Top 10 Reader Tips for Jewelry Making: Smarter Metal Stamping, Sawing, Resin, Wire Wrapping, and More

After Monday's newsletter packed full of great tips, I'm on a roll and excited to share even more wonderful and oh-so-helpful jewelry-making tips with you today. A couple of weeks ago on JMD, I shared 10 of my favorite jewelry-making tips and asked readers to comment with their own favorite tip, offering a prize for one of them. You guys are so smart! I read every tip you shared and there were so many great ones–on metal stamping, sawing, forming metal, using resin, wirework, and more–I had to share them with everyone. So here are 10 more useful jewelry making tips, courtesy of you–our clever readers–in your own words.

metal stamping tip: paint an arrow in the proper up direction  

1. To keep metal stamps facing the right direction: I mark an upward pointing arrow on my lettering stamps with a thin Sharpie [or nail polish], that way I know how to position my stamps and not make those pesky upside down letters! As long as the arrow is pointing up (away from you), you're good to go. —angel63456

2. To start sawing easily: I always keep my small triangle file with my saw. Before sawing metal, notch a V-shaped groove–a nick is all it takes–at the spot you want to begin sawing. It will hold the blade in place for you. —Ivybinks, who also recommends using bits of an artist's kneaded eraser to level and support stones in bezels

3. To repeat good works: I keep a sample of the things I make most often (like different styles of ear wires) so I always have one to copy from. —BeadSwede

4. To organize and store solder without tarnish: A great way to repurpose old pill bottles and silica gel packs is to use them for storing wire solder. Simply drill a hole in the top of the pill bottle that will accommodate the wire solder. Label each bottle with the type, easy, medium, etc. Add a silica gel pack, reclaimed from new item packaging, to help prevent tarnish. —cbft

5. For finishing wire-wrapped ends: When making wrapped loops and you have that annoying little "tail" left sticking out at the end of the last loop, get out your crimping pliers. Use the rounding part in the front of the pliers to round out and wrap the tiny bit of wire with the rest of the loops. Your wrapped loops will look great and no more scratchy bits! —Rhonda Chase Design

  tape covered cardboard under resin
Beadlion's tip also works well for backless bezels and bezel-less resin pieces, like this found butterfly wing I've coated in resin to strengthen it.

6. For easy resin work: I cover a small piece of flat rigid cardboard with clear packing tape. Then I put double-sided tape on the top. When it's time to pour [resin], I place each bezel on one of the cardboard pieces. The double-sided tape holds the piece in place and the packing tape provides easy cleanup in case of overflow. After pouring, I can pick up each piece for close examination and repairs if needed, without touching it with my fingers. For pieces that don't have a flat bottom, I use a small amount of clay to adhere the piece to the cardboard. This keeps the piece level. —Beadlion

7. To keep handy toothpicks close at hand: I've discovered that the "everything is a dollar" store sells toothpicks in a dispenser. I keep this dispenser on my workbench and use the toothpicks for mixing paints, applying adhesives, removing bubbles from resin, mixing epoxy clay, and a hundred more things. —Beadlion

8. For well-finished wire loops: My favorite tip for wire, when making a loop, is to flatten the tip of your wire to be looped with your flat-nose pliers before looping. This will give your loop a more finished appearance, allowing the looped wire to lie flat against the inside of the loop. —Kimatlsu

9. To preserve texture on metal during forming: Craft foam is your new best friend in the jewelry studio! Use craft foam in between your dapping block and your textured metal to preserve the texture while forming. If you are using wood dapping blocks, sandwich your piece of metal between two pieces of foam to protect the wood (it scratches pretty easily). If texturing both sides of a sheet of metal by hand: After doing the first side of the sheet, lay it texture side down on a piece of craft foam over the bench block, and then texture the second side. —Gisela K Andara

keep poster tack on hand for metal stamping tests before stamping on metal  

10. And the winning tip, from Otgjen, to avoid metal stamping mistakes: When stamping words on metal, I keep a little blob of poster tack [similar to clay but doesn't dry out] on my bench and press the stamp into it BEFORE stamping it on the metal. This helps me make sure I'm stamping the correct letter (how many times have I stamped a "q" instead of a "g"?) and in the correct orientation, not upside down. —Otgjen

Put your newfound tips to work at your favorite jewelry-making techniques and take advantage of our spring clearance for incredible savings on books, DVDs, and more!

Want some more? Read my original 10 favorite tips and the dozens of reader-submitted tips in the comments on this blog.

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