Now to the mandrels. No, not the country music sister group, but the tools you use to shape, form and work harden your wire and metal projects. Mandrels are used to size your jewellery projects and ensure accurate and consistent shaping as you size. They come in a variety of materials with a variety of accessories too. You can work-harden your jewellery by tapping it while it's on the mandrel with a rawhide hammer/mallet. I can't live without my mandrels: they are an essential tool for anyone who's serious about jewellery design and construction. BeadFX also sells mandrels, so you should check them out at beadfx.com or try them out in the Metal Studio.
This mandrel comes in a couple of sizes. BeadFX has several for you to try. It's a tapered, steel cylinder, with a handle at one end and ring sizes marked along one side. There are other versions available with corners, or one flat side, or a groove down one side. The steel ring mandrel can be clamped in a vice so it's steady while you work on shaping or polishing a ring, leaving both your hands free to work. You can also buy wooden and plastic mandrels.
I find my bracelet mandrel indispensable. I have a round and an oval bracelet mandrel, and you can find both in the Metal Studio to try out. The oval bracelet mandrel in the studio is also vice-mountable. Use it to hammer annealed metal into a round or oval shape and size your bracelets to fit your wrist exactly. Stepped bracelet mandrels are also great to shape and size metal strips into bracelets.
Well, of course I own one of these too, but there's one in the Metal Studio at BeadFX to use as well. I find this mandrel is great for shaping but I also love it for checking the drape of a necklace. If I'm creating neckwires that I want to hammer to give a primitive look to them, this is a perfect go-to tool.
Of course, there are other kinds of mandrels. There are the mandrels used by lampworkers.
There are plastic multishaped mandrels for wireworking:
There are Wubbers with mandrel jaws in a variety of shapes and sizes:
There are small, handheld mandrels you can use for wirewrapping and creating consistent sizes. like these:
As always, tools are only limited by your imagination. Perhaps you'll find other ways to use these great tools and others you can discover and play with in the amazing BeadFX Metal Studio. If you are interested in guided play in the Metal Studio, make sure to sign up for my Open Metal Night on June 26 from 5 - 8 pm.