Rolling mills are indispensable tools found in every jewelry workshop. They offer efficient ways to shape metal stock and provide endless opportunities for texturing, patterning, and refining your metalwork. Whether you're still in search of the perfect rolling mill or you've been using one for quite some time, this post is packed with invaluable advice on rolling mills. It covers everything from the initial unboxing of your mill to routine maintenance that ensures its longevity, and it also delves into the myriad jewelry-making applcations that your rolling mill can fulfill.
Setting Up and Maintaining Your Rolling Mill
Before you dive into using your rolling mill, it's essential to consider its placement and care.
Rolling mills are exceptionally weighty pieces of equipment. Prior to unpacking your mill, strategize how you'll handle its weight and where you'll install it. Ensure that your rolling mill is securely mounted on a robust table, countertop, or a dedicated rolling mill stand firmly anchored to the floor. This anchoring is crucial for providing the necessary stability and preventing any risk of tipping.
Upon arrival, rolling mills are typically coated with grease as a protective measure for steel tools during shipping. To prepare it for use, you can use a white solvent along with a lint-free cloth to meticulously remove the grease from the rollers. Once the rollers are clean, you're ready to start rolling. However, to maintain their efficiency, the rollers will require regular lubrication or polishing.
Exploring the Versatile Applications of Your Rolling Mill
Your rolling mill is a versatile tool that can serve numerous purposes in your jewelry-making endeavors. Here are various ways you can make the most of it:
Prepare the Metal: Begin by annealing a sheet or wire to make it more malleable. Afterward, clean the metal by pickling it, rinsing it thoroughly with water, and ensuring it's completely dry.
Adjust the Rollers: Before feeding the metal through the rolling mill, open the rollers and then gently close them onto the metal. The idea is to close them to a point where you can just barely remove the metal from between the rollers. Take note of the initial position on the adjustment dial.
Rolling Process: Carefully feed the metal through the rollers. Be cautious not to over-tighten the rollers, as excessive pressure can damage both the metal and the rolling mill. You should feel some resistance when turning the handle, but it should not require your full body weight.
Second Pass: After the first pass, flip the metal piece end to end and roll it through the mill again without adjusting the roller height.
Thinning the Metal: Repeat step 2 and gradually tighten the rollers further to roll the metal thinner. As you work, the metal may begin to harden, so it's essential to anneal it again as needed.
Achieving the Desired Thickness: Continue this process, adjusting the rollers and annealing as necessary, until you reach your desired metal thickness. Remember, each annealing step ensures the metal remains workable throughout the process.
Creating Patterns on Metal
Gather Your Materials: Begin by preparing a pattern plate and a piece of metal that matches the plate's size.
Anneal and Prepare the Metal: Anneal the metal to soften it, making it easier to work with and allowing for deeper, more defined patterns. After annealing, clean the metal thoroughly and ensure it's completely dry.
Set the Roller Height: Stack the pattern plate and the prepared metal, just as you did in the previous step (as described in step 2 of the earlier instructions). Be sure not to tighten the rollers excessively.
Rolling Process: Feed the metal and the pattern plate through the rollers. The result will be a beautifully patterned piece of metal with the design from the pattern plate impressed onto it.