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December 10, 2018, 08:31:48 am
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Bezel help please

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Author Topic: Bezel help please  (Read 4272 times)
Neural
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« on: December 21, 2010, 11:26:22 am »

I can't find the original thread that I asked this question in, so I'm posting it here again with additional information that I hope will clarify my situation.

All these bezel set stones I see here are just beautiful work, even from the beginners.  And one thing I notice in particular is how clean the bezel sides are.

Mine always get dings and scratches in them from the burnisher, and I keep thinking that it all gets back to not knowing how much pressure is really needed to do burnishing and such.

So, let's talk about how hard I'm pressing with the tools.

I start with the pusher in my right hand, and a dowel in my left.  I use the pattern I've been taught to bring the bezel sides against the stone, which, when I cut the bezel the right length, works pretty well.

I then use the rocker to really even things out. And I press firmly with it, starting at a low angle, then on the second time around I go a bit higher angle so it pushes downward a little.

Then comes the burnishing.  I know what it is *supposed* to do.  Smoothing out the edge of the bezel.

But this is where things get dangerous, specifically for me.

I find myself having to press really hard to get this stage to work at all.
Hard enough that if I were to slip and hit myself with the burnisher, that it would probably penetrate a good inch or so into whatever part of me it hit.
I've slipped in the past and it's torn the bezel up from the backing, cracked stones, and gouged the metal.

I'm trying to figure out what I'm not doing right, because I'm no small person, and doing burnishing is honestly downright dangerous with the amount of pressure I'm using.

I usually polish the silver before setting the stone.  Should I polish it, then anneal the bezel, set the stone, and repolish/clean ?

Am I doing things totally wrong?


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bobby1
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« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2010, 12:35:19 pm »

For a smooth bezel always start by using only fine silver. If you use sterling silver as the bezel strip it will heat harden as you are doing the other soldering steps on the piece. This hardening will make the bezel springy and it won't want to bend easily and conform to the stone. As you are forming and sizing the bezel around the stone hande the bezel strip carefully and don't introduce wrinkles and dents into it. When you start forming the bezel around the stone do the opposite side dance routine by pressing it in slightly on one side, turning it 180 degrees and do the same. Then go to the next side and do the opposite side routine. This keeps the stone centered and establishes a pattern of equally pressing the sides in to maintain symmetry.
I do all of my bezel work with a bezel rocker. I don't ever use the burnisher because it is slick and unwieldy and you can't get any leverage using it. It always seems to slip off the bezel and gouge the side of the bezel.
 I use only the 1/8" wide rockers. I reshape my bezel rocker from the shape that most come in. I lower the dome on it by grinding it to a low dome and sanding that surface. I also make sure that I have a fairly sharp edges on it but not razor sharp. Also I gently rough up the surface of the rocker so it is less likely to slip off the bezel. As I am working around the bezel (again doing opposite sides) I start increasing the angle until my last round is almost vertical. As I am working on the pushing activity I place my finger or thumb beneath the rocker and on top of the jewelry piece. I use my thumb as a tool rest against the rocker blade so the rocker won't slip off the bezel and gouge down the side of the bezel.
Because the rocker sides are rather sharp I can catch the edge of the bezel and push nearly straight down on the bezel top. This burnishes it tightly against the stone as well as burnishing the sharp top outer edge flat against the stone.
Remember that on stones with sharp corners to always start the rocking and pushing in the corners and pushing the excess metal away from the corner towards the long sides. This keeps the excess metal away from the corner and prevents a pucker of metal at the corner.
I will post some photos of my rocker later today when I get them done.
Bob
If you wish i can post some p 
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Steve
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« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2010, 12:36:37 pm »

1st I don't like or use the metal bezel setting tool.  I use the end of a wooden handle of a very small hammer.  Wood is more forgiving.  Setting a bezel is not a single step procedure.

I go around the bezel 1st with enough pressure to bend the top of the bezel to the stone using the tip end of the hammer.  Then using the side I go around again and work the bezel in tighter until I am satisfied with the set.  Finally I use the burnisher only along the edge of the bezel to (I forgot the word) break the edge of the bezel and mold it closer to the stone surface.  

At this point I'll polish the set stone/bezel.  There are some stones out there that should be left out during polishing because they are too soft to handle it or they will change their color/shine, i.e. dyed Pausa Shell, Mother of Pearl, all Ambers and such.

It doesn't take that much pressure to do bezel setting.....more repetition them brute force.
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Neural
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« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2010, 12:47:36 pm »

Thanks for the replies.

I actually know the process of turning 180degrees pretty well, it's after it's all pushed in that things get rough.

I do use fine silver bezel wire.

If I can get away without using the burnishing tool at all, it would be wonderful.  That is the one part that causes all my problems.  The pusher and rocker I actually do pretty well with (when I get the bezel the right size. but that's another story).

Will try using just the rocker with my next bezel.

What is the verdict on the polishing though?  Polish then set?  Polish set polish?  set then polish?
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« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2010, 02:07:44 pm »

I find myself always going back to using wooden dowels in various sizes to set the stones. Some I cut at an angle to get in tighter areas. I also have used old toothbrushes with the head cut off. The bezel always needs a little touchup but I never have gouges to deal with. It may not be the professional way but it works for me.
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« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2010, 02:17:41 pm »

Casey....."It may not be the professional way but it works for me."......................we're all professionals here and all the ways work well................. hide

"What is the verdict on the polishing though?  Polish then set?  Polish set polish?  set then polish?"

From my post above - "There are some stones out there that should be left out during polishing because they are too soft to handle it or they will change their color/shine, i.e. dyed Pausa Shell, Mother of Pearl, all Ambers and such."

With harder stones....no problem setting them first.................unless you are tumble polishing.  Then all stones need to be left out of the polishing process.
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hulagrub
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« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2010, 03:19:34 pm »

I like the burnisher, seems to work really good for me.
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« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2010, 03:38:34 pm »

I am only a beginner at setting but all I have used is a burnisher.

I dig the burnisher tip into wood and use that as a fulcrum to leverage back onto the bezel.
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« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2010, 06:10:19 pm »

This is the rocker that I use. It has a flattend end on the handle that fits comfortably in the heel of my hand. By having a flattened handle I can comfortably exert significant pressure on the bezel especially in the last steps as i am pushing almost directly down on the top of the bezel.

This is the top of the rocker where I have flattened and sharpened the edges so it will catch on the top edge of the bezel.


Here is a view of using the rocker to push the bezel away from a corner on a rectangular stone.

Here I have gotten all the metal away from the corners and gotten the bezel nearly complete.

Here I have done one round of pushing almost directly down on the bezel.

Here I am catching the edge of the rocker tip on the top of the bezel and doing the final downward push.

Another view.

I finish the piece by polishing the top edge with a 1" diameter medium hard felt wheel and tripoli polish.

The finished piece. Notice that the bezel is firmly against the stone all around and there are no puckers or gaps in the corner.


Without having this style bezel rocker it is almost impossible to get the pressure needed to fully push the bezel away from and down on the corners.
Because this was a demonstration piece that I did as a tutorial I also demonstrated using a milgrain tool on the top of the bezel.


Here is an example of another stone with sharp corners.

And a final example.

Bob
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doxallo
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« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2010, 08:57:44 am »

I use a traditional bezel pusher, a rocker, a burnisher, and sometimes other tools. I push, pull, rub....

different tools and techniques for different parts of the process and/or different settings.

I also use a hammer and a punch when needed on very thick sterling bezels.

There is no right or wrong tool or method, unless you aren't getting the results you desire.

Most tools need to be modified once purchased. Edges may need to be rounded, corners knocked off, and either sanded to give tooth or polished to a high shine for final burnishing.

I guess I do the sides, then corners (if applicable) most often with a pusher. I finish the top with a burnisher. I will sometimes use a rocker, but not in a down and rocking motion, I use the edge of it and pull to towards me while also pushing down, how most people use a burnisher. I don't like rockers on the top edge as for me they slip too easily. And with the burnisher I  rub it along the top edge of the bezel back and forth mostly to polish the top edge and take out any tiny imperfections, truly just burnishing the metal (moving it around a little) and most often with a moderate pressure.

If you are using a thick bezel you can file it all around to take out any dings or dents. That is one nice thing about using thicker material, it offers a lot of leeway in finishing.

A graver also comes in handy to finish up any inside edges of a bezel.

I usually set my stones and then polish the entire thing. Before getting my polishing lathe I would tumble most everything.
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earthartgems
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« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2011, 04:06:28 pm »

I have also found that the most important step in bezel setting occurs well before you set the stone:
Make sure that you are choosing bezel wire that is the appropriate height for the stone.

Now I should mention as well that I use a lot of softer stones and often use extremely high dome stones, which are very difficult to get good bezel settings on, such as opal which is usually thin and will chip if too much downward pressure is exerted on the edge or corners, or high dome stones in which the bezel is almost 2/3rds of the high of the stone, and there is no edge for the bezel to wrap over.  Practice makes perfect... if it feels like you are up against a wall, try something different.

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Ltpaulbtv
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« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2013, 06:24:31 pm »

Thanks for the information.  I've been using sterling for my bezel and having a heck of a time working it because of being so hard after soldering.  I guess I'll buy some fine silver.

Thanks,  Paul
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« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2013, 03:57:22 pm »

You can get it usually in two heights plus what is called gallery wire, fancy shapes, I try to never use sterling for a bezel as it just to springy after a couple of rounds with a burnisher. I use a burnisher made from the valve stem from my 70GMC truck, I also use my goldsmiths hammer head, an agate burnisher, bezel pusher, well just whatever is at hand, my bench is such a mess sometime it is quicker to grab what's handy than to spend half an hour looking for the right tool, just so long as it's smooth it will work.
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2013, 09:41:38 pm »

Another option is to construct the whole piece out of Argentium Sterling Silver.  It works wonderfully, doesn't ever get firescale, and is VERY HIGHLY tarnish resistant.
I use the 28 ga bezel wire but you have to learn how to solder or fuse with Argentium first.  I've heard it works quite like gold, but I've never worked in gold so I can't say.
Since I've started using Argentium Sterling [available from RioGrande and others], I've totally switched and sold off my regular sterling.
Just another option.
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Ciao,
Carol M
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« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2013, 03:47:45 pm »

Here is an example of another stone with sharp corners.

And a final example.

Bob

Hi Bob,
Just wanted to say I love the cab pendants you posted.  Especially the last two photos with the 'pointed stones'.
I tried to find your website but Google kept redirecting me to taxi-cabs. [ERGH]!!

You might want to add an actual website address to your email signature so people who are looking for your pieces can find you.
Great job though!!
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Ciao,
Carol M
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« Reply #15 on: November 02, 2013, 05:29:30 pm »

As far as polishing goes, I pre polish everything unset. I then set the stone and do a final polish of the bezel. I make my own fine silver bezel wire so that I can make the size for the piece I need. When I had my retail studio and production time became a problem, I bought what I needed from refiners.

I am just getting back into working silver, but 35+ years ago I used a polished 'fender washer' (which is a large thick washer) and a light hammer to 'pound' the bezel down. A very light touch is needed, it just takes a little practice of moving the washer (which is held on end) as you tap. 
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« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2013, 06:35:08 pm »

This youtube free video series is excellent to understand how to set a bezel around a stone.
In this one she's setting the bezel around the stone but there are 3 parts.  Go forward or back as you like.  I hope this helps.
Check it out. 
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Ciao,
Carol M
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1dave
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« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2013, 10:15:44 am »


I use a home made rocker from 1 1/4" x 1/4' iron.
Cut one end on an angle and you can have four different curves to work with.

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Mlou
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« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2014, 05:56:13 pm »

I use a bezel rocker to get the bezel in upon the stone, a burnisher to push the top millimeter or so even tighter, and the tip of the burnisher (on hard stones) to push and burnish and smooth the very top edge of the bezel. Then a 1" rubber Pumice wheel in the flex shaft can remove any stray marks or dents left from the work. Then it's ready to polish with tripoli and rouge. Putting a knife edge on the pumice wheel by running it on a file will make a handy tool to get into the crevice between the backing plate and the bezel, for a very sleek look in that area. I almost always use fine silver for bezels.
 - M'lou, a jeweler since 1971
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« Reply #19 on: April 07, 2015, 05:49:53 pm »

Great tips above.  I use a rocker that I love and an agate burnisher at the very end just to give the edge some shine.  I have used a dowel in the past especilly when working with a softer stone.  I have also toothed the top edge of the bezel with a gravers file when using a more plain solid colored stone, I find it gives the setting a little more interested.  Learned this technique from an old Native American jewelry making book I found.  The teeth are very fine.  this works great when all you have is sterling as it makes the top of hte bezel more pliable.
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« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2015, 08:12:12 pm »

Well SilverStone, could you show what you mean by toothed? Is this like a serrated bezel?
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« Reply #21 on: April 08, 2015, 06:13:51 am »

Yes serrated
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« Reply #22 on: May 15, 2015, 09:04:01 am »

    I saw that someone said they use dowels. I use old maple flooring which I cut into pushers. You can shape them to the height and angle you want for any job. The longer you use the wooden pusher the better it gets. The wood actually seems to become harder. Plus you never seem to scratch a stone or bezel when you go ^*%$%#$ as it slips. The really hard wood can actually develop heat as you do the sharp corners and it almost seems to weld the silver as it folds over itself above the girdle line. The picture is of my large pusher used in an article for Lapidary Journal this year.....


* a 10-14-2013 010.JPG (1958.13 KB, 3456x2304 - viewed 7 times.)
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« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2015, 09:43:50 am »

I also use wood for a bezel rocker.  I damaged a few stones with a metal burnisher and now I almost never use it.  I use what I think they'd call tongue depressors.  They are available at craft stores for really low $.  I usually glue two of them together for added strength. 
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« Reply #24 on: May 15, 2015, 11:36:00 am »

Another thing that works are the wooden things that potters use for carving and burnishing clay. Also available at craft stores and they come in different shapes. I like the ones that curve at the end, but come to a point, which is handy to get into corners. I don't know what kind of wood they are, but it is very hard, take pressure well and are long-lasting (some I'm still using I got several decades ago).
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« Reply #25 on: May 15, 2015, 11:48:39 am »

Hi,
Years ago, after putting a noticeable scratch across a chrysocolla cab, bricks

I heard about using very smooth Agate Burnishing Tool.  I had no lapidary equipment at that time and so I bought them on Ebay.  The ones they sell now have a handle with a piece of agate in the end, but mine were just 2 longish pieces of agate, and because the whole thing is agate, some parts are more pointy and the other end is more rounded.
They come in all sorts of shapes, but you could easily make your own in whatever shapes you like. yes

Here's what's currently available on EBay, but when I bought them I think I got 2 for about $5 [for both].
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2053587.m570.l2632.R2.TR3.TRC2.A0.H0.Xagate+burni.TRS0&_nkw=agate+burnisher&_sacat=631
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Ciao,
Carol M
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« Reply #26 on: May 16, 2015, 10:48:43 am »

Bobby1 I have seen your awesome cabs both huge and regular posted and was flabbergasted!  Now I see your Silversmithing and am equally impressed! Bob you ROCK!!!
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