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What if you don't have a Rolling Mill?


#1

Was: I Am In The Market For A New Rolling Mill

I have a few pounds of copper stock in various forms (rod and bar)
but I don’t own a rolling mill.

What are my options (besides hammering to taper or shape) for
flattening/reshaping it? I have come up with a couple of uses, but
for the most part they’re all too large for me to use as I’d like.

Is there such a thing a leasing or renting a machine? I’m a one gal,
very, very low volume operation; I can’t really afford to purchase a
mill outright. But I’d very much like to get some use out of the
material I do have.


#2

If there is a metal arts guild or a school that teaches jewelry
smithing in your area you could ask if they would be interested in
renting time on their equipment. Or maybe even trading time for some
of your stock. Good luck. Sheri


#3

Hi Rebecca,

I started my jewelry career working as my dad’s apprentice. He
didn’t have a rolling mill, and I’d never even heard of one. One of
my primary responsibilities was to forge whatever stock he needed
from 6mm square stock or flat ingot. Essentially, I was his rolling
mill. He could forge a piece of square stock down to 18 gauge, keep
it dead on square and make it look easy. I struggled with it until I
got to the point I could keep it square enough to make him happy, no
small feat. Twisting it is when you find out if it’s really right or
not, and he’d kick it back in a second if it twisted lumpy or
unevenly. He could also planish a 6mm thick flat ingot into a piece
of 20 gauge sheet and have it end up looking almost like it was
rolled. Bezel wire was a piece of cake too, for him. Not for me. I
still can’t do it with quite the same precision and speed he could,
but I really enjoy it and I can forge and planish shapes that just
can’t be bought or milled.

The bottom line is that learning how to forge like that has become
one of my most important and prized skills. It is also almost a lost
art. Anyone can bang round wire into a flattened curve and call it
forging, but making flat, straight, even bezel wire to specific
dimensions, or turning round wire into square, keeping it straight
and square as you reduce it in thickness to a fraction of its
original dimensions takes considerable skill. Skill that can only be
acquired through a ton of practice. Seems to me like you have an
absolutely golden opportunity to teach yourself how to do it without
really costing you anything but time. I can all but guarantee that it
will be time well spent. If you want tapered square wire, there
really isn’t any other way to do it except with a hammer and steel
block. And that’s all you really need too; a decent planishing hammer
and a steel block. Well, a torch for annealing will be needed as
well, but it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A BernzOmatic
plumber’s torch is just the ticket.

Give it a shot. It really is fun, and you will end up with a skill
almost everyone will say they can do, but when it comes time to
prove it, you’ll be one of the few that will actually be able to
really keep it straight and square, and not end up with a wavy, lumpy
piece with uneven thickness and a parallelogram cross section. It’s a
lot harder than it looks, but once you master that basic skill, the
possibilities are endless.

Dave Phelps


#4

Hi David,

Can you post a video and show us how? I would love to see how to
graduate a piece of square stock. How fortunate you were to have
your father teach you. Priceless!

Kathy


#5

Dave,

Thank you for your confidence - and for the idea! I’d been
scratching my brain about how to get it to the most useful-to-me
state, and never thought that it was already there and just waiting
for me to learn from it.

I have plenty of time - lack of instruction will be my hindrance,
however.

I’ve got the tools, and hopefully the patience, so perhaps I might
luck in to some online demonstrations of the proper methods so I
might start off with good habits.

I hope you have the pleasantest of weekends!

Cheers,
Becky


#6

You could saw it but Thay ain’t easy either. Scrap the copper and buy
some silver


#7

Can you cast it?


#8

No, I don’t have the equipment for casting (crucible, et al). I’m
going to try tapering it myself in some circumstances. In others, I
might be able to swap rolling mill privileges for something else.

Thanks everyone, for the suggestions! They’ve definitely helped me
figure out where to go from here.

Cheers,
Becky