I've just fallen in love with tube settings on rings, and have decided to try my hand at making them. I'm using thick walled tubing and round/setting burs to create the seat. What I'm wondering is how to stabilize the tubing while shaping the seat. I'm using 5mm and smaller stones, which means the settings are pretty tiny. Should I set the tubing on/in the ring and then cut the seat, or is there some other option that I'm just not thinking of? I figure there must be, since not all tube settings are for rings, but I'm at a loss as to what that might be. Any thoughts would be most appreciated :)
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We usually silver solder the short section of the thick walled tube to the piece being fabricated, such as a ring, pin or pendent. Rings with soldered tube sections can be held on a ring mandrel although we find that they can work loose at the most inopportune time and result in damage to the stone or setting so we usually revert to the time-tested wooden wedge type ring clamp.
When tube setting on flat pieces such as pins and pendants we prefer to secure them to small amount of pitch that has been melted onto the end of a 6" section of a large wooden dowel rod or a short length of broomstick handle. Just heat the pitch until soft and press the piece of jewelry into it and allow it to cool before attempting to cut the seat. When your setting is complete just warm the pitch slightly until the part comes loose. You can clamp the wood handle or the wedge clamp in a vice if you need both hands free and then use the setting burs mounted in your flex shaft to cut the seat to the proper depth. Note: applying a tiny dab of cooking spray to the back of the metal before applying it to the pitch makes for easy removal. Use a heat gun set on the low setting to heat the pitch to apply it to the dowel and to apply and remove the metal.
At other times when we want a series of tube settings all the same length we will clamp the long length of thick walled tubing into the chuck of our miniature 3" Unimat bench lathe and mount the setting burs in the tail stock chuck to prepare the seats. Using the burs in the tailstock in this manner assures perfect alignment and concentricity. We then use a small cut-off tool mounted in the cross slide of the lathe to cut off the tube setting to the exact length required. We realize that most small shops will not be lucky enough to have a miniature lathe but we did want to share this option with you.