(Requires heating over a flame or hotplate.)
There is a groove around the spur wheel that allows it to
'ride'along the wire.
Modified soldering iron:-
A conventional 25watt soldering iron that works on 220v AC
or 115v AC can be modified very easily into a tool for embedding wire,
twine or nylon monofiliament.
The modifications are twofold:-
The temperature at which a soldering iron normally operates is too
high for our purpose, but a simple modification will halve the power
consumption and thus lower the temperature. The temperature still
needs to be a little higher than the melting point of beeswax as some
of the heat will be transferred to the wire and more still will be
used in melting the wax.
The first modification consists of fitting a diode (type
1N4007... Inexpensive... From a radio or T.V. repair shop). This diode
is fitted inside the power plug in series with one of the element
leads. A diagram is offered for a type of plug that is available in
If you are unsure how to do the job then seek professional advice
(show them a printout of this page).
In this particular case it does not matter which way round
the Diode is or whether the Diode is fitted in the
Line or Neutral leads.
The diagram above shows the diode leads and soldered joint
'bare' this is for clarity only, in practice the joint and any bare
copper wire should be insulated with suitable sleeving.
The second modification to our soldering iron is to re-shape
the 'bit' to suit our new purpose.
Before Cutting the Groove in the tip the tip should be
shaped hemisperical or a blunt bullet shape either by turning or
filing, then the reshaped tip should be polished.
Our new embedding tool will take time to get used to... The
groove is placed on the 'wire' and travelled along it... The speed
with which you can do this will depend on the angle that you hold the
iron. Your first few attempts may produce many holes... I remember
when I first tried this for myself it took me about 30 frames to get
down to about 2 or 3 holes per sheet. (Some of my first attempts cut
the wax to ribbons.) Persevere and you will become more skilled... But
even after practicing on several thousand frames I still produce one
or two holes in some sheets.
Electric Spur Embedder
This is a miniature version of the Wioblett tool, the clevis
of which is inserted into the bit holder of a soldering iron. The
large area of the various surfaces serve to regulate the temperature
lower than soldering temperature. I used to sell these when I was in
business, but I never got around to trying to use one so I cannot
comment on the effectiveness. I expect that after a suitable time on
the 'learning curve', enough skill would be aquired to enable a
satisfactory job to be achieved.
The cross section shows how heat transfer is maximised, by
cutting the clevis with tight clearance to the edge of the spur wheel.
Direct Electrical Heating
If metal wire is used it can be heated directly by passing
a current through it from a car battery or battery charger. More will
be said about this method on a future page that deals with
making wired foundation.
Cold embedding:- using a curved Awl
The curved awl is a leatherworking tool it is modified by
grinding a groove along the outer part of the tip. This allows a
pressure to be applied to the wire whilst the tool is drawn along it,
the pressure is sufficient for the wire to be forced locally into the
thickness of the foundation. The tip of the tool then forces the wax
back partially over the wire to retain it.
It is easier to say than to do, however, practice will
allow you to develop the level of skill required, but it only becomes
a viable method when electricity is not available. If I were intending
to use this method regularly I would carve a wooden handle that could
be gripped by the whole hand, as the presure required is considerable.
It helps if everything is warm... Really cold foundation just shatters
under the pressure.
This does not work with nylon fishing line as the pressure
needed to embed the line is so great that the surface friction pulls
and stretches the nylon.
I have developed a fairly easy way of grinding the groove
that will be the subject on another 'future page'
Written... Autumn 2000
Revised... 04 March 2002
Transferred to New Domain... 14 May 2004,