Friday, May 15, 2009

Smithing Questions??

Hi out there in blogger land!

was getting ready to purchase a few things to get the ball rolling on trying to start silversmithing... so can any of you smithers out there help me out and let me know what you think I should purchase to get started....

Things I already have....

butane torch (thank you lisa!)
pickle pot
copper tongs
magnesium soldering block (is this a good one?? should I try a charcoal to hold the heat?)
regular long tweezers
The complete metalsmith by Tim McCreight (not the pro addition, I think it is an updated version with a green cover and binding like a notebook)
Step by Step jewelry workshop by Nicola Hurst (a lot of good info in this book and easy to follow)

I think thats about it!!!

I really wish I could find a class in my area but no luck so far. I'm still going to keep my eyes open for one and hope one comes round... I know it would be so much help to me, but this is what I really want to do, when I started wire wrapping and making jewelry I new that this is where I wanted to end up!!! So there is no stoppin me.. even if I have to be self taught....

a few things I know I will need...

saw, blades and lube
bezel wire (any suggestions on sizes & gauges?)
sheet metal (gauges?)
polishing equipment ( what I'm not sure? was thinking about getting a dremel)
protective wear (glasses and masks)
cabs (suggestions on where I can get them? I have a few places already and I know etsy has some nice shops, but names and resources would be great!)

of course I will be doing my research and I know what works for one might not work for the other.. but some input and help would be so awesome and I would be eternally greatful!! I know a lot of the smithers I follow are self taught and there work is wonderful!!!
now I'm drawing a blank and I need help!! So what else, I know there are some tools in there also what would they be??
Last but not least who do you shop from??? (Monsterslayer, Rio etc..)

I hope I'm not asking to much!

Thanks to you all in advance!!


  1. Sounds like you have a good start to what you'll need. As for bezel wire sizes, that will depend on the height of your stone you'll be setting. With sheet metal, I use 22 gauge for my ring bands and when making a back for the bezel you can get away with 26 gauge...if you're using a very large stone, then you may want something heavier. Lisa uses large stones, so she could tell you what works well. I don't have any polishing equipment yet, but the tumbler seems to do the job well enough for me at this time. I have used different grits of sandpaper on some of my rings...don't know them off hand, so I can't tell you right now what they are. Put on your list a set of small needle files...they are very helpful. Monsterslayer is where I send all my scrap. They are great and they will credit you or send a check for your scrap. I use the credit to buy more silver sheet or whatever I want from them. Oh, you will also need steel shot for your tumbler, which runs around $25.00 a pound and you'll need 2 pounds of it for your tumbler. To save money I got my tumbler from harbor freight and never once had a problem with it. Hubby lube the gears up for me and it works great....never even had the lid pop off or band break....I got my for $25.00 on sell. If you're going to try to make rings you'll need a ring mandrel...metal ones are the best. Some other goodies are a steel bench block, chasing hammer, a rawhide hammer or nylon head mallet, 3 Inch BRASS CALIPER, and a bench pin (you'll need that for sawing...your hubby could make one). Did I give you enough to! I'll try to get some links together and send them to you. :)

  2. thanks a lot candace!! I have some other info too, because I bug lisa a lot with questions.. I do have a steel bench bl and chasing hammer, ballpen hammer.. a plastic mandrel but will get a metal won for better accuracy..what's a brass caliper???? I usually always go over the top when I get absorbed into something so Im sure I will get things I could probly do with out since Im a beginner, but that's just me... thanks for the input! greatly appriecated!!! :)

    what kind of saw, blades, and # would you recommend?


  3. Some quick links!

    So you want to try your hand at soldering?

    Good info on tumbler use

    brass calilper is used to measure in mm (millimeters) good to measure stone size and when cutting silver. It's on the following page, just go down it some to find it.

  4. Sherice,
    Hope you don't mind my 2 cents- (I followed your link from Lisa's blog).
    There are a couple of Yahoo groups that share tons of info and you can post any related questions and you usually get multiple responses from the members- yahoo wire wrapped jewelry and yahoo silver smithing blog check them out.
    I have both the Magnesium and charcoal blocks- I like the later better.
    You can save money on your pickle- and stay away from nasty chemicals by miking up white vinegar ($2.00 at Wal-mart with a couple tbsp of table salt. works just as well and less caustic.
    If you can't find any local class- cruise the web- has lots of tuts, also type in jewelry soldering- you'll be watching for hours. Don Norris has some decent videos there and travels around the country giving classes you could look into that too.
    Good luck,

  5. Let's see...I get all of my siver from Monsterslayer. I use 18g and 20g for rings and 22g for some pendants and bezel backs. I use fine silver bezel wire in 1/8" and 3/32".
    I use 1 pound of stainless steel jewelry mix shot (Ebay) in my 3# tumbler from Harbor Freight. And you definitely need needle files. I use the #2 half round Swiss file and the bigger Grobet 6" fine (# 2 Cut) hand file. (Monsterslayer)
    You will need a file card, too, for cleaning your files. they get clogged with metal and don't work anymore.
    I got my dividers from the local hardware store, and they are indispensible for marking sheet metal. I don't know how I lived without them!
    I just bought a Foredom Flexshaft, but I have been using a Dremel and a regular hand drill for over a year. They will work! Get some felt polishing pads for your Dremel and some polishing compounds to use with it. I got my rouge and such in the tool dept. at Sears. It came with 4 different ones in a pack, and it's awesome!
    You need a small metal ruler with metric and standard measurements (Monsterslayer).
    I use #45 solder for brass, because it has a yellowish tint. For silver I use #70. (all from Monsterslayer) On gold fill, I have recently started using gold solder. Expensive, but worth it.
    I use vinegar and salt in a small crockpot as pickle, and I just changed my flux from Handyflux to cupronil in a 4OZ spray bottle from Otto Frei. It prevents firescale, and comes off very easy in the vinegar pickle. It has saved me some serious elbow grease by stopping the firescale from the torch! I get 3M foam backed sandpaper in superfine and ultrafine from them too. Great for removing scratches and polishing.
    I buy tiny drill bits from Monsterslayer, too. They have a handy guide to use so you know what size bit you need for your different wire gauges.
    WOW! I have tons of tools, and you will too! I've been collecting mine for a little over a year now. I've upgraded some things, like my disc cutter, and it was definitely worth the money. Don't get one from Harbor Freight. They SUCK!
    You'll probably want a dapping block and punches for doming. I started out with a wooden one, and I still use it the most!
    I guess I better shut up now! Tools are my favorite things and I could ramble on forever! LOL

  6. thanks everyone for your input...

    susan I don't mind your 2 cents at all.. the more ideas the better.. thank you and I'm glad you visited my blog....

    I will be making my list and checking it twice!! thanks again...
    I'm sure I will have questions as I go along.. It's nice to know I will be able to have a great support group!!