The Jeweler’s Bench Reference by Harold O’Connor contains useful information on jewellery making; including soldering, setting, plating and casting. Read on to see our review…
This is something of an iconic book amongst jewellers, which is currently on its 13th print run as a consequence! Measuring a meagre 18cm x 12cm, (which is about the size of a ladybird book), it is small enough to fit in a large pocket or bench drawer. Practical in design, it is spiral bound to lay flat and also benefits from plastic covers to protect against spills, dust and whatever else might land on it in a busy workshop.
As the title implies, this book is intended to be used as a central reference point for information. It is written in a clear and concise fashion and contains, essential checklists, conversion tables, admin. templates and troubleshooting advice, as well as simple explanations of technique and procedures to help you work more effectively. Efficiency and good working practice are at the core of this book, so words are kept to a minimum and there are no page filling, glossy photos to be found anywhere.
To take one chapter as an example, Design is dealt with in just 8 pages but each one is crammed with valuable information. Starting with a Checklist, (which in itself throws up a whole host of other questions), you then move onto Evaluating A Design and Design Procedure for Constructed Forms. What initially sounds quite complicated is written as simple bullet point lists which keep you on task and thinking practically rather than just getting carried away with the designing itself which is so easy to do.

Is the design simple and elegant, or is it contrived?
Is there a recognisable design theme?
Is it honest to the materials used?

                                                                           Evaluating a Design by Harold O’Connor
Following this comes a whole series of very specific advice on Metal Thicknesses and working out The Amount of Metal Needed to Make a Constructed Object in the form of formulas, lists of standard measurements and simple line drawings which together form a solid framework of invaluable information that you will be constantly referring to.
E.G. Finding the Proper Length of a Ring Blank
Ring blank length (mm) = inside diameter (mm) + metal thickness (mm) x 3.14
Finding the Length of a Bezel Blank, Diameter of a Dome, Sizes of Tube Blanks and Patterns for Pyramids and Cones are all dealt with in a similarly concise but efficient way, finishing the chapter by determining the amount of metal required for casting models. Chapters blend seamlessly into one another, with no title page, just a small note in the top right- hand corner so you know where you are.
Procedures are very simply explained followed by a troubleshooting section where needed. So, the description for pickling solution is followed by one for a neutralising solution; The Soldering Procedure is followed by Soldering Problems and then in turn by details for specific soldering jobs such as soldering pin backs and soldering bezels to sheet which is just brilliant. It is actually hard to believe that so much information is jam-packed into such a tiny book; looks can certainly be very deceptive.
The Jeweler’s Bench Reference is essentially a notebook of vital information which every jeweller should own. It gets straight to the point without the fuss and bluster of other books – a brilliant buy which will get years of use. This is this month’s Book of the Month, which means it is currently 20% OFF. Learn more and save now.
Written by Joanna Varney
Joanna has worked in and around the jewellery industry for well over 20 years. She has designed and created her own pieces as a designer maker, as well as working in jewellery retail on a much larger scale, producing designs and NPD for some of the UK’s largest high street retailers
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