Monthly Archives: October 2013

Essential Hydraulic Press Setup

A friend of mine (Hi Elenor) told me that she was finally ready to purchase her hydraulic press. (YAY!) And she asked what I thought were the essential tools for her to start off with. I actually get this question a lot. There are certainly several things that you really must have if you are going to be successful with this tool. So I will share those with you along with what my first purchase consisted of.

First – Obviously you need the press itself and a jack.

Presses_handle

In my photo above I have two presses. They are both 20-ton presses and will do similar jobs. There are some notable differences though. When I was first researching presses, I looked at everything on the market and decided to go with the press offered by Potter USA. I liked the larger opening and larger bottom platen. And of course, their price was about 1/2 of the other press I was looking at.

The jack I chose to purchase is the red one in the photo. It is a 20-ton bottle jack with gauge port by Norco. It is a great jack, but a bit more expensive. I chose to spend the money as I knew I would be using in my studio for students as well as myself. It is also one of the only ones available with a gauge port.

The smaller press has a short profile (shorty) jack that I purchased at Harbor Freight. You must have a short profile jack for the smaller press. The smaller frame has a 4″ wide by 6″ long opening. While I am still able to use all my Potter USA accessories, it is limiting when it comes to purchasing ready made products such as Urethane from other vendors as it is typically sold in 6″ square pieces.

While a gauge is nice, they can be spendy and difficult to find. I would check with Kevin Potter of Potter USA before purchasing your jack. Sometimes he is able to find some and will sell them to his customers. If you are not able to get a gauge, a great alternative is the Torque handle made by Potter USA. Check out my video on how to use it.

The other thing I liked about the Potter USA press is that the press will accept the tools they make, as well as those made for other presses on the market.

Second – Spacers

You should never raise the ram on your jack all the way for risk of damaging your jack. And if you do extend it all the way, you won’t be utilizing the pressure from the jack efficiently. Spacers are necessary to help in this area. Spacers also make it so you don’t have to raise all the way which will save muscle fatigue.

spacers

There are a number of items that can be used as spacers. In the image above, I have 2 6″ pieces of 1″ thick acrylic pieces. I also have a contained urethane that I will turn upside down and sometimes use that as a larger spacer. I have also been known to use my steel bench blocks. Anything that is stable, flat and can withstand the pressure of the press can be used. You just want to decrease the space between the top and bottom platen for the most efficient use of your press.

Third – Pancake dies

Pancake dies are used to punch out shapes from a flat sheet of metal. There are lots of designs readily available. These from Potter USA work best for metal that is 20 – 16 gauge thick. Although, I do use 22 gauge regularly, however, there is a bit more clean up on those from the bur that is left due to the larger cutting edge.

When I made my initial purchase, I picked out 6 – 8 designs that I thought I would use the most and started with that knowing I would add to it later as I became more proficient and had the money to add to it. The nice thing about these dies is that they are EXTREMELY affordable and you can expect to get about 100 pressings out of them before you would need to purchase it again or retire it.

pancake

 

Fourth – Silhouette dies, contained urethane and pusher

Silhouette dies are what you use to “puff” or form your shape. In order for you do to this you will need, at minimum, urethane. But the container and pusher are going to concentrate the force of the urethane so that you get the most efficient use of the force of that urethane. These can be purchased in 2″ and 3″ varieties.

Again, I looked through the available options and picked out about 6 or so that I felt would work best in my work.

Silhouette

Optional But Fun

Bracelet former Kit – Anticlastic and Synclastic

I ADORE anticlastic bracelets. I have for a very long time. I have made them before on a stage or forming block and they take a LOT of time. They look fantastic, but you can be pretty sure you will lose any kind of embossed or etched design easily. So when I saw this kit, I was pretty excited about it. You can purchase the entire kit (all 5 pieces) or the pieces individually.

In order to make a bracelet with the former you will need, at minimum, the frame, one or two of the dies and a piece of urethane.

BraceletFormers

Bracelet blanking dies and Extended platen

These actually came out a while after I had my press. Before, I would just cut my bracelet blanks with a jewelers saw or shear. But these dies make quick work of punching out a bracelet blank. The extended platens aren’t necessary with the larger press, but will be needed for the smaller bolt-together press. But I use them anytime I am making a blank, regardless of the machine I use. I like that they apply even pressure to the entire blank.

BraceletDies

Embossing Dies

These little dies are fantastic. It is a great way to put in deep texture without having a mill or having to do it by hand with a hammer… which isn’t really possible with these designs. They have been milled from steel and are nice and sturdy. There are several designs to chose from. You will want a container, urethane and pusher for these as well. I find that I get the best results with thinner metals, but I have done some up to 16 gauge. You will apply a LOT of pressure to get a good impression, but that is why you have a press. I typically go up to about 6,000 psi on these.

embossing

So there you have it. The first four items are what I would deem necessary. The last items are great fun and make my job easier, but they are NOT needed to be successful with your hydraulic press.

All content and images on this blog are the property of Melissa Muir and use of them in any context is strictly prohibited unless written permission is first obtained. Please feel free to repin any of the pictures of pieces done by Melissa Muir only.

Jump Ring Earrings Video Tutorial – Pepe Jump Ring Maker

I made another video on how to use the Pepe Tools Jump Ring Maker (JMR2) to make the rings for a simple pair of chainmaille earrings.

Enjoy.
Here is the link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SH6iYSEQgwI

 

All content and images on this blog are the property of Melissa Muir and use of them in any context is strictly prohibited unless written permission is first obtained. Please feel free to repin any of the pictures of pieces done by Melissa Muir only.

Tool Time Tuesday – Bracelet Tutorial – Pepe Jump Ring Maker

Hey everyone, well, it is Tuesday once again which means TOOL TIME TUESDAY. Now, it will only be Tuesday here at my house for a few more minutes. But in my defense, I have been loading this video for over 5 hours, actually, I think it might be close to 7 hours. How sad. I really miss my FIOS connection.

Last week I did a tutorial on how to make a pendant using PEPE’s Center Positioning Dies. I had posted a picture of two projects on my Facebook page and asked people which project they would like to see me demonstrate. Naturally, everyone said both. Well, I figured I would rise to that challenge and have created another video, this time showing how to make a bracelet. The bracelet is made with similar techniques. The thing that is different about this project is that I also show you one of my newest tools….. The PEPE Jump Ring Maker – JMR2. They recently redesigned it and I do have to say I like it a lot. I love how compact it is. As you already know, I am already a fan of PEPE tools and it has been a fun opportunity to work with them in this fashion.

Without further ado, here is the link: http://youtu.be/feG7_DDjBcw
And the video. Enjoy.

 

All content and images on this blog are the property of Melissa Muir and use of them in any context is strictly prohibited unless written permission is first obtained. Please feel free to repin any of the pictures of pieces done by Melissa Muir only.

Tool Time Tuesday – Center Positioning Dies

Measurable progress is finally being made on the first volume of my book. I am very excited about it. I have set a deadline for myself of Thanksgiving. That is a tall order, so we will see what happens. Of course in this time, I am still trying to run a house, remodel, paint and volunteer at the girls’ schools. But I am working on it.

I haven’t really had any time in the studio to play around yet. Although I did get the chance to make a bracelet and pendant while using this weeks Tool Time Tuesday featured tool, Pepe Tools Center Positioning Dies. I love these little things. They allow you to create perfectly concentric washers. You simply punch a hole using the desired inner diameter, switch to the position of the desired outer diameter die, insert the center positioning die to align the hole of first hole, then use the larger punch to punch out the outer ring, and VOILA, you have a perfect washer.

These are great for a number of uses. You see these washers all the time for stamped jewelry. But I like to texture them up and use them as different design elements. Today, the video I am posting shows you how to make a beautiful silver drop pendant with some blue coin pearls.

One of the great things about these dies is that you can make your washers how you want them. There are some washers that you can buy already made, but you don’t get to determine the metal thickness or even how large your hole is or the outer diameter. Now you can.

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQQHSWF_BWk

All content and images on this blog are the property of Melissa Muir and use of them in any context is strictly prohibited unless written permission is first obtained. Please feel free to repin any of the pictures of pieces done by Melissa Muir only.

Tool Time Tuesday – Adjusting your Rolling Mill

Well hello there. Yes, I know, I have been gone a very long time. Whew, have I been busy. It sure seems like that is the starting of each of my posts now, but it is true. Since the last time I posted I have painted 3 bedrooms and hallway (ceilings included,) created a guest bedroom, Cleaned up my flowerbeds and tamed an overgrown courtyard, packed up a lot of my studio, hosted an out of state jewelry artist retreat, unpacked my studio (sort of), had a blog cast interview on Hydraulic Presses, hosted a 3-day workshop with Andrea Kennington and, and, and….. I know there is more, but that is a good list of what I have been up to.

If you would like to hear the blogcast that Kevin Potter and I did with Cara Rae of iCreateFlix, just click here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/icreateflixradio/2013/10/03/the-pressing-topic-of-hydraulic-presses-with-melissa-kevin We talk all about Hydraulic Presses. It was fun. And from now until probably Thanksgiving or so, my focus will be nothing but Hydraulic Presses as I get ready to release the first volume of my new book. Stay tuned….

Today I finally made it back into the studio to do a video. Over the weekend, I had the great opportunity to host Andrea Kennington and Julie Brooks for a weekend workshop. If you ever get the opportunity to take a workshop with them, I would highly suggest it. It was fantastic. I can’t wait to show you all what I have learned. It was so much fun to actually work in my studio. It was also the first workshop I have taken personally in a VERY long time. Oh it was bliss. I promise to blog about it soon, that and the retreat.

One of the things that I learned in Andrea’s workshop was how to adjust the rollers on my mill. I have a Durston Rolling Mill and I never knew that the rollers could be adjusted. It turns out there is a little snap ring at the base of the stem of the adjusting handle that is meant to be there for shipping only. NOBODY EVER TOLD ME!!!! Simply remove the snap ring, the handle can come out and the rollers can be adjusted.

Why in the world would you adjust the rollers? Well, over time, as you use the mill, it will eventually just need an adjustment. All the pressure you put on the rollers from various metals will move them out of alignment. All rolling mills will need to be adjusted from time time.

I visited my local automotive store today and picked up two sets of some really inexpensive feeler gauges ($3) so that I could be sure that each roller was precisely lined up. In this video I show you how I do it. Enjoy.

Link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dxYJHn8Om0&feature=c4-overview&list=UUXsx-xlz39vZaMXkeHI_6pQ

All content and images on this blog are the property of Melissa Muir and use of them in any context is strictly prohibited unless written permission is first obtained. Please feel free to repin any of the pictures of pieces done by Melissa Muir only.