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December 11, 2018, 06:42:23 pm
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how does one flatten the metal backing after cutting?

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Author Topic: how does one flatten the metal backing after cutting?  (Read 1001 times)
bilquest
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« on: March 25, 2013, 02:54:31 pm »

I've been playing around with making some bezel cups and mounting a few stones. I know it takes practice, but what is a suggested technique for flattening the backing metal? After I use the shears to cut the shape, the metal always curls. The only way I've found to flatten the metal again is by lightly tapping with a hammer (tried both chasing hammer and rawhide mallet) on a flat steel block. Only problem is that it leaves little hammer marks in the metal that I can't seem to remove with sanding.
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Mark
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« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2013, 03:20:23 pm »

Exactly why i don't use shears and only cut all my metal with a jewelers saw.  Jewelers with really good skill (lots of practice) can make metal do whatever they want and get away without much in the way of marks too.  So i would do all my cutting with a saw if you don't want a lot of bent metal.  You can use shears if you cut way away from where your borders are and then grind or file down the metal till you get to the border.  I think its much easier to use a saw.

Mark
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« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2013, 03:23:08 pm »

If you are leaving marks you might be hitting it a bit hard. My rawhide hammer does not leave marks that I cannot sand out so I am thinking the metal might be a bit hard and requiring to much persuasion from your hammer. I would try annealing the piece so you can be a little more gentle. You can also cover it with a piece of leather to help cushion the hammer blows.

I also agree with Mark that it is best to use a saw to get to your final shape. Shears should only be used to get large sheets down to a manageable size.
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RegisG
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« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2013, 03:51:20 pm »

A couple questions/answers.
It would be good to know what method(s) you are currently using.
Are you annealing before you draw-up the sides? If not, then anneal.  
I'd suggest drawing up your vertical sides in in 2 steps with annealing in between.
I'd lay metal on very hard flat surface and hold down just inside the bezel area you are raising.
If you are hammering the bezel down around a dowel/dap then I would put that down securely against solid surface and lift your edge before hammering.  
This should leave you with noting needing flattened.

Just some thoughts.
RG
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deb193
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« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2013, 04:10:20 pm »

not sure he is raising a bezel.

do you just mean getting the back plate flat before soldering on bezel wire?

of so, flat anvil surface and rawhide hammer. should not leave marks if anvil has no marks
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« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2013, 04:16:23 pm »

I use shears because my saw skills are lacking.
After I cut out my backer, anneal, quench and place on my bench block.  I use a 4" X 4" piece of oak placed over my backer and hammer the wood - flip backer and repeat.
Flat and ready to solder bezel.
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hulagrub
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« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2013, 05:36:20 pm »

I put it between 2 steel blocks with a wood block on top of the top steel block and WHAM the heck out it.
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« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2013, 06:04:26 pm »

I have a flatter. Don't know what that is? It's a top tool used by blacksmiths that is used to smooth out iron or steel to remove hammer marks in sheet or bar stock. I sold all my top tools a couple of years ago for blacksmithing but long before that I had made one just for my silver work. I got a auto body hammer something like this one http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Auto-Body-Hammer-Mechanics-Tool-Sheet-Metal-Hammer-/400441531586?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5d3c2cdcc2 and I polished on face flat and with a high mirror polish on it. The the other side is struck with a rawhide mallet. This flattens out the metal very nicely and leaves hardly a mark. A very handy tool to have. I also use it to flatten out twisted wire and other odd jobs that require leaving no hammer marks or the removal of said hammer marks. Just be sure to hold it tight to the metal and don't let it come up off the surface between blows or you may as well be striking it with the flatter. Remember it is a struck tool, not a striking tool.
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RegisG
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« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2013, 06:21:48 pm »

Rock it, I did mis- understand thinking "cup" like the commercial ones you buy made in a press.   headbang118
Your process with 2 blocks, one wooden should not mar your surface, especially if they are very flat and smooth.  Are you using very thin silver like 28 or 30 guage?  There seems to be a relationship between sice of setting and thickness of metal.  If I were making a setting such as 30x40mm, I would have a lot of difficulty cleanly flatening if I used thiner than about 22 or maybe 24 guage.  Not sure what size you are doing.  Otherwise it seems your setup is ok although I do like that flatener that bentiron mentioned. 
How is your annealing temp?  Black or red marker across metal and heat until just after mark disappears. Works for me when in too much light. 
I'm not much help but, tossing out few ideas that might help.

RG
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milto
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« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2013, 07:36:53 pm »

practice sawing, the way to go in my opinion.Shears are fine if you like filing.

milto
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Debbie K
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« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2013, 09:28:18 pm »

My friends laugh at me and think that I'm OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) as heck, but I polish all my tools. All my hammer faces have mirror finishes, I polish my pliers and my anvils. They get messed up again, and I polish again. I did the same thing with my wood carving tools, sharpening and polishing. My husband would come home and catch me polishing and would say "OH, NO, not again". The polishing will go on for days and rust and dings are the enemy. BUT ... I don't leave marks on the metal. If you're making dings, you're not hitting the metal with the flat of the hammer, you're catching some of it with the edge. You can reshape the hammer face where it doesn't have the sharp edges and it really helps. Take it down about 5 degrees from the center and see if it helps.

Debbie K
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hulagrub
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« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2013, 09:31:30 pm »

RG, you anneal first and have used on 20 and up. Charlotte learned this trick in her class at William Holland school. And it works!
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bilquest
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« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2013, 10:03:20 am »

Thank you all! I've got some new things to try. To answer your questions, I'm not raising a bezel cup, just preparing the backing prior to soldering the bezel wire. I have tried several gauges of metal from 20 to 28... most recently silver-filled 20 gauge (it was a bear to cut with the shears, I think I'll try sawing that next time.) But for the thinner sheets I'll try the anneal/block/sandwich method.
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« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2013, 05:24:44 pm »

Debbie K., I'm with you on the polishing thing! All my hammer faces are as my son likes to say "good enough to pop zits in". I kind a cringe when I see folk sinking or raising silver with and unpolished hammer face and then complain that there is so much work left to clean it up. If they would only polish up the hammer, stakes and anvils then most of the work is already done by those tools and all you need to do is wash them with soap and water and a final polish with a silver polishing cloth and your done. I also get a little upset when folks sand something down and get it about half way done and then throw it in a tumbler with steel shot and think that they are done. Then all you have is a bunch of very well polished scratches.
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« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2013, 05:38:54 pm »

Bentiron:

Although they make fun of me, they also try to walk away with my hammers! I've had to start engraving them to keep them from disappearing.

Debbie K
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« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2013, 08:53:06 pm »

I put it between 2 steel blocks with a wood block on top of the top steel block and WHAM the heck out it.


Dave I'm with you.  That's my method also.  It has two functions.  A perfectly flat sheet of metal and the added bonus, I get to smack something.    saved2
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« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2013, 02:45:16 pm »

That was one of the things that first attracted me to metalsmithing, blacksmithing in particular, I got to beat the crap out of something without getting into trouble. bricks
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hulagrub
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« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2013, 06:51:56 pm »

Yes, getting to wham on something is cool!
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Dave, a certified Rockaholic

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« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2013, 12:12:02 am »

Time to resurrect this old thread, because I have an answer that never got provided last spring.

How do you flatten the backing sheet before soldering on the bezel?  You don't.

If you are making a bezel cup, say, 10 x 12 mm, you cut a rectangular sheet for the backing, say 12 x 14 mm. Because the sheet was cut rectangular, all the cuts are straight, and the sheet does not curl except a very slight amount at the corners, which do not matter.



This is the very same rectangle of sheet, and you can see that the bezel sits flush all the way around the perimeter, even though the corners are slightly curled.



 Next, you solder on the bezel. If there is a slight curl in the sheet, it normally goes away quickly as you heat the sheet and bezel with your torch, annealing the sheet in the process. Often you can watch the sheet "settle" onto the soldering block as you heat it.  When your solder runs between the sheet and bezel by capillary action, it sucks the soft sheet up to the back of the bezel wire, and all is flat as the piece cools. From here, I throw the bezel cup, complete with the rectangular sheet soldered to the bezel, into the pickle.

When I pull it out of the pickle and rinse it, I then use shears to trim the sheet from around the bezel wire, being careful not to mar the bezel wire in the process. In this photo you can see the bezel and sheet before soldering, another (with a twisted wire around this bezel cup) being trimmed with the shears, a third cup showing the slight edges of sheet still protruding after trimming, and a fourth cup (upside down) after filing. When you are comfortable with your shears and files, this trimming and filing process takes literally seconds.



That's the method my mentor used for quick production. I've repeated it thousands of times. The only slightly tricky part is holding the shears at just the right angle as you trim the waste sheet from around the bezel, to avoid biting into the bezel (or the twisted wire) as well as the sheet. When you do it right, it leaves a very slight edge on the sheet standing proud of the bezel, as shown in the photo above. A few seconds with a medium file makes quick work of that edge.

After the trimming, you are left with a scrap of silver "waste." I collect these trimmings and later melt them in to silver balls for decorating my pieces, or use them for casting.

By the time you have a bucket of trimmings like this, you will be quick and totally comfortable with your tools!



Never fear. Every scrap of those trimmings gets recycled into silver balls or cast ingots for making fresh sheet with a rolling mill.



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« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2013, 05:39:32 am »

No one has mentioned using binding wire to secure the bezel and backing cup. Many times, especially with lighter gauges, you will never be able to get it flat enough to solder. All of the methods mentioned will flatten sheet to some degree, but not flat enough to solder. There should be no gaps at the joint  of the two.  Use binding wire to wire the two together, especially larger, lighter gauge pieces. Many times, without binding wire, the backing plate will flex when heated , making soldering impossible.

I use 20ga. stainless steel wire that I get at my local welding supply store. I have gone from the soldering pad to the pickle without removing the wire and my pickle doesn't get corrupted. I do not leave the item in the pickle with the binding wire attached. I will dunk the piece in the pickle, take it out and remove the biding wire, then the piece goes back into the pickle until all oxides have been removed (or at least as much as possible.
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« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2013, 07:01:11 am »

It's funny that you mentioned the stainless steel wire; I just got some a week ago and tried it this week. My understanding is that it doesn't solder to the piece the way iron binding wire does.

I learned a really useful trick years ago from an old guy who has been soldering since he was 12 years old. He takes regular straight pins, cuts the heads off of them, bends the top of them at almost 45 degrees then uses pliers to force them into fire bricks to hold things together. For example, he would press the pin in around the edge of the example Cowboy showed, pulling the bezel wire down to the sheet metal. It works wonderfully, and because they're so far away from the solder filet, I have yet to solder a pin to a piece.

I have found that it's better to spend 10 to 15 minutes setting up a piece to be soldered; pins, wires, cotter pins or whatever, than to have to do it over and over again. Maybe I'm just a really slow learner, but soldering has always been the thing that causes me the most trouble. Yellow ochre has also been my friend to keep solder from flowing places where it shouldn't.

Debbie K
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« Reply #21 on: October 05, 2013, 09:05:07 am »

Debbie...I have used that trick, except I am lazy. I went to a sewing store and bought a box of them :). Using this trick saved my butt quite a few times, especially when a customer was coming in the next day to pick up the item. 
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« Reply #22 on: October 05, 2013, 09:50:53 am »

The t-pins, were what was taught at William Holland, when my wife went to silversmithing school there. I prefer simplicity and just wham the sheet between the steel blocks, instant flat!
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« Reply #23 on: October 05, 2013, 09:54:06 am »

I use a wrist pin from an old H-D 80" Shovel and a block of steel to roll the corners flat..................... hide
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« Reply #24 on: October 05, 2013, 07:17:51 pm »

Damn, if only I could fill a coffee bucket with silver shavings... what is that, like ten thousand dollars in spot silver?
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« Reply #25 on: October 06, 2013, 05:52:41 pm »

Anneal the back plate well. Put it on an old steel surface plate work it with a clean flat faced rawhide mallet. I keep one of my raw hides just for this task it is a loaded type. Works for me anyways.
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« Reply #26 on: October 07, 2013, 04:52:14 pm »

After the horde of dogs ate my rawhide mallets I have switched to the newer plastic mallets, they work pretty well at this job too. I bought an inexpensive dead blow mallet and it really work great at flattening a small sheet as does the old fashioned set hammer that blacksmith use. I got out one of them, ground and polished it up to a mirror shine and it's just like having the two blocks of steel or wood except it has a handle and if my top blow is a little of course I never hit my fingers. Lots of ways to get a piece of silver flat again I've found. 
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helens
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« Reply #27 on: October 20, 2013, 05:47:55 pm »

My friends laugh at me and think that I'm OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) as heck, but I polish all my tools. All my hammer faces have mirror finishes, I polish my pliers and my anvils. They get messed up again, and I polish again. I did the same thing with my wood carving tools, sharpening and polishing. My husband would come home and catch me polishing and would say "OH, NO, not again". The polishing will go on for days and rust and dings are the enemy. BUT ... I don't leave marks on the metal. If you're making dings, you're not hitting the metal with the flat of the hammer, you're catching some of it with the edge. You can reshape the hammer face where it doesn't have the sharp edges and it really helps. Take it down about 5 degrees from the center and see if it helps.

Debbie K

OK!!! THIS is what I want to know! HOW do you polish your tools to a mirror finish:)? Exact steps please:).
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helens
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« Reply #28 on: October 20, 2013, 05:51:18 pm »

You guys are just a wealth of knowledge! Not that I intend to try silversmithing again anytime soon, but it's so neat to see how it can be done:).
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« Reply #29 on: October 20, 2013, 06:38:22 pm »

Helen:

I file things first (if they need it, rusty tools for example often need to be filed, and I rescue a lot of garage sale finds), then sand with usually 100, 200, and 400 grit. At that point I usually polish with bobbing compound (which has a fair amount of abrasive), then white diamond and then red rouge. If a tool is really badly abused, it may take 2-3 cleanings to get it rust free. I always have a drawer of things in process that get sanded and polished in the next binge.

Anvils are the hardest things to work on, I find. I use a belt sander to get the dings out and then the steps listed above, using a hand sander with the finer grits since I can't find fine belts. Like I said in an earlier post, folks do make fun of me, but they also try to walk away with my tools. All of them are engraved with my initials just in case there's any dispute at a group activity about whose tool is who's. Living in humid east Texas and seeing so many tools rust and fall apart (my Dad and granddad were horrible about maintaining tools) I have come to see rust as the ever-present enemy. I try to protect things with a light wiping of oil and keep them looking as good or better than when they were new.

So few of my tools are new and I've restored most of my equipment myself. It astounds me that people take such poor care of things that they end up in such appalling condition; and these things were expensive when they were new. I wipe out my rock grinder every time I use it, and clean the bowl of my faceting machine and all the laps that I use. I just don't ever seem to straighten anything up; my studio always seems like a tornado hit it.

Debbie K
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« Reply #30 on: December 11, 2014, 08:16:03 am »

Use a saw ..... you shouldn't been flattening anything after cutting. Also, using a shear you are going to have all those dents marked on the metal and is much harder to control where you're cutting.

On the long run, even if you don't like it, you are going to have to use a saw. The sooner the better.

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« Reply #31 on: December 16, 2014, 02:59:10 pm »


"OK!!! THIS is what I want to know! HOW do you polish your tools to a mirror finish:)? Exact steps please:)." This question was from October last year and here is my take on how I put a mirror polish on a hammer face.
I usually start off determining if it needs file work or grinder work, some just don't need the drastic touch of a grinder and some are too hard for a file. I clean all the rust off with a wire wheel mounted on a 4" angle grinder, wear eye protection, gloves, ear protection and if possible a leather apron, wheel will shed wires at high velocity. Now you can start grinding on the face if it is badly pitted or badly dinged up. Keep it cool, don't let it get hot enough to change colors from white to blue or brown, that's a no, no. I use a 120 for this, yes, I know some that would use and 80 grit wheel for this but it gets it too hot too fast and the scratches are very deep and with the 120 you will not have as much work to clean up if the whole face is not all that bad. From here on out it is just going on down in grits. Wheels for the angle grinder don't go down all that far so you will need to switch to hand sanding. I usually go down to 1200 before I put the face of the hammer to the polishing wheel where I finish it  off with nice mirror like finish with a muslin wheel. Then it is just a matter of keeping the rust from forming during the humid months here in Phoenix in the summer.
I use the same basic techniques for my silversmithing stakes and for my 125 pound anvil. However if I had it to do over on the anvil I would take it to a machine shop and have the surface ground down. While this statement will cause much gnashing of teeth amongst some hard core blacksmiths if done properly it can be wonderful for jewelers and do minimal harm to the anvil. First turn the anvil on it face, that's right face down for a rough grind on the base, next turn it face side up. The reason for this is so that the "hard face" and the base will be parallel. Since old anvils have a wrought iron forged body and a tool steel face that are forge welded together the base and the face are not always anywhere near parallel and you don't want to remove the face, which is where are the work is done, down to the soft wrought iron base(core). So if you do the base first you'll be OK but if you do the working face first you can thin the working face to almost nothing on one end or side, this you don't want to do. The reason some blacksmiths object to grinding the face is that it is taking away working years off the the anvil that could be used in hammering it away. 
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