I don’t think Jett-Sett will serve your purpose, it’s too stiff when
cold, and too fluid when warm.You could use what the southwestern
Indians use, which is a thick felt pad. See if you can find a supplier
of virgin wool which has been carded, but not spun. Try weaving guilds
or sheep farms.
Virgin carded wool comes in loose plekes. You want long fiber. Take
out a pleke and lay it on a board, pour boiling water over it. Be sure
the pleke is about twice the area you want to wind up with, because
it’s going to shrink considerably. Take a bar of Ivory soap and rub it
over the pleke generously. Add another pleke, water and soap. Continue
with your plekes until about 2" high. Use a rock, or a good-sized
rawhide mallet with lead strips wrapped around the handle just under
the head to add weight. Pound the plekes with a stroking motion,
similar to what you would do if you’re forging down a billet for the
mill. When the pad is firm, let it dry. If the pad isn’t thick enough,
you can add more plekes and pound them into the one you’ve already
The hot water causes the fibers to kink and interlock, and the soap
is similar to a glue. After it’s firmly together and dry, you can
rinse out the soap. This is why wool sweaters shrink if you wash them
in hot water. By the way, if you have a wool sweater, wash it in cool
water with shampoo, followed by conditioner. Squeeze the suds through
the fibers so as to not compact the fibers. Your sweater will be soft
and silky. The reason? Wool is hair.
Ok, to use the felt pad, you nail it to a board. To hold your piece
firmly in place, use something like escutcheon nails (brads) or push
pins which have a shoulder on them to hold the edges of your piece,
and push them directly through the felt into the board underneath.
Indians who do a lot of the same pieces have nails driven in, heads
clipped off and the top bent at a right angle to anchor their pieces.
They just turn the bent part onto the metal, similar to bench dogs in
Traditional punches are hardwood dowels shaped to what you
need–round, teardrop, square, etc. The top part of the dowel has a
groove filed into it about 1/4 down from the top. This is wrapped with
binding wire to prevent it from splitting when struck. The top has a
45 degree bevel on it to keep the mushrooming in check and to help
center the blows.
Yes, it’s very low-tech, but it works amazingly well. Your metal is
stretched, rather than compressed with this method, and you won’t
have nearly as much clean up work. You can work with much thinner
gauges than with metal tools.
K.P. in WY