Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

How to carve 14 gauge silver sheet

Hi, I’d like to carve 14 gauge silver sheet the way I’m used to carving wax. I have a quantity of silver sheet and I’d rather not carve waxes, send them to a casting house and supply my sheet to be melted and cast. At the moment, I have no tools so I can get exactly the right tools for this task. I’m thinking about Foredom’s bench lathe with a keyed chuck on one end. I want to carve smooth, polished swirls and channels about 1 mm deep, ranging in width from 1mm to about 5 mm. Is there a way of doing this other than the traditional sequence of ball bur, cratex points, tripoli mini felt tips, rouge? In other words, I’d like the ease and speed of carving wax, but in silver. I’ve been away from the trade for decades and I’m hoping there’s been a technological breakthrough that makes it easier than I remember. While we’re at it, an easy way to sell at triple keystone would be great as well. Thanks!

2 Likes

A picture of what you are trying to do would help. If you want to create 3 dimensional effects in 14 gauge sheet, you have lots of options. They include:

Engraving
Chasing and Repousse
Various hydraulic press operations
Stamping

Each of these metal art forms are fun, but take a long time to learn and have very specific tooling requirements. Do an internet search on each and you will find examples of wonderful work…Rob

5 Likes

Well, first off silver sheet kinda expensive media imho for experimentation.
I’m a hand engraver, hammer & chisel,no power assist. Getting a 1mm groove will be difficult. A graver even hammer driven would require numerous passes to achieve that depth.
Getting a graver to behave is another matter. You will need many hours to learn , less so with power assistance but still there will be a learning curve. Copper or brass sheet for practice or mild steel sheet.
Sharpening tools a vital skill in itself, I sharpen by hand not many choose this route.
Power assistance stuff costs lotsssss of money.
In the end I don’t think there is a magic bullet for what you’re trying to do. I agree with Robs assessment.
Kent

3 Likes

Hi Rob, thank you for responding. Repousse might be closest to what I have in mind. The only image is in my mind; I haven’t seen any photographs or sketches. At this stage of life I don’t really feel that I have time to develop sufficient skill to get the effect I want. So I was hoping to find a magic abrasive or new kind of bur that would cut silver quickly and leave the metal ready for tripoli and rouge, without all the intermediate sanding. I love using tripoli and rouge. I just really hate sanding metal.

1 Like

Hello!
interesting inquiry!

you mentioned an interest in a lathe attachment…would this be to shape cylindricals items, like ring blanks? or perhaps spindle/ finial type objects?

how big are the objects you imagine?
how many are you wanting to make? a few? alot?

wax might still be your best bet…
julie

2 Likes

The closest to working in wax might be metal clay. But anything of any size would get expensive. But you might look into that as a process.

4 Likes

The lathe attachment would just be a simple keyed chuck to hold the magic bur that doesn’t leave scratches and the magic buff point that cuts silver quickly and leaves it ready to polish.
The reason for maybe using Foredom’s bench lathe instead of a flex shaft is that it might be more comfortable for my wrist.
I want the fluidity and polish of Elsa Perretti’s Bone Cuff Bracelet but on a flat surface and much smaller scale: maybe 20 x 30 mm.

Look at Victoria Lansfords work, it is amazing.


I have just begun to teach myself chasing and repousse. They are a lot of fun, but will take a long time to master. You might also look at Nancy Megan Corwin’s work.

She also has written a nice book to get you started. Good luck…Rob

1 Like

Beautiful Beautiful work!

What would happen if we immersed the silver in Rio’s Burlife liquid lubricant and carved with diamond burs?

1 Like

Have you looked at small CNC machines? Big investment…Rob

1 Like

While an interesting idea, your lubricant would be full of metal shavings and bubbles generated by the tool, making it difficult to see what you are doing.

Burs haven’t improved much and silver still acts like silver. :wink: Maybe some day there will be some kind of laser/plasma/? chisel that can remove metal better than a bur with the precision of a graver. [Cue Star Trek theme song]

-Ron

3 Likes

Beam me up, Scotty!

Thanks everyone, all of your input is greatly appreciated!

2 Likes

Why do you have to see? Doesn’t the software and the hardware interface do the seeing before you do any cutting? I am not a fan of this idea for making jewelry, but a lot of steel is cut with an unattended CNC machine, so why not silver?..Rob

2 Likes

Hi,

so it is the finishing that you are trying to simplify…and to find a process that leaves the least amount of finishing to be done…:thinking:

perhaps a hydraulic press…pancake dies (for cutting out shape), silhouette and embossing dies (to add volume) …using your sheet metal…check out potter usa…

you mentioned flat, but also check out bonny doon hydraulic press and accessories…

having made a lot of flat mirror finish discs in sterling silver, i will offer the thought that a very high polish on a large piece of flat silver is not easily achieved…and a time consuming process…i dont know if there are any shortcuts…

julie

2 Likes

I’d like to make subtle, smooth, one-off, small scale, profoundly simple, sensual pieces of jewelry. I would love to spend some invisible time in the Tiffany shop when Elsa Perretti’s bracelets are brought into existence.

1 Like

My repousse Master, Valentin Yotkov’s work:image
See valentinyotkov.com

1 Like

hi,
how about forming

julie

2 Likes

Rob, I’ve had the pleasure of taking a class from Victoria. The pieces you see, I’ve held many of them and know the process by which she makes her items. It’s not carved. It’s chasing repossee (sp) work. She has a video on how she does her version. I highly suggest taking one of her classes. You learn more than just one form of making jewelry.

2 Likes

I know that her work is not carved. I suggested that the original poster look at chasing and repousse as an alternate way to achieve his goal. He mentioned an Elsa Parretti bracelet that appears to have been chased and repoussed. I am jealous that you were able to take a course from Victoria Lansford. I am self taught other than lessons at the bench years ago from our father. Thanks…Rob

1 Like