Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

I fought the cuff and the cuff won

Hi everyone! I was so taken by photos in Charles Lewton-Brain’s book,
Fold Forming, that I excitedly cut out a length of 20 ga (.81 mm)
sheet (Argentium silver), did a line fold and then whacked away,
attempting to Rueger fold, forged on the open side. I stopped for
several weeks, after noticing very little movement of the metal, to
regroup and then ordered a new, heavier hammer. That helped
tremendously, but I still fought terribly with the cuff (and it
definitely won). My questions:

1 - I used 20 ga sheet (past fold forming attempts on thicker sheet
resulted in me not having the force to open the item fully - even
with 20 ga, I have a 50 - 50 chance of opening) - but I felt like I
might end up hammering right thru the metal before getting it to move
in the curl that I wanted. Is it a matter of annealing better? Using
a thicker sheet? I don’t see a= ny suggestions in the book for sheet

  1. I could not f= ully open this piece and worried about tearing - I
    also worried about fusing it shut accidently, which I find easy to
    do. Cynthia has suggested, in past posts, using something like olive
    oil to coat adjoining pieces to prevent fusing. I found that
    wrestling with pieces with pliers resulted in injuring both the cuff
    AND my pliers. Any suggestions would be gratefully accepted.

  2. I think that I need to dull the end of my shucking type of knife -
    the thin edge is great for prying bits open but I have managed to jam
    it right thru my metal too and leave awful marks (aside from holes).

4 - just reading the book again and the author suggests a synclastic
forging peen - anyone have any suggestions for a suitable hammer?

The cuff was designed to sit with the opening on the top of the
wrist and fits me nicely. Sadly, I can’t seem to resize it smaller -
it is ridiculously rigid, even with reheating, so I fear that I will
need to try again with a new cuff as my small wristed mother wants
one :slight_smile:

Here are some of the pics of Banana Leaf:

I suspect you are not annealing often enough. If you are using
Argentium, I have found that putting some solder resist like yellow
ocher or white out on the inside of the fold keeps it from fusing.


i’ve made these bracelets but i did it with fine silver 18 guage -
i’ve made earrings similarly with argentium but again used 18
guage… the earrings were smaller… not sure if fine is more
tear-resistant, might just be the higher guage - have fun!

All I can say is…that’s one lovely piece!

Francesca Anatra

From your pictures, it looks to me like you are forging very
nearly all the way across the folded piece. Curvature is produced by
the tension between forged and unforged areas. When I teach this to
beginners, I sometimes draw a sharpie line down the middle of the
piece (lengthwise) as a guide. Curvature is also a function of the
number of hammer blows, so try and increase the density of your
hammer blows in areas where you want the form to curve more (like
the sides of the wrist). 

For opening, I use a series of plastic stakes. The stakes are made
of a relatively soft plastic (polyethylene, aka cutting board
plastic). This will not mar the metal, or even the wonderful oxidation
pattern you get with copper. The stakes are progressively blunter
wedge shapes. They do get chewed up, but a few strokes with a file
fixes that. To open, you bend the form about 90 degrees, then back
again. This opens up a small pucker which you can wedge the sharpest
stake in. Then, with the stake in a vise, gently mallet the form down
onto the stake. Switch to increasingly blunter stakes until it is as
open as you want.

The knife I have for helping to open forms has been blunted, then
coated with tool dip.

My favorite fold forming hammer is a 300 gm “locksmith hammer”. Otto
Frei 137.103 You’ll have to sand away all the sharp corners and round
out the cross peen, but the proportions are pretty good.

The last time I made a set of opening stakes, I took some pictures
and will try and upload them soon, though I’m still prepping for my
summer classes so it won’t be real soon.


I think that you are right, Debra - I need to get a bigger tip for my
torch and a better area for giving large pieces, like a cuff, a good
blast. I remember seeing some still photographs, somewhere on the
web, of an metal artist anneal large pieces of copper. The torch that
she was using looked like a fire extinguisher, but with flames
coming out the end!!!