Professional Jeweler Archive: Wax Build-Up Procedures

August 2003

Professional Bench/Manufacturing Up Close

Wax Build-Up Procedures

Performing wax build-up procedures using Foredom's new Wax Carver (WC-1) wax-working unit contributes to higher levels of service from your shop and service department

The Wax Carver (WC-1) is a new wax worker the Foredom™ Electric Co. recently made available to the jewelry industry. To present many of its features, Michael Dickey performs the following wax build-up project.

Dickey’s customer asks that part of an abalone shell be used as the centerpiece for a 14k yellow gold free-form pendant.
Dickey uses a tungsten carbide bit and the Foredom® micromotor to remove the most interesting and colorful section of the shell. From this, he fashions a smaller piece suitable for the pendant. (He wears a face mask when working with abalone to avoid breathing in the dust generated from the process.)
The shell is covered with a lubricant so the wax won’t adhere to it during the build-up process. Dickey mounts the Foredom WC-1 wax-working pen to the upright shelf above his bench. The on/off switch also controls the amount of heat to the tip. He turns on the unit and sets it to the desired temperature.
Dickey keeps a large reservoir of unmelted wax above his bench pen. With the supplied scoop tip, he melts and transfers wax to the rim of the pendant. The handpiece is lightweight, and the flexible cord can be detached from the power supply. The cork keeps heat away from Dickey’s hands.
The outside border is complete. Dickey builds some “boughs” for his tree design on a separate block. He changes the tip on the handpiece and incorporates the boughs into the design.

Note: Change tips with the heat on by using pliers or another holding device. If the handpiece is allowed to cool, the wax may hold the tip onto the shaft.

Dickey makes a bail from carving wax and attaches it to the top of the pendant. Here he details the tree with the optional curved tapered tip.
Because he took care to cover the shell with a wax lubricant, he’s able to easily lift off the wax design to prepare it for casting.
The 14k yellow gold pendant is finished and ready for delivery to the customer.
The 21/2-by-2-in. wax-working unit comes with four detachable brass tips (right) and three optional tips (left, in circle). Not pictured is the transformer that plugs into the top of the unit (and an electrical outlet). A “power on” light on the top left corner flashes constantly when the unit is on. Approximate tip temperatures: “Low,” 95&Mac251;; “2,” 200&Mac251;; “3,” 340&Mac251;; “4,” 425&Mac251;; “5,” 525&Mac251;’ and maximum, 560.&Mac251;
From left, knife, large and small scoops and straight tapered tips are supplied with the unit. “The scoop tips move large amounts of wax, more than any tip on a wax worker I’ve used in my 30-year career,” says Dickey.
From left, the large flat, small flat and curved tapered tips are optional. They are made of brass. All tips can be filed or bent easily into custom shapes for specific uses.

This installment of Tool Tips is sponsored by Foredom, Bethel, CT. For information related to Foredom tools, equipment and accessories or for a list of distributors, contact Michael Zagielski at (203) 792-8622,

– by Mark B. Mann

Design and technical contributions by JA Certified Bench Jeweler Michael Dickey of Michael Dickey Designs, Redlands, CA

Procedure Photographs Gail Dickey

Product Photographs Mark B. Mann
©2003 Visual Communications

Copyright © 2003 by Bond Communications