Dapping punch sets make great gifts for jewelry makers! I received one off my wishlist as a Christmas gift. Since I didn’t have my own and every studio jeweler needs one, I figured the Jumbo Dapping Tools Set was a great set for the price. The only caveat is that the set arrived without the polished surfaces you expect to see on dapping punches. Of course, in the photo on the Contenti website they are nicely finished. This particular set was quite a bit less expensive then most that are on the market. The Contenti website tells shoppers, “Considering the price, the Jumbo Dapping Tools Set is an excellent value. Made in India.” Here’s why: they are NOT precision made and you need to finish them yourself.
As you can see in the detail shot, many of the punches have small circles it the top and some of them just have peculiar marks in them. There are even a few of them that are not very spherical. I was able to fix them all up; which is fine for me since I don’t make anything super precise using dapping punches. If you need precision punches- get an expensive set, like those made by Durston. This British company makes very high quality tools that you can trust to be precision made and finely finished.
Like I said, for my work, I don’t need a precision tool, I was looking for a wide range of punches for an inexpensive price. I just needed to add some of my own time tuning them up some they were more spherical and wouldn’t leave marks in my projects.
The first thing you need is time- I did my set all together on the same day. I spent about six hours on this task from start to finish.
To complete this set, I started out with a sanding stick, but realized that the marks were too deep to remove in this manner. So I moved on to a more aggressive technique: Jacksonlea Greaseless Abrasive, aka Lea compound. To use this product, break off a few pieces and heat it up in a pan with some water.
When the consistency is even, brush it on to a buffing wheel and allow to dry.
Once your buff is ready, you can start tuning up your dapping punches. The key to working with Lea is using a light touch. Think of your Lea buff as almost a type of belt sander, let the buff do the work.
Gently hold your punch near the bottom of the wheel.
As you work, rotate the punch to follow the spherical shape. Holding the punch in a stationary position will result in a flat spot. Work around the punch several times until the marks are removed and the surface is smooth and round.
After you are satisfied with the surface, move to a buff charged with Greystar polishing compound. At this stage, you are aiming for a polished, reflective surface. As you buff, you may notice small dents that you missed with the Lea compound.
Go back and forth as necessary until the surface is shiny and dent free.
With an investment of a few hours, you can turn an economic dapping set into a really nice tool set that will last a long time with good maintenance. Happy buffing!