Day 5: Useful Things

I have to tell you, after months of feeling sluggish and dull in the studio, my fire is now lit. I’ve got quite a few things going on at once, but for now I’m going to avoid talking about half-finished projects.  I think it might inspire me to actually finish something.

So meanwhile, I thought I’d mention some useful tools I made myself.  Well, this first one was actually made by my husband last week.


This block of wood with a piece of plexiglas and a strip of leather screwed to it is a jump ring cutter. The usual way of making jump rings is to make a spiral from wire, thread your blade through it, and hold it down on your V-board with your fingers and saw away at it.  It can be a bit awkward, the rings can get hot, and your fingers can get sore.  This is meant to alleviate all that (the leather is especially nice for keeping your fingers loose and cool). I’ve used this device once so far, and I have to admit it was a bit awkward.  There might be a learning curve here; also, I’m not sure, but the v-notch in the wood may be a bit too large.  If so, it wouldn’t be too much trouble to try again on another block of wood (oh, do we have the scraps lying around!)

If you’d like to make one yourself, you can just wing it with a one inch x three-ish block of wood. If you need a bit more detail, you can check out Mixed Metal Mania by Kim St. Jean. (This is a book I love for all the tools, tips, tricks, equipment, and studio shots in the front matter, more than the actual jewelry projects!)

As for useful things I made myself, that would have to encompass my sanding sticks and split mandrels:


As I’m striving to become a better hand filer/sander, these have proved invaluable. The sticks are super easy to make; all you need is some sandpaper in various grits, and some long, flat pieces of scrap wood (hey, even popsicle sticks would work). A good thing to do would be to score the back side of the paper at every fold so it will lie very flat against the wood when you glue it on.  The mandrels are a bit more involved, but only a bit: you need to saw a slit into the end of a piece of brass tubing to hold the end of a strip of sandpaper. Then just put some glue on the back and wind it around a couple times. I’ve made a round and a rectangular one; both have proved useful.

One last thing: be sure to write the grit number somewhere on your tool so you’ll always know what you’re using.

No wait, this is the one last thing: I got the tip for the split mandrels from a blogger known as the Jewelry Monk.  He’s full of useful information, so take a look if you want to see more.


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Filed under helpers and devices

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