Last year I had a hand issue….not good for a Calligrapher…and the physical therapist gave me a small plastic cup with a lid on it.  Inside was a glob of looked-good-enough-to-eat putty-like stuff to squeeze and knead to strengthen my hand.  It worked and after a few days of use, I put it in the drawer and forgot about it.

A couple of weeks ago a jeweler who sends/brings me lots of engraving jobs…more on that later… brought the necklace that was about 1-1/4″ by 3/4.”  She had way too much copy to engrave but I told her I could.  Usually, “no” isn’t in my vocabulary.  

I got a small chunk of stainless steel I could put on my pillow, drew a box with the dimensions of the free area on the necklace, and engraved the words with a bur that made it all fit.  Then, after holding the necklace piece in my fingers for the first word, I realized that wouldn’t work.  Too small.  Too hot!  I remembered the putty stuff and retrieved it from the drawer.  I buried the piece just deeper than the thickness of it and it held like it was Gorilla-glued in place!  

The picture shows the finished engraving before it was pulled up and washed.  Note the tiny silver ‘worms’ that are on the surface before it was cleaned up.  The new ‘vise’ worked like a charm.  Speaking of which, this is the best way ever to hold small bracelet charms that come to me quite often.  Works well for small medallions and other items too small to hold between thumb and index finger.  Don’t know what the stuff is called but any physical therapy office will have it.  Best you buy a fistful and not have it prescribed for a bum hand!

Now…the jeweler.  I connected with one in my area twenty years ago when all this began.  It’s a sterling, pardon the pun, relationship that works for both of us so well.  When people come into the store with a knife, bowl, shotgun, or a zillion other things to be engraved, they give the person my little fold-out card with contact info and photographs.  Within a few minutes I get a call from the customer.  I do the work, charge the customer my normal fee, and the jeweler gets none of it.  

When regular customers come into the store and purchase or bring something the store cannot engrave with their machine, the jeweler sends the piece to me by an employee.  I engrave it, the jeweler comes for it later, and I get nothing.  She charges a good fee and paid me nothing for the engraving.  

It’s a wash and everyone’s happy.  If we did the numbers, I’d bet I’m ahead of the game but we’re both too accommodating and busy to worry.  It’s a terrific arrangement.  I get 3-4 jobs a week, average, and it amounts to a lot of business for me that I’d otherwise probably never see.  Win-win.    

NEXT….A look at my revised foldout business card….now on the presses!  Ideas you can use.


Visit our site…all better and easier to find stuff.



  1. Suzanne Erickson November 6, 2013 at 12:46 am #

    Brilliant Ken!

    I have the same stuff, mine is green (different colors for different degrees of firmness) for my wrist/hand exercises.
    I just retrieved it from the drawer after reading of your awesome idea. I’ve been doing dog tags (the human kind), and medic alert bracelets with lots of text needed on them, from my local jewellery store.
    You can bet I’ll be getting more use out the putty for engraving those hard to hold items now!!!!!
    Love the idea, thanks for sharing that priceless gem!!!!!

  2. Suzanne Erickson November 6, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

    Just a further to my other comment to your unique “vise”.

    Just used it this afternoon to do some small pocket knife blades. It secured the blade which sometimes moves slightly when resting on the knife body. No more troubles.
    These knives are going up to Yellowknife (no pun intended ha!) North West Territories, to the boys of Buffalo Airlines. They are on the TV series “Ice Pilots”.

    Your little “find” definitely made it much easier, thanks!

Powered by WishList Member - Membership Software