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Basic Processes In Jewelry Making

Oct 12, 2007
Following are the basic processes for all jewelry making. Cleaning and filing keep the metal in condition for sawing and soldering which are construction processes, and for wire working which is a decorative process.

Sawing

Sawing with a jeweler's saw blade set in a jeweler's saw frame is used for metals which are too heavy in gauge or too intricate in pattern to be cut with shears. This type of saw can be used for straight, curved or angular lines which often form the outline and shape of the design. The saw blade comes in several different sizes.

Transferring the pattern to the metal

Transfer the traced pattern with carbon paper and a hard pencil.
Scratch the traced design into the metal. Wipe the metal with a damp cloth to remove the carbon lines.

Setting the blade in the frame

The worker should be directly in front of the V in the bench pin with the shoulder about 3 inches above the bench top.

With the frame in a horizontal position, place the upper arm of the frame in the V of the bench pin. Hold and press the handle against the body and clamp one end of the blade in the lower jaw. Press the frame, clamp the loose end in the upper jaw. Release the pressure. The blade must be taut.

Sawing the pattern

The right arm holding the saw frame vertically should be directly in front of the bench pin. Use the full length of the blade when sawing straight or curved lines. For angles use the center of the blade with short strokes in one place to make a space in which to turn the blade.

Filing

Filing is used to smooth rough edges, to level irregular surfaces and remove excess solder. The files most commonly used for jewelry work are needle files which come in a variety of shapes designed for various contours and angles.

Large files from four to six inches in length come with a tang to be fitted into a wooden handle. These files are used for larger areas or when a greater amount of metal has to be filed away. They can also be used for finishing an edge as they come in both coarse and smooth cut. It is good to have an assortment.

Clean the metal with pumice powder. Place the metal on a steel surface plate. Tap with a mallet to straighten. Rub the file lightly with chalk; this helps to keep the teeth from becoming filled with metal filings. Hold the metal firmly. Put the pressure on the forward stroke, remove the pressure on the back stroke to keep the cutting edge of the teeth from becoming dull. Clean the file at intervals. Remove the burr on the filed edge with a scraper or coarse emery cloth.

The work must always be held firm either in the hand or in a vise or ring clamp. The file is pushed in one direction, either forward or down, away from the worker.

Soldering

Soldering is a process used to hold metal pieces together by using another metal or combination of metals which melt and flow at a lower temperature than the metal to be joined.

Soldering irons can be obtained in several different types with replacement tips. The copper tip of the iron must have a thin coating of solder before it can be used. This process is called tinning.

Once mastered, the basic processes become the cornerstone of the making of great jewelery. Keep practicing!
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