Professional Jeweler Archive: Tool Modifications: Part 1

April 2004

Professional Bench/Welding Technologies

Tool Modifications: Part 1

Knowing how to alter bench tools can save time and money

Proper holding and firm contact between parts is essential in tack-, fusion- and pulse-arc-welding of jewelry. Otherwise, pieces may not meet properly or be destructively discharged from the welder. Tools supplied with the Tack II and Pulse-Arc Welders include good holding devices for most jobs at a jewelry bench. With minor modifications and skillful use of these tools and those you make yourself (see Part 2), you’ll minimize destructive discharges. You may find the following modifications useful.

Tool Modifications

Tweezers supplied by ABI with the Tack II are made of brass and have sharp edges (A) and very sharp points (B). Brass is a good conductor and a hard alloy, making it useful for welding. When holding rounded objects for tack-welding (such as small die-struck karat gold settings), the contact between the head and tweezers is poor because of the sharp edges. If used without modification, you may experience a destructive discharge.
To modify, Steece Hermanson recommends using a file, sanding disc (C) or abrasive wheels to round the sharp edges (D) of the tweezers before use. He also makes the tweezers tips blunt (E) and rounded. He has several pairs of tweezers leads and routinely modifies them for various welding applications.
For platinum applications, he lines brass tweezers with platinum (F) to avoid contamination during tack-welding. First, he files away a flat portion of the inside of each side of the tips and fits them with platinum. After tacking, he solders the platinum to the tweezers with easy silver solder. After the assembly is complete, he rounds the tweezers to ensure there’s enough contact as shown.
The probe lead (G) is made of copper and is 2.4mm in diameter. Hermanson advises soldering a 3mm length of platinum (H) to the end of the probe to avoid contamination when tack-welding platinum components.
The pliers lead (I) supplied by ABI is lined with brass and provides ample and secure holding support when modified. Hermanson cuts grooves (J) so he can securely hold ring shanks, jump rings, straight wires and a variety of other components. He also modifies these pliers ends (K) by grinding an angle on each side for use in minimally accessible locations.
Holding a ring shank for tack-welding as shown causes a break (L) in the circuit and two sharp edges from the pliers to be in contact with the shank. This will result in damage when tack-welding is attempted.
Hermanson suggests turning the shank in the pliers and holding so no sharp edges come in contact. Another method is to hold the shank in the optional ring clamp lead.
The optional ring clamp lead comes with a wire attached to copper sheet stock. It’s designed to be inserted into the ring clamp and clamped together with the part for tack-welding. For the type of work Hermanson performs, he modifies a ring clamp by removing part of one leather support and securing the copper sheet (M) to it, making the unit easier to handle.
For pulse-arc-welding in inaccessible areas such as this prong repair, Hermanson modifies the ceramic collar by grinding a 45&Mac251; angle at the tip (N).
The tip of the vacuum attachment tool should be modified for the variety of uses it’s capable of performing. For small beads of solder or granulation, use a small setting bur (O) to create a concave surface. This will help you pick up the bead and ensure there are no sharp edges at the critical point of contact. To pick up larger beads, attach a larger diameter sleeve to the end and make it concave.
For flat solder, the end of the tip should be flat. For this detail, Hermanson uses a sterling tube that’s flat on one end and concave on the other and turns it as needed. Because the standard tube is too large for small pieces of solder, he fits and inserts a smaller tube (P) into the standard one as shown.

Next month we’ll cover details related to toolmaking for special circumstances related to tack-, fusion- and pulse-arc welding.

– By Mark B. Mann

Technical Contributions by Steece Hermanson, Galloway & Moseley, Sumter, SC

For questions related to this process, contact Mark B. Mann at or(406) 961-4426. To view related welding procedures, visit

This installment on welding technologies is sponsored by ABI, Cranston, RI. For general information on ABI equipment and procedures or for a list of distributors, call Janet Kirk at (888) 494-2663.

All photographs by Mark B. Mann
©2004 Visual Comminications Inc.

Copyright © 2004 by Bond Communications