Updated: May 1, 2022
Here are guidelines for using Metal Maven's Hydraulic Press Dies:
Protect Your Die:
Our hydraulic press dies are made from hardened tool steel and are engraved with a laser. They will come to you pre-oiled with CorrosionX oil, but you will need to continue to keep them oiled to protect them from rust and to help your metal pieces release more easily after pressing.
Pressing Your Piece:
To achieve a mostly solid pressing with this die, we have found that 18 gauge dead soft sheet metals work best. Cut your metal slightly wider than the design and long enough to hang over one edge of the die. Doing this provides you with a tab to grab onto with your fingers or pliers when it’s time to remove your metal from the die and it’s easier than trying to pry the metal away from the die with other types of tools like chisels or flat blade screwdrivers which could damage the surface of the die.
Line up your metal on the die using the engraved guidelines. Using a steel pusher that is as close as possible to the size of the die, press once to about 20 tons. (We use a hardened tool steel pusher that is 2” in diameter.) After the first pressing, turn the die 180 degrees and press a second time. The reason for doing this is because most hydraulic press platens are not completely level so your pressing could press deeper on one side.
After the second pressing, when you remove the die from your press there might be some slight indentations on the back surface of your metal where the larger engraved areas are on the die. This is normal and is unavoidable. Remove your metal from the die by gently pulling up on the tab of metal you left on one end. Your pressing is now ready to be sawn out using a jeweler’s saw with a 2/0 blade.
Sawing Your Piece:
Your pressing is now ready to be sawn out using a jeweler’s saw with a 2/0 blade.
Smooth The Edges:
Next use a jeweler’s flat file or fine grit sandpaper to smooth and round the edges. When using sandpaper, glide your pressing along the sandpaper lightly to remove any uneven areas and smooth the edges. Start with 800 grit wet/dry sandpaper, then graduate to 1000 grit, and again to 1200 grit to achieve a smooth surface. (Different grits of wet/dry sandpaper are available at home improvement stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot)
Tip: If you need to remove some larger areas around the edges of your piece, a benchtop belt sander comes in handy to remove them much faster than sanding by hand.
Anneal After Sawing And Smoothing The Edges Of Your Piece:
After sawing out and filing or sanding the edges of your piece, you might want to anneal it if you’re planning to shape it for use as a ring or earring because it is now work hardened due to the process of pressing it in your hydraulic press. Annealing will soften your piece which will make it easier to form. When annealing copper, bring it to a cherry red color and then quench it in water. When annealing silver, bring it to a dull red color and then quench it in water.
Pickle Your Piece:
After quenching, submerge your piece in a pickle solution. Pickling is a hot acid bath that's used to remove flux, oxidation, and fire scale from your jewelry after soldering, annealing, or for just cleaning metal before soldering it. Pickle solution is available on riogrande.com.
Apply A Patina:
After filing or sanding you can use a patina like Liver of Sulfur to darken your piece following the instructions on the label. To remove the patina from the high areas of your piece we recommend using fine grit Nail Salon buffing blocks that you can purchase from Amazon or beauty supply stores. We have a favorite brand that we order from Amazon called ForPro Ultra Gold Buffing Block, 240 Grit, Four-Sided Manicure & Pedicure Nail Buffer, 3.75” L x 1”W x1” H, 20-Count.