Rolling mills and jewelry studios go hand in hand. Some jewelers use their rolling mills to imprint patterns on an annealed metal sheet. Others use a rolling mill as the raw material workhorse of their studios.
Rolling mills and jewelry studios go hand in hand. Some jewelers use their rolling mills to imprint patterns on an annealed metal sheet. Others use a rolling mill as the raw material workhorse of their studios. See these and more uses in action.
It was the first time that I ever saw scrap metal melted into an ingot. Next, I watched that ingot through a rolling mill until he had flattened it into the gauge that he needed. This is what he does with his scrap metal. Rather than sending it off for money, if he needs a gauge and he doesn't have it on hand he just melts and rolls it.
Tip: Separate all of your scraps. Dedicate specific jars for copper, brass, and sterling silver scrap.
The number one reason I used our studio rolling mill was to run brass pattern sheets through it. It was fun to imprint patterns onto the annealed copper sheet. I would quickly have patterns on a copper metal sheet that was ready to go. We also annealed copper and ran found objects through. Leaves, flowers, twigs and soft screening materials can all be used. Always anneal the metal that you want to emboss on. Using a rolling mill in this capacity is lots of fun and quite satisfying; however, there's so much more it can do.
Tip: Steel objects such as mesh, saw blades and other hard objects will permanently damage a roller. Steel is extremely hard on the rollers, it can leave scratches and gouge them. When the rollers are damaged, they need to be shipped out to be resurfaced, which is costly and time-consuming. If running steel through the rolling mill, sandwich the steel between two soft metal sheets. That way the steel never makes contact with the rollers.
This new outlook on rolling mills really changed how I felt about them as tools. One day I put it to the test on a project I was recently working on. I was learning how to wire wrap and we had run short of a gauge that I needed. It occurred to me that our rolling mill came with wire rollers, so I unwrapped them from their boxes and above is what I found. There a total of 5 rollers that came with this rolling mill. The two flat rollers that were always on the machine, long and short wire rollers and a short textured roller (this textured roller has two mesh patterns on it. What fun that was to discover!).
After switching out the rollers I started with a larger gauged wire and rolled it through the mill. I found myself rolling it down until it was the gauge I needed and the problem was solved. It worked perfectly.
Tip: If you want half-round wire just leave the flat roller on the bottom and place a wire roller on the top.
Yes, you can fold form without a rolling mill, but the creases in your metal will be so much more pronounced if you run it through a rolling mill. Your metal folds will be tighter and look so much sharper that you may use a rolling mill with all of your fold formed jewelry. Give it a try and see what you think!
Occasionally you'll need to harden your metal and a rolling mill works great for hardening sheet and wire. You've already learned that if you want to imprint your metal it needs to be annealed, however, every pass you make through the rolling mill is work hardening your metal. It can harden to the point of cracking in just a few passes, so when hardening your metal just pass it through the rollers to get the temper you need, but don't exceed the passes and damage the metal either.
Tip: Rollers bend your metal. Don't feel frustrated when it happens because it's an easy fix. Use a bench block, and a rawhide or nylon hammer to flatten it right back out without damaging or moving the metal.
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