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Lortone tumblers – How to use and mix the solution.

Lortone tumblers

Hello everyone,

I wanted to show you a tumbler that I use on a regular basis. This tumbler is great for polishing metal parts or for burnishing down newly cast pieces of jewelry.

If you are working on a piece of jewelry and it has parts that are difficult to reach with a polishing wheel this may be what you have been waiting for. These tumblers use a variety of polishing media. The tumbling media is used to burnish or polish the metal.

I recommend using stainless steel shot when tumbling silver or gold. If I am fabricating pieces I often will tumble all the parts and then solder them together after they look polished. After the soldering I will usually tumble again.

Tumbling helps to get into all the small places where a polishing wheel can’t reach.

If you are casting you can use the tumbler to clean up the cast piece. The steel shot will burnish the metal, helping to hide any porosity that may have occurred during the casting process.

Link to the stainless steel shot 

(Full disclosure- I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. This helps keep Gotcha Rocks up and running)

Here is a video on how to mix the solution and use the tumbler.

I have links below to the tumblers and the polishing solution. 

Here are a couple of tumblers I recommend. The Lortone brand is a high quality tumbler that can run for hours on end and lasts for years. The belts have to be replaced every once in a while but that is to be expected.

Here are some links to these tumblers. Happy hunting! 🙂

Lortone 45C Rock Tumbler (45C Tumbler)

This is a good size for tumbling stones and metal items such as rings, earrings and bracelets. The drum is large enough to accommodate most jewelry and craft items.

  • Lortone 45C Rock Tumbler features a molded-rubber 10-sided barrel. Steel body is strong and stable.
  • Dimensions: 6.5L x 10.25W inches.
  • Tumbler weighs about 9 pounds.
  • 4-pound capacity.
  • Made in the USA. Lortone quality is backed by a one-year warranty from the manufacturer.

Lortone 3A Single Barrel Tumbler

This is a smaller version of the 45c. The drum holds 3lbs. This is considered the economy version.

  • Weight: 5 lbs One year warranty
  • Tumbler dimensions: 9-1/4 x 5-3/4 x 2-1/2
  • Barrel dimensions: 4-3/4H x 4-1/2 Diameter
  • Model 3A tumbler with a simple 3 lb. capacity barrel offers the user economy and performance
  • Designed for years of trouble free service, the 3A is a real workhorse. The barrel is hard rubber that minimizes noise and the durable motor will last for years. Simple to operate and UL approved.
  • If you are using the tumbler for stones I recommend using the small to large ceramic pellets with your grit.

    If you are using the tumbler for metal I recommend using steel shot with Sunsheen burnishing solution mixed with water. Check Rio Grand Supply for the Sunshine.

    If you would like the tool list for the tumblers click here.

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Ring Making Video – How to fabricate a ring – Create a perfect circle

ring bending pliers

Have you ever struggled to bend your metal in a perfect circle while trying to make a ring?

There are many ways to bend sterling silver or gold stock. However, there is one tool that will save you time and frustration.

This is a follow up post to How to Use Ring Bending Pliers”  

What is it? Drumroll please………..It’s the Ring Bending Pliers.

This tool is in my opinion the best tool for fabricating rings. 

In this post I am including a video on how to use these pliers,

a link to the pliers and a link to a good Ring Sizing Chart. 

Enjoy!

 


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The tool you are missing. How to use ring bending pliers. You will thank me!

How to use ring bending pliers.

Have you ever had trouble bending wire or flat metal stock into a circle?

One of the first things I show people in my classes is how to use the ring bending pliers. It may seem simple but I have seen a few metalsmithing train wrecks.

Often during the metal bending process the middle part of the wire or stock will be bent fairly well but the ends are still straight. The ends are the hardest part to bend due to the lack of leverage.

Let’s first discuss three methods of bending wire.

One, you can just bend it with your fingers. This is fine for thinner pieces of wire but not so great for larger or thicker pieces.

Two, you could use your ring mandrel and bend the stock around it with your fingers or with a hammer. You will usually have to brace the mandrel in a vise to keep it steady as you form the metal around the curve. This can take a little set up which equals time and time is money.

Three, You could do what I do. I use the ring bending pliers. These pliers are oversized compared to the small half round pliers. (See the photos below) These pliers allow me to bend large and small wire and stock into almost perfect circles. It saves me time and gives me wonderful results without having to hammer on the metal and potentially marring the metal stock.

There is a trick to making this work. It is all in where you start bending.

So what is the trick?

Lets say you have a flat piece of stock and you want to make a ring. You have already figured out how long the piece should measure and now you have to bend it.

Start at one end, it doesn’t matter which you choose. Insert just the very end of the stock so that it can be gripped by the pliers. The less metal you have to use in the pliers the better. The idea is to just pinch the end enough to hold it. If it slips out the first time you are probably doing it right.

Now that you have it clamped into the pliers and you are holding it in your right hand hold the pliers in front of you.

Take your left hand and put it on the other end of the metal. (This is the end that is not in the pliers)

Push the metal away from your body. This will bend the very end into a curve. Do this to both sides of your metal. Bend it just a little bit and try to imagine what the curve of your circle will look like when it’s finished.

What do I mean?

You don’t want to over bend the ends and make the curve smaller than what you need. Try to picture the end of a candy cane. The candy cane shape may be too much of a bend.

You should be shooting for a shape that looks like the horns on a cow. Think about a long horned Texas steer.

So, to recap. You are going for a cow horn shape, not necessarily a candy cane.

Once you have your cow horns made it’s time to work the center. Start at one side of the curve and work towards the other side.

This should be done very slowly using small light squeezes of the pliers. You are shooting for consistency. Don’t be heavy handed with the pliers or you will have a very erratic looking circle.

Use the creepy handshake!

I always tell people to use the creepy handshake. What is that you may ask?

Have you ever had someone shake your hand in a very weak and limp way?

Well, if you have you know what I’m talking about.

 

That handshake isn’t good for anything other than forming metal with ring bending pliers.

Keep working the metal until the two ends come together.

Once they do it will be time to clean up the ends so the two ends meet flush. Flush means no gaps. You can then solder the seam.


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I hope this helps. It does take a little practice but it should save you a bunch of time and hassle.

All the best, don’t forget to sign up for the blog.

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P.S. Here is the video link.

Here is a link to my Youtube channel. Subscribe to get the latest videos.

Need a ring bending chart? 

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR FREE STUFF!

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How to inlay petrified dinosaur bone in a ring

How to inlay a stone

The first time I saw petrified dinosaur bone was nearly 19 years ago. It was a red agatized dinosaur bone also known as gembone. Gembone is made when agate fills in all the nooks and crannies of the bone leaving you with a very interesting pattern.

Here is a great picture of the patterning in gembone.

One of my favorite things to do with gembone is to inlay it into a ring. It makes a great ring for both men and women. It so happens that I was making one for a client and had the camera running.

I thought I would walk you through the some of the basics.

 

Step #1 I start with a sterling silver or a gold cast ring. The ring has a cavity in it for the gembone to be set into. This cavity could be any shape. For this example I am using a rectangle shape.

 

Step #2 The second thing I do is select my rough dinosaur gembone and cut a piece with a trim saw. This particular piece was a sweet find.

You will notice that its coloring is red with touches of green, yellows and blues Continue reading How to inlay petrified dinosaur bone in a ring

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Save yourself some time and your sweet money!

Save yourself some time and your sweet money!

Here are a few essential things to have while you are setting up your silversmithing or goldsmithing shop.

Knowing what tools to buy can save you big money and frustration from buying the wrong stuff.

Take it from me, I had to find out the hard way more than a few times.

Provided below are a few FREE TOOL lists to help you find the right tools.

Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions.

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR FREE STUFF!

  1. Free torch tool list. This is great if you have ever wanted to set up a soldering station in your shop.
  2. Free bezel setting tool list. Start adding a little color in to your designs with gemstones.
  3. Free stone cutting – lapidary diagrams, stone hardness chart and a step by step diagram on how to cut a cabochon shaped gemstone.

I hope this will help to get your shop up and running smoothly.

All the best,

Michael Seiler

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How to make a shadow band for a diamond ring.

Have you ever wanted to make a shadow band that fits right next to your diamond or gemstone ring? Well, here is a short video on how to use wax and a few tools to create a model ring that can be cast in gold or silver.

I will be using a green wax which melts at around 230 degrees and is one of the harder wax materials for model making. The modeling wax is made by a company called Matt. They make a number of waxes ranging in melting temperature and malleability.

There are three main types of modeling wax that I use to make a model.

The blue wax is soft and melts at a low temperature. (200 degrees)

The purple wax is slightly harder and with a slightly higher melting temperature then the blue. (225 degrees)

The green wax is the hardest of the three and melts at around 230 degrees.

I prefer the green for any work that needs exact detail and a shadow band needs to be exactly the same contour as the ring it is shadowing.

Here are Continue reading How to make a shadow band for a diamond ring.

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How to anneal white gold, The answer may surprise you.

How to anneal white gold. The answer may surprise you.

What is the difference between annealing white gold and yellow gold?

The answer may surprise you because the difference is as simple as what type of alloy is used.

I will break this down into its simplest form for this example. Back in the day 14k and 18k yellow gold were alloyed with copper to make a wearable and workable metal.

14k yellow gold was 58.5 parts 24k gold mixed with 41.5 parts copper. 

18k yellow gold was 75.5 parts 24k gold mixed with 24.5 parts copper.

I am using copper as an example. These days there are Continue reading How to anneal white gold, The answer may surprise you.

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How to bezel set gemstones like a pro!

How to bezel set like a pro

Welcome! Learn the basic steps of setting a gemstone in a bezel mounting. This video takes you step by step and does a little trouble shooting along the way. Learn what tools you need to set gemstones as well as how to use them.
If you have ever struggled to set stones or just wanted to know how to add a little color to your jewelry this is a great place to start.

Thanks for watching.
I have a link below to the tool list. You can also find it under Supplies in the menu. Enjoy!

Continue reading How to bezel set gemstones like a pro!

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How to anneal sterling silver – 7 BASIC STEPS

How to anneal sterling silver - 7 BASIC STEPS

Annealing is the term for softening metal so that it is malleable. The process involves heating the metal and then cooling it. Cooling the metal can be achieved through air cooling, quenching and sometimes both.

Sterling silver is heated to a dull red(900F). Let it lose its redness and then quench in cool water. (Presto you have soft metal). There are a few steps before you can heat the baby up.

The metal should be coated in a protective substance called a “Barrier Flux”. It is made up of boric acid and 91% isopropyl alcohol.

Many people use denatured alcohol. I discovered it’s toxic and the human body does not metabolize denatured alcohol. This means it doesn’t leave your body very easily once you have absorbed it. Kind of scary. That is why I recommend 91% isopropyl alcohol because it’s less dangerous.

The 91% isopropyl alcohol burns off nearly as well as denatured alcohol. I do not recommend the 70% isopropyl alcohol.

You can mix the boric and isopropyl solution 50/50 for a thicker solution. This will provide a nice thick coating for your metal. This is good for annealing. If you are soldering you can use 25% boric and 75% isopropyl alcohol.

Use a glass jar with a lid. I use an old pickle jar or you could use

Continue reading How to anneal sterling silver – 7 BASIC STEPS

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North House Folk Schools – Free PDF – Agate Cutting Class – On The Rocks!

Free 'How To' lapidary basics PDF

I spent the last week up north in Grand Marais, Minnesota teaching two stone cutting classes back to back at the North House Folk School. What a great couple of groups! I have offered this class a few times and it continues to develop and get better and better. The classes both cut jaspers, agates and petrified dinosaur bone. Here are a few photos of the cabochons they made. I can’t wait to do it again!

 

If you are interested in cutting stones or would like a FREE PDF of the “how to” steps of cutting a stone, stone hardness scales and more, click the link and DOWNLOAD the file. It’s free! Continue reading North House Folk Schools – Free PDF – Agate Cutting Class – On The Rocks!