I thoroughly enjoyed the last post about pouring ingots. I have been hesitant to Melt and pour my own silver. Because the thought of rolling ingot out through my rolling machine is daunting. Do you all use electric rolling mills, or do you just just endlessly crank that handle on the rolling mill. Or am I barking completely up the wrong tree. Do you end up pouring ingots basically the size that you want to use afterwards? Thanks and a time for all of your advice Christina.
Most of my scrap silver goes into making more flat pieces of jewelry, mainly pendants and earrings. I collect enough scrap and new silver to make a 50 gram ingot. Cut out the big solder joints and run a magnet through it. I use a paint stir stick as a model with a mark on it for 50 grams and cast the ingot in Delft Clay or Petrobond. The size of the ingot is perfect, once it is prepared, for my rolling mill where I do endlessly crank it through until it is 18 gauge sheet a little over and inch wide. I usually do this at the end of the day so that my 10 year old grandson can help with the cranking. He is quickly catching on to the fact that he is free help. Preparing the ingot is very important. Once it is cast, cooled and cleaned, I remove whatever sprue and other imperfections need to be removed with a saw and by sanding it on a lapidary expansion wheel with a 220 grit wet SC belt. Then I forge the ingot on all side with a wide dull chisel type hammer always working in the same direct on all sides. Anneal and I am ready to start rolling. I let the hot annealed ingot cool to room temperature by placing it on my anvil covering it with a thick piece of steel plate to absorb the heat faster. I do this after each annealing step. I always roll in the same direction marking one end with a sharpie so that I don’t get confused about which way to roll. Anneal often and it takes me about 10 minutes to get to 18 gauge, 1+ inch wide and a little over 6" long. I will usually pickle, sand and polish the sheet at this point as it is easier to polish a big piece than a lot of little pieces after they are cut out. This all depends on what I plan on doing with the sheet once it is rolled and how much additional soldering will be done. I have little trouble with splitting along the edges or pits in the surface. I do once in a while get what look like air bubbles if I roll out to very thin gauge sheet, but I can usually work around them or grind and polish them out. This is a lot of work, but I enjoy it at the end of the day when I have run out of creative energy and 18 gauge sheet. Others will argue about the need to sand and forge the ingot prior to rolling, but it works for me. There is still and old PDF on my website that shows me using an ingot mold, but the Delft Clay or Petrobond work a lot better for me. The rest of the PDF is as described above. Good luck…Rob
I have a hand crank Durston Mill. With the gear reduction it is pretty easy to use when you take reasonable bites. I don’t look at this as endlessly turning a crank. It is always faster than waiting on UPS, FEDEX, or the USPO. Rob and I have a very similar process so I won’t repeat any of that. What I do is forge the ingot a second time after the third reduction. And I wash and scrub the work after every time I anneal it. If I am drawing wire I pull the wire through a piece of bronze wool or even a course scotch brite pad after it is pickled and dried. This isn’t time consuming to me, its just a part of the process.
The end result isn’t always a perfect result. But as we develop a method or a style we also develop work arounds that become second nature to us. And what may be unremarkable to some may be earthshaking to others.
Woo hoo Don! Hey man, I’m going for it, I figure if I get tired of turning that crank I can continue the next day! You are all the inspiration, I need to give it a go. Thank you so much as always for your informative and step-by-step instructions. Just know you lit a fire under me. Thanks again Christina