Andrew Cooperman, Jeweler, Metalsmith, Educator

“Perhaps the most popular workshop that I teach is on the flexible shaft machine– “It Ain’t Just a Drill” never has an empty seat. What surprises me isn’t the constant demand for the class, it’s how little people have been taught how amazing the flex shaft is. It’s the subject matter that fills the class. The flex shaft is my right hand, my go-to, my bench buddy. It’s the tool that has just always made sense to me– I am much more likely to chuck a bur in my flex shaft than grab a file. I carve, sand, refine and shape metal, plastic, wax, stone, ceramic and wood. I even use an oversized bur to cope wooden moldings when I remodel my home.

I have a variety of handpieces from the #20 quick release to the #15 hammer (which I use for stone setting and riveting) but I always keep a #30 at hand. I turn things around, putting the work in the adjustable chuck and spin it against the tool — a burnisher, a bur, a file, even sandpaper. From spinning stones into tubes or creating trumpet-style flares for tube rivets to lathe-turning hard carving wax, if I can fit it into that chuck and spin it against a tool, I will. Maybe the most versatile tool on my bench, the flex shaft is my desert-island machine.”