Basic Forging Setup for Beginners
Mixing and making my own metals is probably my favorite aspect of jewelry fabrication. Simple changes in percentages of precious metals and alloys can have huge effects on things like metal color, malleability, melting points and richness/tone. Plus, being able to take X amount of this and X amount of that, melt it down with fire and create something brand new has an almost magical feelin to it.
Below I have put together a basic setup for anyone who wants to try some forging and metallurgy. There is loads of great information out there and many different tools that are great for this task, and I have found over the years what works best for me.
Torch: Most jewelers prefer one type of torch for their forging. I have used large and small, but definitely prefer small for most of what I do. Large torches are great for more metal volume. I prefer o mix small quantities (20g or so at a time) for most of my projects, so the Smith Little Torch is my go to. I prefer the rosebud tip, as it produces an adequate flame temperature to melt upwards of 3oz. Along with the Smith Torch, make sure to pick up some regulators as well as flashback arrestors.
Vessels for Melting Metal: There are a couple option for vessels to use when melting your actual metals together. For the budget conscious, a ceramic crucible is best. They come in various sizes depending on the amount of metal to be melted, can withstand intense heat and are inexpensive to replace. The downside to these are you never truly know how hot your molten metals are.
The other option would be an electronic melting furnace. These are great options if you want precise melt temperatures as well as if you are doing large volume melts (this particular one can melt up to 2kg of metal at a time).
Ingot Mold: There are dozens of different types of ingot molds to choose from depending on your needs. I prefer to use a reversible square/rectangle and rod mold. This is where you pour your molten metal to give it form before rolling through a mill or fabricating.
Rolling Mill: There are also a wide variety of rolling mills from different companies and range from super expensive (motorized) to fairly inexpensive. I currently use a hand-crank rolling mill that allows for the rollers to be switched out for varies shapes of metal (square, triangle, half round, flat). However, you can also buy combo rolling mills that have all of these options built into one, which alleviates the need to swap rollers out.
One benefit of the swap style is you have more size options for the different shapes. The downsize is you have to switch out your rollers if you want to change the shape/form you are rolling.
THERE YOU HAVE IT! Now, the fabrication begins. If you are unsure of some good tools to pick up for the hand-fabrication side of things, check out my blog on Jewelry Tools for Beginners. It has a pretty extensive list/setup for a wide variety of tools.
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