Sanding

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Question

HOW TO FINISH EDGES AND INTERIOR PIERCED AREAS.

The edges and interior spaces, on my pierced earrings, look raw.  What do I do to round them and make them look sexy like yours..lol?

Answer

You need to use files and sandpaper!

Make yourself a sanding stick. Or use these flexible sanding sponges.

Watch my two videos on sanding.

I have made sanding sticks using double stick paper, craft foam and craft sticks.  You can also make the sticks without the foam.  The foam helps to make rounded edges as it gives a bit.  It’s easier for curves.

Sanding stick with foam

  • Cut the tip off of the stick
  • Measure stick width and length.
  • Cut two strips of double stick that are a hair less wide than the width of the stick.
  • Apply double stick paper onto both sides of the sanding stick.
  • Cut foam at double the width of stick plus, add a handful of millimeters extra.  You need to take into account the depth of the stick and add a little for the thickness of the foam.
  • Wrap foam around stick, having both edges meet in the center of the stick.
  • Apply another layer of double stick paper, only to the back of the foam stick (where the seam is).  Wrap sandpaper around the stick with edges meeting on the back side. Press down into double stick.

Sanding stick without foam

  • Cut and shape as in the instructions above.  Apply double stick to one side of the stick.  Apply the sanding paper and wrap around stick.  See images.

    Materials:  Double stick paper, sandpaper, craft stick & craft foam.

   Craft stick with end cut off and double stick applied.     Foam stuck to craft stick with double stick applied to the back, on top of the foam, to hold the sandpaper in place.

   Apply sandpaper to the back.

  The finished sanding stick.

  • You can also use rubber cement or other glue.
  • Stay away from Elmer-type glue  – too wet and too slow!
  • Another idea is to use an elastic band on each end or just use masking or painter’s tape.
  • You can also make a sanding block from wood or a foam core.

For interior spaces, you can use Mitchell’s abrasive cords or tapes. Tiny files, like micro needle files or escapement files will also help.

mitchell-sanding-tape-in-saw  I often put these 3m sanding bands into my jeweler’s saw frame to sand tight areas.  You can also put Mitchell’s cords and tape into your saw frame.

*Note:  this question and its answer are also under Q&A: Finishing.

Question

HOW DO I TAKE OFF THE SCRATCHES FROM COPPER EARRINGS USING DIFFERENT SANDING GRITS?

I am using 18 gauge copper sheet, pierced and sawed in a pair of earrings.   To finish them I followed the same process I use with silver:  Sanding with three grades of snap on sanding discs from Rio, then onto the 3m radial bristle discs in descending order. But none of the 3m discs will take off the scratches from the last grade of sandpaper. Clearly, I am missing one or more abrasives to use between the sanding discs and the polishing discs.  I have tried all my different grades of wet/dry sandpaper, wire brush, rubber wheel, and various dremel surfaces to no avail.  I assume my usual methods aren’t working because copper is softer than silver.   I have refinished the pieces so many times that my 18 gauge copper is now measuring at 25 gauge!  Which is actually kind of cool and delicate, but I fear it won’t take much more working before it falls apart.  Do you have any advice for me?

Answer

I usually use a minimum of 6 different grits for finishing everything.  250, 350, 400, 600, 800, 1000 and higher sometimes.  I make my own sanding discs with 3m’s PSA discs. I have a lot of information on how I do this on my website.

My thoughts are that you need to go through more grits.  Sometimes, I use just regular sandpaper, sanded in one direction to get an idea of whether or not I need to go back a grit or two.  Run something like 600 g over the metal and see how deep the scratches are – that will tell you what grit to go back to.

As you no doubt know, unless the prior grits marks are removed, all subsequent grits will not remove them.  You have to go back and redo it.  I am actually surprised that you didn’t have the same problem with your silver.  Have you ever photographed a piece and zoomed in on it to see how well it is finished?  It’s frightening – using zoom!  I’ll think I’ve done a great job, zoom in and find out that I hadn’t!  This technique is great for stone setting too.  But, be careful of getting too crazy about perfection.  My husband calls it “good enough to sell”.  If you can’t see it with your eye – it’s probably okay.  But, it does make one strive for machine like perfection.  I have a love/hate with it.  I just bought a microscope and boy, is that scary!

*Note:  this Q&A is also under Finishing.

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