Jewelry Making Applications

Flex Shafts for the Jewelry Maker


Flexible shaft machines make jewelry bench work much easier. They can be used for a variety of tasks, enhancing production and reducing fatigue. Since the flexible shaft was invented by Scottish engineer James Nasmyth in the 1800s, it has been used by jewelers and goldsmiths for drilling holes, setting stones, polishing metal, and shaping wax.

A flex shaft system uses a motor to rotate a flexible shaft. The end of the shaft contains a handpiece, which contains the desired-shape bit. It is operated by an adjustable power source. The flexible-shaft handpiece accessories may be burs, drill bits, polishing wheels, or brushes.

Pfingst & Company offers flexible shaft machines in various configurations. A wide variety of handpieces, sheaths and shafts may be selected. Often jewelers may have several different types of handpieces. Accessories, such as holders and bit organizers are available in our online flexible shaft machines catalog.

Drill Bits and Burs Used in Jewelry Making

Jewelers consistently use flexible shaft machines for repetitive bench work. Drill bits and burs are used in these machines to complete numerous tasks. Drill bits are used to make holes. Jewelry burs are most commonly used for engraving, filing, deburring, stone setting, and wax carving. There are dozens of burs to choose from. The jeweler must select the best drill bit or bur for the specific task at hand. Not only must it be the correct size and shape, but it should also be made from a material that will cleanly cut or finish the jewelry piece.

Burs are made from a variety of materials. Jewelry burs are made from tungsten vanadium steel, super carbide, high-speed steel, or diamonds. Steel burs and cutters are manufactured for working on precious metals and other softer materials. Carbide cutters are suitable for working on steel, precious metals, and their alloys. Diamond tools are suitable for working on hard materials such as glass, ceramic, porcelain, semi-precious stones, enamel, and precious metals. It is important to use a lubricant to keep the burs sharp and corrosion free. It will help them last longer, reduce friction, and produce a higher quality result.

Bur Applications in Jewelry Making

The following chart describes some of the various jewelry making bur applications.

Ball round, pear, or oval shape expand a drilled hole
deburring drilled hole
faux carving
cutting curved surface
versatile - range of dimensions
Hart (Bearing) cone shape with angles stone setting
create undercuts
cut notches
scoring and bending
create textures
Setting cone shape stone setting and cutting seats
Bud flower bud shape with gently curved taper stone setting
create tapered hole
de-bur uses
reposition a hole
expand a drilled hole
Flame long, slim bud shape small stone seats
correct hole placement
Cone triangle cone shape clean up drilled hole
taper holes
Inverted Cone wider upside down cone shape,
tapers toward the shank
cut tapered slots
channel settings, inlays
Knife Edge disk shape tapers to knife edge cutting
Krause slim reamer shape enlarge holes
get into tight spaces
Concave Cutter cup shape, with inside teeth round spheres
round off prong or wire tips
Wheel disk shape, with cutting flutes on top and edge remove metal from bezel
Wax various shapes cut wax without clogging bur
Cylinder cylinder shape, straight sides remove specific metal amount
use as a rotary file
Cross-cut many shapes metal removal
remove large amount of material
Finishing (Florentine) cylinder, flame, bud, or barrel shape embellish surface
create satin finish
Diamond many shapes grinding burs
carve glass, stone, ceramic, metal
Twist corkscrew shape drill holes
Pearl drill spade shape drill holes in pearls