As you might remember, I was working on jazzing up the 20 gauge hammered band I made last year in beginner’s class. It was a bit uneven (first time I ever used the cutting shear, what can I say), the seam was awfully visible, and I just never loved it. So, since this round of classes was all about bezel practice, I decided to slap a stone on it. Well, not slap: do a good job on. So I rolled out a strip of 20 gauge sterling in the rolling mill (it was probably about 22 gauge in the end) and got down to work.
Now this, I love! The stone is probably a smoky quartz (it came from an inexpensive grab bag of cabochons) and it gave me a bit of trouble. The bezel I made was just perfect . . . until I soldered it and found it was now just a bit too small. I cleaned out the inside of the bezel box with files and grinding tools, and that worked just fine. I made sure it it had a good 45 degree angle around the rim and a neat, subtle notch at the point. After that, my problem was actually moving the metal, because this ain’t no 28 gauge fine silver strip. This is hard.
I didn’t have anything at home that would really do a good job, but in the studio I found a nice bezel pusher (it looks like a small square rod of steel with a wooden handle on one end.) I put the ring into a vise (with protective leather on each side!) and held down the stone with some fingers while sort of holding the pusher in place with some other fingers and gently hammering with the other hand. It was a bit awkward, getting at all the sides, but I went back and forth and got it done. (I don’t know if it was strictly necessary, but I’ve read that it’s best to set the point first, so I did that.) After that I used a burnisher to get the edge smooth and nice. I definitely want to get both of those tools for home, not to mention one of those vise clamps with a ball socket so you can get at all angles more easily. Ah, someday.
Here’s the way the band originally looked, by the way.
It still has some tool marks and such on the inside, which I will take care of in January when I (fingers crossed) have my very own flex shaft at home. If not, I can do it in the next round of classes, especially since the studio just received a donation of a bunch of flex shafts–enough to have one at each of the ten benches now. Yay!