Tool Modification for the Jeweler

Q: Where can I find a setting tool we call a “side pusher” in the UK? It is used for flush-setting stones without marring the metal. It looks very much like a bezel pusher, however one side of the tip is slightly curved rather than having a straight edge, so as not to leave an imprint in the metal when you push the bezel over from the side.

A: Unless I’m very much mistaking your description, it seems to me you could very quickly and easily modify one of our ordinary bezel pushers to be what you want. Or just make the tool from scratch. I’ll bet it wouldn’t take you very long at all, and would save you all that desperation. Steel tools are very easy to reshape and re-polish with abrasives like sanding sticks, disks in the flex shaft, various rubberized abrasive wheels, etc. Polish up with the same materials you’d use for gold or silver. If the steel needs to be actually bent, then you’ll need to soften it and re-harden it as desired, but that’s not hard to do either.

For the various styles of plastic ones, just get some scrap Delrin (acetal), and start sawing and carving.

In fact, thinking about it, I don’t think I have a single setting tool on my bench that hasn’t been modified from its original condition in some way. Some modifications are as simple as cleaning up the shape and polishing better (the usual curved burnishers are sometimes a bit sloppy in finish right at the all important tip, for example). Others started just with a standard piece of tool steel or carbide and got turned into something I can use. Remember that craftspeople are not just tool users. We’ve got a long tradition of tool making too. Some tools, like files or rotary burs, are probably best left in the manufacturers’ original forms, at least as for cutting the teeth. But I’ve got many files (not to mention pliers, especially, and all those various burnishers and pushers and various other simple tools) that have been trimmed or otherwise modified. Don’t be shy about making a tool or changing one. It’s all part of the job.

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