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Help on Forging, Roll Milling and Annealing silver


Hi All, Since I have started enameling I have always worked with
copper, it being a lot cheaper than silver. Well, I was given a
number of billets of a silver alloy composition unknown and about 16
gauge and 1 square inch. I have been trying to roll out or forge the
billets to a thinner gauge. This I can do reasonably successfully.
But the problem is that the silver is so stiff.

I have been annealing to red heat in the shade just like the texts
say. But it is still stiff, so much so that if I crease it, it rips.
I have never had this problem with copper and hence I’m looking for
guidance. To be brief the end product is not at all malleable.

Should I be “aggressive” in milling the billet or thin it slowly?
Should I heat at red heat for a short period and water quench or heat
for a long period and let the billet cool slowly?

Other I can enamel it just fine (following depletion
guilding), and I can use hard solder without it melting. It also
reticulates really well, suggesting that it might be 80% Ag. But
chunks of silver rectangles are really boring.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

David P in rainy Victoria, BC


Hi David, Before rolling silver, it should be annealed. A really
easy way to do this is on a charcoal block with a reducing flame.
First mark the metal with a magic marker. (The Orchid website has
some technical notes that describe other methods of determining
proper annealling temperature). Gently heat the metal until the magic
marker just disappears. Don’t heat to red hot. Once you are done,
let the metal air-cool slowly–until you can pick it up with your
bare fingers. Clean and roll.

Rolling should be done in small increments with annealling in
between each couple passes. So anneal, roll a couple times, anneal,
roll a couple times, etc. And don’t forget to clean after each
annealing stage.

Sorry can’t be of more help but hope this works for you.

Dave N. in rainy Windsor, Ont.


Of course the problem with torch annealing is how red is right,
since you do enameling try annealing in your oven, it does take
longer but it is more controlled, leave it at temp for at least 10
minutes 15 to 20 better. I usually quench as soon as the red is
gone. Also take as large a bite as you can when rolling, filing the
end you put in the mill a little helps. You don’t want it to break
your arm but you don’t want it too easy, if your not having to strain
a little your not reducing it enough. When rolling you want to move
all the metal not just the surface which will give you surface cracks
and flaking of the top layer. Decrease about 1/4 to 1/3 and re

Good Luck
Bill Wismar