Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Studio: a guided tour

This is my work bench. It was specially developed for the tasks that making jewelry require. It's called a jewelers bench and the basic design hasn't changed in hundreds of years. It's much taller than a normal desk and when I sit at it the top pf the bench is about at mid-chest height. That V-shaped wooden thing protruding out from the center is called a bench pin. I use it to stabilize my hands against when filing or sawing or anything really. It can be modified in any number of ways. The drawer underneath can be pulled out over my lap to catch all the little pieces of metal that fall. To the left is my torch and to the right (not in view) is my flex shaft. A flex shaft is a multipurpose piece of equipment that performs all sorts of tasks from drilling to grinding to polishing. More on the flex shaft later. In the right hand corner is a bowl with a white board and a black box stacked on top. That is the bowl of water that I use to quench pieces of metal after they have been in the flame from the torch. The things stacked on top are used to put the metal on while soldering etc. The black one is charcoal and the flat white one is some sort of heat resistant substance. I solder right at my bench using those, usually with on of the pads set on top of the bench pin.
Hammers! Dead blow mallet for shaping metal (but not for forging, doesn't actually make the metal thinner.) For example, I would use this hammer to shape a piece of wire around a ring mandrel to get the metal into a hoop shape. The middle hammer is a traditional goldsmithing hammer. This hammer is used for forging. I would use the round side to flatten and spread metal out. The last hammer is a chasing hammer. I mostly use this one to texturize metal with the ball side and to set stones with a punch using the big flat side.
These are gravers, and they are used for engraving and while setting stones. They have sharp tips that can remove slices of metal.

This is just a small assortment of the endless things that can be used in a flex shaft for polishing. The two round balls at the end of the wood block are the handles to two different sizes of burnishers. I mostly use those burnishers when flush setting stones. But they are good for just about anything. The multi-colored wheels are a new thing from 3M called radial bristle brushes. They have different grits and are used for polishing.These are my favorite pieces of equipment. The strange round vise is called an engravers block. The jaws open and the round ball will rotate in all directions. It's useful for all sorts of things, but I mainly got it to use when setting stones. The rods with metal balls on the top are part of a dapping set. There is a solid metal block included in the set that has round depressions in it. You set metal over or within the depression and you can dome and shape the metal with the round balls and a hammer. The set I have is just a cheap set from Harbor Freight (about a tenth of the cost of the nice Italian set) but they get the job done. The flat plate with the crazy mechanical arms is a soldering pad with two third hands attached. Those little hands will hold things in place as one solders. It's fantastic.

A side view of my bench. Those are my sketch books and books on jewelry on the lower shelves.

And this is where I draw and blog and do business type stuff.

So that is a short introduction to my workspace. Since the tools of a jeweler are pretty much infinite I will be introducing things as I use them.

Next post: Forged ellipse earrings. These will also be available in my Etsy store (singleBbeautiful) soon. I will be showing the final product and the sketches that lead up to it. I forgot to take pictures of the step by step this time. But in the future I will be documenting the major steps taken when making stuff. Check back soon.

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