Please see my site disclaimer

Updated:  9/28/19, 1/28/17

Nancy LT Hamilton

Questions and Answers

How to Finish My Steel Tools


I bought myself some of the Fretz hammers recently.  My concern is keeping them polished so as not to transfer marks on to the metal.  How do I keep these polished?  What tools do I need to buff out any marks?  Would a belt sander like this from Harbor Freight do the job? Also I would like to polish my steel blocks.


For general care of steel tools you’ll want to oil them once in a while to keep the rust down.  In damp climates or in general, make little covers from old towels, oil them with 3-in-one oil and hold the rag onto the hammer head with an elastic band. Wipe the faces with an oiled rag after use to remove dirt, grease and grit.

Chasing & Repousse hammer after use.  This is how these hammer heads eventually look, with use.  But, you don’t want hammers that are used for forming to look like this.  Whatever is on the surface of the hammer will transfer to the metal.  So, unless you like the look, make sure your hammer faces are REALLY shiny and smooth!

Of course,  The easiest way to protect your hammer faces is to not hit steel with them.  But, if the inevitable happens, and you make dents, you can repair them.

This is messy work so wear an apron!  If you are using the sandpapers dry or are using power tools (including the flex shaft or Dremel), wear a mask and eye protection.  Tie back long hair, no dangling scarves, jewelry or sleeves and wear close-toed shoes.

If the dents are minor, you can use wet/dry 320 grit sandpaper then move up in number – up to 1000 grit.  Finally,  with a steel dedicated cotton buff, in a flex shaft or Dremel, polish them with whatever buffing compound you have on hand for polishing:  rouge, white diamond, etc.

You could watch my making chasing and repousse tools videos for some info on polishing and finishing steel.  That might give you further insights.

If you have dents or dings on your steel surfaces, and they are deep and the object is large like an anvil, you could use a belt sander, bench grinder. You can use steel-dedicated files and really rough sandpaper like 120 grit if you don’t have power tools.  Honestly, if the object is deeply gouged, electric tools are the way to go.  For polishing, use a large buff in a drill or other rotary tool with your polishing compound.  (Buff in a drill).
After buffing, with a clean cloth or paper towel, wipe the surface clean, oil with 3-in-one oil.  Store hammers so that the faces don’t touch each other and cover with an oiled cloth, if necessary.  If you’ve only used sandpaper and you’ve used it damp, dry the tool horoughly before putting it away.  Rust IS your enemy!
The railroad tie I refinished.
I recently finished a railroad tie for our makerspace jewelry studio and used the belt sander with various grits of sandpaper.  Then went into hand sanding and finally, polishing.  Boy, what a job!  Took me hours.  But, it looked beautiful.  Good luck!

What is Big Red Vice Grip that I saw in one of your videos?


“I have been eyeing a tool that is in one of your older videos – it looks like a “Big Red Vice Grip” that is some sort of “press”.   The tool looks like it is vice, gripped to a corner of a work space then has a horseshoe looking Vice with a rubber center.   Can you tell me what that is?”


  I think you are talking about this tool: Inline image 1.  It’s called a pipe vise or bench yoke.  Here’s a link to Amazon.   Wish I had bought the cheaper one first!  I love it for ring mandrel holding, bracelet mandrels, etc.  Cheap and very, very sturdy. Back to Table of Contents

What Dremel Attachments Do I Need?


“I am about to purchase my first Dremel tool 3000 series and wanted advice on the attachments I might need. I want to start working with coconut shells which is why I need a cutting, sanding, buffing and polishing system.  Do you have any advice on the bits I might need?”


I think that the bits/drills, etc., should probably be purchased as the need arises.  There are soooooo many different types of bits available and they are all very specific to a task. Have you perused Rio Grande’s online catalog?  They have 7 pages on burs and drills alone. They have many different types of attachments and explain (somewhat) the uses.

Obviously, drills will be important as will buffing, sanding and polishing implements. Something for cutting like Dremel cut-off discs or a metal cutting blade. I love the these little desk top belt sanders for sanding and finishing but, any belt sander would work.  I also love sanding discs which are found on my sandingwebpage .  I would imagine that woodworker related tools would work well with coconut but, I don’t know, as I’ve never worked with it before.  Because of my lack of knowledge in that area, I couldn’t recommend specific tools to finish coconuts. Have you been to my website? Please see “Related Web Pages” at the top of this page for more information. I have a bunch of information that may help you.   Don’t forget to wear a mask and goggles! Back to Table of Contents

Questions about Riveting – Hole Punches Vs. A Drill/Flex Shaft


“I am trying to use my money “effectively” and would like to know how best to set myself up to rivet at home. I purchased a 2-hole punch but wonder if getting a drill makes better sense as it provides more flexibility? If a drill, which one? I have seen some piercing/riveting systems but I would rather use rivets and eyelets with a hammer the way I saw you do (using the plumb bob and those other handheld tools). I do own a chasing hammer, a riveting hammer, and an anvil.” BTW, my husband has a Dremel.


Since your husband owns a Dremel, that would be the cheapest way to go.  Those hole punching pliers and presses are well and good but they are, as you said, not very versatile and they are more expensive than drill bits – you are also limited in how many different size holes you can drill.

Generally, when setting up a shop, there are initial expenses that might be steep.  What needs to be remembered is that these tools will last for a very long time.  But, you can start small and buy tools as the need(s) arise.  Junk stores, garage sales, ebay, etc. are all great places to find gently used tools.

The simplest setup for riveting is a Dremel or flex shaft or even a hand drill, a piece of wood to drill on, some drill bits, lubricant (any oil or beeswax product will do – it preserves the life of the bits).  For the actual riveting:  a jewelers saw for cutting wire and tubing or a wire cutter that can cut the wire you will be using (like these power max cutters  , something like the plumb bob – to spread tubing – or a nail set, a chasing hammer or any hammer with a small ball peen on one end and a steel block or steel sheet.  Old irons or other steel odds and ends work fine.  You just need a piece of steel that is flat.  It also helps to have small things to rivet on (when you can’t place the piece on a flat surface without marring the details) like a dapping set or bezel forming tools.

 Bezel Forming Tools.

You’ll want drill bits that are either the same size as or slightly smaller than the tubing or wire you will be riveting.  It also helps – to make perfect holes, when fit is imperative – to have a drill press  (Foredom Drill Press).  The nice thing about this press is that is also accommodates Dremels that have a flex shaft attachment. The drill press keeps the bit from wobbling while drilling which can cause uneven or larger holes. But, you don’t HAVE to have a drill press.

Harbor Freight High Speed Tool Steel Drill Bits – gauges start at a size slightly smaller than 14g and goes to a little less than 3 gauge.  These are larger drill bits but, do have their uses especially when drilling holes for tubing.

Smaller drill bits are available.  I buy sizes that I use often like for 14G, 12G, 16G and 18G. See my Drill Bit Chart for conversions to bit numbers.

Tubing is probably cheaper in the long run than pre-made rivets or eyelets.  You can get tubing at Home Depot or Rio Grande Jewelry, Metalliferous, etc.

  Down the road, a tubing cutter might come in handy.  They have them in plier form or you can purchase the miter cutting vise,  which is also useful for making straight edges on sheet, tubing and wire.  (Miter Cutting Vise).

Having this type of tool makes cutting tubing easier and saves time because the edges are straight and even.  My favorites are:  tubing cutter, the Bergeon (at Rio Grande) and the French miter cutting vise and jig (at Rio Grande).

See my web page on adapting the tubing cutter.

Back to Table of Contents

Note: Most of the product links on this page are affiliate links.  I use affiliate links to help pay for my labor that is used to create this free service as well as to support my over 130 free YouTube videos.  I don’t track you, all that happens is, if you purchase through these links, I get a small credit for promoting their product.  I also try to use Smile Amazon links so that I can also support my charity of choice:  Chimera Arts – a not for profit, makerspace in Sebastopol. CA where I co-run a jewelry studio. So, thank you for your support!

Related Web Pages 

Related Videos

You must know, that all of my videos use tools of one sort or another.  You should watch them all! Learn what all those weird-looking tools are actually used for!!!  Have fun.

Note:  Some of the links on this page are affiliate links.  Purchasing tools and materials via these links earns me a small percentage of the sale for advertising them.  The monies earned help to support this page and the production of my over 130 videos on YouTube.  They also support (as often as possible)  Chimera Arts Makerspace (a not-for-profit creative space) where I co-run a public jewelry studio. There is nothing “fishy” about this practice and I have no access to any of your personal information.  I appreciate your support!  Thank you.