It is the small things that drive me wild. You know, attaching a tube set so that it is placed just a bit off center. Or, making one earring slightly larger than the other. These small mistakes have motivated me to find ways to be more precise. In this series I will talk about ways to avoid pesty little inaccuracies.

Transferring Measurements    I remember the day I started making more precise measurements. It was a class with Tom McCarthy (great metalsmith and teacher by the way) where we were making tiny hinged components that required more accuracy than what I was used to doing. Instead of my usual “eyeball” or marking with a Sharpie® approaches, I started taking measurements on a ruler with the dividers and transferred them to metal. This method is much more accurate than lining up the ruler to a piece of sheet metal and marking it with a Sharpie or scribe. Sometimes a very small difference doesn’t really stand out. Other times cumulative small differences add up to one big noticeable goof.

Tom also showed us how to find the center of a short length of wire or a rectangular piece of sheet metal. Measure the total length and divide by 2. Mark your dividers with this length and scribe from both ends. You then eyeball the center of those two lines.

Now scribe 10 mm using your dividers.

Adjust your dividers to match the desired measurement. In this case I want 10mm.

I want to find the center of this 27mm wide piece of sheet metal. The center is 13.5mm. I start with scribing a line on the left.

Next I scribe on the right side.

Because of very small inaccuracies the two lines don't exactly meet (often the case). So, I find the middle of these two lines for my center. In general, this procedure will yield a more accurate location of the center than if I used a ruler and simply marked 13.5 mm.

More to come on dividers…….

One thing about a camera, it sure sees inconsistencies and small errors better than my eyes do. Even in this image you can see where there are gaps in the bezel.

Note on 10 Hour Challenge:
8 hours into challenge. Although I have a bezel that I can cut, solder and hammer set, I decided not to move on until I am more proficient with shaping heavy bezels. I recall Charles Lewton Brain describing his training as a goldsmith. He said that his mentors required him to master a skill before moving on. I sure need more mastery than what I currently have so I will continue practicing the shaping skill until my 10 hours are up. At that point I will decide what to do.

The bezel I recently worked on (see image) has gaps that were not evident when forming the bezel on the table. I was a little disheartened. On the other hand, I was able to make it in 2 hours and I can adjust for the problem later.


All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2012 Connie Fox. All rights reserved.

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  1. Connie Fox

     /  June 21, 2012

    I am glad the tip is helpful!

  2. Thanks so much for that tip on finding center! Tried it on several pieces this week and it worked like a charm!

  3. Connie Fox

     /  May 14, 2012

    Krisiti, to get a bezel aligned correctly the best thing to do is solder it to a larger than needed piece of metal and then saw it out. You can be accurate with a saw and you don’t have to worry about the bezel shifting in the flux.

    If I wnat to measure the width of a piece of sheet metal I use digital calipers. That way you don’t have to worry about placement of the divider tips. A digital caliper is a very important tool for many jewerly making functions. Hope this helps.

  4. Kristi Hanson

     /  May 12, 2012

    I swear, in the pin class where I did the bezel I realized I was going to have to get better and measuring. So that divider tip is really timely for me. One question I had but didn’t ask when using the divider in class has to do with your last picture in that segment. When measuring metal you put the divider on the outside of the metal? I was trying to put it right at the edge of the metal.

    Thanks as always Connie.


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