Cupronil is a flux and firecoat in one. You do not need another flux
when building up a coating of cupronil. or any of the firestain/flux
options out there.
You don’t absolutely need to flux when annealing fine silver or
golds - but a fire stain/firecoat preventative like Cupronil will
help prevent copper containing alloys from oxide stains which once
into the metal is not easy to get out. or rather its fairly easy,
just a pain in the arse!.
If you have a large enough bench block you don’t need to hold the
metal with pliers, etc (. i. e.- don’t try forging a 4 inch rectangle
on a 1 1/2" wide mini-anvil…) but there are ways to hold down the
metal if you are worried about using your fingers to hold a piece at
the edge. you’ll figure it out- improvise. it’s not a big deal, until
you hit your finger. then improvisation becomes second nature.
If I recall you were mixing nickel and sterling? A firecoat
(Cupronil, Pripp’s type flux & firestain preventative, firescoff (my
least favorite brand), etc. is primarily for protecting the copper in
an alloy from oxidising. or staining your work. Cupronil made by 4S
labs (who I have no connection with whatsoever except as a happy
consumer!) is a brand I have used for many many years without any
problems, it’s always consistent, reasonably priced, and sprays
evenly out of the bottle- and eliminates the need for additional
flux. what more could I ask for ? .It will give some degree of
protection to the Nickel too because Nickel contains copper, but is
definitely needed for the .925 Since Nickel anneals at a range that
can be slightly higher than sterling (sterling 1100-1200, Nickel
1100-1500 depending on the gauge of each metal) protection from stain
is a good thing !.Building up coating of it provides a reducing
atmosphere:as though it were gas covered.
The one area to be careful about when mixing the two alloys is in the
finished metal in it too long it can pit the nickel because any acid
will attack the Zn in the alloy leaving a rough surface. You may want
the “texture contrast” or not. Adding a little nitric acid, dilute
sulfuric acid, etc. to the warm pickle will give the nickel a
glossier finish right out of the pickle (after neutralising and
If using pliers, turn the metal and don’t put any pressure on the
pliers try to imagine its an extension of your arm and you want to
keep it parallel to the surface you are using to forge the metals.
You are just stabilising the metal by holding it down, not "forcing"
it onto the bench block, anvil etc. just a gentle “stay”.
One recommendation: if you are going to stick with metalsmithing,
invest in a decent anvil with some size, weight and a bikram (square
or round hole) in the top of the anvil to hold stakes, etc. that you
will probably add along the way to help form your annelaed metals
faster and easier. Harbour freight sells a decent enamelled anvil for
around 25 dollars- I strip the enamel off since it’s not applied well
and usually arrives chipping and rust will get under it and eat the
iron/alloy. You can coat it with a number of things on the body from
spray on marine varnish (waterproof) to rust preventative coatings, I
had one student spray a vinyl over the horn and mirror finish the
top… (the vinyl “plasti-dip” or “bedliner spray” did not last long
and had to be reapplied frequently, but did help prevent marring well
when used with rawhide hammers, and leather and wood mallets !) I
like a highly polished anvil face / flat top. You definitely want to
at least keep a coating of light machine oil or a dry lithium grease
that creates a kind of “shell” on the metal to prevent rust at the
Hope this clears your questions up… rer