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Machine tools to make jewelry

Brian…Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions. I would like a lathe for many reasons. Turning the rollers of my old economy mill is just one and probably an extreme application. I am not interested in grinding the roller surface and I am familiar with how surface grinding is done. I would just like to be able to roll out 2mmX4mm triangular wire and possibly a double 2mmX4mm for a particular bracelet that has become my signature piece. I have several pattern rolls for my economy mill and would be happy to re-purpose one by machining V grooves into it. Hence the discussion about lathes. It is interesting that you ask Matthew Durston if he is listening. I also have a Durston 130C. When I bought it, I had a long conversation with Matt about buying an outboard roller with V grooves rather than D of half round grooves. They show this option on their website or at least did 2 years ago, but Matt was not familiar with it. We got to the “yes we can do that stage” but he never followed thru on the “how to buy it stage”. I eventually dropped it. Since I forged triangular wire on a V groove filed into an anvil for years, we aren’t talking about a lot of precision. I have for many years bought 2X4 triangular wire, I would just like to be able to make my own. Enough of that…Rob

Hey Rob,
Far be it from me to inveigh against the acquisition of more tools, but IDK if I would make my first project redoing the roller
from the mill. Consider that the rollers are only hardened about 0.30" thick, that they have to be turned to a tolerance of about 0.001" and that you’d need to get a mirror finish on the roller. Getting everything aligned to get within 0.001" might be tough at first. IDK if you’d need a precision grind to get that mirror finish…it’s a long time since I have done any lathe turning…maybe with a very rounded tool (you’d probably have to grind your own from a blank) and a slow feed of 0.001 to 0.003"/rev you’d get polished enough. But with the job at about $100, I think I’d get it done or even get one of the many accessory rollers available. I think Gesswein and/or Otto Frei carry these and maybe they fit your mill…

But do get a lathe and let us know about it…

Again, I don’t want to polish my rollers, I want to profile them as described above in my reply to Brian. Thanks…Rob

Hi Rob,

If you can get through to Matthew, and get him to sell you some blank rollers, I’d machine "V"s into them for you in trade for a pair of blanks, and I do have the gear to do it right.


Hi Rob,
Ive been asleep after my evening meal, . the subconcious has been working away and has come up with the following . As an aside, I get more for my time as an engineering consultant these days than making things. Love the buzz of problem solving.
You dont need to modify you economy mill unless you just want to, nor re turn the half round extension rolls you can buy from Matt to triangular section.,You already have in house everything you need to roll your triangular wire in all sizes, assuming your 130c has square grooves in it.
how about starting with annealed round wire AND a piece of half hard gauge plate say 2in wide by 1/8th thick by 12 in long, putting your round wire in your square groove with the g/plate ontop then just mill it!! I dont see why it cant work.
That will work for a single wire tho not for your signature designs of a 2 strand wire. Taking the idea further try to roll some flat strip in the groove section with the g/plate on top. I dont think youll get the profile depth you need unless you then use some triangular steel wire , made from a 6 in nail, yes, your durston will mil lthat from round to square with ease. done it!. soldering 2 side by side accurately is difficult.
A further thought, your extension rolls would modify to a 2 or even 3 strand triangular section . With a TC tipped tool you would need a local to you engineering shop that could do it for you. tho they would need to turn up a support mandrel for the roll as theres not enough metal to hold in a lathe chuck to do the turning. turned cold as bought would do.
Let us all know how your trial goes. since 2 by 4mm is so small!! to me that is!

Can confirm what Patty says. I have spent an inordinate amount of time modifying my Grizzly.

The fact that I enjoy doing things like that is one thing, but if you going to buy a lathe just to do small shop work the two lathes that Patty suggests would fill my Xmas stocking just fine.

But is it better to have a cheap lathe than none, that’s for sure.

As one of the few watchmakers on this forum, I want to say that most of the answers are inappropriate to your needs. In particular, I want to caution you STRONGLY against watchmaker’s lathes or “jewelers lathes” as they are sometimes called. Without special training you can not effectively use these lathes for what you intend. These lathes are highly specialized for the precision production of watch parts, not for general jewelry use or even general small metal turning. The people who are recommending these are tool enthusiasts, and their recommendations have no place on a jewelry forum. Those people who are recommending Chinese lathes are recommending lathes of inferior quality. Once again. Only a tool enthusiast can make them work properly. More to the point, they are not designed for small work. Sherline and Taig lathese are outstanding for small work. They are solid, quality built lathes and can go work on the scale a jeweler requires. The learning curve on them is very gentle, and there are hundreds, if not thousands of Youtube videos showing how to operate them. If there is one piece of advise to listen to about lathes, this is it.

Hi Brian,
Sorry for late reply. Yes, we can supply soft rollers. If you or anyone is interested please email me.
Thank you