Isn't she a beauty? I love working at my metalsmith stump, creative juices flowing, and soaking up the beautiful Sierra Foothills. Although right now the temperature is 110 million degrees and if I tried to work in the studio I would be reduced to a puddle of sweat within minutes.
The stump came from my dad, who will do anything to make me happy, including negotiate with some shady mountain characters to rescue it from an ill fate.
I bought this beast of a vise for $25.00 at a thrift sale. The jaws are jagged and 6 inches wide. Some day I may cover it with copper, but for now I use leather strips to protect the metal. The most expensive part was the leather reins we used to create loops for the hammers. It's so nice having them out and accessible!
The total height to the top of the vise is 23". Keep in mind, I'm a short little thing, so I don't need it to be that tall. If you are wanting to make one, for proper height, my instructor said it's important to keep your arm in a 45 degree angle, and in a relaxed position to avoid injury to your wrist and arm. An adjustable chair is probably best too. For now I am using my Grandma's chair, soon to be painted and recovered.
What are some of the techniques I use the metalsmith stump for? My most favorite right now is working with a Sinusoidal wooden stake that I made. Yep, I made that!
I found an awesome Youtube video here on how to do it. This young lady is bad @$$ and really knows her way around power tools! The hardest part for me was using this router. The thing kept jumping around like a jumping bean and shooting bits of wood everywhere at projectile speed.
I use this metal raising hammer, but sometimes I use a Delrin hammer if I don't want to lose the pattern on embossed or etched metal. Ok, I know my raising hammer looks funky. It's a hammer from a body fender kit. I modified it by cutting off the back because it was too heavy and then sanded it down to create rounded edges. Hey, whatever's clever right?? I covet Fretz hammers but geez, they are so expensive. I also rounded the edges of the delrin hammer as well.
Also annealing the metal really helps when hammering. Sometimes I have to anneal more than once if the metal becomes work-hardened.
Another way I use the vise is with bracelet mandrels. I either use them standing straight up or I have a steel stake I run through the hole and then tighten the vise so I can use them horizontally.
I was given this draw plate awhile back and for months I had no idea how to use it. My instructor showed us in class one day, and I went home and then drew tons of wire.
It's super easy and fun.
Basically, you file the ends and then feed the wire through a smaller gauge hole. Then use some vise grippy pliers to grab the metal and pull through. Keep repeating in smaller gauge holes until you get to the size you want. The wire becomes longer and work-hardened so that is an added plus.
Here are couple bracelets finished with the sinusoidal stake.
Do you have any metalsmith techniques you are loving right now or that you would like to explore? How about some clever tricks you have tried lately. Please do tell!
I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer!