Jewelry makers frequently work with tubing. Learn various techniques for cutting and bending tubing efficiently and even how to make your own tubing.
This article is an extract from the book ‘Hinges and Hinge-Based Catches for Jewelers and Goldsmiths’ Not all sizes and wall thicknesses of tube come seamless from a factory or refiner. Especially when working in gold it is not cost…
Tom Dougherty of Studio 2015 in Woodstock, Illinois, had an interesting process to share about making hoop earrings from tubing. He learned the process from Kenneth Guth, a neighboring goldsmith and acclaimed knife maker. By all accounts, Guth has always enjoyed sharing his knowledge with other people, and he has taught workshops on jewelry, metal work, and knife making, both at the college level and to the general public. The process is incredibly simple, and I’m delighted to share it with you here.
Not all sizes and wall thicknesses of tube come seamless from a factory or refiner. Especially when working in gold it is not cost effective or timely to order in a specific tube size, material, or wall thickness. There are many times when you need a piece of tubing, you don’t have it, and you can’t wait a day or so to order it in or run across town and buy it. In general, it is possible to make the length of tubing you require.
Rolling can be thought of as a local, or isolated, deformation process during which thickness is decreased, length increased, and width remains unchanged. Drawing is different from rolling in that the pressure of drawing it not transmitted through the turning action of the mill, but instead depends on force directed locally at the area of compression. This means the amount of possible drawing force is limited by the tensile strength of the material, a fact that is particularly evident when drawing thin wires..
Jewelers need to bend tubing for various constructions, including neckpieces, earrings, catches, and cuff links. Normally, precious metal tubes are quite thin (between 0.3 and 0.5 mm) because of material cost. At these thicknesses, tubes are easy to kink or dent, thus ruining the bend and making tight bends problematic.
A jeweller and goldsmith has to cut tubing fairly regularly. My favorite methods include: cutting only on the upstroke using a jewelers sawblade; using a separating disc; rolling the tube with high pressure under an X-acto knife or sharp blade, then snapping the tube-this works pretty well as long as you have good leverage.
Many tools sold in model/hobby stores can be used for jewelry making. During a recent visit to a hobby shop, I found these tube bending coils, which model makers use to build models that require bent tubing. Jewelry makers will find these coils handy when bending tubing for projects.