Hand fabrication

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Hand fabrication is a large topic. This page will attempt to highlight processes that use hand tools as well as power tools most commonly found in a metalsmith's shop. We highly encourage you to refer to Tim McCreight's book The Complete Metalsmith for excellent information on these and other metalworking processes.

Hand Tool Processes[edit]

  • Sawing
  • Filing
  • Sanding
  • Stamping
  • Dapping/Doming
  • Disc cutting
How to use a disc cutter:
- Use a disk cutter on top of a rubber pad or a 95 durometer urethane pad for support and to extend the life of the cutters.
- Use a cutting lubricant, like Stay Sharp or Bur Life, to lubricate the cutting edges of the punch.
- Use a suitable mallet, never a nail driving hammer. We suggest brass mallets.
- Always support the opposite side of the cutter with a sheet of the same diameter metal that you are cutting. This will help keep the upper and lower parts of the disk cutter in alignment and help minimize material sticking in the disk cutter.
- Do not cut sheet thicker than 20g.
- Only cut soft non-ferrous metals like brass, copper, silver and gold.
- Make sure cutting edges are down.
- To prevent rust, keep disk cutter lubricated between use and store in a dry location
  • Hammering
  • Pliers, cutters, mandrels

Power Tool Processes[edit]

  • Drilling
- Drill bits for use on steel are 118 degrees at tip vs 100 (pointier) for wood or copper. Drill shanks for wood and steel use are basically hardened steel. It is the kind of tip that makes it suitable for steel. Copper uses a pointier tip because the flatter one will tend to work harden the surface. (Info from and thanks to Mike Thomas)
  • Using a flex shaft and accessories
- "Making the Most of Your Flex-shaft" by Karen Christians, MJSA Press ISBN 0-9713495-6-8. Highly recommended reference on use of the Flex-shaft, bits, burs and buffing accessories, and attachments
- Interweave article on tasks done using a flex shaft, drills, bits, burs, wheels and more
- Interweave article on uncommon ways to use a flex shaft
- Stone Setting burs and drill bits - comparison spreadsheet - courtesy Nancy LT Hamilton
- Mysteries of the Flex Shaft Revealed - article by Andy Coo-perman for Art Jewelry Magazine
- Hand Pieces and Foot Controls by Andy Cooperman - 2010
  • Shop tools - some ready-made, some ready for making
- Jewelers Shop Machines by Charles Lewton-Brain