Bubbly: Sterling silver, CZs, Brass and Faux Bone
The unfortunate truth is that Harbor Freight is next door to my daughter's music lessons. Need I say more? For months now, I have ambled past the arbor presses and thought, "hmmm, what could I do with this?" I do not own a hydraulic press (yet) so every week I try to convince myself that this would be a great, inexpensive alternative to such a press. Of course, I know this to not be the case, but when the 1 ton press went on sale for $49, I couldn't resist.
The first thing I tried was to punch discs in metal and leather. I placed a bench block under the arbor press ram and topped it with a cutting mat to preserve the edges of my cutting tools. Success! I easily punched 24 gauge brass and leather using my disc cutter, as well as leather using hollow punches. If nothing else, this is well worth the $49 to me. It saves my hammering arm (and head) when I need to make multiple discs. I suspect, with some experimentation, I will be able to set snaps and rivets in leather...will update you when I go down this path!
Just for Fun...
And then, just for fun, I thought I'd try forming techniques that would normally be done on a hydraulic press, but in miniature. I started with a nylon spacer and a solid brass half sphere that fit perfectly into the spacer. I placed a 24g annealed metal disc on the spacer, centered the sphere, rounded side down, and used the arbor press to push the sphere down, creating a well in the metal. Success! The result was a cute little "fried egg" shape (see pendant above). I could repeat these results consistently as long as the metal was fully annealed. When it wasn't properly annealed, the metal tore at the edge of the dome.
I always ask myself this question...am I using this tool because it is truly a right tool for the job, or because, hey, I got it for $49! So I tried the same technique using a hammer and using a dapping block and punch. While I eventually got the hammer to work, I spent more time trying to find the brass half sphere that flew across the room when my hammer strike wasn't centered. The dapping block was difficult to line up the punch with the hole and, even when annealed, the metal tore... and I risked damaging my block. So in this case, yes, the arbor press actually is the right tool (at least in my arsenal) for the job.
The Final Product...
I am committed to getting better at soldering this year, so you will notice that many of my new projects are soldered. I have provided the steps for making the pendant, but know that there are many other ways to solder it together. This is simply the way that worked for me as I practice and experiment with soldering.
1. Form patterned, annealed metal discs with the arbor press(or hammer), as described above
2. Coat both sides of the formed discs in Firescoff (or flux) so you do not have to pickle between solder joins
3. Layout the discs as desired and place a 3X3 SS crimp bead where the discs intersect
4. Drop in a small hard solder chip (medium if using a butane torch) into each crimp tube, heat around the outside of each tube one by one until the solder flows.
5. Turn the piece over and use medium solder (easy solder if using a butane torch) to solder a piece of brass tubing (to serve as a bail) onto the back of the top disc and a 9/32" tall Crafted Findings rivet, head down, into the depression of one of the discs.
6. Pickle. Patina and polish as desired
7. Set the stones as shown in my Crimp Tube Stone Setting blog
8. Punch/drill 1/16" holes in the center of a contrasting metal disc, piece of leather and/or Faux Bone and place on the rivet, using the Crafted Findings tool to flare the rivet. (Check out my next blog for a quick trick on getting centered holes everytime!)
And your done! Want to try it out yourself?? I have nylon spacers and brass half sphere sets that I will send to the first 6 people who request one in the blog comments. If you are among the first 6, just email me your mailing address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for stopping by...create recklessly this weekend!