Monday, January 30, 2012

The New Rolling Mill Arrived

Oh, Boy! The new Durston Mill is here!  Can't help but be a little excited about that.  First things first. I had to remove the old mill from it's place, and re-orient the stand I had built for it.  It was big enough for the new mill and I used it for that.  I will change the rollers in the old mill for wire work, make a new stand, and the find a place to put it.

This is package the mill came in.  Looks nice doesn't it?  Old mill in the background.

Opening the package, and there's the instructions.  Read before going any further!  O.K. Did that.

Package opened.  First view of the mill after removing some of the foam packing.

With the help of strong wife, the mill is up on it's stand, but not yet fastened down.  Handle attached with the Allen wrench.

Using a transfer pinch to mark where the mounting holes go.  Punch does not come with the mill!  Have to furnish your own.

Drilling the holes with 1/2 inch bit.  Yeah, it looks crooked but that's because the drill bit is setting in a partially drilled hole and I have to use two hands to take the picture and can't hold the drill straight.  It will all come out just fine in the end.

Bolted down.  Rollers cleaned of the protective grease.  We're all set to go!  Yippee and Wahoo! Put a cover over it to keep off the dust.  Tomorrow will be sawing and annealing day to get some metal ready to run through and give the mill a shakedown cruise.

One other little chore I must do it put some addition bracing on the bench under the mill as this mill is a deal heavier than the other one.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Rio Grande Big Sale

Rio Grande is having a sale and of course old John succumbed to the lure of lowered prices and completely blew the budget on a Durston rolling mill.  A DRM F 100 R.  So, what's wrong with the one I already have?  Actually, nothing.  The Durston will give me more accurate repeatable settings.  With the one I have now, repeating an exact setting is rather hit and miss.  Mostly miss.  The new mill has greater width and greater gap capacity between the rollers.

A lot of time and work ahead to reconfigure the metalwork bench to accommodate the new mill.  Plus cleaning off all the shipping oil that will be on the unit.  The new mill will be about 40 pounds heavier than the other mill, so I will have a job getting the mill in place.  I ain't that strong in the lifting department anymore.  But, I will manage somehow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wire Rivets

This week I explore wire rivets for cold connection jewelry elements.  The photo shows the tools used. O the blue mat, upper left. the Speetog Plier/Clamp, flat-nose pliers.  Below the pliers, a setting bur, No. 55 drill in mini-chuck, automatic center punch.  Center, 8 inch No. 2 cut flat file and a No. 2 barrette needle file. Next: Two brass gauges, a short piece of 16 gauge wire, small Fretz riveting hammer No. 406, and a 1 inch bristle brush, to brush away filing and drilling debris.

Bottom, 4 inch square steel bench block, wood block, a small jar of liquid bur-life (I pour in about an eight inch depth, and use this to dip the end of the drill bit to lubricate it, and then drill),  Xuron flush cutters. roll of 16 gauge wire.

Gauging the correct length of wire can be tricky.  I use gauges made from brass sheet, as follows:

For an 18 gauge wire rivet, I punch a 1/4 inch hole in two pieces of 24 gauge brass sheet.  You need two gauges to measure the end to end length of the rivet.  The drill size for the rivet is a No. 60.

For a 16 gauge wire rivet, I punch a 1/4 inch hole in two pieces of 22 gauge brass sheet.  Drill size for the rivet is a No. 55.

For a 14 gauge wire rivet, I punch 1/4 inch hole in two pieces of 20 gauge brass sheet. The drill size for the rivet is a No.52.

It doesn't have to be a 1/4 inch hole.  This was the size already set-up in my punch.

If the metal distorts, whack it with a soft face hammer. I use my "go to" hammer for this.  For accuracy, it's important to keep the metal flat.

The gauge example shown in the photo, shows the hole close to a corner of the sheet.  After placing a rivet or two, depending on the size of the piece, you may find the other rivets, or parts of the elements, getting in the way of your gauge.  Placing the hole near the corner of the gauge helps avoid this.

It is always a good idea to check your wire because there can be a slight difference in the diameter of the wire.  Drill a right size hole in a piece of scrap metal and test the fit. Adjust accordingly. Having a full set of number drills is handy.  You can always use the larger sizes to make decorative holes in an element.


1.  Clamp the two parts of the piece tightly together.  This is where the Speetog Plier/Clamp comes in handy.  A ring clamp, or parallel jaw pliers can be substituted.

2.  Center punch where the hole for the rivet is to be placed.

3.  Place the element over a wood block and drill the hole with the appropriate size drill bit.  14 gauge wire, No.52, 16 gauge wire, No. 55, 18 gauge wire, No. 60.  It is important to drill straight, avoid wobbling. I did not include 20 gauge wire as it can be more difficult to rivet.  Drilling two or three pieces together at the same time will ensure the hole is accurate through all the pieces.  I much prefer to use a drill press.  That  insures a straight hole and a much steadier feed rate of the drill into the metal.

4.  Dress the hole with a setting bur, front and back, putting a little chamfer around the hole.  Brush away debris.  A larger size drill bit can also be used.

5. Using flush cutters, cut a off short length of wire, an inch or less.  Short wire length works best for me.  Many so-called flush cutters leave a tiny "pip" on the end of the wire. Square up one end of the wire with a file.  Filing may leave a tiny bur on the edge which could make it difficult to get into the hole.  Gently file round the end of the wire.

For the next steps, keep everything snug on the bench block.

6.  Lay one of the gauges on steel bench block, hold the still clamped pieces to be riveted on top of the gauge, hole over hole.

7.  Holding the wire in a pair of pliers, insert the filed end into the rivet hole.  Make sure it goes all the way through and hits the bench block.

8.  Insert the second gauge over the wire.

9.  Lay the flush cutters flat against the top of second gauge, making sure all pieces are flat against one another, and cut the wire.  Leave the gauge in place.

10.  Carefully file the end of the wire removing any burs. Leaving the gauge in place will insure that you'll file just enough. Sometimes, you may find your wire cutter leaving more length than necessary.  File the wire end until it even with the gauge.

11.  Remove the top gauge and form the top of the rivet.

12. Turn the piece over, remove the bottom gauge, and finish forming bottom of rivet.

That is one way to do wire rivets.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cold Connected Metal Elements

Thought I would write up a little treatise on how I make the cold connected metal elements.  This one deals with riveting using only the Crafted findings Rivet Tool.  Other cold connection methods not covered are: handmade rivets, tabs, and micro bolts and nuts.

Above a photo of the bench with some metal pieces and some tools.  In the lower right. there is a partially finished element, some rivets (not Crafted Findings), two have been cut to proper length with the cutters, two have not. Above the rivets is a playing card, cut in half, the two halves taped together, with a hole punched through.  This is used as a gauge to cut the rivets to length.

Other photos with notations will appear in my Flickr Photostream.

Really BIG caveat! How I make them is not necessarily the right, correct, or precise way to do it.  It's the way I do it.  Wanted to make that absolutely crystal clear.  

Basically, the elements consist of two or three pieces of different metals so there is a contrast of color.    I use various gauges, 18, 20, 22, 24, brass, copper, aluminum and nickel silver (also known as german silver), and most everyone knows, there's no silver in it.  I don't use any precious metals.  

First, I use a.....

1.  Jeweler's saw with appropriate blade to cut stock sheet metal down to manageable sizes.  Small enough to go through my rolling mill.
2.  No. 2 Flat file to remove burs.
3.  Propane fueled torch for annealing metal.
4.  Igniter.
5.  Annealing pan, with pumice grains.
7.  Pan of water to quench.  I sometimes use ice water  as this will help hold heat patina colors.
8.  Paper towels to dry off the annealed metal.

Some of the metal pieces are selected for texturing, others left plain.


1.  Manilla Folder, cut into pieces small enough to go through the mill.
2.  Scissors or shears to cut the folder.
3.  Various texturing materials.  The manilla folder paper will put a nice texture on metal. Take two       pieces of manilla and sandwich the metal between and run through the mill. Also, I used a piece of   netting from an onion bag from the grocery, or a piece of brass mesh, 20 threads per inch.
4.  Rolling mill.


1.  Disc cutter.
2.  Brass head mallet, 2 pounds.
3.  Padding under the disc cutter. I use a 1/16 inch thick urethane pad.  This protects the punches from damage.  
4.  Bur Lube to lubricate the punches.

After cutting the discs, some are run the mill  to create a nice oval shape.  Some are punched again in or near the middle with a smaller size punch, and then run through the mill.   Different shapes can be made by varying the pressure of the rollers.

I sometimes heat the metal again with a torch of add more heat patina.


1.  Metal Stamps, various styles to add  texture to the plain discs.
2.  Dual face hammer, brass and nylon.
3.  Steel bench block.
4.  Needle files.  I use these to create notches in some small accent pieces

Some pieces are textured with various hammers.  Ball peen, or the peen of a chasing hammer, texturing hammers, cross peen  hammer.  To hold small pieces in place on the bench block, I tape down a portion of the metal with some clear tape , stamp or texture the bare metal, and repeat the process on the other side.

I like to have a lot of different pieces laid out in front of me.  Then I begin to pick and choose what pieces go well with one another, setting them aside, and repeating the selection process again and again. When I have several selected, I begin the assembly process.


1.  Crafted Findings Rivet Tool and Rivets.  1/16 and 1/8 inch, copper, brass and aluminum.
2.  Vise.  I use the small Sine vise to hold the rivet tool.
3.  The Speetog Plier Clamp. In place of this, parallel jaw pliers, ring clamp, or very strong fingers!
4.  Flex-Shaft with No. 30 hand piece.
4.  Fine point Sharpie pen.
5.  Center punch.
6.  No. 53, .063 inch drill bit, plus various other small size drills used to drill accent holes. A set of number drills 1 to 60 is handy to have.  A 1/16 inch bit is the same size.
6.  Wood block.

Why drill when the Riveting Tool has a punch for the rivet hole?  Punching a hole through two or three pieces of metal with the tool's punch is difficult and could damage the punch.

To drill through two pieces of metal simultaneously. they must be securely clamped together.  Taping the pieces doesn't always work, which is why the Speetog is so handy for this.

Drill over solid wood. Drilling over a hole in the wood produces burs on the backside of the piece.

Drill one hole for a rivet. Check the backside for burs and remove if need be.  Then finish riveting. Then drill the next hole and rivet.  One at a time until all rivets are finished.

 If I use the tool's punch for a hole in a single layer of metal, I take a piece of card stock, like a 3 x 5 file card, with a narrow slot cut into it.  When punching with the Rivet Tool, the metal piece can be hard to remove unless you reverse wind the punch bringing the metal up against the top of the tool.  This can abrade the metal. By slipping the card onto the stem of the punch, over the metal, the metal won't be marred.

7.  Small setting bur, about 5-6 mm.  Used to put a chamfer around and neaten a hole drilled for a jump ring. Do this on both sides.
8.  1 inch PSA Mini Sanding Disc 220, for cleaning up any bur left from drilling.
9.  Plastic tape.  Cut small pieces of tape to hold a rivet. Place rivet head down on the sticky side.
10.  Bead mat - if I drop a rivet, it won't bounce into the nether reaches and vanish.
11.  Scissors to cut the tape.
12.  Fine point tweezers.
13.  Set the rivets with the Riveting Tool

When I use the tape method to carry and insert the rivet, I only partially seat the rivet with the rivet tool.  Then I remove the tape and finish seating the rivet.  Leaving the tape on can cause an incomplete riveting process.

14.  Wood dapping block with oval depressions used to add a curve to the piece.
15.  Fretz No. 7 hammer with interchangeable faces. I use the round face.
16.  Pieces of paper towel to protect both the dapping block and the hammer face.
17.  No. 2 file, 8 inch overall to clean up any uneven edges.
18.  3m bristle brushes to polish some areas

Questions, comments welcome.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Followers and Rio Catalog

I should pay more attention to the arrival of new followers.  So, Welcome!  Glad for your interest in the blog. Hope it proves to be entertaining and a little bit informative.

The GIGANTIC Rio Grande tool catalog arrived a few days ago, filled with just about everything imaginable.  And, of course, I drooled over this and that, and, of course succumbed to the siren's lure and spent a ton on stuff I really didn't need.  I may have to ask Rio to remove my name fro the mailing list in order to protect the budget.

In a couple days, I will post a little treatise on making cold connected metal elements.  It won't be a slick professional tutorial, expertly written, like the ones in the slick magazines.  But someone might get some good from it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Go To Hammer

We all have our personal favorite tools.  This is a photo of my "Go To Hammer."  I use this hammer more than any other.  I use it for center punching, stamping, flattening and work hardening.  Another favorite hammer is the little Fretz (No. 406), riveting hammer.  There's a picture of it with other tools in an earlier post. 

Pliers:  When it comes to pliers, I find the Speetog indispensible.  Too bad it's no longer made. Otto Frei does have a similar on, but it's pricey.

Files:  It depends on what material I working with.  Faux Bone™, I use No. 00 and No. 1 halfround Hablis for most of the roughing out work.  For metal, an 8 inch overall length, Grobet No. 2 flat file, and for some areas, a Grobet No.2 Barrette needle file.

This hammer (some call it a mallet), has easily replaceable 5/8's inch faces, brass and nylon. It weighs around 5 oz. The head is about 2 5/8's inches long. Overall length, about 9 inches.

I didn't have any thing else ready to publish.  Stock sheets of metal arrived, and I've been busy cutting them down to manageable sizes.  Whole lotta sawing going on.  More stuff arriving.  Now to find places for it all!  That's the problem with new materials and equipment.  

I'll try to post something interesting next week next week

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Just news

Cold, rainy day, no pictures to post.  Did finish the metal elements necklace.  Made about a dozen more metal elements, should be enough for another necklace.  These are fun to make.

Worked out a system for using the Crafted Findings Rivet Tool.  After either punching (single layer of metal), or drilling (multiple layers), the hole for a rivet, I snip off a small piece of Scotch packaging tape and place the rivet head down on the sticky side of the tape.  Then I can maneuver the rivet to wherever it needs to go on the element without dropping it on the floor.  With the rivet in place and taped down on the element, I can turn the element upside down and place it in the Rivet Tool and finish it.  The Speetog plier clamp is a really big help, also.  Especially when drilling through multiple layers of metal.

Ordered a ton of supplies. More metal, sheet, tube, wire, rivets.  Epoxy clay (Milliput), Adirondack inks,  enamels, copper etch, and the Minibrite cleaning system that Tele Formosa discusses on her blog.  Thanks, Tela, for posting about it. Hope it works.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mixed Metal Elements

What I have been working on lately.  Necklace elements of mixed metal.  Copper, Brass and Aluminum.

Stamped out pieces with disc cutter, then some textured and elongated with rolling mill. Some pieces textured with nothing more than a sandwich of metal and two pieces cut from a manilla file folder.  Others were textured with a piece cut from one of those netted onion sacks from the grocery, and others using a piece of brass screen. Parts of some elements textured with metal stamps.  Some have been brushed with a Pumice 3M Radial Bristle Disc.

Fastened together with Crafted Findings Rivet Tool and various rivets.  Figured out a way to use the rivet tool that works for me.  Not exactly classic, but it works.  The tool is held in the Sine Vise.  This vise, at 8 pounds. stays put pretty well where ever I put it.  With the hole punched and the proper size rivet selected, I place the rivet head down on a small piece of Scotch Packaging Tape.  The rivet can be inserted in the hole  in the metal element and turned upside down to be placed in the tool without fear of the rivet dropping to the floor and disappearing.  After setting the rivet, the tape is removed.  Absolutely brilliant!  Ha, ha.

The different colors on the metal come from using a torch to form a heat patina.

I do apologize for the rather poor photography.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year

The old year has come and gone I hope the new year will a good year.  

I will try to post some photos tomorrow of what I've be doing lately.  I have a bit more time now, and maybe I will be able to post more often.  Last year toward the end of the year,  things weren't going too well and got behind on a lot of things.

Until tomorrow.