Texturing Sheet Silver

I am looking for some ways to texture sheet sterling silver. I
make a lot of pendants out of sheet and do not like high polish
finishes - take too much time and scratch too easily. I often
texture using roll printing on a mill with cheese cloth, or make
a brush finish using a 3M wheel, or use the ball end of a
hammer. A few weeks ago I saw a rotating tool with lots of
pivoting spines on it. It was about $85.00 cdn. has anyone
ever seen or used one of these. Does it work well ?

Does anyone have any other texturing suggestions !

Email @mfisch1

Your idea of rolling out the sheet with cheese cloth is nice,
you can also try lace, or paper doilies. Alicia Arnold

A very low tech method that I like for texturing sheet consist
of an old hammer with random groves filed in it. Use it like a
planishing hammer to get a non directional over all texture.


Milt, I picked up a rotary wheel from Frei and Borel, It comes
in 3 or 4 different textures, It works great and as I recall it
cost about 35.00. If you want more info contact me offline at
morisminor@aol.com Janine

Milt, Friel and Borel in SF and Oakland have “wheels with
spines” on them for less than $85(if memory serves me correct).
Three different texture roughness. My partner bought one on her
last trip down there and we have used it on gold and silver
pieces. They work beautifully on your buff machine arbor.
Great texture. We have the fine texture wheel.

don’t know if we are talking about the same tools - you put it
in the hanging motor, plastic drum with metal pins hanging from
it - it produces a “brushed” texture. I think it is excellent !
We have some available in South Africa in about 5 different
grits - between R130 and R180 (roughly 21 - 30 US $)…try
brushing with pumice powder, or diamond burs (maybe too time
consuming for you)


Hi, Milt. I do a lot of texturing with my rolling mill, too. I
come from a textile background - thererfore, use many fabrics in
the mill. There are endless possibilities. Manila folder gives
a beautiful matte finish. Rice paper is excellent. You can cut
a stencil with a sharp exacto or scapel out of manila folder and
actually emboss the silver, just like a printmaker. I’ve
experimented with many fabrics. If you need some ideas, contact
me again. Have fun! Gini

Dear Milt: I believe you are refering to a wire texturing brush
which has metal wires hooked onto a white plastic hub. They come
in two wire thicknesses for two differant looks. The fact that
the wires are flexibly attatched to the hub makes for a branch
bark look that is a very natural texture. However, you MUST wear
safety goggles with this wheel as the wire can fly off. Contact
I. Shor Canada 1-800-268-1990. Our order #s are 51-212, 51-213
(coarse). Good Luck RG

I love roller printing my silver. My favorite texture is 100
grit sandpaper rolled against the silver sheet. Sometimes I cut
shapes out of the sandpaper–often with a hole puncher. This
gives a textured background with smooth raised spots. If you
brass brush the finish, it will sparkle. I like using this finish
under transparent enamels. Another nice texture comes from
rolling watercolor paper or a paper towel against the sheet.
This results in a very soft texture. Corrugated cardboard,
screen, burlap, crumpled paper etc. all give interesting

Dear Milt, Have you tried a rolling mill with pattern rollers?
There are inexpensive ones available now with a 76 mm roller
width. they are made in India and come with about 5 rollers; 2
flat, 2 texturing (2 patterns per roller, so ther are 4 patterns
altogether) and a half round roller. I got mine delivered to my
door with postage for $265. Not only will you use it for
texturing but you can do so much else with it!!! Brand names
are; Karat, Contenti. They are advertised in Lapidary Journal
and there is one available from Rosenthal Jewelers in Miami.
Good Luck, Suzanne

Yes, I have used one for years… it gives a great sandblasted
effect. I bought if from Fisher in Germany about 6 years ago…
It was expensive then with changing to Marks and shipping… I
think I have seen them in the Frei and Borel Catalog in Cal. YOU
work harden and fly off your polisher… they sting your arms and
you certainly don’t want them in your eyes… but great

Some other ideas for rolling in your rolling mill… paper
towels… hand made paper with long fibers in it… the textured
metal from Fell(?) I often distort the etched silver by rolling
it against another piece of anealled silver, templates made of
old file folders…sandpaper… then I use liver of sulphur, or
just raise the fine silver, and then brass brush the heck out of
it… Leaves a great finish…

Hope this helps…

Some of my favorite texturing techniques:

* Roller mill printing with 80 grit sand paper. Run it through twice.
* Use a coarse, small hand file and file in lots of different directions.
* Use a tired, ready to be thrown away bur. Bend it just slightly and insert in 
your flex shaft. Voila! A hammer hand piece! Experiment with different burs for 
different textures.
* Saw out some cast design and solder it onto sheet. The use the fine scotch 
bright wheel on the polishing machine to create a really soft smmoth satin 
finish. Now go back with a fine cratex wheel in the flex shaft and high polish 
the raised metal that was soldered onto the sheet.
* Get some interesting hand stamping tools--the ones used to decorate native 
American jewelry. But instead of stamping "Indian-style" patterns, repeatedly 
stamp over and over and over to create a texture.

Hey! Let’s start a texture thread!


Virginia Lyons

Hi Milt,

My Dad was a toolmaker so I had him bring home a bag full of the
scrap generated from the drill press at work. I would scatter
them on a sheet of silver set between 2 slabs of steel that were
smoothed and proceed to hammer on the top slab which I covered
with a wood block. I have also done this in the same manner
with saw scrap silver from my container of sawed pieces. A
piece of knurled steel can also be randomly hammered into a
pattern. Machine screws with their heads sawed off can be
randomly placed on a sheet which is on the steel bench plate,
covered with a second plate and then covered with a wood block
before being hammered. Just use your imagination and you should
come up with a zillion ‘new’ ideas.


Skip Meister
Orchid Jewelry Listserve Member
N.R.A. Endowment &
Certified Instructor
in all disciplines
Certified Illinois D.N.R.
Hunter Ed, Instructor
ICQ 37319071
"No man’s life, liberty or fortune is safe…while our legislature is in session."
Benjamin Franklin

 I often texture using roll printing on a mill with cheese
cloth, or make or use the ball end of a hammer... Does
anyone have any other texturing suggestions ! 

G’day; Using a variation on the ball pein hammer, I sometimes
round the end of steel rods from 3mm up, case harden them, polish
brightly, and then use them as a light punch. Thus several areas
of the work may be hammer textured with a varying texture easily
and accurately. Another variation is to square off the end of a
rod and file narrow triangular grooves at right angles to each
other in the end, using a Swedish file, then use that as a
texture punch. Tiny shapes including hearts, diamonds, shells,
leaves, etc, may be filed and carved with burrs into the ends of
rods. I have a logo something like that below, carved into a rod
end and hardened. Stop and think about it for a moment; there’s
no limit! Acrylic colours (or pigmented epoxy resin) may be
painted on the work and when completely dry and hardened, a light
sanding with the barely visible tiny scratches all pointing in
the same direction and showing off the coloured textures give an
interesting texture effect. Unfortunately however, this won’t
really last prolonged wear. Then one may put a tiny dental burr
(shape as wanted) into a rotating handpiece and simply scribble
all over the area to be textured. Looks quite good if done
carefully. I’m sure that the above will start you off!

        /\      John Burgess
       / /
      / /      Johnb@ts.co.nz    
     / /__|\
    (_______) Mapua NZ is a pleasant spot even in midwinter

Try tumble polishing the silver in an abrasive media.

Judy Bjorkman

I don’t know if anyone has suggested sandwiching sandpaper in
the rolling mill. It can give a sort of angular/sparkly texture.
Different grades - different textures.


A few weeks ago I saw a rotating tool with lots of

pivoting spines on it. It was about $85.00 cdn. has anyone
ever seen or used one of these. Does it work well ?

Mitt, I have one of these German texturing wheels and it leaves
a very nice DEEP sandblasted type stipple finish. If you are
looking for a mat finish which will stand up in normal or somewhat
abusive wear I can hardily recommend this wheel for texturing.


Milt - I have used the attachment to which you refer for parts
of my pieces and do like the effect - my experience is that it
produces a textured satin surface. My only long term concern is
whether the areas will be highly susceptible to tarnish and I
don’t have enough longitudinal data to answer that. If you are
looking for a source for the attachment, I believe Frei and Borel
carry it but I would check with Rio Grande and S’West to see if
Frei and Borel’s price is competitive. Also, don’t hold the piece
too close to the spines or they will start to break off the
attachment. Good luck! Shael

Some texturing ideas that I use are

  • Screw driver of various shapes and sizes, you use them like a
    punch, texture can be created in a or very random.

  • Nails of various shapes and sizes, used also like a punch,
    creates an nice stipple effect.

  • Cast some silver cuttlebone peices then solder them onto a
    silver sheet of bright finish.

  • Completment the silver with various types of gold, rose gold
    seems to shand out quite well, you can texture the silver and
    have the gold elements with a bright finish.

-Dome different shapes them solder them onto a textured sheet, or

Have fun experimenting! Many found tools and objects make
wonderful impressions in metal.

Katrina Barnett

Hi Milt,

A tool like this is available for descaling metals & other
materials on an industrial scale. It’s made of a drum about 3
inches in diameter & 1" wide. Rows of wire rods about 3" long are
pivoted on shafts located evenly around the circumference of the
drum. The drum has a shaft protruding from the center of 1 side.

In use, the shaft is placed in the chuck of an electric drill.
When the drill is running, the ends of the rods are held in
contact with the workpiece. Depending on how closely the unit is
held to the work different effects can be achieved.

The same tool can be used to pattern metal. The patterns will
depend on the direction the tool is run & how closely it’s held
to the metal.

I don’t know if anyone makes this in a small scale for jewelers
or model makers.