Thursday, September 15, 2011

Unconventional Tools

by Izzy Winterhart

A week or so ago, I had a battle with one of my tools and the tool won.
It was one of those days, that had I used my brain, 
probably wouldn't have happened.
I hadn't been feeling well the first few days of the week, 
both physically and emotionally.
For three nights I got very little sleep.
I thought a day in the workshop would make me feel better.

Not so.

I now have a sign in my workshop that reads
"Sleep deprived not allowed".
Entering my shop bleary eyed was the first of many mistakes I made that day.

An idea for a pair of earrings has stewed in my head for weeks now.
I was thinking this day would be the best time to give birth to that idea.
I chose a heavier gauge of copper to work with.
Mistake number two.
I couldn't find my heavier hammer, so I used my lighter hammer.
Mistake number three.
Placed it in my disc cutter and started hammering.
Whack, whack, whack.
Not working.
So I whacked harder.
The cutter seemed to be moving a bit, so I held it with my left hand.
Mistake number four.
I then whacked my thumb.
Right on the knuckle.
It swelled immediately.
Tears filled my eyes.
Words, I won't repeat, filled my mouth.
I seriously thought I had broken the bone.
I went inside, sought sympathy from my hubby and quit for the day.

That day my husband came up with an idea to use a jack press with the disc cutter.
I would buy a Bonny Doon Press.
Yeah, right.
The cheapest Bonny Doon is around $1000.
I did some research and found other jewelry press options, 
but none of them affordable.
So we started thinking outside the "jewelry tool" box.
We found a 12 ton shop press at Northern Tool.
It was on sale for 1/10 the price of a Bonny Doon.
My husband put it together for me and immediately we started playing.

First with my small cutter and 26 gauge copper.
Then with my large cutter and 18 gauge copper.
Let me just say that cranking the jack is much easier than whacking.

Butter people.  
The cutters went through like a hot knife in butter.

Big Red may not be the prettiest tool in my workshop
but it is my newest love.
No more risk of hammering my much needed digits.
Now to shop for pancake dies.

What tools do you use that aren't considered "jewelry tools"?


KJ said...

I am a bead weaver and my all time favorite tool is hemostats- just think tiny locking pliers.

Christine said...

Which tools do I use that aren't specifically for jewelry? Oh heck, all of them! Let's see...a bowling pin, electrician's pliers, wire strippers, all kinds of whatever hammers I find in the garage, pipe I need to acquire a 12 ton shop press, too. :D

stacilouise said...

You had me at "tools".

Glad you have found a solution to the hammered finger dilemma. I use a brass mallet, for my disc cutter (and have a kinda fancy one that works really great)....but oh, if I had room......the tools I would own in my shop!!!! I love your press!

PS: how is the finger doing?

mairedodd said...

you guys came up with a great solution... i was just going to tell you to use a brass head hammer with your cutter... but this is great...
anything and everything is game - prescription bottles get wire wrapped around them, pencils are used for ear wires... i found an old iron - as in an iron iron - in my grandparents basement, and that is now another anvil...
hope that thumb is healing... fingers can take time...

Artisan Beads Plus said...

Well....that's amazing. Here's my question, what kind of disk cutter is that? I don't think I've ever seen one like that. Could you explain more, if not in this post comment section, in another post one day? Thanks!
I'm finding this fascinating :o)

Vintajia Adornments said...

Ya gotta love 'outa left field tools'
Mine is a beauty -
Hands up all those that can fit it in their studio!

DArsie Manzella said...

That's awesome! I have been using a piece of half-moon shaped metal for the longest time as an anvil. My brother found it in a thrift store for me. Just recently while drooling over the Harbor Freight catalog, I found out it is a tool for automotive bodywork. It's a fender bender if you will. lol. I like your sign, I need one of those too. Hot metal splashed on arms or feet is what I tend to subject myself to when I'm sleepy-casting.

Izzy said...

Greer, that is hysterical...

supere67 said...

Let's hear it for all those husbands who help us (and humor us) find solutions and tools to our jewelry making dilemmas. Mine just recently drilled holes through coins for me with his drill press.

Wish I had thought of the iron as anvil - we've got several in this old house.

ciaolucia said...

Izzy, I hope your finger is better. I have wanted a hydraulic press to make bracelets, but they are so expensive. This is a great option. I can't wait to see what you make.

I have also used metal racks to make my own bead rack and the old fashioned steel hangers as enameling mandrels and different markers and bottles as a substitute for general mandrels. It's great to repurpose and hopefully save some money. We always want new tools for our new ideas!

Great work!

Clamworks said...

I have been eyeballing the same type of press in the Harbor Freight catalog for a while, but I never though about using it with my disc cutter (I have the same one that you're using.) So cool!

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