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The Learning Table | Inside our Jewellers Toolbox
Take a peek inside our jewellers toolbox and the tools they can't live without. As our jewellers prepare to work from their home studios, we asked them to share with us the essential tools they will be taking with them and that they would recommend to any jeweller - beginner or advanced. You never know, maybe you will feel inspired to learn some tricks of the trade after reading our latest journal.
A bench peg is a wooden wedge that attaches to your workbench, which you use as a brace when working to support the piece of jewellery as you’re filing, sawing or burring the metal. It’s an essential piece of equipment that all jewellers use. If you don’t have a permanent jewellery bench, you can use a removable bench peg which allows you to make/create pieces on any desk or table and then take it away when you are not using it.
Saw frame & saw blades
One of the most basic tools you can have, but also one of the most essential for cutting out any kind of shape out of sheet, wire, stock gauge or chenier.
Half round hand file
Hand files are steel files with teeth of different sizes, which used to remove large amounts of metal and to create shapes from stock metal. For example for our half round profile wedding bands we start with a square profile piece of stock metal and we file off the straight edges to create a soft curve.
Of all the files, we recommend this half round style to all beginners as the must-have. It’s versatile, so you can use the flat side for filing flats, and the half round side for anything curved such as the inside of rings. You can use a #2 for general filing, or if you need to remove a lot of material, a #0 is much coarser and more aggressive.
Raw hide mallet and steel block
A raw hide mallet is a great forming tool, as the raw hide head can be hit against your metal piece without scratching or warping the metal out of shape. It’s really useful for tapping wobbly metal flat, which is very important! Tapping your piece on the steel block also helps to work-harden the metal and makes the piece stronger. Work-hardening is the process of creating tensile strength and gives the metal the durability to withstand being worn without warping or bending easily. A steel block is also really useful to have for checking if your piece is square and even.
An investment if you’re starting out, but definitely worth it! With a micromotor you can emery (fine sanding), burr (a specialised tool that has different shaped heads with cutting teeth that remove material), drill and polish your pieces, so it’s a great all-rounder and definitely a good choice if you don’t have a lot of space or money to spend on lots of different tools!
In the image below, you will see some examples of some different tools you can use on your micomotor. From left to right: two split mandrels with different grades of emery paper, used to prepare metal for polishing; a burnisher for removing surface blemishes and imperfections in metal; a ball burr used for preparing settings to seat stones; a cotton mop used with compound to create a high polish finish.
A torch is an essential tool for any jeweller. It provides an oxygen and gas powered flame which can be adjusted to different sizes and temperatures to achieve different results. Some key techniques required by all jewellers are annealing, which is the process of softening metal in order to make it malleable and easier to work with, and soldering which is a process which involves the joining of two pieces of metal using a lower melting temperature metal to bond the pieces to together.
A good starter torch is the Orca Torch, which only requires a gas bottle and not an oxygen bottle like most torches. It has a larger head so precision soldering is trickier, but if you’re just starting out it’s a nice forgiving torch that produces a gentle flame, so good for beginners. Just make sure you have it fitted by a professional and you’re aware of all the safety requirements!