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Rolling Mill - Got it, now what?

The rolling mill just arrived. I am fairly new to metalsmithing and
have taken a few classes. I’ve been reading posts, searching the
archives and have gone through all books offered by our library. I’ve
got a good idea of what I should be doing, but I sure don’t want to
ruin my new rolling mill. So before I wipe off all that grease, I
thought I would ask for your recommendations. I want to imprint to
silver, but would first like to do a few pieces of copper to get some
experience. I want to create textured sheet to use for a 2" wide
bracelet. I’m thinking of using watercolor paper as a template, to
cut shapes out of and texture the background. I’d be very interested
to know step-by-step what you would do to produce this with the
rolling mill. What gauge of sheet stock would you use? Thanks so

Lin Karrels
Ancient Tree Studio


A Rolling Mill is an excellent tool to add to any Jewelry Workshop.

For care and maintenance you need to keep your rollers protected
from rust. Some Jewelers like to use a sponge attached to the upper
part of the mill, soaked in oil, so it touches the upper roller and
leaves a coating of oil.

I prefer to use Petroleum Jelly. I use a paper towel to apply the
Petroleum jelly to one of the rollers. With the two rollers in the
closed position I roll the mill to allow the Jelly to coat both
rollers. When I am ready to use the machine I simply take a paper
towel and hold it against the rollers while I am turning the mill to
remove the excess. I then recoat after use.

My Mill is about 25 years old and I have had it in Humid as well as
Dry Climates and I have never had a problem.

If you have a machine with a reduction gear you will need to check
it at least every year or so and grease it if necessary.

As for rolling your texture onto sheet, almost any gauge sheet that
would be appropriate to do the bracelet will work ( that is 16 to 22
gauge ). Make sure that the sheet of metal that you want the design
to transfer to is annealed, pickled, cleaned and polished. Place the
watercolor paper between two sheets of metal and roll. A very simple
process that gives interesting results.

Good Luck
Greg DeMark

Place the watercolor paper between two sheets of metal and roll. 

Just an added note-- though you can “sandwich” your paper to get two
matching, mirror-image imprints, you don’t have to. As long as you
are not imprinting something made of steel or titanium, a second
sheet of metal is unnecessary. With just one sheet, the imprint will
be deeper.

You can also improve the clarity of your imprint, especially when
imprinting something with holes in it such as screen, by putting 3-4
layers of paper towel against your metal, on the “back”, away from
your imprint material. In other words, instead of sandwiching your
texture material between two layers of metal, you sandwich your metal
between two layers, one your texture material and one paper towel.
Try in on some scrap!