Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rolling Mill-Pattern Plates-Disc Cutter-Centering Dies

Shown in the photo are three examples of Bonny Doon Pattern Plate impressions on copper run through the mill.  These are more experimental in nature rather than something actually planned for use in a piece of jewelry.  I can use some areas of the impressions, but some pieces are scratched and will take some work to make the usable.  The examples are on non-annealed 24 gauge copper.  The pattern plates worked out pretty good, but next time I'll run some annealed metal to see how that turns out.  Just couldn't wait any longer. Just had to try out the mill and the pattern plates.

The pattern plates are meant for 24 gauge metal and up to 14 gauge, the max for using a mill.  A hydraulic is better for thinner metal.

Which brings up a point.  When you try a new source of supply for base metal, order only a small amount.  Check the metal when it arrives and if it is scratched, try another source.  One well known supply company whose name I will not divulge, is rather careless in handling their metal stock and scratches, some deep, are the norm.  As a result, they have lost me as a customer.

The photos show The Swanstrom Disc Cutter, the  Center Positioning Dies and some examples of washers cut using the device. 

On the one hand, I'm fairly pleased with the tool.  On the other hand, well for one thing, I think it's over priced.  But, it does make nice washers.  There's a learning curve to using the tool.  Isn't that always the case?

So, you punch a hole in a piece of metal, then use the centering die to center that hole in a larger punch hole to make the washer.  Yup, verrry simple.  Except that a couple things can go wrong.  It's the old "oops!" factor that pops you one in the old snozzola when you're not looking..  You miscalculated and you didn't allow for enough metal for the larger piece, or you allowed for too much metal.

Solution:  Select the outside diameter hole and position the metal for minimum waste, but not too much minimum.  Tighten the tool down just enough to keep it level in the tool.  Select the same size centering die and with a large point Sharpie marker, rub a little ink on the point of the die, drop the die into the hole, and Voila! you have a little dot.   Release the metal from the cutter. Select the inside diameter of the washer to be, and use the dot plus your eyeball. to center the metal in that hole.  Tighten the tool down firmly and punch out the hole.  Move back to the outside diameter hole, insert the centering die and punch out the washer.  No wasted metal.  The tool does deliver a nice clean cut.  

I used a urethane pad under the cutter, Bur Life on the punches and a two pound brass mallet..


  1. I never thought to use this thing to cut out screen!!!
    Think of the possibilities!!!
    I agree about the price, it's nice but the price, including the centering dies is a bit steep.
    The increments of the punches also seem to be either just a bit too large or a bit too small for backings of most settings.

    I think I know which supplier you are referring to, if it is the one I am thinking of, I always look to see who packaged the metal, I stay away from certain initials, if I see them I return the metal without even opening the little cardboard parcel (did I give it away?).
    Email me so we can talk more about this, dynastylab@gmai.com

    Take Care,
    Kenneth, DynastyLab
    Bench of an Apprentice

  2. Thanks, Kenneth. I just got tired of trying to center a hole within a hole using the other disc cutter. I suppose I could have turned some center positioning dies myself, but it would have been a lot of work for me. I just don't have the tools anymore. John

  3. Thank you for the tip. I was having a challenge with getting the center right. I'm going to try the sharpie trick.