If you missed part one of this series, you can get caught up here.
Okay, let’s just jump in where we left off with number six on the necessary list….A good disc cutter.
Now if you remember, I said in my earlier post that there are several places on this tool list where you can cut corners and go the inexpensive route with tools from places like Harbor Freight, Northern Tool Supply, etc. Your disc cutter is NOT one of those cost-cutting items. In this instance, you definitely get what you pay for! I use Pepe cutters which you can find at Otto Frei, FDJ Tools, Gesswein, etc., in a variety of sizes. The Swanstrom cutter system from Rio Grande is also an excellent tool, and I have several friends who use that brand with as much success as a Pepe. These tools are a bit pricey….depending on the size and brand, they can run anywhere from $75-200. BUT….the time and labor you will save filing and sanding your discs will make them pay for themselves in the long run.
Number 7 on the list is a dapping/doming set.
Santa brought me this AWESOME Pepe dapping set for Christmas last year, (because I was a VERY good girl), and it is perfectly machined. Each dap, ranging from 1.3mm to 50.1mm has a corresponding hole in the doming block. Just a couple of gentle taps will perfectly dome even work-hardened brass pieces. But this is another one of those times when a less expensive tool will do. I still have my $20 dapping set from Harbor Freight, and its actually the one I use when I travel to teach. Partly because its smaller, lighter and easier to pack, and partly because its pretty much indestructable and easily replaceable if its damaged by an inexperienced user. I’d recommend the entry level set to anyone just starting out.
Number eight on my list is an item recommended to me by Misty Shwiyyat of MistyMade….Sanding sticks
These are available from Rio Grande for $4.50 each. The sticks have velcro applied to one end, and they sell sandpaper strips in several different grits that just stick right on. I keep a coarse grit on one, a medium grit on one and a super fine on the third one, and they literally do ALL of my hand sanding chores. I can’t even tell you when the last time was that I had a metal file in my hand! These are fast and much more agressive than I ever expected them to be, and I can’t thank Misty enough for sharing them with me!
Number nine on the list of necessaries are a variety of stamping an texturing tools.
I’ve shown a couple of neat texture hammers that can be found just about anywere metal tools are sold. These have a different texture on each end, and they run in the neighborhood of $20 each. I also have a variety of pattern stamps….things like hearts, stars, smiley faces, scrolls, shamrocks….the possibilities are endless! Most of these run around $8 each and you can build your arsenal according to your taste whether you want to make whimsical items or more classic graphic design patterns. At some point, you’re probably also going to want a set (or six!) of alphabet stamps. There are many, many different font choices out there, and you can get as fancy as you want. If you’re looking for a cheap, entry level set just to see if you enjoy making personalized items, check out this one from Whole Lotta Whimsy for under $30. The set I’ve shown is my current favorite (yes….I have more than one set 😀 ) called “Clementine” and it came from an Etsy seller, Next of Kenn who also happens to carry a lot of cool pattern stamps. I could spend a small fortune in his shop!
Finally, we’re to number 10 on the list, but this item should probably have been at number one or two, since it ranks right up there with my disc cutter on my list of favorite tools, and that’s my tumbler.
Mine is a Lortone 3A. I started out with a cheapo Harbor Freight tumbler, but the noise drove me absolutely insane and I quickly upgraded to a better, more reliable brand. I’ve been using my Lortone for over two years, and haven’t even had to replace the belt yet! I keep it loaded with about a pound and half of jewelry grade mixed stainless steel shot. Just add a drop of dawn dish soap, whatever components or finished jewelry pieces you need to tumble and cover with water. If I’m just cleaning pieces, I usually just run it about 30-45 minutes, and even the dirtiest, most tarnished items come out bright and shiny. If I’m tumbling to work harden, I generally run it a couple of hours. Even if you never intend to get into metalworking on a grand scale, I’d recommend one of these tumblers just to clean your existing jewelry! I’ve tried sonic systems, chemical cleaners, polishing cloths….and nothing works as simply or as easily as my tumbler. These run in the $60 range, plus the cost of your shot, and worth every penny!
That’s it for my list of necessities to get you started. Later on we’ll take a look at some of the “man I wish I had one of those” items that this metal obsession will lead to! 😀