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Rolling and making wire


#1

Folks,

I have a nice rolling mill and want to turn a pure silver coin into
wire on my mill. I have squeezed things down a lot before, but
haven’t made wire yet. Any advice?

Thanks,
Jerry


#2

Hi Jerry,

Buy yourself a small open wire ingot, about $10 in the USA. Then melt
the coin and pour it into the ingot, this will give you a shape that
you can easily mill into wire.

Over here in the UK we can buy small square open crucibles, I have a
method which works well for me, I have made a clamp on the end of a
12 inch old flat file, this clamp holds a small flat open crucible,
which is about 2 inches square. I melt the scrap in the crucible ,
using my oxy/propane little torch, then while keeping the flame
playing on the molten metal, keeping it fluid, I hold the crucible
against the edge of the ingot mold then pour it into the wire ingot
as quick as possible, keeping the flame on the metal until the pour.
This gives me a two inch long, quarter inch semi square wire, which
is easy to mill and draw down into wire. I use a lot of my clean
scrap from piercing to make myself a stock of various size wires. I
would be wary of using coins as I would not be certain of their
alloys, it depends what the wire is for, in the past when I have
melted so called pure silver or gold coins I have found that the
resulting wire is of a hard alloy and does not draw down easily.
Good luck anyway.

James Miller in the UK, today I am making a letter opener / paper
knife with a guilloche` enamelled handle and rock crystal pommel
complete with a 6 inch, 18ct gold blade.


#3

Jerry,

Are you sure your coin is pure .999? I have melted sterling pesos
(old) and this how I do it. I cut the coin in half or thirds. Make a
narrow goove in my charcoal block and melt the silver until it is
fully melted (adding a small amount of borax to clean). Take the wire
shaped metal, pickle it (clean again) and then start rolling it out
in my wire mill. I roll it out as far as I can and then I start to
draw it on my plate. You will need to anneal your silver every couple
(2 or 3) mill runs. You do not want it to get hard or it will either
crack or peel.

Jennifer


#4

Jerry, Please refer to the Orchid Archives for my 2005 post
http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/200501/msg00246.htm - “Drawing
22k wire from coin”. It tells how I made wire from a coin.

David Luck
www.davidluckjewelry.com


#5

Jerry,

I know I’ve written about making wire with a rolling mill before on
Orchid, but I’ll give you another set of instructions.

Unless you’re planning to make fine silver bezel, I’d alloy the fine
silver coin into sterling first. I highly recommend United Metals
S88 Master Alloy for sterling, as it is a far superior product than
regular (copper) sterling. My students love it’s easy working
properties. Take your coin and weigh it. Once you have the exact
weight of the coin (fine silver) divide that number by.925, which
will give you the total weight of the sterling you will make. Simply
add your alloy to the coin on the scale until you reach that number
you’ve calculated.

Once you have the total fine silver and alloy weighed, put it into a
melting dish you can pour with, and melt it all with a suitable
torch, and mix with a carbon stirring stick until all is melted
together. Got fire? Turn it up, and get the flame HOT! When the
metal is quite liquid, tip the melting dish toward the pouring lip,
keeping the high flame on the front edge of the pouring lip and
silver puddle, and rest the pouring dish on top of the ingot mold you
are using. Pour quickly into the warmed steel ingot mold, all the
while keeping the torch flame on the metal being poured. This will
take a little practice to get this right every time.

I’d advise a vertical-style ingot mold, a "combination ingot mold"
being my favorite and most versatile. For wire of any shape or size,
pick a large round ingot hole to pour into. Once you’ve poured your
ingot, and released it from the ingot mold, pickle it to clean off
all oxidation, rinse and dry. File off all fins or sharp edges with a
file.

You will be using the grooved section of your rolling mill to make
wire. Choose a groove that visually “fits” the size of ingot you’re
rolling. First make a pass with the mill, and when the slightly
squared ingot emerges from the other side of the mill, give the ingot
a quarter turn (corners up!) and roll it back through the mill in the
same groove. Tighten the mill a half-turn, and do the exact same
thing, remembering to turn the ingot a quarter turn on the way back
through the mill. This will produce a square ingot. After about 3
passes, you must anneal the silver ingot. After annealing and
pickling, go through the mill in the same process, until you have
reached the width you need. Never run your mill all the way together
so the rollers are touching. Always leave a small gap between the
rollers. This will avoid damaging your flat rollers, and will help
prevent “fins” on your ingots. When you “run out of groove” and the
rollers are about to touch, open up the mill and start work on the
next smaller groove. If making flat stock, just steer the square
stock you’ve made along the edge of the flat rollers until it’s the
desired thickness, tightening the mill very slightly for each pass,
and annealing after say, 6 passes. Round stock you should make 2
gauges larger than the final round size you want, and pull through a
draw plate. Tapering can be done quickly and accurately with the
mill, for the drawing process. (Anneal that taper first!) There are
a lot more details, but those are the basics.

Good luck. You will be able to make stock you cannot buy in any
catalog, and make custom bezel thicker than that nasty 32 ga. they
sell, and at any width you need. And, you will get really fast at it,
too.

Jay Whaley UCSD Craft Center


#6

is your rolling mill for sheet or a compound mill with grooves for
shaping wire?

Clean and lube the rollers first. Melt the coin.Pour a rod into a
charcoal block if you don’t have a mould and go from theRe: If you
need a shaped wire, forge the shape you want - or carve the shape
into the block before pouring if there are no grooves in your mill.
Rectangular,square, and if you’re good triangular-( because rolling
out triangular wire without a milled groove in the roller is work…
particularly if its a heavy gauge you are after,but one silver coin
isn’t going to yield that much length regardless in gauges 4-16)
wires are the options you have. If you desire round wire it may be
best to carve a tapered well into an end of a charcoal block first,
then in the center of that take a heated coat hanger or other round
long metal thing,and drive it into the charcoal (or firebrick). Pre-
heat the mould slightly and then pour the metal into the void- When
working something thin and long take extra precautions because molten
metal will likely want to take the path of least resistance and miss
the holeespecially if you don’t carve a depression / well first, into
the soft material you are using for your mould… if you simply put
the coin in and repeatedly pass it through a sheet mill you’ll get a
disc that will probably have a slight convex shape… remeber when
rolling out the rod to anneal periodically and use draw tongs if you
have them, or pliers to keep the wire as straight as possible.
another alternative is to buy rollers for your mill if it will
accept new or additional rollers. Rosenthal co. in Miami sells a wide
variety of rollers for mills that accept replacements and
add-on’s,Some mills will never be quite right after removing the
original rollers and replacing them with rollers not specifically
made for the mill. so check the mills manufacturer first to see if
they sell replacements or additional rollers…but for one coin…its
a big expense. R.E.R. write if you need more info- i’m short on time
atpresent.


#7

Jerry

I have yet to make silver wire, but as a kid I worked at the CF&I
plant in Pueblo Colorado and we made wire from steel rod. The rolling
mills were just to get the basic shape, to actually get usable wire,
it was pulled through ever smaller carbide rings and wound on spools.

I would melt the coin, pour it into a slot in a carbon block or some
other such mold, and roll it to the basic dimension, then pull to
final value using a drawplate.

If I were faced with making my own wire, I would follow what I saw
as a teenager. I did not work in the area that they made the rod,
only wire and nails.

Hope this episode helps.

Terry


#8

Hi Jerry,

I trust your rolling mill has grooves for the rolling of square
bars. To get the longest wiRe: anneal the coin then cut it with tin
snips spiralling in from the edge to as close to the centre as
possible, the width of the strip you are cutting being about equal to
the thickness of the coin. This gives you a rough square section
wire. Straighten it with pliers and by tapping on the anvil, then
roll it in the grooves of the rolling mill until it is uniform along
its length, anneal, continue using the draw plate to get the wire
diameter you want. This way the maximum wire diameter you can get is
about 2/3 the thickness of the coin you started with.

I have managed to get thicker wire by cutting the spiral strip twice
as wide as the thickness of the coin, then carefully rolling it so as
to pinch the long axis in the rollers, and ending up with a wire
diameter about the same as the coin thickness.

Alastair


#9

The following URL references a portion of an article I wrote a few
months ago. I hope it helps.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#10
today I am making a letter opener / paper knife with a guilloche'
enamelled handle and rock crystal pommel complete with a 6 inch,
18ct gold blade. 

Love to see that letter opener when you’re done.

KPK


#11

Jennifer,

Are you sure your coin is pure .999? 

These are coins that are pure metal, not currency.

Thanks, Take care,
Jerry


#12

Hi James,

Another way to make a mold for pouring wire ingots is to use a piece
of angle iron.

Place an appropriate length on edge so it forms a ‘V’. If you have 2
small pieces of an old or new fire brick, the ends can be imbeded in
them enough to keep the ‘V’ properly oriented & block the flow of
metal from the ends.

While it’s not the usual square wire mold, it should work ok.

Dave


#13
Once you have the total fine silver and alloy weighed, put it into
a melting dish you can pour with, and melt it all with a suitable
torch, and mix with a carbon stirring stick until all is melted
together. Got fire? Turn it up, and get the flame HOT! When the
metal is quite liquid, tip the melting dish toward the pouring lip 

All of this is true and accurate, except that you shouldn’t alloy
and pour. Melt your alloy, pickle, remelt and pour. It’s not really
an alloy until it freezes. As others have said, an ingot mold is an
indispensable accessory to a rolling mill - and melting dishes as
needed. I also melt a couple of dwts. of metal and just rest a flat
piece I have on it to start out flat material, or I’ll get self
locking tweezers, straddle the globule, and partially close them, to
get a quick square ingot on a small scale.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#14

Jerry,

I, among others, are ongoing and happy students of Jay Whaley, at
the Jewelry Studio, in the Crafts Center, at UCSD, in La Jolla, Ca.

Jay’s suggestions are put into use every day, they are clear, and
easy. No need to make them complex. All that is necessary is to make
very certain that your coin is indeed Fine Silver 999, and unless
you plan to make bezel, you can add an alloy to bring it to Sterling
925.

I am a fan of Argentium, but the Alloy that Jay gets for the Studio,
from Universal Refiners of S88 or SA88, I’m not sure, makes for a
very good looking Sterling, that is definitely tarnish resistant.

So basically, you do have a crucible to melt within, an ingot mold,
to pour within, and a Rolling Mill, that has grooves, within which
you can roll your ingot.

The rest is as Jay says, very easy, roll, anneal, and repeat until
you get the thinnest, longest form, Press the ends into the grooves,
to form a taper, and begin to pull through a plate, remembering to
anneal often. Within a reasonable time, you have your desired wire.

Sure beats opening a catalog, phoning in an order, and waiting for
delivery. In Jay’s very first class, I see brand new students, leave
with a wearable piece of jewelry.

Believe what he says, I do.

Terrie
A satisfied student, paying for the class.


#15

John,

This has to stay pure as the source, so I won’t be alloying during
this process.

It looks like I will be roling this in to thin sheets, then cutting
and then rolling this into wire,

Jerry


#16

Hey Dave Arens,

Pretty cool.

Another way to make a mold for pouring wire ingots is to use a
piece of angle iron. Place an appropriate length on edge so it forms
a 'V'. If you have 2 small pieces of an old or new fire brick, the
ends can be imbeded in them enough to keep the 'V' properly
oriented & block the flow of metal from the ends. 

The result should be a triangular shaped wire ingot. Wouldn’t that
be easier to shape in the wire mill. I just love the ingenious tips
on Orchid!

Judy in Kansas, where she had no tornadoes nearby, but heavy rains
caused some groundwater seeping into the corner of the basement. Time
to re-grade the soil around the foundation. If you want to see some
photos of what is left of Greensburg Kansas, go to
http://www.kansas.com/static/slides/050507tornadoaerials