Here's this week's question from Dale, who posted the question on our comments section-
"I've been experimenting with making gem-set bezels, but have been unable to find a satisfactory tool for folding the bezel edge over the stone. There seem to be a variety of tools on the market. Do you have a bezel pusher that you particularly like?"
This is a great question, and YES, i do have a favorite tool. It may be a bit unconventional but I really like a plain wooden dowel. First I use it vertically all around the side of the bezel to get it as close to the vertical edge of the stone as possible. Then I gently start to fold it over- of course, the best way is to do opposing sides first- North, then South, then East, then West. Another way of looking at it is the clock face- bend over the bezel at 12, then 6, then 3, then 9. Then proceed to fold over the rest. I like the wooden dowel because, it doesn't scratch the surface of the stone or the metal and it will take alot of downward force without breaking. Of course, there are times when i need a bit more "oomph" and I just can't get that stubborn bezel edge down- for example, in a tough corner. Then I get out my standard steel bezel rocker and apply downward pressure while rolling the rocker on the bezel surface.
Some people like to use the standard steel bezel rocker to initially bend over the bezel but I don't. If you slip with it, often you've scratched your stone or enamel unless you have protected the surface. I also think it can leave crimps and dents in the bezel easily- it's just too aggressive for my taste. Crimps and dents and scratches will almost never happen with a wooden dowel. I have them in different sizes to use with different size pieces.
There are other tools similar in concept to the wooden dowels I use. Some like to use a standard bone folder that is available at craft stores like Michael's. These also work well, are very inexpensive, and will not scratch your stone.
After the bezel is down firmly, I finish it by covering the stone with blue painter's tape (it comes off easily without leaving residue on your stone) and then burnishing the bezel down completely with a standard steel burnisher to remove any gap and tighten it up. Some people like agate burnishers (available from Rio) as they don't scratch your stones. I tape mine off anyways for the final finishing so I use the standard steel ones which I think work better.
Once the bezel has been nicely burnished down, I then sand the bezel and do all the final finishing with the tape on the stone to protect it. You should end up with a pretty perfect looking bezel.
I am only addressing HAND pushed bezels and not hammer set ones, we'll save those for another day....
Thanks for your question Dale. Anyone have something they'd like to ask Auntie EM? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Til next week, happy metalsmithing!