View Full Version : bead jig

Phyllis Rhodes
05-15-2006, 10:09 AM
Hi there. I've been reading the posts here for a couple of months and have learned a lot. Thank you! Our new laser (Epilog Helix 45w) is due to be here around 5/31/06. Our 2-bay garage "shop" is expanding and taking over the entire 3-car garage. We are frantically working to finish the single bay to make room for the new baby!

I ran across something last night that we are interested in doing: laser engraving on beads (specifically hematite and cat's eye). They come if various shapes, i.e. oval, rectangle (7x12mm), semi-twisted rectangle (12mm & 16mm), heart, cross, and probably others I haven't seen yet. Not sure of the sizes of all of them; I listed the ones I could find.

Does anyone have an idea as to a what sort of jig would need to be used to keep the beads in place while they are being engraved?

My first thought is stringing them in a row, and then having a piece of wood with a slot routered in it that is the same height of the bead. Maybe putting some kind of light adhesive in the slot to secure them?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


Mitchell Andrus
05-15-2006, 10:31 AM
Assuming they are all a bit different, how about just pressing them into modeling clay?

A cleaner solution would be to make a vaccum jig... A hole drilled into thin rubber (mouse pads are a great thing to have around the shop) mounted on a stable base, hooked up to a vaccum.


Jim A. Walters
05-15-2006, 11:22 AM
If they have holes in them, could you use a piece of all-thread rod and secure them with a nut on each end? Then you could either make a support for the rod ends, or press the assembly into modeling clay to hold them firm.

Phyllis Rhodes
05-15-2006, 11:54 AM
the Helix comes with a vacuum table. not sure if what you are talking about is different from that.

maybe just piece of 1/4" plywood and modelling clay will do the trick.

i never would have thought of that.


Joe Pelonio
05-15-2006, 1:04 PM
Modelling clay will hold them nicely but to get them in exactly the right positions every time, I'd suggest that you set up a file with the size and shapes of the various beads, then cut them out of a piece of 1/8" wood,
and glue some screen material under it to keep the beads from falling through while you allow the vacuum to keep them in place. Then every time you engrave just keep your text inside the bead area on the corel file and they will always engrave in the right places.

George M. Perzel
05-15-2006, 2:42 PM
Please post your results- interested to see if hematite/gemstones will laser.

Michael Wells
05-15-2006, 10:03 PM
Hey George, I can answer part of your question.... Amethyst doesn't engrave well! I have a niece who is a gemologist and she wanted me to see if I could mark the Amethyst because when extreme heat is applied to the stone it transforms into another gemstone...can't remember the name right now.... The blueish purple of the Amethyst turns gold under the high heat. Naturally, I thought...Wow, I can engrave Amethyst and end up with gold markings on the stone.

Nope, even at the lowest settings I could get to make any mark on the stones it tended to blow them apart! Sure was cool to watch the wild colors in my laser though! Any marks that were left were uncolored. I can't afford to try the diamonds!!