In this week's MAAAA Anne did a Tip Test to see if Baby Bell cheese rinds really do work as saw lube. Next in the demo portion. we delved into the options for adding a torch to your home studio with a quick look at butane, MAPP gas, acetylene air recommendations. In keeping with the home studio theme, shared her unconventional bracelet mandrel - a sawed off shotgun (to be fair, she lives Montana and it's not a working gun). We also checked back in with Kathe on her MASSC Challenge and ... she did it! "Dogfish in Kelp" was successfully completed and submitted on time, so we're all rooting for her in the Challenge. Resources from this episode:
Send us your Questions
Our next MAAAA is scheduled for Thursday, June 11th from 6-7pm PDT. This is your chance to get FREE feedback from professional metal arts instructors! Send in your questions or submit an item for one of the other segments and we'll follow up as needed on any details. Want help with a tricky soldering job? Ask Anne. Wondering if a tip you saw really works? Send us the link. Want to share a recent piece or give us a tour of your studio? Send us some pix. Care to recommend a special tool or great class (or instructor)? Let us know! You are heartily invited to send us your questions, works-in-progress, new tool finds and more!
Recently student Jay M. asked me:
Technically there isn't anything you can't do with a direct-drive mill (as opposed to one with reduction) - but reduction gears make life way easier!
Most importantly, reduction gears make it much easier to roll down sheet from one thickness to another, say from 18 gauge to 22 or whatever you like. Mills are designed to do this; really it is their primary purpose. Traditionally you'd melt an ingot, then roll it to the thickness you wanted before you ever got out the jeweler's saw. It is only our 21st century laziness (and convenient online ordering from places like riogrande.com) that have made us order our metal at exactly the thickness we want and relegated the rolling mill to more of a texturing tool.
Our mill at school has 7:1 reduction, so you can imagine you'd need a lot more force for the same effect with a direct-drive. Rolling down sheet needs proportionally more force as it gets wider. I'd say rolling down anything wider than 2" would be extremely difficult without reduction. Some direct-drive mills have two handles so you can apply more force (by yourself or with a friend) - that would be handy! So to speak.
Oh, and I can't help but add to please never buy a cheap rolling mill ($300 or less, with gear offset from rollers). It will break quickly, but before that it will put horrible waves and distortions in your sheet. Save until you can at least get a Pepe. Or scour ebay and craigslist for a used Durston or Cavallin.
Bottom line, for rolling down wire and texturing fairly narrow metal, I think a direct drive is fine. It'll save you $$ and it'll keep you in shape. But if you are planning to roll down sheet on a regular basis, spring for at least 5:1 reduction. Happy rolling!
Educator, metalsmith, jeweler, maker of custom mokume gane jewelry and wedding rings.