Skip to main content

Jewellery Tools - In Praise Of The Mitre Jig


Like most metalwork jewellery makers I've developed a love of the tools I use and quite enjoy a browse in any shop that sells hammers and that kind of thing to see if there's something I could use. I sometimes come home with small toolish "things" that I don't even know the name of but think they look promising for use in my shed....

One of the tools that caught my eye recently was a mitre jig. A mitre jig or jeweller's jig is a small three part piece of steel that does some pretty wonderous things in the way of making a jewellery maker's life a lot easier!
I've come across mitre jigs before {but only from a distance} and knew they were used to get straight edges and angles on things and that joiners used them but it all looked a bit complicated and technical and precise which isn't a word that always applies to how I do things. But after watching a very useful video by David Wilson via Cookson Gold on how to use a mitre jig I realized I really needed one. After seeing the price of them at Cooksons {about £55!} I looked elsewhere and bought one from Cousins UK for about £27. The only difference is the Cousin's mitre jig only has one set of knurled {good word!} nuts on the top where the Cookson's version also has one of them on either side of the jig.

Enough about knurled nuts.....so what can you do with a mitre jig? You can do lots of very useful things in the way of getting a straight edge on wire, tube and sheet. I make a lot of bangles and where I previously would file the ends straight {which in my world meant not really that straight} by bracing the wire against my bench peg and filing I now use the mitre jig...


I undo the nuts {knurled} and feed the end of the wire into the relevant sized slot on the bottom section of the jig. This is the part you use to achieve a flat, straight edge to your metal. Tighten up the nuts and you are ready to file. I rested the jig on my bench peg with the end of the wire hanging down between the V slot on the bench peg. I then held the jig with one hand and filed right to left with the other hand until the end was flush with the surface of the jig. It takes seconds and gives you nice clean straight edges making soldering and clean up easier.



Filing the metal does produce a lip which you can see in this photo making the join look a bit wavy but you'll just have to believe me when I say there was no light between the ends when I held it up to the light and when it was soldered the solder jumped into the join with glee :D


Another good use for the jig is for filing a flat section on a ring band ready for soldering on a bezel. I usually brace against my bench peg to do this but as my bench peg isn't particularly level I normally end up with a flat area that tilts to one side so end up filing it several times before it's completely level. 
Using the mitre jig as a vice you can then file off a section of the ring band quickly and it will be totally flat so no more messing about holding it up and squinting at it to see if it's level which is what I tended to do.


You can also use the mitre jig to file a straight edge on sheet metal. If you know you already have one true straight edge you simply butt the metal up to the square notch which will make sure it's at the correct 90 degree angle then you can start filing. You can also use it to straighten up the ends of bezel wire {very useful!}, rings bands, etc, etc, in fact anything that needs a straight edge.



 You can also use your jeweller's saw with the mitre jig to remove excess metal or to cut tube if you don't have a tube cutter. It's so useful and I haven't even mentioned the top slot which does exactly the same as the bottom slot but at a 45 degree angle!

The video is worth watching but I was a bit puzzled at the part where he attaches the mitre jig to the piece of wood that can then be clamped into a vice. I couldn't work out how you would use it with the wood behind it as you wouldn't be able to feed the metal through from the back.....

I'm not affiliated with Cookson Gold or Cousins UK so this wasn't written to advertise their products..... I just wanted to share what a fab tool it was! And use the word knurled several times.





Comments

  1. Monday night I was filing the ends of some wire bangles and was thinking my filing was not perfeclty flat/straight - is there a better way ? - thank you for the lovely tutorial and showing how you use it

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a neat tool! Filing metal ends is always a pain in the butt and I can never get them as perfect as I would like. This looks so helpful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really is a great tool to have around. I use mine everyday now :D

      Delete
  3. This is my favourite tool - as an extremely new newbie this tool gives me lovely straight metal ends. Great tutorial and a great blog - so pleased to have found your blog. Polly

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Your comments and questions are very welcome!
If you would prefer to contact me directly you can email me at: spiralchick@gmail.com

Popular posts from this blog

Etching Silver Using Nail Art Stamps

So my love/hate relationship with etching sterling silver continues. I've tried a few times now and always end up with different results most of them not that great to be honest. I've tried connecting the silver and a piece of copper to a 9v battery and also heating the ferric nitrate. Sometimes the results are good sometimes not so good. I currently have an etched piece of silver sheet waiting to be reticulated and rid it of the mess that is the etched "pattern". 
I now know that using stamps and Stayz On ink just doesn't work with silver - the time needed to etch using ferric nitrate is much longer than etching copper and the ink starts to wear away after about an hour. This results in the pattern being patchy as the resist is eaten away and the silver ends up quite lumpy and course looking. I have yet to try using pnp paper. I don't know why but it all seems a bit of a faff to do. I don't have a laser printer so would need to find somewhere or someone…

Embossing Metal With My Sizzix Bigshot

I must admit up until a few weeks ago I was vaguely familiar with the name Sizzix but as to what you actually did with a "Sizzix" I was completely in the dark! That was until I stumbled across a video from Vintaj showing how you could use their embossing folders with a Bigshot to create designs on metal ("metal" - my favourite word after chocolate!)
I was really impressed and itching to have a go, I just needed a Bigshot........ I waited a few weeks then when the urge to possess one overcame me I went out debit card at the ready..............and the shop had sold out! So I trundled off to The Range on the off chance and came home clutching my own surprisingly heavy pink and black wonder machine. It sat on the dining room table for a couple of days while I waited for the embossing folders I'd ordered online to arrive then the time came to start playing!


I started with some pre-cut 24g copper hearts and the Wildflower Vines and the Butterfly Swirls Deco Embossin…

Rolling Mill Textures On Metal

I had another play with my rolling mill last week using some of the texture sheets from Etsy shop Rolling Mill Resource. I used some sterling silver and copper sheet and soon discovered it's best to get organized before you start!

I cut the sheet to size and worked out which design was going on which piece of metal. I also tried a feather but more on that later. Most of the sheet I used was 20g/0.8mm with one piece of 18g/1.0mm and one of 22g/0.6mm.
I've read that you should do a dead pass of the metal through the rolling mill with the gap the same size as the metal and texturing item. I'm not sure what this is supposed to achieve but I don't bother doing it. Judging the correct size of gap between the rollers is a trial and error thing that you discover by setting the gap then starting to roll the metal through. If there's too much resistance you make the gap bigger until there's just enough resistance to roll the metal through without giving yourself a herni…