Tag Archives: base metal discs

The follow up

In my first afternoon of using the disc cutter  I learned two very important things I want to remember for the next time. The first lesson was that,  between this step…

…and this step…

…I sure wish I had taken the time to drill a little hole in that indentation I made with the center punch. Then I would have had a usable piece from the first cutout. It’s so tiny, that it’s almost impossible to hold while drilling a hole in it, so it becomes an unusable scrap. With a hole in it, it would have become a nice little mini washer. A decorative element for a rivet.  Live and learn. I ended up with a number of these before I thought about taking the extra step to drill them first.

I felt especially wasteful when I thought how handy a mini washer/rivet collar would be in silver as a nice little contrast to some copper earrings.

So, not such a big deal, but a lesson learned for next time.

The other lesson came from overconfidence and not paying attention. “Hey, this is an easy tool to learn to use. I’m whizzing my way through all of these cuts.”  I  remembered to use Bur-Life to lubricate the punch each time. Even when I used the wrong end of the punch….rut roh…

This could have been a costly mistake. Bur-Life or not, one end of the punch is made for cutting and the other end is made for hitting with a hammer. When I put the punch in upside down, the dull end was trying to cut the metal and the sharp end was being hit hard several times with my hammer! It was really hard to separate the punch from the metal sheet, and crossed my fingers that I hadn’t damaged the cutting end of the punch.

Phew. The punch still cut the next piece. I hope I never do that again. Though, I might not be the only one who has ever made that mistake. Rio sells replacement punches.

I hammered and patina-ted the copper and brass pieces, and I hammered, oxidized and hand polished the silver pieces and ended up with a nice collection of components to work with. (I didn’t get a shot of the whole batch, but you can get an idea from this.)

Here are a few of the earrings I made from my own discs.

I think I will get a lot of use out of this new tool!


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New tool!

I recently bought a Swanstrom disc cutter.

If you have one of these you know it’s not a low budget item, so I thought about it for a while before deciding this was something I would use a lot. Much as I love to shop and buy components from other people, I also really like to make my own. I especially wanted the ability to cut discs from brass and copper so I could patina them, and use them in earring designs.

The learning curve was not too steep. I spent a pleasant afternoon working my way through various sizes of discs and familiarizing myself with my new tool. I quickly learned it was better to start with the smallest disc and work up in size. (It is too hard to center the hole in smaller and smaller pieces, which is how I tried it the first time around.) I spent the extra $57 for the Center Positioning Die set. That seemed pretty steep to me, but I still bought it and I’m glad I did. It will pay for itself in time saved when cutting out a series of washers. Here is one of the progressions:

Oh yeah! I was on a roll! I dug out my silver scraps from the days when I cut all of my shapes and interior designs with a saw.

I know. They were kind of a fun design, but I got so tired of sawing and filing edges and going through all of those grits of sandpaper to polish them. And PMC was so much less expensive when I put these pieces away….Now they have some new life!

Here are the pieces I cut in my learning curve afternoon.

I have more to say about what I learned and some photos of how I finished the components. But, it’s getting late and I already stayed up way too late last night to hear Obama and Romney speak when the results were in. So off to bed I go and, as they say in France, “à demain!”


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