Trick VIII: Head and Shanks made easy

Soldering just about any type of shank and prong assembly together is routine work for Tom Weishaar, JAr Certified Master Bench JewelerT and shop manager of Underwood’s Fine Jewelers in Fayetteville, Ark. Weishaar makes it look easy not only because of his skill level but also because he uses customized head and shank tweezers specially modified for this purpose.

Weishaar’s invention. Starting with a standard pair of cross-locking tweezers, Tom fashioned the upper arm into a tapered or “V” shape. This allows the arm to fit between the prongs of a setting during soldering. This feature, combined with the concave recess of the lower arm (see illustration), allows the tweezers to aid in centering the head and shank parts for assembly.

The upper arm also has a slot at the apex of the “V.” This is for an alternative alignment of the head and shank, sometimes referred to as the “compass” setting position. In this arrangement, the prongs are positioned at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. The 3 and 9 o’clock prongs will fit into the “V” and will be automatically centered.

The lower arm’s concave recess can be fashioned to fit rounded or other shank shapes and dimensions.

Benefits for the Working Bench Jeweler

  1. Economy and precision. Weishaar’s invention is made from standard, inexpensive cross-locking tweezers. The cross-locking action provides the tension necessary to hold the assembly in place for soldering.

  1. Efficiency. The slender width of the upper arm allows the bench jeweler to see the alignment of the prongs in relation to the shank. (The wide pad used on commercial head and shank tweezers obscures the view when soldering.)

  1. Versatility. This tool design works well with standard, symmetrical head and shank configurations as well as with other designs.

  1. Continuing education. This technique will be helpful to those taking any levels of the JAr Bench Jeweler Certification practical bench tests.

JAr Masters in MotionT will be conducted during the American Gem Society Conclave on Saturday, March 31, 2001. JAr Certified Master Bench JewelersT Jeffrey Mathews and William Holman will present four 90-minute demonstrations, shown live via close-up video cameras and a large screen. They will share their tips, tricks, and techniques. The sessions are interactive. For further information, contact JA at (800) 223-0673 or AGS at (702) 255-6500.

Bench Tricks is an exclusive monthly column designed to give jewelers a quick and handy reference for solving many common jewelry repair dilemmas. Be sure to look for Bench Tricks every month in JCK. We extend many thanks to Jewelers of America for providing this valuable service to our readers.