Tips for Hammer Handpieces

Q: I’ve got a Foredom hammer handpiece, and was thinking about buying the diamond and carbide tips for it. I was also looking at the Badeco tips, which are supposed to fit my handpiece, but don’t seem as sharp. Which should I get?

A: You get different tips for different uses. The diamond point is a sharp faceted shape. It’s used to give an overall glittery finish to a surface, sometimes referred to as a laser finish (just a marketing name, as lasers aren’t involved), or a diamond point finish. It’s interesting in that as you chatter the point over a surface, because the tip keeps its same alignment, each impact produces multiple little reflective surfaces that end up being in the same plane, so the whole surface of the work will have multiple angles at which it reflects light from many of the impacts at once, which differs from the general glittery/sparkly look of finishes produced by things like mizzy wheels or rotary diamond abrasive points.

Carbide-tipped points might be either that same sort of faceted point used for a finish, or might be flat or other-shaped points used for the tool’s original purpose as a setting hammer. The carbide lasts longer than steel when setting very hard metals, like some white golds. The Badeco tips, on the other hand, are mostly stone-setting shapes. Unlike the standard Foredom tips, the Badeco tips are quite carefully hardened and tempered, and hold their shape very well. The Foredom tips are often sold unhardened, with the assumption that the user will shape them as desired and harden them.

The Badeco tips are, frankly, my favorites. Some of the set are less useful for me, but others may like them. There is, for example, a little cup-shaped point useful for shaping the end of a rivet, or perhaps more strongly shaping a large bead in pave work on very hard white golds (seems dangerous to me, but I’ve seen a few situations where it actually needed to be used that way). And there are a couple of textured tips which can be used to create a surface finish similar to the background chasing tools called matting tools. Those too can be used as setting hammer tips, but I’ve not personally found much use for them that way.

One big difference between the Badeco tips and the standard Foredom ones is that with the Badeco, the threads on the tips are also tempered, and tougher. I’ve got a number of the cheaper, standard Foredom tips where the threads are getting worn, letting the tip easily loosen in the handpiece. I’ve never seen that happen to the Badeco tips.

by Peter W. Rowe M.F.A., G.G.