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Granulation - The "proper" way


#1

Hi All,

Would like to ask some advice on how to do granulation the
"proper" way.

I’m self-taught with silver and goldsmithing and, so far, the
only way I know to granulate is to cut pieces the same size and
melt them to flat-backed balls on my solder block pulling the
torch back slowly so that they don’t dimple. This, of course,
wrecks my block - and I finish up pulling big holes out of the
surface.

I know there’s a better way to get them nice and round and
uniform in appearance - but am not sure of the technique.

Could someone offer info please?

Thanks, Nina
Nina - Silver Design, 9122 S. Federal Hwy, Suite 249,
Pt. St. Lucie, FL. 34952 : Toll Free:1-888-460-1800
URL: http://www.nina-sd.com : Email: @Nina


#2

You can layer the metal pieces in powdered charcoal in a
steel box and put them in a kiln. Or melt them on a
tilted charcoal block and allow them to fall into a pail
of water.

Rick
Richard D. Hamilton

Fabricated 14k, 18k, and platinum Jewelry
wax carving, modelmaking, jewelry photography

http://www.rick-hamilton.com
@rick_hamilton


#3

Would like to ask some advice on how to do granulation the
"proper" way.

If you melt the grains on a block that is tipped at an angle,
and you place a container of water at the bottom, the shot will
roll into the water and cool before they hit the bottom. The
trick is getting the right angle to get them to roll INTO the
water and not elsewhere, but a few trials will get you there.

Karen
karen@carvedbyramsey.com


#4

Would like to ask some advice on how to do granulation the
"proper" way.

One tip that may help you is do not flux the pieces before you
melt them. I use round wire cut to small lengths. If they are
wrecking your soldering pad, it is probably because you are using
flux. Pickle after you melt. then use. Thats the method I use.
I’m also largely self taught and the pros may have a better
method for you, but this works. I keep a charcoal block just for
making shot. NO flux has ever touched it.

Will Rogers never met a lawyer.

Bobert


#5

Nina–just finished making granules for a pair of earrings in
fine silver–made alot of them. The best way is to take fine
wire (Fine silver or gold) and wrap it around a thin pinstem or
needle- thus making a coil. Remove it from pin, stretch it out
and snip at the apex of each little coil so the pieces are all
the same size. I use a charcoal block, spreading them out, and
then a quick touch with the torch. Haven’t had a problem with
damaging the charcoal. Only problem is they sometimes fly off so
you have to gauge how much heat to give them. Hope this helps.
Sandra


#6
   better way to get them nice and round and  uniform in
appearance - but am not sure of the technique.

Nina - I am sitting at work, listening to the last song of
Joseph as we end the first act, so I can’t look this up but I am
certain that C. Brain in his book ( or was it Prac.Mtlsmth?)
talked about setting a charcoal block at an angle with a dish of
water at the low side. When the silver beads it rolls into the
water and cools round. This method has worked for me in the
past. He also talked about using jumprings in order to get
uniform amounts of metal.

Cheers
Douglas


#7

hi nina,

the powdered charcoal in a graphite crucible place in a kiln for
about 1/2 hour at the liquidus melt temp of the alloy method
will work nicely. as rick says, sprinkle your snippets of wire
on top of the charcoal then a 1/2 inch or more of charcoal til
you fill up your crucible.

there is a fellow who sells a ‘link cutter’ for about 250.00 (i
think thereabouts) that will rapidly cut your fine wire into
very uniform length snippets. it’s pricey, but certainly helps
if you’re doing a lot of granulation.

e-mail again if you are interested in ‘the fellow’ with the link
cutter. i’ll dig his # out for you if you wish.

this is what i do when i granulate, i hope it doesn’t make
anyone think of me as proper or think that i think…oh, you
know what i mean.

best regards,

geo fox


#8

Nina, you’ll find a good article by John Cogswell about how to
do granulation in Tim McCreight’s Metals Technic book. He
explains making granules by allowing them to roll off a charcoal
block and by using a kiln.


#9

To All You Helpful People:

This is to offer a special “thank you” for the very helpful info
on granulation. I am setting up now to try the charcoal block
tilt into water method and am sure it will work for me.

I don’t feel terribly confident about the crucible method - but
will give it a shot. If I mess up - I’ll be back with more
questions :slight_smile:

Thanks again, Nina
Nina - Silver Design, 9122 S. Federal Hwy, Suite 249,
Pt. St. Lucie, FL. 34952 : Toll Free:1-888-460-1800
URL: http://www.nina-sd.com : Email: @Nina


#10
on granulation.  I am setting up now to try the charcoal block
tilt into water method and am sure it will work for me.
I don't feel terribly confident about the crucible method - but
will give it a shot.  If I mess up - I'll be back with more
questions :)

Nina, I felt the charcoal block method tired me out too fast.
I decided to use the method Markus Ellerum suggested a few months
back. The kiln method that he suggested worked out well for me.
You just layer charcoal powder and add a layer of your silver or
gold snippets and leave it in the kiln at 2000F for a minimum of
20 minutes.

From Surbhi


#11

Hi Surbhi,

Thanks a lot. I wasn’t too sure about just how to do it with
temperatures, etc. - now I feel I can give it a shot.

I guess what I need to do is wait until I’m casting and then
when the flasks come out at 1100F fire her up to 2000F and try to
get that crucible in there. Is that right? It’s going to be hot

  • but a quantity of granules would be worth it. The highest I’ve
    ever taken my kiln is 1350F before I drop back to casting temp.
    I have only cast silver so far - work my gold by hand - and have
    found 1100F to be the perfect temp for maximum efficiency.

Incidentally - did someone say that one could use a shorter
cycle? I’m working on a 10 hour cycle with a ceramics kiln and it
takes forever.

Nina

Nina - Silver Design, 9122 S. Federal Hwy, Suite 249,
Pt. St. Lucie, FL. 34952 : Toll Free:1-888-460-1800
URL: http://www.nina-sd.com : Email: @Nina


#12
   I guess what I need to do is wait until I'm casting and
then when the flasks come out at 1100F fire her up to 2000F and
try to get that crucible in there.  Is that right?  It's going
to be hot - but a quantity of granules would be worth it.  The
highest I've ever taken my kiln is 1350F before I drop back to
casting temp. 

hi nina,

if you have a ceramic kiln, there is no problem with these
temps. as i remember these kilns get much hotter to cure the
ceramic glaze than a usual burn out kiln gets.

best regards,

geo fox


#13

Hi all - Have been reading this thread with great interest &
have decided to throw in my comments - altho I have to say, I’m
fairly new at granulation, but am really interested in it.

My first experience w/ this was about 5 yrs. ago - I was taught
the roll the silver off the charcoal block into a tub of water
method – which I just hate – the balls roll everywhere,
especially as the block gets its own little gullies in it.
Sometimes they get stuck in the gullies. If the tub is not deep
enough or the block not high enough, the balls are flat on one
side or look rather sausge shaped (?) Yuck! We made sterling
silver granules and fused them to the surface of sterling silver.
Most didn’t stick - pretty ugly, really.

Took a class from Doug Harling this past summer and learned a
lot - fascinating type of work and it really goes way beyond
the concept of putting little balls on top of flat metal. As
samples in the class, I used the technique of granulation to set
cloisonne wires for enamelling (no need of the flux layer), fused
granules and wire shapes to a piece of reticulated silver as well
as to a piece of jewelry I had had cast in fine silver, and
fabricated and decorated a very small round box (that was an
unreal experience !!!) I really like to enamel and having the
ability to fabricate to some degree without solder appeals to me

We used the technique of creating round holes in the charcoal
block and putting the wire snippets in them & torching them until
they jumped around in the holes - I think it’s a pretty tedious
way of doing this, but my block seems to last much longer than
when I used to roll the metal down the block. When I get my own
kiln (soon I hope) I want to try that method - it sounds like it
would give you the best opportunity to do a lot of granules all
at once…

As for the copper in the mix - we used a mix of copper sulfate,
hide glue, and water, with a tiny tiny bit of welder’s flux.
Also tried some of the copper coating the granules method, but I
didn’t find the results to be especially consistent and I felt
like they scated around on the surface right at the flashpoint
moment far more often.

I also learned that it is very important to know the alloys that
you are working with - especially from the standpoint of their
melting temps as well as the content. Well anyway - that’s my
contribution for the moment. (The Mariner’s won a couple of
hours ago now and I need to get some sleep). See you later -
Laura