Emery Sticks

Polishing
Polishing

The one area of silversmithing I don’t enjoy is polishing!. I’ve tried a number of ways to avoid  or cut down the amount of time I spend on the polishing lathe. After many years of experimenting I’ve found the best way to reduce your polishing time is to have a prefectly prepared surface before you go near the polishing lathe.

The way I do this is by making my own emery sticks so I have a variety of shapes, sizes and grades. The initial reason I made my own was because I couldn’t get the shapes I was looking for to get into tight angles and curves. I started with a length of wooden dowel and adapted it to fit into awkward shapes.

Here’s how I did it…

So I start with the wooden dowel cut into lengths. I then cut my emery paper to size. I usually cut around three squares from each grade so I can have each shape stick in a variety of grades eg. 600, 800, 1000, 1200.

Then it’s just a matter of taping the paper in place with some really strong tape ( I use Gorilla tape). If you want a sharp edge it might be better to glue the paper but I think tape is quick and easy to remove if you want to change your paper.

Then I just mark the sticks with the grade number so I can pick it up quickly on the bench. I also colour code them, the brighter the colour the finer the paper. I know this sounds a bit crazy but I started doing this with my solder and it has saved me so much time.  If I want a fine emery stick I’ll just have to scan the bench to look for the one with the red mark!

 

So there you have it, proof that making your own tools can often be better than buying them!

 

Tools!

It’s been a while since I’ve updated on new tools so I decided to go through two of my purchases and explain how and why I use them. I’ve had this for quite a while but I don’t think I’ve shown it off before so feast your eyes on my new draw plate.. isn’t it pretty!

Round Draw Plate
Round Draw Plate

 

Drawplate
Drawplate

I use this along with my other new toy, a draw tongs.

Draw Tongs
Draw Tongs

I use my roller for changing the diameter of wire which is great if I’m working with square or half round wire but the roller can’t adjust round wire. So here’s where my draw plate and tongs come in.

My Roller...just in case you forgot how pretty it is!!
My Roller...just in case you forgot how pretty it is!!

Once I have the wire nearly down to the diameter I want on the roller I use my draw plate to make it round and reduce the size further. The draw plate sits in the vice with the numbers facing outwards and then I feed the wire into a hole at the back.

Drawplate held in vice
Drawplate held in vice

The wire should sits snugly into the hole then I draw the wire out using my tongs. I keep doing this down through the different size holes until the wire is at my desired thickness.

Wire held in draw plate
Wire held in draw plate

This all sounds lovely and relaxing but believe me you can work up a sweat even with the most beautifully annealed wire dragging it through the draw plate.

In my early years as an apprentice I would nearly land flat on my arse at the other side of the workshop trying to draw down a long piece of stubborn wire. Thankfully my technique has improved and now it’s less of an athletic endeavour!

I found a great silversmith and jeweller based in Birmingham, Becca Williams who shares my obsession for tools. Have a look at what she’s created using her new heart shaped cutters.

 

The business

My Bench
My Bench

Since this is my 100th blog post I decided to share some ideas I have for my future work and future posts.

I’m planning to do a monthly update on my business and how I sell my jewelry online. I intend to do one of these posts every month so I can share handy tips and tricks with any of you out there interested in selling your artwork. As well as sharing all the things I’ve learned it will give me an opportunity to look over the developments of each month.

I’ve included some photos of the workshop and the images I have over my bench that influences new pieces that I’m working on at the moment.

I’ve done this for two reasons.. firstly since this is number 100 I thought I keep it light on text, I think after this many articles my keyboard deserves a slow day!

Secondly now that I’ve shown you what inspires me and told you that I’m working on new pieces I’ll have no where to hide! I’ll have to just set aside the time from all the other work and make time to develop this range.

If you have any suggestions for the next hundred posts be sure to email me at eileen@eileenmoylan.com