If you want to get started with flush setting, you're definitely going to want to make one of these. Needle burnishers are by far the best burnisher for flush setting!
For a needle burnisher to do its job correctly, the shape very important. It should be a rounded bullet shape. It shouldn’t be a round blob, nor an aggressive stabbing implement, but a graceful balance between the two. Unfortunately you can’t buy these ready made. But, fortunately they’re exceptionally easy to make yourself in a few easy steps.
You’ll want to have needle burnishers in different sizes for different sized stones. The smaller the stone, the smaller the tip of your burnisher will be. It will take a little trial and error to find that perfect size, but using the right sized burnisher will mean a lot less slippage when setting – so it is absolutely worth taking the time to make several and experiment with them all
You’ll also want to make these from both tool steel for harder stones, and stainless steel for softer stones. You can of course use the stainless steel version on hard stones too, I just find I get a better finish, and work faster with my harder, tool steel needle burnisher. An excellent option for tool steel is to use broken burs. For stainless steel, you can use a crochet needle or large sewing needle…… basically go steal stuff from your nan, you’ll usually find you can cut through these quite easily with a jewellers saw.
Create the perfect shape for your burnisher
You’ll want to do this with 100 grit sandpaper. Using a sandpaper stick is perfect for this (we show you how to make these here).
You’ll want to pop your old broken bur into the flex shaft for this, and simply set the flex shaft running at a medium speed as you run it against your 100 grit sandpaper. As well as moving your flex shaft back and forth along the sandpaper stick, you’ll also want to lift it up and down to get that perfect bullet shaped tip to your needle burnisher – the correct shape is imperative!
Bring your burnisher up to a bright polished finish
This is the simple part. All we need to do repeat the process used to shape the needle burnisher with finer and finer sandpaper. I’ll generally use 240 grit, followed by 600, 800 and 1200 grit. For a final polish, which we really want if we want a bright shiny finish to our setting, just charge a little leather with polishing compound, and then repeat as if it were just another sandpaper stick.
Add a handle and jobs a good one
I love to use a tool handle with a chuck for my burnishing tools as it’s super easy to take the burnisher out again and give it a quick polish from time to time.
And that really is all there is to it! If you have any questions at all, just pop them in the comments below.
Want to learn more?
Our Metalsmith Academy will be opening up again for membership enrolment in August 2021 for three days only. We’ll only be taking in a limited number of students this time, so if you would like to get on the waitlist and be notified as soon as we go live – just click the little button below: