Around the Studio with Jeff Fulkerson

Jeff Fulkerson shares clever ideas for using supplies you might not expect to see on a jeweler's bench, plus, tips for using some of your old favorites.

Halsted 004

We had a great time catching up with our Halstead Preferred Teachers last month at the Bead & Button Show. Jeff Fulkerson shared clever ideas for using supplies you might not expect to see on a jeweler’s bench, plus, tips for using some old favorites. Here are Jeff’s tips for odds and ends around the jewelry studio:

Architectural Templates: I have all kinds of different sizes and shape, including ovals, squares, circles (of course) hearts, crosses, etc… I use them for all kinds of things from marking out stone shapes for cabs to designing pieces of jewelry.

Glue Stick: I use glue sticks to stick simple paper patterns on metal that is to be pierced and sawn with a jeweler’s saw.

Rubber Cement: I use rubber cement to stick complex patterns on metal for cutting out.

Sharpie®: I mark EVERYTHING with them! I even sometimes “black out” a piece of metal and then scribe my lines in it so they show up better. You also can use them to lay out designs and color in stamped impressions.

Q-Tips: I use them mostly with acetone to clean up any wayward epoxy glue or other adhesives, but you can also use them to clean or polish in hard to reach places.

Coffee Cans: After you’ve drunk the coffee, you can store all kinds of things in coffee cans. And then label them with a Sharpie®.

Acetone: It’s excellent for removing Sharpie® marks or cleaning up glue.

Toothpicks: I use them for mixing epoxy as well as for dopping sticks for very small stones.

Pipe Cleaners: Pipe cleaners have many uses, including cleaning out holes, drying out holes, and used with a little Bobbing Compound, polishing in hard to reach places. I’ve also used them with acetone to clean in hard to reach places.

Emory Sticks: Use them for smoothing edges and putting a finish on your piece.

Popsicle Sticks: You can mix epoxy with them, stir liver of sulfur, and use your glue stick to stick sandpaper on them and make small sanding sticks.

Plastic Ware: I use a small one to store small stuff in.

Superglue: I use it a lot in inlay work, but it also comes in handy to patch a snag in your fingernail if you don’t want to cut it off down to the quick. And you can also use it to glue small stones on dopping sticks.

Wood Blocks: I use small scraps as backing when drilling holes in metal and things.

WD-40: I use it to lubricate things as well as spraying a light coat on steel tools that I don’t use often to keep them rust-free. It also works great to keep your spray paint nozzles clean. (After using the spray paint, take the nozzle off, put it on the can of WD-40 and spray a squirt or two to clean all the paint out of the nozzle, then place back on your spray can.)

Masking Tape: I use masking tape for a variety of purposes including mixing epoxy on, covering stones that are already set when polishing the metal setting, covering metal to keep it clean, etc…

Blue Painter’s Tape: See masking tape.

Small Slotted Screwdriver: It’s amazing how often you need a tiny screwdriver. I use mine most often with bits in the Flex Shaft.

Center Punch: I use this mostly to dimple metal before drilling, but I also use it with tube rivets.

X-Acto Knife: I don’t know how anyone who makes anything by hand can live without an X-Acto Knife.

Cloth Measuring Tape: Measure wrist sizes, necklaces, etc…

T-Pins: I use them to hold things while soldering, but they come in handy to open up clogged glue spouts also.

And finally: Small Colander: I picked up a small plastic colander at the swap meet for $1 to use in my pickle pot when pickling small pieces.

We’d love to hear your ideas for odds and ends to use around the jewelry studio. Do you have a favorite that didn’t make Jeff’s list?


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  • Great tips & hints – makes saving all those little plastic containers worthwhile. My husband’s shop & my studio are filled with them. Loved the pipe cleaner ideas. Love your work, Jeff.

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