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  1.          

    What's the absolute basic toolkit you need for waxcarving? This question popped up on a jeweller's social media forum recently. Lots of people contributed their views, some we agreed with, some not so much.

    Here is our answer. It's not the definitive list, there really isn't one. It's just our opinion, based on our experience over many years, both as practitioners and tutors.

                6 tips

    If you're a practicing jeweller or goldsmith, you will have some tools that will function. Undoubtedly a piercing saw frame, hand/needle files, emery paper etc, so we'll take that as read.

     

    We'll also assume that you are a novice and may not want to invest much money on something that may not turn out to be useful to you.

    All these tools are in our other blog posts or the shop, so we won't go to any length describing their use, as we've already covered this elsewhere.

     

    Absolute essentials:

     

    Scraping tools. We recommend our own modified scalpel tips for sale here on the website, the product of many, many years of refining. You'll need a handle to go with them, there's a lot available online at very reasonable prices, check our recommendations in the shop before choosing if you don't want to buy from us. Many jewellers suppliers sell sets of dental tools that are also very reasonably priced, but not as fit for purpose.

     

    Sawblades. Wax will clog your ordinary piercing saw blades, you'll need something coarser. Spiral wax saw blades are your best option for primary cutting. If you have a coping saw already, this also works very well. A coping saw blade with the ends snapped off to fit your piercing saw is another option and pretty much lasts forever. For more refined sawing, Skip-a-tooth sawblades are best.

     

    Wax-file. The double ended half round wax-file is a great investment. For filing large amounts of wax away quickly. It can be quite refined too, when used with appropriate care. If you're not going to invest in a ring-sizer, it's useful for sizing rings. For more refined filing your regular files should work fine.

     

    Ring-sizer: For sizing rings, easily available online. If you're unsure, buy from a reputable jewellery supplier. However the wax file will function in place of this if you don't want to invest just yet.

     

     

    Wax. Obviously you'll need some of this too. For a beginner, use blue. It's what we start all our students with. The most versatile shape for ring tube is the U shape, you can file any ring out of this, even if you have to do some extra filing, the same cannot be said for the other shapes. A box of mixed slices is a good to start with too. The slices do have a rough surface so will need some preparation before use.

     

     

    That's it, you're good to go at the most basic level. We'll put up a next level of tool acquisition in the near future.

  2.  

     

    ceramic rods  ceramic pencils  ceramic sticks  cleaning a memento mori ring

    Ceramic Abrasives

    Russell Lownsbrough FIPG

     

    As a waxcarver who loves to carve intricate pieces of jewellery, I have always found it a chore to clean up tiny, difficult to reach details on my castings. Tiny bits of emery stuck on toothpicks, fibreglass brushes, and endless other things, tried them all but nothing really made my life massively easier. Rubberised abrasives, as blocks or burrs helped, and rubberised abrasive radial discs or 'spider wheels' as some people like to call them were a significant improvement. However, in my opinion the ultimate tools for this very job are ceramic abrasives. I discovered them about 3 years ago at IJL and have been gradually converting others to the faith ever since. They are ceramic mixed with fibreglass, the abrasive is aluminium oxide.

     

    They are available in 3 forms, a cylindrical rod, a rectangular stick (various widths) or small square rods that fit into a mechanical pencil. The rods are the correct diameter for use in a pendant or micromotor. The pens come in 0.5mm and 0.9mm. The material is hard wearing and tougher than it looks. They can be shaped according to need with an oilstone, I wouldn't recommend anything else, certainly not a file. I use them without any lubricant, although I suppose you could, I've not noticed a significant difference.

     

    They come in the following grits in different colours for easy identification:-

     

    120 - violet 1200 - red

    220 – brown/grey 1500 - yellow

    400 – orange 2000 - cream

    800 – blue 3000 – pink

     

    Setter Niall Paisley FIPG has been using the red and blue for about a year. “I have the 0.9mm rods and find them useful on a rubover edge I would normally find hard to get a file on to because of another rubover near by. When you have settings joined together but at different heights they are great too. You do have to be careful though as they will mark stones. Diamond is the only one I'd say is truly safe.

    I found that after a while the clutch pencil that you get with them doesn't hold well and the rod slips back inside. So I got a couple of pin vices and put them in those. I can adjust the length as I want, however don't screw it up too tight as you might shatter the rod. I have found they hold even a very small piece while the pencil can't, so you get less waste.”

     

    Personally I use brown, orange, blue and occasionally red for the rods, and red and blue for the pens. There's some availability at Cooksons and HS Walsh, but the full range is available from SSP STEIDLE in Germany, fortunately they come to IJL every year which is when I stock up. I've found they a long time, although if I was doing a lot of production work I'd probably get through them faster, but the time saved would pay for itself.

     

    Give them a go, you can thank me later.