Past Jewelry Making Techniques:
We maintain a techniques web page that provides links to the discussion of techniques in our prior newsletters. You can visit this web page here. Follow the links on that page to the discussion of the technique in that newsletter.
Jewelry Making Technique:
This week's jewelry making technique is some discussion on jewelry wire cutters. We recently visited a bead store and while performing demonstrations at the store we noticed that all of their cutters were dull and marked by nicks. This is a frequent problem especially for new wire workers. For that reason, we decided to discuss the problem, what causes it and how it can becorrected.
First, the cutters made for cutting jewelry wire are made to cut soft wire. In this case "soft" has a different meaning than the stiffness or springy nature of the wire that we discussed in our last newsletter. In this case soft refers to the strength of the material or the Mohs hardness used by the gemologists. Copper, silver, gold and gold-filled wire are easier to cut than brass and all five materials are much easier to cut than steel. Most jewelry wire has a Mohs hardness of 3-4 while steel has a Mohs hardness of 5-6.5. Jewelry wire cutters are made to cut copper, silver, gold, gold-filled and brass wire up to 12 gauge. They are made to cut these wires and leave a flat or "flush" cut on one end of the cut wire. To do this the cutting surface of the best cutters is made with one beveled surface and one flat surface as shown above. Unfortunately, this feature, that makes them excellent for making jewelry items, also makes them more susceptible to becoming dull and getting nicks when they are used improperly. In the case of most jewelry wire cutters, they are not made to cut anything other than copper, silver, gold, gold-filled, and brass wire. They are not made to cut a clasp finding, even clasps made of copper, silver and gold and they are not made to cut steel, even steel wire. Bead stringing wire like Soft Flex is made of stainless steel micro-filaments and ordinary jewelry wire cutters will not cut bead stringing wire without being damaged. The bottom line here is know the capability of your cutter and know what you are cutting.
If you need to cut items that are harder than jewelry wire, you need a special cutter. For cutting bead stringing wire you need to use cutters that are specially hardened and made to cut that wire. For cutting bead stringing wire, we recommend either Item 0356 or Item 0645. If you want to cut clasp findings, or anything made of pot metal, or memory wire you need a different cutter. For this application and for cutting anything larger than 2mm in size regardless of material, we recommend a heavy duty cutter like our Item 0808.
Now let's discuss what to do if you should get a nick in the jaws of your cutter or what you can do when the jaws of your cutter seem dull. In our grand-fathers time there was a door-to-door tradesman who would visit a neighborhood and sharpen scissors and knives. In our modern, disposable society, we tend to discard a pair of scissors that have become dull, where in the early 20th century and before, these items were routinely sharpened and re-used. For jewelry wire cutters, you have the same choice. You can discard your cutter when it gets a nick, or you can sharpen them. Unfortunately, the tradesman won't come to your door any more to do it for you. Sharpening the jaws of a cutter is something that almost anyone can do. It requires two things -- a small flat surfaced file like a jeweler's file (Item 4023) and patience. To sharpen the jaws of your cutter you need to sharpen the flat side of the jaws with the cutter held closed and sharpen the beveled side of the cutter on both beveled jaws with the jaws open. Use your flat surfaced jeweler's file and file from the hinge toward the tips of the cutter repeatedly. When sharpening the beveled jaws of the cutter, it is important to sharpen both jaws equally and to file from the hinge to the tip. Don't file back and forth in one spot as this will create a notch in the jaws. You can check your work by holding the closed jaws of the cutter up to a light. When your cutter is properly sharpened, you won't see light between the jaws when the jaws are closed. Continue filing until both jaws of your pliers are sharp.
Finally, we at WigJig are always looking for a better way to do things. Currently we are developing a new cutter that is hardened so that it can cut bead stringing wire and shaped so that it will cut jewelry wire with a very flush cut. This new cutter will retail for just under $22. We hope to have this new cutter available for sale starting in August. Look for an announcement about the availability of this new cutter in our August newsletter.
Please select here to view our instructions on how to cut jewelry wire for a jewelry making project using the flush cutter jewelry tool.
Nostalgia Corner -- Some of our favorite jewelry making projects:
This week's featured design in our Nostalgia Corner is the design for making our cloisonne necklaces. These necklaces are rather similar to our Rainbow AB necklaces that we discussed in our new project for this newsletter and the same approach for making the necklace would apply.
You can three different ways to combine cloisonne beads as focal beads and using either black onyx or crystal pearl beads as background beads left and above-left.
Please select here, or select any picture above right to view our free instructions for making our cloisonne focal beads necklaces.
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