Tool Time Tuesday – Steel Texture Dies for the Hydraulic Press

Again, I wanted to thank you all so much for your love and support of me in raising funds for the preeclampsia foundation. Through the website there was $480 pledged. I sold 6 Wire Angel Tutorials and 100% of that was donated for a total of $540. I also know of a few others that ran into difficulties with the website and have said they would send their money in. So with the money I donated we raised a total $680. They called me the Rock Star since I came “out of now where and raised all that money so quickly.” Thanks for making me a Rock Star. The Portland area had a goal of $7,000 and we raised over $10,000. My original goal was only $100 and look what you helped accomplish. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Donations can still be made to Kelsi’s Angels Team through July. Thank you again. I was very touched.

Are you ready for Tool Time Tuesday?

Yesterday I got a package in the mail. I LOVE getting those. People should send me more of them, especially when they contain new tools. So feel free, should you get the urge, to send me packages of new tools. In fact, while I was typing this, the UPS man just dropped off another package with some press accessories and a hammer handpiece for my flexshaft. WOOT!

Potter USA announced on their Facebook page that they had come up with some new embossing plates. They had tried their hand at embossing plates once before, but they were done entirely differently and they didn’t really work well. The original texturing plates were cut out with a laser cutter and while they looked great, they didn’t give a great impression and they only worked for thin sheets of metal, like less than 24 gauge. These plates work the opposite way from the originals. The originals can be thought of as detailed silhouette dies where the shape is cut out and the metal is pressed into the cutout. These dies are solid with raised designs. When you press the metal into the designs, they press down, but are also shaped all the way through, not just with negative space.

Currently there are five shapes available. When I spoke with Kevin yesterday, he informed me that they have some other shapes that are in the design process right now, but they will be added gradually over time. There will be additional geometric and abstract shapes as well as others with some flowing designs.

The currently available shapes are a diamond pattern, spiral, wave, arc and corrugated. I don’t know that those are the names of them, but it is what I call them. They are made of steel. They have each been precision milled and are actually quite thick.

These are not designed to work with the rolling mill. However, if you want to use one of the designs in the rolling mill, I would suggest making a texture plate in the press and then rolling that through your mill.

Because these are new, there wasn’t a lot of information on the best thicknesses of metal to use with them, so I decided to try an experiment. I have various thicknesses of metal in my shop, so I cut up multiple pieces to try them all out.


The dies are used with the embossing contained urethane kit from Potter USA. It is just like the contained urethane system they have, only it is square. The urethane used is a small square and only 1/4″ thick. I believe it is 80 durometer, so it is not the hardest one.

The top row of samples is 20 gauge (except for the top spiral one, it is 18 gauge.) I was going to try all of them with 14, 18, 20, 22, and 24 gauge. However, once I tried the one with the 18 gauge, I could easily see that I was NOT going to do 14 gauge. The impression in the 18 gauge was there, but it was light and took a lot of pressure to get it there.

I know it is possible to get a really good impression with 14 and 18 gauge, but it was a LOT of pressure and I felt my time and money would be better spent working with thinner materials.

All metals were annealed and pickled first.

I was fairly happy with the impression that I got with 20 gauge. I would love to show you some pictures, but they didn’t show up really well and you couldn’t see much of the difference between the gauges in my pictures due to the lighting. But that was only in the pictures. When you hold the pieces in your hand or look at them in person, you can totally see the difference.

20 gauge gave a great impression, the metal sunk into the relief and curved nicely in the grooves or depressions. The raised areas created crisp lines on the side where they made contact. On the opposite side, the lines were soft, but fairly defined.

22 gauge got me even more excited. The lines on the back of the piece were more defined and ridges were sharper. On the front side (where the metal made contact with the die) the piece seemed to curve or puff beautifully. I don’t know how else to describe it. I loved it.

24 gauge had me smiling from ear to ear. The metal seemed to just bond itself with the die filling the depressions and hugging the lines until they became one. In fact, I had to drop the piece on my table top to get them to release from their tight embrace.

It is hard to see all details, so I gave them all a bath in Liver of Sulfur. I would show them all to you after, but I could only find a small piece of steel wool and didn’t get them all finished. But look at this…..


In the picture above my camera flash gives a head on shot of the pieces filling the crevices with light. Also the top left piece is turned so that it is sitting the same way as the top right piece.


In the above picture I flipped the top left piece so you can see the opposite texture. Once i added the patina and the light hit these things I was SOOOO excited. Look how the shadows play on these. There are so many possibilities.

Oh, there is a bonus piece on there. You know how much I love swirls. So I thought I would create one of my own textures to see how it would work. I used 12 gauge wire, swirled it up, soldered it together and placed it in the die holder to see how it would work, and there you have it. I absolutely love having a press. This tool has made it so that I can have the depth and dimension that I have always desired to have in my pieces.

Here is what it looks like:


I found that I gave these a lot more pressure than I do when I am working with a silhouette die. Most of these were taken to at least 4,000 psi. This last one, I took to 5,000 psi and actually popped the metal on one of the swirl ends. But look at the depth of the impressions. Can you imagine? Fill them with resin or even enamels. You couldn’t do that with the thinner texture plates currently available. Color them with alcohol inks, run the metal through a mill or sand blaster first to give them a bit of texture. Really, my mind is just racing with the possibilities. Because this is Potter USA, you can also be assured that they will be affordable. I haven’t heard the final pricing on these yet, but I would
bet they will be around $30 or less. It just depends on the amount of milling that needs to be done.

I have created a video, of course I have, but it is still rendering. I will post that a bit later tonight or tomorrow when I get it posted to my YouTube Page. So be on the look out for that.

9 thoughts on “Tool Time Tuesday – Steel Texture Dies for the Hydraulic Press

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  2. Anne Autsolief

    I recently purchased a used Bonny Doon press and have been learning to use it. Your videos are really helping me to learn the full potential of the press. I also purchased several accessories for it from Potter USA and just love them! It’s exciting to have new accessories available to expand the capabilities of the press! Thank you for all you do!

  3. Melissa Muir

    Isn’t it a fun tool to have Anne? I am glad that I am able to help you out. I am still learning all the possibilities with it as well. It sure is nice to have something extra to have to make our work stand out. I really like that you can use a lot of different tools with both presses and have great results. Please share some of what you have been working on, I would love to see it. Thank you for the feedback. 

  4. Melissa Muir

    Joy, they really are so cool. There is no way you could get textures like this with just the rolling mill. They are too deep and “puffed,” if that makes any sense. I am really enjoying these. I can’t wait for him to add new ones.

  5. Fred Bassett

    Melissa, I love your videos and have found them to be an awesome asset to learning. As well as your tool reviews. Thanks so much for spreading your knowledge and helping others.
    I am looking for a die or embossing plate to use with my press that will give a random hammered finish on thicker brass. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again.


    1. Melissa Muir Post author

      Thank you Fred. Have you considered creating a rolling mill pattern? You could texture the piece with the rolling mill and then form it in your press. You can always create your own texture plate by etching a design into steel and using that with your press. I will see if there are any other options and let you know. Thanks for the question. You may also want to check with Rio Grande, Bonny Doon has quite a few texture plates. But for Thick brass, they would have to be run through the mill as the texture plates work with thinner metal in the hydraulic pres.


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