When I first discovered Mitchell’s Abrasive Cords and Tapes (1020999) from the Gesswein Tool Catalog, I felt as if I’d stumbled upon a stunning hidden treasure that no jewelry maker I knew had ever seen, heard of or mentioned before. As soon as I opened the package, I knew the abrasive cord contained in this unassuming little container would become a major league game changer for my work life and I can honestly say I was not mistaken.
First some details: The particular product I’ve gone absolutely bonkers for is Mitchell’s Number 66S, a 280-grit silicon carbide impregnated cord about 0.012mm wide that can be used to sand the skinniest, tiniest of sawn or drilled openings, and it won’t tear, fray or break as you use it. If you are familiar with the process of “thrumming” – using a taut thread or cord to polish or abrade an opening, slot, or groove in metal – you’ll get what I am saying. If you are not familiar with thrumming, this will truly change your life.
Everyone knows how impossible it is sometimes to get into sawn slots, tiny holes, between prongs, inside hinge tubes, around tiny clustered settings or into narrow openings in fabricated metal jewelry. You can’t file, sand, or abrade them easily, so you resort to endless workarounds with toothpicks, slivers of sandpaper and other methods to try and polish those hard-to-reach areas, and if you are like me, you are never 100% happy with your results. No more. The cool thing about abrasive cord and threads is that if you can get a thread into the opening, you can sand it! Thread is flexible, so by attaching it to a nail, you can simply slide your metal onto the thread and then gently abrade the metal by sliding it against the thread. Or, cut a short section of abrasive cord and use it like a saw blade in the jeweler’s saw.
I am so thrilled I found this product, and I intend to stock up on every grit in the range: 180, 200 and 280 in several diameters, too. There are also other abrasives and tapes to choose from: Aluminum Oxide, Crocus and Silicon Carbide. When you try these abrasive cords, you’ll never need to spend time on workarounds again.
Helen is an experienced metalsmith, lapidary and studio jewelry instructor who has appeared in 6 instructional jewelry technique videos. Her latest book, Metal Jewelry Workshop, was published in 2017.
Follow Helen for news, her teaching schedule, and other jewelry-related information.