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The punches

The matching dapping block

In today’s segment of my Talkin’ Tools post, I wanted to discuss my Pepe Dapping Block and matching punches.   These come in a variety of sizes and options.  If you are considering adding these to your tool kit, I would recommend buying them as a set.  I didn’t do this and while I believe I ended up with a slightly greater selection of sizes, the set is nice and seems to be a bit more cost effective.  The choice is yours and I provide links to a couple of suppliers at the bottom of this post so you can do some price comparisons.  As I always say, Google is your friend when hunting for bargains on the web, so feel free to do some additional searches if you want to purchase a a set.

The dapping block has a series of what I call reversed domes; I think another term used to describe them is ‘hemisphere’.  Each one of these semicircles has a corresponding punch that matches its size as I am showing in the picture below.

The correctly sized punch and hemisphere in the block are used in conjunction with each other to shape a piece of metal into a dome.  I’ve used this for shaping metal pendants and earrings.  Just remember that if you are making earrings, dome the metal blanks in the same time period, because the way you hammer can differ from day to day, hour to hour.  Shaping and texturing should be done at the same time when your body is in a given ‘zone’.  At least I have found that to be the case for me.

For the purposes of this post, I am showing an unfinished brass disc, because I didn’t have any completed and ready for this stage of the demonstration.  Normally, I would sand the metal’s surface in preparation for the texture I intended to apply.  Remember, you have to apply your texture first before shaping the disc in the dapping block.  Attempting to add texture once the metal has been shaped, well, that really doesn’t work well.  Do things in the correct order.  Think what step needs to happen first, because it makes your work so much simpler.

Place the disc in the block, finished/textured side down. Normally, the finished side is what you what to dome, however there may be time when you want to reverse things and mix it up a bit.  For the sake of this demonstration, I am placing the disc, finished side down.  From this view, the finished side isn’t seen, because it is face down.  The side facing you in this picture is the back of the metal blank.

You want to take the correct size punch, place it on top of the metal blank positioned in the corresponding hole in the block.  Ideally, you want the punch to be perpendicular to the semicircle in the block.  I like to use my chasing hammer, when shaping blanks in the block.  Several firm, strong hammer strikes on top of the punch end and your disc will be domed.  Practice, to see how your hammer strokes work in forming the metal to the desired shape in the punch.


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I formed the reticulated silver dome for this pendent using the Dapping block and punch.  I think a domed shape adds a nice touch to art jewelry.

As most of you know from my previous posts, I am a fan of Pepe tools.  They are strong, durable and a good value for the price.  If you would like a set like mine, I purchased them from Indian Jewelry Supply.  The 30 pc Dapping Punch set is Item Number 212-DPC30  The Cube block is Item Number 212-DBD  If you just want a nice matching set with a few less punches, they offer a set of 17, item number 212-DPS158  I believe OttoFrei is offering the 17 piece set too, click this link to their site for the product.  To receive an additional 5% off the purchase price, one of OttoFrei’s discount codes for the month of January is FRESH.

I find having the ability form metal with the dapping punches and block to be another way to add interest to your designs.  I’ve been meaning to try the punches as another way of adding textures to my work too.  Sometimes there can be more than one use for a tool.  I hope you enjoyed this brief overview.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

For this week’s Talkin’ Tools segment, I thought I would talk about one of the handiest tools I have in my studio…tweezers!  I have 2 pairs of these. I keep one at my work bench and the other at my soldering station. These are my favorites because of the extra sharp, pointed tips.

Yes I do have other tweezers that I use, but none of them work as well as this particular one.

Frequently I need to pick up tiny pieces of metal or wire as I am fabricating my work.  Because they have such great pointy tips, I can easily pick up the smallest of things.  At the solder station, I use them for placing tiny pieces of solder or little silver balls that I will solder into place like the ones you have seen in Mountainesque.  Here’s an example:


Red Mountain
Mountainesque
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

When I try to pick up super small things, I find it pretty difficult to do so with my fingers.  There are times when a tool makes your work easier and these tweezers certainly are a great asset for small, tiny pieces.  I can position things exactly where I want them and not fumble for a few minutes trying to get things into their proper place.  If you look at how small some of the decorative silver balls are on Red Mountain, I think that helps put the use of these tweezers into perspective.  They are a great assistant in the studio.

I purchased mine from Indian Jewelry Supply.  If you look closely, you can see the part number is still taped to them.  If you can’t read it, the item number is 249-T401MM for Indian Jewelry Supply part list.

What are some of your favorite tools that you use daily in your studios?

That concludes this week’s segment of Talkin’ Tools.  Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.


My Pepe 90 MM Rolling Mill with Newton looking on in the background…..

For today’s segment of Talkin’ Tools, I thought I would discuss some of the heavy artillery in my studio.  In this picture is my Pepe Rolling Mill.  As you can tell by this photo, basset supervision exists in my studio pretty much all of the time!  😀

I purchased my rolling mill from Indian Jewelry Supply (IJS) a couple of years ago.  They had the best price I could find on the web and they were offering free shipping at the time too!   I do purchase a number of my supplies from IJS because of their prices, customer service, quality and fast delivery times.

Why on earth do I need this piece of equipment in my studio?  Well, there are a number of reasons, besides it’s just a really cool tool! A rolling mill is a machine designed to produce thinner gauges of sheet metal and wire.  But there is more to it than that.  Here are a few of my main reasons to use this equipment:

  1. I purchase my easy solder in wire form.  One of the things Lexi taught me was to use the rolling mill to flatten that solder wire.  This helps prevent using too much solder in your application. Since I only have easy solder in wire form, rolling it through the mill tells me it’s easy solder.  Added bonus, it’s in a consistent flat piece.  It helps me to identify my easy solder so I don’t mixed it up with something like silver wire.  Yes, sadly, I’ve mixed things up…chalk that up to experience and lessons learned.  😦
  2. Conveying patterns to metal.  This is just plain fun!  You can transfer textures to your metal from papers, wire shapes, netting, fabric textures, brass sheets to mention a few things.  Use your imagination, the sky is the limit, although somethings don’t work well.  Just experiment and have fun.  The process kind of reminds me of the old wringer washer my Mom had when I was a kid…those were the days before automatic washers with the spin cycles.  Can you imagine?  Her machine had these wringers to run clothes through to remove the excess water…..now I’m really dating myself!  The process is virtually the same with the rolling mill.  Place the texture you want to transfer against your annealed metal, sandwich the two materials together in a manila folder (cut to size) to hold them in place as you roll them through the mill.  The pressure exerted by the mill rolls will transfer the texture to your metal.  Pretty cool, yes?
  3. Sometimes you have a thicker gauge of metal, say 18 gauge, and you want to reduce it to 20 gauge if you don’t have any around.  The compression will cause the metal to ‘spread’ and thin out to a smaller gauge.

There are lots of uses for this machine, but I’m just covering a few of the things I use mine for.

They come in a number of different widths 90 – 130 mm, completely flat or combo.  Mine is completely flat.   With the combo, half the roller is flat and the other half has graduated grooves used for working with wire.  They even have automatic ones, but those seem a bit frightening to me, not to mention VERY pricey!  I shudder to think of getting a finger or something caught in an automatic rolling mill.  Clearly for a one person studio like mine, the size I have works very well.

It’s important to keep your roller surfaces clean and free from debris.  Particles can be accidentally transferred to your metal forming imprints you may not want.  When not in use, I keep mine covered and I wipe the roller surfaces with a light 3 in 1 oil to maintain them.

I am a huge fan of Pepe Tools.  Their quality is outstanding and with proper care, this is one piece of equipment that I think will last a life time.  Something nice to pass on to a future metalsmith.

For those of you shopping around for a rolling mill, I would encourage you to check out the line Pepe offers.  If you have a rolling mill, I’d love to know what kind and your uses for it too!

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

Kathleen Krucoff


Artist and Metalsmith

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