Wednesday, May 11, 2011

For the Metal Heads--homemade punches and stamps

Sometimes the best solutions are the ones you make yourself. If you need to hammer set a bezel or prong, a couple of hand made tools will help that along. Even though I have a hammer handpiece, sometimes it's still safer to set by hand, especially with a delicate stone like an opal or emerald.

Two things I use are horseshoe nails, also known as cut nails at a hardware store, and a flat nail set (doesn't have a dimple on the end). The cut nail has a rectangular profile, and the corner makes it easy to get into tight spots. You can even make that profile smaller by carefully (don't want to lose the temper!) reducing the size by grinding it down. The nail set is good for general setting. Before using them, be sure to polish any rough edges, then use some 220 grit sandpaper to rough up the bottom slightly. This keeps the tool from skidding across the metal, but won't mar your metal.

Using cut nails, plenty of water dipping to prevent losing the temper in the metal, and you can cut easy straight line patterns for stamping. Use a gray separation disk to remove material. Keep dipping the nail into water as you're cutting to keep it cool. Polish off the rough edges and rough up the bottom slightly. Try it on a scrap piece of metal, and refine it if you need to.

Look for other postings like this in the "For the Metalheads" sections.

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak

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