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Breaking through: Tips, tricks, and hacks for bench jewellers

This handy gadget by Matt Tools lets you centre your wax on a spindle by heating up the end with your torch and pushing it into the wax rod while holding the heat-resistant box.

Going against the flow
Some projects call for a different soldering approach. I once assembled a ring by soldering. If my count is right, there are 33 joints on a size 4.5. I used a trick I learned from Lewton-Brain for this one: solvent-based liquid paper will keep the solder from flowing. In my experience, the brand you choose does not make a difference.

Apply a small amount to the soldered joints. Let it dry before applying heat to reduce fumes. Then solder using flux on your new joint or joints as you normally would. Rinse thoroughly with water before pickling.

Although some research has been done on the toxicity of super glue and liquid paper, err on the side of caution and make sure your work area is well ventilated.

Community and the artistry of sharing
You don’t have to give away all of your trade secrets, but it is wonderful to share processes and tips with fellow jewellers to keep bench work alive. It’s okay to have one technique that’s become your trademark, which you want to keep for yourself. That’s your prerogative.

The notion of knowledge sharing, however, raises the level of the industry as a whole and gives you more places to seek out information when you are faced with a challenge.

There are a number of online communities where you can find a wealth of information, most notably, Founded in 1995, it is the world’s largest technical online resource for jewellers and related fields, and includes jewellery-making forums and galleries.

With these tips, tricks, and hacks, I hope you can rethink whichever traditional procedures may be holding you back. Perhaps, you will come up with new, more efficient ways of working at the bench, and hopefully have a few breakthroughs you’ll want to share, too.

Kate Hubley is owner of Montreal design house, K8 Jewelry Concepts Bijoux. She is also a Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (FGA) and a 2015 Saul Bell Award recipient. Hubley can be reached at

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