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Casting and forging silver for stock


#1

All,

While waiting to save up money for a rolling mill, I am trying to
think of ways I might be able to create stock and wire using
alternative methods.

Buying stock or wire is out of the question, due to shipping costs.

Would it be a reasonable use of time and effort to use my CNC mill to
carve a line into either tufa or hardword and then pour molten
silver into the line, to get a raw casting in the rough shape that I
want it fit for forging or drawing?

Thanks,
Andrew Jonathan Fine


#2
Buying stock or wire is out of the question, due to shipping cost 

Andrew, You missed one important factor in your cost calculations.
Your time is NOT free. In the business world, if you set up your
hourly wage to “0” you have virtually no chance of making money from
your trade.

So Andrew, would three hours forging and casting a 5" wire would
be really cheaper than paying $15 shipping charges?


#3

Hi Andrew,

Stock gauge can be made by casting it into an ingot mould, or Delft
clay, I’ve have good results with both methods, but the Delft clay
is more lenient, less fussy to set up, and reset (imo). Even with an
adjustable steel mould you can’t cast as fine an ingot or sheet that
you can cast with Delft clay.

To make wire, you will need to cast as fine a round ingot as you
can, then draw it down through a draw plate.

Regards Charles A.


#4

Mark

You missed one important factor in your cost calculations. Your
time is NOT free. In the business world, if you set up your hourly
wage to "0" you have virtually no chance of making money from your
trade. 

I think the economies of time are different if someone is broke,
hasn’t found in five years anyone willing to hire him, and is
starting from scratch from scraps and donated second-hand tools and a
few nice things I was smart enough to buy with severance pay five
years ago like a tabletop CNC and a 30 Ounce Kerr Electro-melt.

So Andrew, would three hours forging and casting a 5" wire would be
really cheaper than paying $15 shipping charges? 

Cheaper than missing an opportunity to get off my but and TRY
something. I’m NOT going to let lack of cash stop me. Yes, poverty is
very expensive. But letting poverty stop me from even trying is even
more expensive. I’m already almost paralysed by discouragement,
please don’t discourage me more :slight_smile:

No, what I’d really love to have is for some kind soul to donate me
a used rolling mill or let me barter some computer code for one. But
short of that I’m going to pick everyone’s collective brains here and
do some research to see if possibly I can bootstrap my way out of
SSDI without first possessing a rolling mill.

Andrew Jonathan Fine


#5

Hi Andrew,

Head down to the local feed store. (Like horses) Get yourself a bunch
of cuttlefish bones. They work great for impromptu emergency casting
material. Any of your books will have a rundown on it, or
alternately, look at the students section of my website: there’s a
handout there too.

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1w

Works vastly better than trying to cast into wood. Don’t waste time
trying to CNC it. Just press a pencil long way into the bone, and
away you go.

I say go to the feed store because you can get cuttlefish bones at
pet stores, but at least where I’ve been, the feed stores have also
had them, for about 1/5 the price. (Like $3/lb, and cuttlefish bones
are light.)

Although as someone else noted: yeah, mill products are pricer, but
are they really? By the time you get done with whatever it is you
need to do to make the material into whatever you need, it’ll be much
more expensive than just buying it in the first place.

I keep a couple of cuttlefish bones around for those 3AM "Oh Sh*t!"
emergencies, where there’s no time to order material. I’d never
think about doing that as a normal process.

FWIW,
Brian.


#6

Andrew, by all means, buy some delft clay and cast it that way.
Second, make a drawplate yourself by drilling a few holes with you
milling machine. Don’t expect the best quality but this is realy
very basic setup. Be creative !! Nothing can be started without
effort and sometimes you have to buy tools. If you can buy basic
tools, don’t even think of starting a business.

You’re willing to drop your wage to zero, asking nothing but and on
the other hand paying 15 dollars for P&P is a way to high for
recieving perfect stock? You’ve to calculate these 15 $ as costs
when you figure out howmuch your client needs to pay for an item. If
you don’t have thatmuch cash… you’re in trouble.

Find somebody who is willing to deal with you in ordering tools or
materials from the same company and reduce the costs this way, that’s
all I can advice. Maybe somebody is willing to send you some used
tools ,check it out. Do some serious calculations and make a
businessplan, otherwise you’re not going to make it. I’m a straight
forward person but I’m honnest Andrew.

Wishing you the very best.
Pedro


#7
Would it be a reasonable use of time and effort to use my CNC mill
to carve a line into either tufa or hardword and then pour molten
silver into the line, 

Andrew, if you do it, use tufa. Mark already said it - no, it’s not a
reasonable use of time and effort. But in Andrew’s case, being a rank
beginner with few assets… Well, that’s what rank beginners do, is
waste time and make mistakes. That’s how you learn stuff. Be aware
that I had a square drawplate and no rolling mill, and I hammered
some metal down to fit through the first hole. It took hours and it
was a lot of work physically, too.

Reasonable? No. Rewarding, maybe and certainly a learning
experience. BTW, we make our own alloys and work from shot and scrap.
As long as you keep your metals clean - meaning no solder and no
impurities - you can recycle them to your heart’s content. Silver
less so but also, to a degree. Meaning if you don’t like it, you can
just melt it again and do something else. It’s not “lost”.

I’d still say to play around with some copper and brass until you
get some ideas of what you want to do with real silver. You can get
those at the hardware store…


#8

Andrew,

I do confess to having a mill and draw bench and actually making
small sheet and wire when I was too impatient to wait for the brown
truck.

Not even close to cost effective nor as good as real clean stock,
and I do know how to do it using real tools. Still often an exercise
in frustration.

I have never used a real cheapo mill but they have to be better than
using 2 rocks :-), draw bench is basically a boat trailer winch and
a bit of wood. Draw plates can be expensive or just a 1/4" chunk of
steel with tapered holes.

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#9
You're willing to drop your wage to zero, asking nothing but and
on the other hand paying 15 dollars for P&P is a way to high for
recieving perfect stock? You've to calculate these 15 $ as costs
when you figure out howmuch your client needs to pay for an item.
If you don't have thatmuch cash.... you're in trouble. 

I don’t even have a client. What I’ve got are a couple stores nearby
willing to let me display on consignment.

Let me generate some cash first with the materials on hand. Then I’ll
worry about clients.

I don’t have delft clay, but I do have about a hundred pounds of
Tufa. Consensus seems to favor using that over steel or hardwood.

It’s a start!
Andrew Jonathan Fine


#10

I understand that you’re between a rock and a hard place. I’ve been
there a number of times, eh, its a mobile society right?

From the things I've read in your posts I would say your most
important thing is to get moving toward deriving an income. Being
awestruck and intimidated by what you percieve in others' work
won't do much for you except maybe hold you back. 

I think you should put your focus upon commercial jewlery.
‘Commercial’ doesn’t mean boring, doesn’t mean an artistic cop out,
doesn’t mean failure as a human being. It does mean money in your
pocket. Money that will get you the tools and maybe training you’ll
need to do even more. Money to be totally self sufficient at some
point.

You need to make real life professional acquaintences. The cliche’
networking, in your area where they might gain you some actual hands
on advantages. Like the polishing thread going on now…without
looking over one’s shoulder any web advice will be inherently generic
and therefor perhaps not pointedly useful. If I could spend half an
hour with Kelley I’m sure we could up her results markedly.

For now focusing on product rather than process may move you along
better than anything else. Is pouring and forging your own silver
going to net you any cash, in and of itself? Or is making some simple
yet viable pieces going to give you more promise? Chase the reward.
Nothin’s better than selling that first piece. Except maybe selling
the second one.

Once you’ve made some money if you desire to pursue your more
adventurous creative side, you’ll have some background to do it
with. Trying it the other way around would most likely result in
disappoinment. The Wright Bros made bicycles before airplanes, ya
know.


#11
To make wire, you will need to cast as fine a round i ngot as you
can, then draw it down through a draw plate. 

I do not know what “fine” is, if it means narrow, this not correct by
my experience. The narrower it is the harder it is for me to get good
flow for a complete fill. If someone has a method to pour "fine"
ingots, please let me know. All the round wire ingot molds I know of
would not be considered “fine”.

For a small amount of wire, I carve a channel in a charcoal block to
pour an ingot for making wire. Shape does not make much of a
difference, mine are somewhat squarish sometimes more triangular. I
can use another piece of charcoal to squish the ingot to get a
somewhat thinner and longer ingot. Large amounts of wire I use a
combination plate and wire ingot, using one of three different
diameter round wire molds, reducing by rolling until I can draw

I only want to pull the wire through a drawplate the least amount
times to get the square wire to the gauge I need and be round, so I
use the wire mill to roll the wire until I am very close to the size
I need.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.


#12

I buy wire & sheet from monsterslayer.com. Their post rates are
reasonable & you can buy wire/sheet in small quantities. (usual
disclaimer: no connection to above, just a happy customer).

Kim


#13

I blog about medieval jewellery techniques. There is some info on
various types of wire, and I’ll be posting one up about sheet today.
But it isn’t financially viable to do it that way. Beg or borrow the
money to get a rolling mill. If you did want to make ingots for
sheet or wire, you wouldn’t need to use a CNC machine - just use
casting sand or even charcoal to make open moulds in the shapes you
wanted. If, for example, you wanted to cast wire, you would need to
make a thick ingot, probably at least 4mm square, so that you had
enough hammering time to improve the quality of the wire - if it is
cast too close to it’s intended thickness, the internal structure is
going to be quite poor. Once you’ve hammered it to less than 3mm
round, it can be pulled through a drawplate by hand, although it
depends a great deal on which metal you are using.

http://primitive.ganoksin.com
Jamie


#14
But letting poverty stop me from even trying is even more
expensive. I'm already almost paralysed by discouragement, please
don't discourage me more :) 

Been there, done that Andrew. First off, we all agree that trying to
hammer out wire in this day and age is a little nuts, I think. I
would pose a question to Andrew - Why do you need wire? Turning an
ingot into a long, skinny, regular shape is laborious, especially
when you can just buy it. There’s no practical reason why it can’t
be, though, with a good hammer. Reasons why it ~shouldn’t be~ -
economics - have been spoken.

Take that same process and ingot and make some “thing” out of it, and
nobody will say a word. Well, maybe… That is the roots of
forging, repousse, chasing, sculpture, how the Mayans and the
Egyptians made most of their things, and on and on. So, hammer away
Andrew - maybe you’ll just drive yourself nuts trying to make wire,
maybe you’ll find that you are aborn forger (in the goldsmith sense
;} and come up with something really interesting. I sort of gag on
saying it: "The Creative Process’, but that’s exactly what it is.
Exploring, trying things, finding your way and maybe new ones,
artistically.

I don't think brass and copper are much more difficult to work or
to solder 

I’m not going to argue with Len and Judy because it’s true. I DO
think the minor differences with oxides, cleanliness and fluxing is
just enough to be frustrating to someone who can’t even work silver
yet. As the quote says - they’re not ~much~ more difficult. It’s
just a matter of opinion that silver is more beginnner friendly,
especially soldering…


#15

I have found that my humble charcoal block is a fine crucible. If you
want to make some wire, take a charcoal block and with a riffler
file, make a groove in it. Be as precise as you can. Then line up a
bunch of scrap and melt them right in the groove. They will run
together and form a nice ingot that you can then pull through a wire
plate to get the size wire you want. Just make sure you anneal and
quench with isopropyl (70%) alcohol every three or four pulls. Rather
low tech but it works. Learned it from watching videos from a poor
Romanian jeweler a couple of years ago. In fact, I learned a lot from
those vids about making jewelry the old fashioned way. I hardly ever
use fancy machines or equipment any more, very gratifying work.

I’ve carved and cast in cuttlefish years ago and it is a lovely
thing, but FYI the cuttlefish does leave wavy grooves in the metal.
Nice when you want that texture. And that charcoal block trick makes
it a nice jig too when you need to solder something without using a
"third hand" alligator clip or wire.

BTW, you can make nice round balls in the charcoal block too.

Best of luck and best wishes for a prosperous New Year!
Nel


#16

For me the most basic tools are always in mind as a bottom-line
reserve. I started out with too much time and not enough
money…thus I was rich!

Casting a lentil shaped button requires a crucible and sufficient
heat, and no mould as such…just a cloth hammock suspended under
an inch of water. A big 4lb sledge hammer and heavy anvil will make
the button into a sheet in quick time. Some annealing, finer hammer,
and good eye will refine the sheet.

Shears or a cold chisel will cut the sheet into rough square-section
strips which resembles wire! Decide if a rhomboid square section you
now have will do, or if it needs to be rounder. Really, we are
accustomed to perfect roundness because it’s the cheapest format
today, but in olden times wire did not have to be perfectly round
for most tasks. Need it more rounder? OK those sharp corners need
filing off. Rolling the rounded strips between two heavy flat plates
(or stones) will lower the high spots…round enough yet? No…OK
you now need a drawplate!

Hammer an tong or CNC…no difference! The mind comes through either
way.

Regards, Alastair


#17

Go Andrew!

Your attitude is inspiring. Best wishes for great success in the New
Year.

Mary A


#18

Hoi Andrew here is something that can help. Jewelry Tools - Making an
Ingot And get a good book! Oppi Untracht concepts and technology and
Erhard Brepohl theory and practice of the goldsmith are the ones that
helped me

Kif


#19
I do not know what "fine" is, if it means narrow, this not correct
by my experience. The narrower it is the harder it is for me to get
good flow for a complete fill. If someone has a method to pour
"fine" ingots, please let me know. All the round wire ingot molds I
know of would not be considered "fine". 

Since you asked :slight_smile:

Get some Delft clay, and you’ll be casting very fine ingots… well
finer than a commercial steel ingot mould anyway.

Is 2.5 mm fine enough? At least it’s a starting point.

Regards Charles A.


#20

One possibility as well is to buy only 1 or 2gauges of wire and then
use a drawplate to resize it to the actual gauge you need. More work
than most people want to do, but has the advantage that you are
starting off with completely clean and uniform stock. That way you
only pay once for shipping instead of ordering a foot of this and a
foot of that and paying floor shipping prices every time.

Kay