Professional Jeweler Archive: Tool Modifications: Part 2

May 2004

Professional Bench/Welding Technologies

Tool Modifications: Part 2

Knowing how to tailor tools for use in tack-, fusion- and pulse-arc-welding saves time, increases quality and drives profits up for your shop and service department

Custom jewelry projects for tack-, fusion- and pulse-arc-welding sometimes call for special welding tool lead attachments. Bench jewelers often make the required leads using standard bench tools to better hold parts for preassembly and welding. This articles describes a few tack-, fusion- and pulse-arc-welding tool-making basics you may find helpful. (See Part 1 of this article beginning on p. 83 of Professional Jeweler, April 2004.)

Tool Making & Modifications

1. For holding wires and other parts more securely, Mike Warren of Warren Jewelers, Lancaster, PA, makes a lead using parallel pliers. The materials I will use to make this lead are: chain-nose parallel pliers (A), 12-gauge hookup wire (B), sheet metal screw (C) and 10- to 12-gauge ring tongue (D).
2. Using an electrical wire tool, I strip about 6mm from each end of the hookup wire (F) and solder the strands of copper wire using lead solder.
3. Using the same electrical wire tool, I secure the ring and spade terminals (G) on each end of the wire.
4. I drill a hole where the ring tongue will be secured (H), with the pliers in a standard bench vice with magnetic Foredom Soft Jaws. The jaws hold firmly without marring.
5. I secure the ring tongue to the handle of the parallel pliers using a sheet metal screw (I).
6. Next I place a length of heat-shrinking tubing to cover and insulate the assembly (J). Using a standard hair dryer, I shrink the tubing over the assembly. When heated, the tubing conforms to the shape of the assembly.
7. The new pliers lead is finished and ready for use. You can use a diamond wheel to create small indentations in the pliers jaws to hold wire as shown in the pliers in last month’s article on page 83. You also may choose to solder silver or platinum inserts to the pliers jaws to prevent marking or contamination.
8. Using head-and-shank tweezers when tack-welding settings to shanks simplifies the process of soldering. Here are the steps for making a double-pole lead for head-and-shank tweezers.
The materials: standard head-and-shank tweezers (K), heat-shrinking tubing (L), 10- to 12-gauge spade and ring terminals (M), nylon screws and metal nuts (N), nylon spacer, a non-conductive dielectric material (O) and 12-gauge hookup wire (P). Note the wire ends have been striped and lead-soldered.
9. I disassembled the head-and-shank tweezers by using a diamond wheel (Q) and cutting them apart where they were assembled. The diamond wheel is 0.17mm thick, so only a minimal amount of the tweezers’ thickness is lost in the process.
I’m using the high-torque Foredom TX Flexshaft and a Foredom #52 quick-change handpiece. I’ve lubricated the diamond wheel with Rio Grande’s Bur Life.
10. To secure the wires, I insert them into the ring terminals and then into the vice. Pressure from the vice flattens the end of the tongue while securing the wires.
11. With the tongues in place, I assemble the head-and-shank tweezers using the nylon screws (R) – nylon screws because this lead is double-pole. I cover the assembly with heat-shrinking tubing.
12. With a positive and negative lead to the double-pole head-and-shank tweezers, it’s more efficient to hold and tack-weld settings to shanks.
For soldering, the tacked setting and shank are held in cross-locking tweezers; no other holding devices are required. You may choose to install silver or platinum inserts to help prevent marking and contamination.
13 . This photograph features the contact pad for tack-, fusion- and pulse-arc-welding (S). When new, the included graphite overlay has a rough texture that can leave a “foot-print” on the back of your work when used (T).
14 . I flatten the surface of a rough sanding board and drill a hole through the graphite and contact pads to accommodate ear posts.

Use your imagination to make new tool leads to accommodate your repair and custom-order work. Electrical supplies for these projects are all standard and were bought at electrical supply and/or hardware stores. For questions on 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 a list of distributors, call Janet Kirk at (888) 494-2663.

– By Mark B. Mann

Photographs by Mark B. Mann
Visual Communications © 2004

Copyright © 2004 by Bond Communications