To cut or not to cut brass pattern plates for use in the rolling mill

I just purchased some nice brass pattern plates. I’ve only patterned with natural materials, found stuff and paper so far, but I’m pretty new at it. This is more of a survey than a question:

Do you cut your pattern to match the metal for your project or simply roll the precious metal with the intact pattern plate? Why or why not?

I’d like to get as much use out of my patterns as possible naturally. Cutting them limits the sizes of metal I can roll with the same pattern in the future, yet cutting will make more pieces I can use for jewelry. What to do? My thoughts were to cut my required size off the long edge (the patterns are 6 x 4-ish) thereby preserving a 6 inch long pattern in case I want to make a bracelet in the future. Thoughts?

I might be overthinking this!

There is no need to cut your brass plate.

The following are made-up numbers as an example.

Let’s say your brass plate is 3mm thick and the metal you want to emboss is 1mm thick. Say you want to emboss a piece that is only 1 inch square.

If you set the gap between the rollers at 3.5mm and put your small piece of metal on the plate, then you will get an impression, and there will still be clearance between the rollers for the parts of your 3mm thick brass plate that has no metal on it.

I like to make a sandwich of clean 90 lb. paper to fit around an embossing plate and metal just to be sure of protecting the rollers. This isn’t necessary if you clean your plate and metal to remove any grit, but the clean paper doesn’t hurt, either.

Neil A


I started out using Brass Pattern plates also. I have used the entire plate and just position my earring blanks on the plate using Neil’s method above of card stock or even a blank brass sheet. The Brass will eventually stretch in places and also curl I just flatten with a leather mallet and go on. I have switched to the steel plates available from Potter, Rio, and others. It is said that that steel is softer than the rollers of the mill nut I still use card stock or brass to ensure I don’t damage my rollers.

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Thanks Neil! This is the method I will use from now on. Thanks so much. Now I’m not afraid to get rolling!


Yes, I’m with you. I’ve seen a video where they use steel plates without card stock or a brass sheet, but I sure wouldn’t take the chance (I think it was a Durston video). I’m just thrilled to own a rolling mill and want to take care of it.

Regards, Rita

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I teach beginning metalsmithing and have encountered many brands of rolling mills and texture plates. The brass plates will bend when rolled. That’s okay. The ones I have personally used have lasted 5-10 passes. I settled on the laser embossed rolling mill papers as a very economical alternative. For $7 you can get two passes. $3.50 a roll is a pretty good deal. And you never have to worry about damaging the rollers on any economy mill. Of course, the be all end all is the $80 steel plates and a Durston or PePe Rolling Mill but I didn’t get to that level until a few years into selling my work. Keep us posted on how your rolling goes. I would love to see what you are making. :fire: :fire: :fire: