Tricks of the Trade

We love to share metalworking advice from our experts!  Many thanks go out to our faculty and community members for generously sharing tips they've learned or developed from years of experience at the bench. If you would like our monthly "Tricks of the Trade" delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our email newsletter, In Lighter News, in the website footer.

Things aren’t always what they seem to be. So I am a big believer in destruction testing, especially with pearls. Secure test a pearl to a bench block with clear plastic tape so you can see it. Place on a sturdy surface, such as a stump. Put on safety glasses and strike the pearl with a fairly light hammer.  Then examine the layers through a lens.

Looking for the solder seam on a ring you are repairing? Have no fear! This simple trick from Wayne Werner will help you find it in no time!

Stone setting got you stressed?  Here is a great trick from Lindsay Mis that will have you setting stones with ease and with good smells! 

As jewelers, we often learn how to solder tiny things very well, but may struggle to apply that knowledge to soldering larger pieces. Read these tricks from Joy Raksin about soldering large objects to expand your fabricating potential!

Piercing started off as my least favorite skill when I first started learning metalsmithing!! I think I broke 25 sawblades in that first class, I just couldn't get the hang of it!  With more and more practice, I started to really love sawing, and the meditation of the act. There is also so much that piercing can lend to you work!  Create dynamic silhouettes, a more interesting bezel shape, even pierced out ring bands!  Here are some of my favorite tips to become friends with your sawframe! 

When soldering, taking the time to set up your work in the most efficient and stable way can save you time, energy, and many headaches in the long-run. Donna D'Aquino shares some of her tricks for perfect set-ups to make any soldering job a snap!

Wendy Jo New, a teacher and studiomate at Metalwerx, shares a few tips and tricks that she uses when soldering ear posts or ear wires to earrings and a bezel to a backing.  These definitely save time and help with accuracy when fabricating pieces.

Wood-carved jewelry maker, Ashley Ernest, shares some tricks to keep your slippery pieces in place while you work at your bench! Make an economical, cushioned surface to protect your work with these easy to follow steps!

As I look around my studio I realize I'm a collector- of pebbles, bones bits of glass from my travels. Twigs,seed pods, leaves seem to end up in my coat pockets  these bits and pieces act eventually as subjects for reference and even make their way into finished pieces of jewelry. The puzzle for me is what to do with all of the gatherings -- what's the best way of trapping or setting a found object?

Making rivets is one of those skills that we all learn early on in our jewelry classes, but somehow, they can still be tricky to get right! Andrea Zatarain gives 3 simple tips that can help you avoid putting dings in the surface of the piece you are riveting, and make sure the finished rivet is the perfect length for the job.


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