Reconditioning Beading Tools & Dot Punches

Beading tools and dot punches lose their form and become dull as you use them. You can recondition a tool at least ten or twelve times, or you may need a special size, or perfect polish for a particular job.

They can be reconditioned fairly easily. The best tool that I have found to do this is the 40 hole “beading block” available from metalsmithing suppliers and jewelry tool suppliers. Made in Switzerland, it has four rows of ten beads, set down into cone shaped depressions in a steel block, about 1″ x 2 1/4″. Each row is identical, in case you should damage one of them.

First ANNEAL the tip of your damaged tool, whether it is a “dot” background punch or a jewelers beading tool. I usually run the tip of the tool and part of the shank across a bar of Ivory soap beforehand to keep the firescale down. You can slow down the cooling, and sometimes get a softer tool, by burying it in a can of dry sand while it is cooling. Either way — air cooling or in sand the tool will darken.

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Chuck it up in a #30 flexshaft handpiece and true up the cutting edges of the cup against a sharpening stone while spinning the tool. Do this slowly and carefully — check to see how much you’ve taken off every few seconds. You may have to take a bit off the shank side wall angle, as well as the actual lip of the tool.

Remove the tool from your handpiece. Place the tool into the right sized depression in your beading block and strike it gently with a brass or copper hammer. Check the result for depth and center. Repeat as necessary until you get the “cup” depression to look as much like the original tool as possible. You may need to chuck it up and spin it against the stone to get a bit of bevel on the outside edge. Reheat the tip to red and harden, using water or oil to quench, depending on the type of steel the tool is made of. If you aren’t sure, experiment with the water first. The tools are not expensive, so if you wind up ruining a couple ’till you get it right=A6 Oh well=A6

When the tool is hardened, wrap a bit of 400 wet or dry sandpaper around the bottom third and clean off the firescale — again by chucking it in the handpiece and spinning it slowly until you achieve a bright finish on the bottom half of the tool — especially the taper that ends in the working cup. Take it out of the handpiece. Now you’ll be able to see the color change as you reheat it very gently with a bushy flame. Start this from about the middle of the shank, watching the colors creep toward the tip.

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Quench immediately when the tip reaches light straw. Finish by polishing the cup – putting it back into the handpiece, spinning and pressing it into a bit of diamond paste on a piece of hardwood or hard  leather,

As I said earlier the tools are not real expensive, but you will find that they are very hard to come by in the wee hours of the morning, when that customer is gonna be at the door as soon as you open for business.

Updated version of: https://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/200306/msg01096.htm

By Brian P. Marshall
Copyright © Brian P. Marshall 2003
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