Make a simple ring mandrel holder

A ring mandrel is an essential piece of kit for a jeweller.
You obviously need one if you're going to be making rings,

but they are also great for shaping chain links, hammering hoop earrings and much more.
However, the heavy lengths of hardened steel can be rather tricky to hold steady - sometimes you can feel as though you need a third hand!

In this tutorial I'll show you how to quickly and cheaply make one.

Some of the more expensive jeweller's benches come with holes drilled into the front edge of the bench, perfect for supporting the end of a ring mandrel (or triblet, depending on which name you prefer!). I made my own bench though, and although the top is nice and thick and sturdy it's not thick enough to bore a big hole like that into. When I was putting my bench together I did like the idea of something tucked under the bench top though. I kept my eyes open on trips round DIY stores - and this is what I found!

This is a pipe strap clamp or mount, and as you've probably guessed from the name it's supposed to be used for securely fixing pipes up against walls. It's steel so it's nice and strong , but this one is rubber lined to protect more delicate pipes or tubes - and that makes it perfect for protecting your ring mandrel too! They come in different sizes, and I opted for 18mm diameter clamps as I didn't want the fit to be too tight.

I bought two packs of 5, enough for my own bench and my 8 student benches, costing me just over £15 at my local DIY store. Bargain!

(You can also buy the clamps from a certain big website here!)

To securely fix the clamp you will need:

• suitable screws for your bench. The heads of the screws need to be big enough so that they don't slip through the holes in the clamp, and the screws should be as long as possible so that they go deep into your bench and can withstand the hammering you're going to be doing on the ring mandrel!

• a drill (not shown) and suitable drill bit to drill two holes into the underneath of your bench.

• pencil to mark where you want to drill

• tape to mark your drill bit to show how far to drill

• a screw driver or attachment for your drill

Choose where to put your clamp

I  wanted my clamp to be underneath the cut out in my bench, on the left  of my benchpeg as I'm right-handed. It just felt more comfortable to me!

If  I'm using my ring mandrel in the clamp for more than a couple of  minutes I undo my benchpeg and move it further out of the way. If your  benchpeg isn't on a clamp and can't be moved then you will want to make  sure that your clamp isn't too close - you don't want to have your  hammering restricted by the benchpeg! An alternative position is along  the front edge of your bench.

Once you're happy with the position use the pencil to mark where the holes need to be drilled.

Get drilling...

To make sure that you drill the holes to the right depth - but not so  far that you drill through the top! - wrap a small piece of masking tape  around the drill bit to show how far you need to go into the underneath  of your bench.

Once you've drilled the holes all that's left to  do is screw the clamp into place, and clean up the saw dust of course.  And then you can use the clamp to help you hold your ring mandrel while  you get on and make beautiful rings!

Learn how to use your ring triblet to help you make beautiful rings!
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Joanne Tinley

The Jeweller's Bench is run by Joanne  Tinley. She has been making her own jewellery for as long as she can  remember and left her first career as a school teacher to set up  business as a  jewellery designer and tutor nearly 15 years ago. She is  self-taught and like many people started with wire and beads. Learning  how to solder, however, opened up a whole new world of jewellery making,  one that she is keen to share! There is something so magical about  watching solder flow through a seam, joining  two pieces of metal  together smoothly.