I’m a bit behind in my orchid posts. Anyway, there have been some
posts on this subject, but as someone who has successfully used
niello rather extensively there are a couple of things that I’d like
Although it’s already been mentioned, safety is key. Be very, very
careful when making niello. It can do a lot of long term damage to
your lungs and eyes, even if it doesn’t outright kill you, which can
When using niello, keep your bench clean. Have a special area
dedicated to niello. Use dedicated tools. Avoid grinding niello off
the surface of your work as this flings fine powder indiscriminately
all over you and your shop. This type of care is needed if you wish
to avoid contaminating your other work. If you get the tiniest amount
of niello in an area where you hard solder, the work will be ruined.
I wear latex gloves when I’m filing niello from a piece. Just to be
on the safe side.
As far as creating a fine powder is concerned: When I first started
I always crushed niello with a mortar and pestle. One way to get good
results in crushing niello is to use niello that is very well mixed.
Sometimes there can be inconsistencies in the mix and these areas
aren’t as brittle. I’ve found that after the initial crushing I’d use
an extra fine strainer to separate out the larger, more difficult to
crush pieces, then continue crushing until you have the consistency
you need. I can get niello very fine with this method but there’s no
fast way to do it that I’ve found.
Once, when I needed a lot of niello powder I wrapped it in heavy
stainless steel foil and used a hammer to break it up on my anvil to
get things started. Now I mostly use niello in stick form.