Annealing and some modified ‘special’ tools

DSCF3584 DSCF3588 DSCF3585 DSCF3586 DSCF3583 DSCF3582 DSCF3581 DSCF3580

 

Wato wato one and all.

I trust all is tickety boo with you and yours, back to the making part of the journey, my favourite. Who thinks the business and marketing side is favourite for them? I need to party with you if you are that person 🙂 For the rest of us, lets talk tools.

I had a question regarding the set up I use for annealing. The first picture shows my trusty Sievert set up. This is a very old set I purchased second hand on Ebay. Beware if you do similarly, this one leaked like a basket. On closer inspection the handle cracked and I had to modify/make new parts to make it gas tight. As far as I’m aware, Sievert no longer make this kit. However if you wish to have a set up like it for a fraction of the price, Machine Mart in the U/K have a comparable system, not Seivert, that looks very interesting and equally, if not more versatile than mine.

The first picture highlights the three nozzles I use most. The smallest one (part number 3937) is great for small work, think jump rings and the like. For general soldering and annealing of larger jewellery pieces, cuffs, large wire bangles ect, the one in the middle laying on the handle is great (part number 3941). For annealing vessels, quite large ones at that, in a shielded (firebrick) enclosure I have annealed a ten inch sheet with the nozzle shown attached to the handle in the first picture (part number 2943). The third and fourth picture show the smallest, with the needed small neck, and the largest in the kit. The largest nozzle I have (part number 3944) is shown lit on a very low setting. I show it here for you to see a soft flame is possible with this massive nozzle. I like that the flame given off is huge, it sounds just like a jet engine in the workshop, roaring away and bathing a very large surface area in a moderate to high heat. I find this creates an enveloping environment that is less likely to produce hot spots that more fierce and directed flames used by some twin pack set ups, like Oxy Acetylene for example. MAPP gas is hugely expensive. For large sheets I shudder to think of the cost. To my mind its overkill as the temperatures these systems are capable of are never needed if you stick to silver, copper and the like. The twin pack gasses are really best suited to precious metals where very much higher temperatures are required to anneal and solder. I appreciate this is my opinion derived through my experience. Please do comment if you have anything to add.

I use common garden Propane. The second picture shows my additional step down regulator. If you choose to have a, do everything set up, like mine, best you invest in one of these. Great for toning down when using the smaller nozzles with a simple tap, as you can see. I can’t speak for countries other than the U/K. The Propane I use comes in a red bottle of various sizes. Its very reasonably priced, if you do a lot of annealing then you have the option of a 47KG bottle that will last along time. I have the smallest bottle in the workshop, and a couple of larger ones for annealing larger work under my carport, I have another handle and hose, just needing to swap the nozzles, you can see the spanner in the 3rd picture.

I understand that Butane is calorifically higher, hotter, more bang for your buck. I have not felt the need to try it, besides I would need to purchase a new regulator if I did. If you must mix. Sievert, and other handles are available that will allow you to add air if you wish. This will make a very much hotter flame, I guess you could hook it up to a compressor if you wished to keep cost to a minimum. If anyone uses such a set up, I, we indeed, would be very interested to learn of your experiences with it. Butane is sold in blue containers with similar sizes, though I don’t think you can get the giant 47KG ones as you can with Propane. Again I am ready to stand corrected should anyone enlighten.

I have been asked to make a necklace with forged to undulating round/ovalish shapes. The rub is, the chap wants it to be really weighty and asked for 5mm wire to start!!! I managed to talk him out of 6mm which was what he contemplated. These links are to be forged once turned into rings, soldered and shaped. Have you tried to make small rings with 5mm sterling silver wire! Man alive, it is tough to work into bends that small, getting the ends to meet for soldering is also a nightmare as it is soooo hard. The other conspiring difficulty is, the 83mm lengths to start with are a bugger to hold whilst you try to form them around a mandrel. The vibration is enough to rattle a chaps fillings, also keeping it still, trying not to hammer fingers, preventing it taking an aerial journey across the workshop was also challenging.

After fighting with the first one, bruised fingers and all, I decided to try something else, I share it with you here in the hope you may find the following tips helpful as they can be used on all sizes of wire if you wish.

I bent each end approximately 45 degrees and then put them in the contraption you see in picture 4. I only thought to photograph it afterwards, so the link you see is complete.

These ‘pliers’ were purchased on Ebay a while ago after I came across them in one of my second hand tool hunts. They are old pig ringing pliers. Used to attach nose rings into pigs. As you see, you have the option of two sizes. I was not strong enough to form them with my hands, resting one handle on a rubber block and tapping the other closed with a leather mallet. Fantastic and painless result, as shown. Ring forming pliers are nothing new, look on any jewellery supply site. However these are quite a bit larger than the ‘proper’ jobs. Also, who wants pig pliers, cost conscious farmers thats who. Not ‘oh its for working precious metal therefore its and arm and a leg please’ of the tool suppliers. Look up a set for yourself. These are aluminium, thats a bonus as they will be far less likely to mark your material, a danger with steel ones. Also, should you so wish, you could mirror polish them and use them for making production runs of perfect, unmarked larger jump rings ready for soldering.

Soldering is where the next challenge presented. The spring in heavy gauge wire is considerable. After getting the ends as close as possible it was still a gnats doo dah too large for soldering. Anneal the link to give some softness after getting it almost to meet then onto the next beauty I managed to think of. I tried to use binding wire. No way could I get enough tension, after trying I was also worried that if I could, this would bite into the link, scarring the silver.

When people know you make things, the best of intentions come out, though sometimes misguided. My mum found these e.p.n.s. sugar tongs at a boot sale. ‘thought of you Stuie, any good to you’?  You don’t like to say no when the thought was so nice and well intended do you. Off they popped into my dead, damaged and what the hell is this for, tool graveyard.

As you see in the final two pictures; brilliant for this job, the spoon end ‘cups’ of the tongs cradle the link and stop it skidding about. Wrapping binding wire around the handles, exploiting the natural spring in the tongs gave just the right amount of pressure required to close the gap, whilst giving the smallest of footprint to prevent too much heat loss through the heat sinking effect of having another metal object in contact. Also as the tongs are very much thinner than the link, this really helped to get the heat where it was needed.

I hope you come away from this post refreshed from the horrid last couple of navel gazing business oriented ones. If you get something from this post, please do let me know. I will share other tools I have made or modified in future posts. Until then, as always thank you very much for sharing the journey.

Very best wishes.

Stu.

Move to outside workshop

DSCF3446

My bench, all made from reclaimed stuff. The top cane from a skip, the table it sits on was being slung out. Its raised on two rough sawn off cuts, not elegant, effective though.

DSCF3447

‘Plier rack’ is an old plate stand, keeps files to hand as well. The filing cabinet has my tumbler, pickle pot (an old slow cooker, make sure its ceramic, not metal if you try yourself) and one or two fondue set mini pickle pots, heated by tea lights, for small work. The table/stand is a laptop stand, height adjustable, very useful.

DSCF3448

Solis cast iron surface plate, or sometimes called a flat iron, perfect for checking the trueness of raising, marking out and checking for flatness. Old fire bricks salvaged from electric night storage heaters, two turntables, the smaller one for a T/V, the other is a twist exerciser, both plastic so be careful. With the size of the bricks placed on the soldering table, I have no issue with heat reaching the turntable. Both found in junk shops.

DSCF3449

Truly awesome guillotine, I took this apart and painted it. It is so heavy, I used a motorcycle jack to help take it apart. As it was over a small drain, the weight cracked through the alloy drain, toppling it onto my pushbike, you should see the dent in the frame ;/

DSCF3450

A mod roc, wire and wood ‘sculpture’ I made for a project. Do you think it would work in copper for outside?

DSCF3452

Swage machines, part of the tinsmiths hall. All need to be cleaned up and restored.

DSCF3454

Two old slip rollers, along with my modern rolling mill. Restoration of the old ones later!!!!

DSCF3455

Some of my hammers. That fan is great, force 10 at least, no paperwork out when this is running.

DSCF3456

A belt and disc sander I use for roughing out amongst other things the chasing tools you see here. They are attached by strip magnets used for storing knives in kitchens, you guessed it, from a second hand shop. The trolley, on wheels, was salvaged from a skip.

DSCF3459

Birds eye view. Got to have a cuppa tea. I’m British don’t ya know 🙂 The stool I use is a piano stool, the pad is on a screw thread, just spin it for height adjustment.

DSCF3462

Couldn’t resist this, beautiful at night, with switchable effects, just plain white, reminds me of the stars, you have to be here to see the full fantastic effect.

DSCF3464

My disc cutter, truly fantastic, beautiful machine. Always make me giggle every time I use it.

DSCF3467

A Norton fly press, more to come in the near future with this machine. The machine to the right, just visible the two rollers, is a bowl forming machine. Alas one of the cast gears is broken, on another post I will introduce my “dirty” workshop, (my garage) and the machine tools I will be using to repair it. Most of the stakes came from the tinsmith hall, along with most of the machines here, see text for explanation.

 

Wato wato one and all

Not posted for a while, work and a direction revisited from a previous time have meant not much happening at the moment. I was hoping the start of the holiday season would be more fruitful than it has proven to be so far. I have just made a batch of wire forged bangles. Alas they are difficult to photograph, I wanted to send them off to the jewellery workshop to try to get some cash-flow going, I will get the next batch professionally photographed, I’m very pleased with them.  http://porthlevenjewelleryworkshop.co.uk/

To the subject of this post, my move to outside with my jewellery work. Long story short, Reen, as you know, is a woodturner, membership secretary for Cornwall woodturnershttp://www.cornwallassociationofwoodturners.co.uk/

Now when we started with the workshop in the back garden I ‘shared’ it with her. As her hobby has grown, so has her collection of wood, not to mention the acquiring of a bandsaw and other wood related stuff. I resolved to just do larger work there, keeping my jewellers bench and associated bits in our spare bedroom. Burnt holes in the carpet and black smeetch marks from soldering/annealing led to the executive decision that I had to go outside.

Great news, Reen has a new shed. I now have re claimed the workshop, I thought I would share some pictures while it resembles some form of order.

I purchased a couple of years ago a complete tinsmith workshop tooling. As you see it is in a fairly rough state, the guillotine, disc cutter and fly press the only three things, apart from the odd stake, that I have gotten round to repairing/restoring. It was fantastic to meet the chap who sold it to me, he worked at this job, for the same firm all his working life. When he retired, the business closed down, he kept all the tooling in a, sadly, leaky lock up. He showed me a fly press die that he said was his first job when he started at 15 years of age. I’m now the very proud custodian of these time capsules. I don’t know if look forward is the right term, however as the years go by, time permitting, I will slowly restore each part. I have only shown some of what I have, I will introduce you to more as time goes on. Some of these machines, like the bowl maker, or the crimper with the associated accessories, are simply fascinating and wondrous to behold. All made from solid cast sections that are hernia inducing to move around. These industrial relics were the CNC machines of their time, I am very privileged to own these machines, they give me immense pleasure as I look at them, trying to figure out how they work, imagining the chap, his working lifetime etched into each one.

I know this has little to do with silversmithing per say, however these machines and associated stakes can be pressed into service for silversmithing purposes, as I intend to show you over the times we share.

I have pretty much completed a commission I will share with you next time, including some more, made from stuff lying around tools you can make yourself.

I apologise in advance for an upcoming post that shows my “dirty” workshop. A very nice person has expressed an interest in the old engineering machines I am fortunate enough to look after. Please don’t dismiss it as I feel sure, as people interested in making things, you should get something from it.

Until next time. All my very best wishes.

Stu Art