To solder closed a link in a hollow link bracelet, take a small section of wire that matches the color and karat of the bracelet link. Use a wire diameter that will semi-snuggly fit inside the link. Then, place some paste solder in each end of the link and insert the wire. Gently hold the link closed and heat until the solder melts. The wire will provide more surface area for the solder to flow to make a stronger joint.

How can I eliminate extra shine on jewelry?

Jewelry Photo Shine Elimination

To eliminate extra shine on jewelry when doing photography, hair spray works. So does polycell wallpaper paste mixed with a little bit of talc powder and sprayed on to whatever surface. A lot easier to remove afterwards than lacquer or varnishes!

What risks are associated with Arsenic?

Compounds & Effects - Arsenic

Sometimes used as an alloy constituent and may be released in the fumes of some enamels. Can cause nerve disorders and skin and lung cancer. Ingestion may be fatal.

What risks are associated with butyl alcohol?

Compounds & Effects - Alcohol, Butyl

May be absorbed through the skin. Can cause throat, nose, and eye irritation, stupor, and unconsciousness.

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Guru Spotlight
Mary White