Learning Center

Customize Your Tools

Sometimes jewelry makers need to make adjustments to standard tools to finish unique pieces. Our articles will help you customize your tools.

48 ARTICLES 6 VIDEOS
Article
Remembering Lee Marshall, 1935-2017

Founder of both Bonny Doon Engineering and Knew Concepts, Lee Marshall—who passed away June 25 at the age of 81 after a brief struggle with cancer—was an inventor and tool designer whose numerous creations are sure to have a place in shops…

Article
Accessories for Small Part Pickling

Ever spent way too much time trying to retrieve tiny jump rings, links, or other small parts out of a hot acid bath using too-large copper tongs? If you make a lot of chain or work with a lot of findings, the time you’ll save using these tools is…

Video
How to Harden and Temper Tool Steel

Learn to harden and temper your own custom-shaped jewelry tools. By master goldsmith Charles Lewton-Brain. Filmed in full HD 1080p. IMPORTANT NOTE: Hardening and Tempering is a two step process, the steel MUST be tempered (softened) after…

Video
Other Uses for a Pencil in Jewelry Making

Two surprising uses for a pencil as a tool in jewelry making. (1) Gain extreme control over the burr on your flex shaft by using a piece of the top of the pencil and (2) etch disc designs using the eraser end of a pencil. By master goldsmith Charles…

Video
Make Your Own DIY Rotary Burr

Make your own high quality rotary burr from an inexpensive disposable lighter. By master goldsmith Charles Lewton-Brain. Filmed in full HD 1080p.

Video
Make Your Own Cardboard Disc Sander

Handy trick to make a useful cardboard disc sander which master goldsmith Charles Lewton-Brain learned about at a factory in Germany. Disc can then be used on a polishing machine. Filmed in full HD 1080p.

Video
Method to Quickly Identify Tool Steel

Learn to be able to quickly identify what quality of steel a tool is made of and whether it’s low quality or worthwhile to use. By master goldsmith Charles Lewton-Brain. Filmed in full HD 1080p.

Video
Preparing a Hammer for Foldforming

One of the most frequent foldforming questions Charles Lewton-Brain gets is that someone’s forging hammer isn’t working well for them. See how Charles changes a commercial forging hammer to be useful for foldforming. Filmed…

Article
Customized Earring Setting Pliers

Steve Satow shows the procedure for a customized earring setting pliers using a normal setting pliers. Normal setting pliers can be modified to set stones in loose heads and earrings. Please wear your safety glasses. Most setting pliers have…

Article
Tips for Modifying Vises

A good vise is a vital piece of equipment for any goldsmith because it can act as a third hand, securely holding onto a piece while the goldsmith uses both free hands to work on it. Given their usefulness, it’s no surprise that many jewelers keep…

Article
Optimized Saw Blade for Cutting Wax

While many jewelers work directly in precious metals, many also work with wax, carving models for casting in silver and gold. Working with wax often requires tools specialized for carving, sawing, filing, and finishing material that is softer…

Article
Modified Super Tools

Down on your bench, look: It’s a file. It’s a bur. It’s Super Tool! At first it seemed so ordinary. You went to use it for a project you were working on, but for some reason it didn’t work so well. Maybe it didn’t allow you to get at the……

Article
Thai Chaser Tool Tricks

I was recently in Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand, where I spent a month visiting silversmiths and chasers to document their work. The city is teeming with chasers, and there are whole temples covered in metalwork. The chasers work mostly…

Article
Reusing Broken Saw Blades

Traditionally trained jewelers often scoff at the idea of using glue as a joining method. However, there are times when a tiny drop of glue is exactly what you need to get the job done. Common examples are mounting a pearl on a post or bonding the…

Article
Green Bench Tips – Part 2

This is the second in a two-part series on green bench tips shared by jewelers who are taking another approach for their shops, eco friendly shops. A Clean Break with Chemicals Jennifer Dawes, Dawes Design, Santa Rosa, California Tired of dumping…

Article
Customized Mini Clamp Tool

I like to hold small pieces of metal with a clamp that allows me to file hands free. I feel it gives me better control, which means faster jobs and better fits. I took a plain mini hand vise and a 3/8 inch fine thread nut for the first part…

Article
Customized Head Polishing Pliers

This article describes a step by step procedure of a pair of simple pliers to become a pair of customized head polishing pliers. These pliers are just simple by pass style but are heavy enough to hold heads for polishing. They just need to be…

Article
Customized Ultrasonic Sediment Bucket

This article by Steve Satow shares a step by step procedure on how t o make a customized ultrasonic sediment bucket. These are the parts you need for this project: A Gilmore plastic ball valve (that unlike regularball valves doesn’t choke…

Article
Customized Peg Head Holder & Stone Holder

Steve Satow shares his procedure on customized bench tools such as 3 prong or peg head holder & wax stone holder used for stone setting and prong works. 3 Prong or Peg Head Holder Many times I have needed a way to hold a 3 prong earring…

Article
Customized Light Box & Bench Shelf

Steve Satow shares his procedure for customized light box for your jewelry photography projects and customized bench shelf for more storage spaces on your bench. Customized Light Box This is a picture of the Light Box in use, using 4 of…

Article
How to Make Straight Wire Holders

Stuller had the foresight to offer straight wire that we don’t have to remove the bend from before we use it for straight projects. I know we have many curved projects also but the wire is never the right curve, so we have to bend it anyway.…

Article
Half-Ground Round Bur

There are times during the setters workday where there is a need for a specific tool, but there nothing is available at the local tool supply store. With a little creativity you can modify many of the tools you have to make a wide selection of newer…

Article
Customized Turntable Tool Rack

Find a turntable that
 is size appropriate for 
your bench. In this case
mine is 18 inches wide.
 If possible find one with 
ball bearings to make it 
work smoother. Buy a 1/4
 sheet of sanded on one
 side 1/2 inch plywood
…

Article
Customized Hanging Tool Shelf

I made a hanging tool shelf between my setting and soldering bench. With it off the floor it allows easy access to dropped stones or other small parts. It gives me plenty of room for the Elector GX, and the Gravermax. Plus plenty of room for tubes…

Article
Grinding and Shaping Onglette Gravers

This article contains the following detailed steps to give you a better understanding why grinding and shaping onglette gravers are necessary and important. One of the most important aspects of diamond/stone setting is the correct preparation…

Article
Customized Solder Holder, Jet Sett, Blast Shield

Steve Satow shares his procedure for customized solder holder and blast shield, and how to make using a Jet Sett easier with a melter and holder. Solder Holder When I was in school we used to do a lot of sterling silver soldering. I got into the habit…

Article
Customized Beading Tool Retipper, Trays & Polisher

Steve Satow shares his procedure on how to customize bench tools like a beading tool retipper, small parts trays and hand held polisher, and a tip for your Solder Station. Beading Tool Retipper Refinishing beading tools is more convenient…

Article
Customized Loose Head Holder

With these pliers you can pre polish platinum and gold peg heads of any shape. Remove any nicks one prong at a time at your bench with a pumice wheel then off to the polisher and right into the sonic, them steamed all while clamped in the same plier.…

Article
Tool Alterations

This article describes the different tool alterations that any bench man needs to know and learn as guidance for their work and workmanship. These are simple chain nose pliers that are trimmed like in picture then the tip bent. After the seat…

Article
Buffer System & Ultrasonic Basket Replacement

When we replaced our vacuum tubes for the buffer system I chose to run PVC again. The PVC is easy to acquire and assemble and the smooth sides promote air flow. Most fittings are cemented but a few strategic points are just tight press fits to allow…

Article
Customized Robo Grip Pliers

Steve Satow shares his procedure for customized robo grip pliers to add parallel action and more leverage to standard bow bending pliers. Modified Robo Grip Plier The robo grip pliers have parallel action and more leverage than standard…

Article
Customized Steamer Bucket Enclosure

The purpose of this steamer bucket enclosure is to prevent stones from being blown out by the steamer and flying across the room. To minimize the exposure to employees to a steamer accident, I mounted our steamer on wood blocks just above the…

Article
How to Make Prong Notching Pliers

These pliers notch round prongs easily to a given depth and replace a bur for the job. They are made to suit a specific size prong and one makes similar pliers for different prong shapes, but all based on this idea. One obtains a pair of chain nose…

Article
Modified Setting Bur with Safe Edge Tool

Here iss a nice little tool that makes use of an old setting bur. If you take the bottom teeth off a setting bur and polish the surface, you will have a tool that allows you to get right up next to the wall of a bezel and work on it without harming the metal…

Article
The Art of Tool Making

There are two properties which distinguish a good tool from a bad one. The tool must have the correct shape for the work which it is to do, and the tool must be hard enough to last a long time. This class will teach you to make tools hard enough to last…

Article
Customized Stone Laser Shield for Jewelry Making

I have found this to be a most useful tool to use when rebuilding a bezel using a Laser Welder. It is made from a watchmakers screwdriver and is used to deflect the excess energy reflected at a sensitive stone to prevent damage to the stones surface.…

Article
Creating a Whip Burnisher

A worn-out bristle brush can easily be recycled into a useful tool called a whip burnisher or rotary hammer to improve or even eliminate minor imperfections and surface porosity in castings and other metal surfaces.

Article
How to Modify Cross-Lock Tweezers

Often when soldering, it is necessary to use cross-lock tweezers to hold or steady the piece(s) being soldered. The pressure exerted by the arms of the tweezers can often by strong enough to deform the metal being soldered. The modification…

Article
Modified Split Mandrel for Finishing Round Bezels

A bench jeweler typically uses a split mandrel to sand and finish the inside of a ring. Various grits of abrasive papers can be cut to size and inserted into the slit of the mandrel, where they are held by friction during the rotary filing process.…

Article
Giving New Life to Old Burs

By Old burs can serve a number of useful purposes in daily bench work. Here are two tips from jewelers at Chris Ploof Studio in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, for giving new life to old burs.

Article
Debunking Three Myths About Sawing

In thinking about the daily tasks that I undertake at the bench, I realized how easy it is to fall back on old habits, and to make assumptions and generalizations, particularly about the accuracy of things that I was taught early on in my career.…

Article
Overcoming Tool Limitations

True tales of how jewelers overcame out-of-the-box limitations – Most people who work with their hands become tool mad, and jewelers are no exception. They scoop up new tools, shop garage sales for used ones — and then often alter what they…

Article
Channel Setting Bezels with Customized Pulling Pliers

These pliers are used to pull back bezels on channel set rings. This allows you to drop in the stones without thinning the edge to allow the stone to drop in. It works especially well with the continuous channel method that the all-set tool creates.…

Article
How to Customize Fine Tip Melee Tweezers

These tweezers are great for gripping melee when you slide then into position in continuous channel setting jobs. Here you see the very fine tips on these tweezers.

Article
Modified Split Mandrel to Bezel-Set Round Stones

This jewelry bench tip is a follow-up to “Modified Split Mandrel for Finishing Round Bezels,” which showed you how to modify a standard split mandrel to make an effective holding device to finish several fabricated bezels of the same dimensions.…

Article
How to Make a Riffle File

Every now and then when you are fabricating a piece or polishing a casting, a hole or hollow will pop up that needs to be filed and smoothed. You can usually get at it using a bur and abrasive tools in your flex-shaft. But when you just can’t reach…

Article
How to Modify a Goldsmith Hammer

Jewelers and metalsmiths have had to make their own tools throughout the ages to accomplish different tasks at the jeweler’s bench. One tool a jeweler can’t do without is a hammer. Today, many styles of hammers, made in a variety of shapes and…

Article
How to Modify Prong Pushers

Many stone setters would agree that one of the most challenging aspects of prong setting is getting the prongs down tight on the stone. It’s easy to take this process for granted. If it’s done well, you might never notice. But doing it poorly can…

Article
How to Modify Wooden Ring Clamps

One persistent daily challenge a bench jeweler faces is trying to figure out the best way to hold onto tiny, delicate objects while performing mechanical operations such as sawing, filing or burring bearings for stone setting.
There…

Article
Recycling High Speed Steel Burs

When I buy my high speed steel, 90 degree, under-cutting burs I always think of the words, “waste not, want not”. This little phrase has stuck in my mind for many years. If I find that some of my burs are getting past their prime then I examine each…

Article
Homemade Flex-Shaft Guard

Homemade flex-shaft guard using a soft drink plastic bottle, a solution to the annoying and potentially hazardous problem of breathing dust from polishing and rubber wheels used with your flex-shaft.

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