TOOL OF THE MONTH: THE MANDREL

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What are Mandrels?

 

In the wonderful world of jewellery, a mandrel is basically a rod that metal, wax or clay is formed around. There are a variety of shapes and sizes in which they come, helping you craft the perfect piece, every time.

 

Whether you’re an experienced jeweller or just starting your jewellery making journey, mandrels are one of the most useful tools you can have on your bench. They help you with sizing and measure, for your ring and bracelet, which is what we’re going to be focusing on in this blog.
If you’re reading this blog, you probably have at least some experience in jewellery making and therefore, most likely, already have some basic bench tools.  The hunt for the perfect mandrel is your next order of business.  
There is a simple reason for this.  Most jewellery metals need something perfectly round to shape it against.  Think about it; your arms, your fingers, your neck and even your ankles and toes, predominantly wear round shaped jewellery.  So when you want to take flat stock or sheet to a 3D jewellery form, what do you need? The perfect mandrel!

Ring Mandrels

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There are five types of ring mandrels: stepped, flat sided, rounded square, grooved and tapered.  Many of them come with incised calibration lines for accurate sizing.  Most people start with a plain, round tapered mandrel because most people start off by making plain round band rings. So if this is you, you now know what to order.

Bracelet Mandrels

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There are two shape options for bracelet mandrels: oval and round.  More often than not, oval mandrels are used for making cuffs and round mandrels are used for making bangles.

Both shapes come stepped or tapered, and both are available in steel, wood or plastic.

 

Stepped mandrels are accurate for measuring size and you don’t have to flip your work to prevent an unintentional taper in the piece.

For a wider cuff or gauntlet, choose a tapered oval mandrel as your arm is tapered from wrist to elbow.   A wide cuff will be more comfortable to wear if it tapers.
TIP:  Some bracelet mandrels include a metal tab or tang to secure them in a vise, while you’re hammering.  The mandrel with a tang is usually preferred as it leaves both your hands free when you’re forming.

Bezel Mandrels

Do you need to make a tube or bezel around a stone well then the perfect solution instead of hand bending and shaping with a plier or suage block you can create shapes to fit any stone with a bezel mandrel , there are a variety of shapes like oval, square and round. Even making hoop earrings or coin frames there is a medium sized mandrel for that too! You can also use these interesting shaped mandrels for links on chains.

In closing, we’d just like to point out that using a mandrel is the easiest of the metal forming process.  You will be astounded as to how far you can move a piece of well-annealed metal against a mandrel.  

 

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