Tag Archives: tools

Mandrels and Mallet

In My Jeweller’s Workshop IV

A day (or two) in the life of a jeweller! First some mandrels and my mallet. (I was creating a set of palm bracelets and I needed to make them uniform, hence the texta markings on the mandrels.)

Jeweller's Bench 15-09-23

A sneak peek at a very special birthday present in the making! More on that to come.


Me, setting a stone in a ring using my engraving ball.

Jeweller's Bench 15-10-15

The end of a productive session!

In My Jeweller’s Workshop III

I know how much I love seeing people’s workspaces, so I’m pleased to show you a few more photos of my own little workshop!

15 May 2015

15 May 2015

I see in the photo above this rhodochrosite pendant, these seaglass and cuttlefish cast pendants, and this gorgeous custom moss agate ring. On the left is a box in which I keep all the gemstones that are works in progress – there are some that have been in there for some time, I know. I’ll get to them all eventually, promise.

29 May 2015

29 May 2015

Under my bench in this photo is the page I use to bend ring shanks to size when they are not going to be a complete ring, for example when they are going underneath a cabochon setting. I can see some of the pieces from my new extraterrestrial collection, and the work in progress on this divine custom chrysoprase set – one of my favourites, I confess!

30 Jun 2015

30 Jun 2015

There is a sheet of silver over on the right rear, and I see the beginnings of some drusy earrings and this lapis ring – and a few other goodies, too.

30 Jun 2015

30 Jun 2015

And here am I, working away. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy what I do!

14 Aug 2015

14 Aug 2015

A sneak peak at some upcoming treasures for you here – and as always, tea. A nice cup of tea’s what keeps me going sometimes. How about you?

Flex Drive

Tool of the Month – Flex Drive

Flex DriveThat long hanging thing in the middle of this picture? That’s my flex drive. The first flexible shaft was invented by the famous Scottish engineer James Hall Nasmyth (1808-1890), who is best known for his later development of the steam hammer.

Flex Drive

The motor is this part the top, which, through a long spiral shaft, drives the little piece at the end. If you’re thinking ‘dentist’, you’re absolutely right! These are used by dentists, too. They’re like a tiny drill at the end of a long hose.

Flex Drive

There are endless variations of bits you can use with your flex drive.

Flex Drive

My favourites are a particular diamond burr, kindly given to me by the lovely Bill from my Goldsmithing class (I use it all the time!) and my slotted mandrels (for emery paper – that’s one you see on the flex drive head in the picture above this one). I have so many other very useful attachments for this great device! I use my flex drive on just about every piece I make. Thanks, Mr Nasmyth!


In My Jeweller’s Workshop II

Following on from my previous post in which you’ll find the first batch of workshop shots, and bringing us up to the minute, I’m visiting my workshop space in space and time. You can sometimes catch me posting more of these snaps on my Instagram page and my FaceBook page – I’d love to see you there!

Silver Forge Workshop 14-09-24

24 Sep 2014

This was obviously a busy time for rings – I see a ruby zoisite, an orange titanium coated drusy, a faceted black onyx, a malachite, a piece of labradorite, a brown drusy and a howlite ring all in the creative stages. And some of my domed pieces, too!


10 Oct 2014

10 Oct 2014

Here, I’ve come along further with some of those previous pieces, and added this rest of the faceted onyx set and green mojave turquoise ring to the mix. That is my pair of nylon jaw flat nose parallel pliers on the right – fabulous for holding components that are too tiny to be held with fingers while I saw or file or emery, without leaving marks on the metal! Also, a little batch of jellyfish earrings in the making on my soldering block.

6 Nov 2014

6 Nov 2014

The storage expansion continues.. and while it has been there for a while, I draw your attention to my tree stump, kindly provided by a neighbour. It is extremely useful as an ‘anvil’ base, and I’m pleased that even though a tree had to be chopped down, I could salvage a piece of it for a good purpose!

9 Nov 2014

9 Nov 2014

Bead obsessed, much?

21 Nov 2014

21 Nov 2014

Amongst that mass of tools, I see this pendant on my bench peg, and I am still working on that crazy creation underneath!

8 Feb 2015

8 Feb 2015

A couple of repair jobs in the front, some pairs of earrings, a shattuckite pendant and this mojave green ring are all works in progress here! It’s so satisfying to have a number of jobs on the go at once – there is a fair amount of downtime while you’re waiting for things to cool and pickle after soldering.

Silver Forge Workshop 15-03-04

4 Mar 2015

I quite often have things on my bench waiting for inspiration or the right time to strike – some seaglass is in the process here! Also a bunch of forget-me-nots, which I will post more about another time.

1 Apr 2015

1 Apr 2015

Beads for the beginnings of my Ceramic collection are on my bench this day, as well as a number of stones waiting to be set – including this rhodochrosite pendant! The forget-me-nots are all on my soldering block. Stay tuned.

My Jeweller’s Workshop

Silver Forge Workshop 12-07-23

23 Jul 2012

For a while now, I’ve been taking random pictures of my workspace. Sometimes I post these on my Instagram page, and sometimes on my FaceBook page; but I thought it was time I posted them here for you to see. Look how clean my workspace was only a few months after I first got my jeweller’s bench set up! Look at that nice new engraving ball.

Silver Forge Workshop 13-07-02

2 Jul 2013

A year later, and I’ve achieved the more lived in look. All clean work in progress mess of course! I spy the beginnings of the Elementals collection.

Silver Forge Workshop 14-01-24

24 Jan 2014

As time goes on, storage becomes more of an issue, as you can see by the stacks of boxes full of Czech glass.

Silver Forge Workshop 14-02-28

28 Feb 2014

Here you can see my jump ring winder… and I think those are parts of this bracelet and ring combination piece.

Silver Forge Workshop 14-05-03

03 May 2014

That’s a wax stick for stone setting you see there amongst the tools and bits and pieces. I was working on this chrysocolla pendant amongst other things here!

Silver Forge Workshop 14-05-15

15 May 2014

More joy, and more pieces in the works.. including this peacock blue round drusy ring, and this stormy blue oval one. That’s my ring sizing equipment in the top left hand corner.

Silver Forge Workshop 14-09-19

19 Sep 2014

Besser brick is not very exciting, but I brighten up my space with a fabulous piece painted by a three year old, and I love my beautiful Granny’s landscape oil painting of the cliffs at Fairlight – it is calming and inspirational. And yes, I do drink a lot of tea!

Chenier Cutter

Tool of the Month – Chenier Cutter

Chenier Cutter

A tool that I don’t use very often, but when I need it I’m glad of it, is my chenier cutter.

Chenier Cutter

Chenier is fine hollow tubing, which can used to make various parts such as hinges and bails, or be used decoratively as I have in this ring:

Carnelian and Sterling Silver Power Station Ring

To cut the chenier to the right length, and/or to file the ends of the chenier flat, it’s much easier to clamp it in this cutter.

Chenier Cutter

The cutter has various spaces to cut at both 90 degree and 45 degree angles.

Chenier Cutter

It’s great for cutting wire, too!

Chenier Cutter


Tool of the Month – Tumbler



One of the useful pieces of equipment in my workshop is my tumbler.




It can be hard to get a shiny finish on small pieces and pieces made from wire, so popping them into the tumbler with some steel shot, water and a tiny bit of dish soap does the trick!




The lid is cleverly made to seal completely, and bolted on tightly.




The base of the tumbler rotates the pot around and around, which rubs the shot against whatever you place inside, polishing it beautifully.




The tumbler I have is actually sold as a gemstone tumbler, but works beautifully for silver as well. Not that you can see in this last picture, but twenty minutes sees the finished product looking shiny and great!



Tool of the Month – Disc Cutter

Disc Cutter


I have a very lovely mum and granny, who sometimes give me cash for birthday and Christmas presents with instructions to buy myself smithing tools. I have a little wish list (of course!), and one of the items on it was a disc cutter.


Disc Cutter


I use a lot of circles in my pieces, (being a fan of the ellipse!) and cutting them out by hand is a lengthy and sometimes tedious process.


Disc Cutter


The disc cutter is made from two steel ‘wheels’, bolted together, with various sized circles (in this case from 3mm to 32mm) cut in them. You slide a sheet of metal in between the wheels, tighten the bolt, and use the appropriate matching punch (which are made from special tool steel, hardened and ground) to cut through the metal.. The ends of punches are sharpened at a slight angle to enable them to cut through metal up to 1mm thick as if it were – well – butter!


Disc Cutter


You can see the sheet of silver I’m cutting here has already seen some disc cutting action.


Disc Cutter


The end result is a perfect circle, every time. I do love my disc cutter ~ thank you, lovely family!


Sterling Silver Matched Domed Sphere Pendants

Tool of the Month – Ring Sizing Equipment

Ring Sizers

In order to create rings that fit my lovely customers, I need to know their ring size. I’ve written a post about measuring your own ring size, however  the best way of finding out your ring size is to have your finger measured at a jewellers – this is the easiest and most accurate way of fitting a ring.

Above you can see my ring sizing gauges. The rings are for measuring fingers, and are graded in sizes – here in Australia we use letters of the alphabet (which are followed by numbers), so these go from size H up to Z, and then on from 1 to 6. The stick is for measuring the size of rings, and has different measurements, including the alphabet system, millimetres, and US sizing.

Red Drusy Agate and Sterling Silver Ring

If you’re in Brisbane, I’m always happy to measure you up for one of my custom made rings!

Tool of the Month – My Jeweller’s Bench

Ruthie's Jeweller's Bench


A jeweller is nothing without a jeweller’s bench! As you can see, my bench is a busy place – I even tidied it a little for you here. My bench was made by my silversmithing teacher, Elmar – it’s robust, utilitarian, set up just how I need it – and I love it.




One of the most important parts of the bench is the jeweller’s peg. This is the wooden piece that juts out the front of the bench. It is used to balance and stabilise whatever you’re working on – great for sawing, filing, emerying – anything that requires gentle force to be applied to metal. I leave most hammering for my large tree stump however! You can see the scars of filing and sawing on my peg – as time goes on, you develop your own comfortable nicks and dents for holding wire, filing rings etc. Eventually your peg wears away, and it has to be replaced – though I think mine has many more good years left in it yet.



There are so many different tools that help a jeweller – I try to accumulate only the ones that I really need and will use, but the temptation to collect is great! Pictured above are: my tri square – useful for making sure the ends of ring shanks are exactly square before bending and soldering, and for getting exact square angles on pieces I’m cutting out; a scribe and a pushing tool – The scribe is great for scoring silver before sawing it if I need a long straight piece i.e. if for cutting my own bezel, and as a general jiggery-pokery thing. I confess I don’t often use the bezel pusher, and never for bezel setting – but it’s a piece I made at a tool-making workshop I did, and I’m fond of it!; dividers – very useful for scribing a circle, or transferring measurements from one piece of metal to another; and my scraper – great for the occasional removal of pesky burrs.


Messy Jeweller's Bench


An my bench – ok, confession time, it usually looks a bit more like this! With every piece, there are periods of time where you’re waiting i.e. for the metal to cool after soldering, or to pickle, so I work on a number of different pieces at once.


Cloudy Blue Sky


Ah, my workplace – a very zen space, where the sky’s the limit! If you’re interested, you can see more posts about my silversmithing tools here.

Tool of the Month – Pump Drill

Pump Drill

I was all set this month to write about what I was taught is called an Archimedes drill. While researching it online, I discovered that this tool is actually called a pump drill and an Archimedes drill is something different! So, no interesting information on Archimedes to be found here today. He was pretty amazing, though, worth researching if you can find the time.

Pump Drill

The pump drill is composed of a long drill shaft with a collet on one end, a handle with a hole through the centre, a weighted flywheel, and a length of cord. The flywheel is attached near the bottom of the shaft and the handle slides over the top. The cord is run through a hole near the top of the shaft and affixed to either end of the handle so that it hangs just above the flywheel. To use it, the correct size drill bit is inserted in the collet, one hand is placed on the handle while the other hand turns the shaft to wind the cord around its length, raising the handle near to the top of the shaft, where the cord becomes tight. Holding the drill upright and placing the drill tip against the material to be drilled, a smooth downward pressure is exerted on the handle causing the drill to rapidly spin. Once the bottom is reached, the weight is relieved and the drill allowed to rebound re-winding the cord around the shaft and the process is repeated. It is a simple concept but a skill that takes practice to master.

Ruby Ring - Raw Ruby and Sterling Silver Cocktail Ring

The pump drill is a variation of the bow drill, which has been in use for at least seven thousand years. As well as drilling holes, the bow drill can be used to start a fire using friction. My occasionally burnt fingers can attest to the heat that can be generated by a drill spinning – silver is a great conductor of heat, and I have not only heated my fingers but made burn marks in my bench peg by drilling a piece of silver before now! As well as my pump drill, I sometimes use my flex-drive with a drill bit attached for drilling holes – there is something far more satisfying about using the lovely, simple, ancient pump drill though!

Tool of the Month – Mandrels


Mandrels are tapered steel rods, which come in various shapes and sizes. I have three round ones, which go from a millimetre or so up to maybe 40mm in diameter.


Using either my wooden mallet, which will reshape silver but not stretch or resize it, or my bench hammer, which will both shape and stretch the silver to a different size, I use my mandrels to shape bezels, shanks and various other things as I am creating a piece. I even bend my round hoop earrings on my mandrel!


You can get oval mandrels, square mandrels, teardrop shaped mandrels, hexagonal mandrels.. I do have another one or two on my wish list, but for now I love my round mandrels!

Mandrel Uses


Tool of the Month – Hammers

Jeweller's Hammers

The humble hammer. I used to think a hammer was just a hammer, right? But no! There are many different sorts of hammers, with many different purposes. I have a small collection, and I use at least one with just about every piece that I create.

Claw Hammer

First up, the claw hammer. Great for hammering in and pulling out nails in the carpentry world. I use mine for heavy hammering, such as stamping pieces with my maker’s mark and 925 stamp, or hitting the ends of my doming punches.

Jeweller's bench hammer

Next, my jeweller’s bench hammer. This baby has a flat face and a cross pein. (The pein is the ‘other’ end of the hammer). Great for such things as using with my bench block to harden earring hooks, and with my mandrels to straighten and stretch rings. The pein end is useful for things like curving silver in my swage block for rings like this cuff ring. (Don’t worry, posts on all those other weird tools will be along sooner or later! 🙂 )

Wooden Mallet

Thirdly, my wooden mallet. Great for shaping silver without making it thinner – rounding a ring on my mandrel without making it larger, for instance. (Has not been used as a judge’s gavel -yet!!)

Chasing Hammer

Finally, my favourite hammer, my chasing hammer. This baby is great for setting gemstones, using my engraving ball and a setting punch. (Yep, more on those at a later date, too!!) The handle thins dramatically towards the head of the hammer, making it very whippy and easy on the wrist, which is a nice thing when it can take up to an hour’s hammering to set a stone.

There are lots more jewellery hammers, used for various things like forming, planishing, rivetting etc. These four are the tip of the iceberg.. but they are all I need at the moment for all of my creations. A simple everyday tool, the hammer; but indispensable in the jeweller’s studio!

Tool of the Month – Jeweller’s Saw

There are many pieces of equipment that are essential to the creative silversmithing process, and one that gets used in practically every piece is the jeweller’s saw. From cutting through fine chain links, to carving out an entire pendant, the saw is a very useful piece of equipment!

Jeweller's Saw

One of the first things I learned when I started smithing was how to saw – first straight lines, then curves, then around corners. There is an art to sawing! Jeweller’s saw blades come in many sizes, the tooth count varying depending on the job you need to do.

Sawing with Jeweller's Saw

Saw blades are replaced when they become blunt or more often when they break – which happens all the time. Inserting the blade correctly, holding the saw upright, not applying pressure and letting the blade do the work will all help. “Doh! Another one!” is still a frequent cry around the workshop though!

Replacing saw blade

Saws can also be used for piercing.  First a small hole is drilled, the saw blade is fed through the hole, and then tightened into the saw.

Art Nouveau Inspired Silver Earrings

I have two saws, my old faithful that I’ve had from day one and my newer Green Lion Studios saw, which has a deeper frame and can be used for larger cuts. I have different sizes of sawblades in each one, and they are both some of my favourite tools!