The silversmith working many miles from supply houses uses whatever tools he has and improvises to make the simple tools he needs. This ingenuity is one of the reasons this great craft is alive and well today. It is surprising to discover that some of the homemade tools are the best and most-used tools a silversmith possesses.
In several projects illustrated in this book pieces of sitver were fashioned into particular shapes by bending or forming them around strips of black wrought iron or "strap iron", usually six to eight inches long of varying thicknesses. Large bolts, the heads of which have been filed into shape to make forming tools are usually ham mered into a wooden block to complete the die.
One Indian silversmith, instead of sawing out the many hundreds of scalloped edges around a belt concha, saved himself a great deal of time and work by making a crescent shaped cutting chisel to shear off the excess silver around the edges. It is said, "Necessity is the Mother of Invention". The improvising and making of certain homemade tools should be encouraged among the silversmiths and craftsmen. Numerous wooden and iron tools were devised to complete many of the projects in this book.
A small portable sheet metal worker's punch, such as the Whitney Jensen No. 5 with a set of punches ranging from 3/32nds of an inch to 9/32nds of an inch, is an extremely useful tool for the silversmith. Small holes can be quickly and easily punched in thin metai more perfectly than they can be drilled. It is particularly useful when making a hole to insert a jeweler's saw blade for sawing.
All the soldering was done with Leach and Garner's No. 55 solder (medium flow) with a 1325° F melting point; and Handy and Harman's Handy Flux was used exclusively. This solder was used successfully regardless of the number of times an article was soldered.
The word "solder" as it is used in this book refers to silver solder, not to lead or soft solder. Silver solder is a mixture of pure silver, copper and zinc, but never lead. Even a small amount of lead accidentally mixed with silver renders the silver unworkable. This contaminated silver should be sent to a refiner - it should not be used in casting. Any lead solder put into the acid pickle will contam mate the acid,
Kirksite, referred to in this book, is an alloy of zinc and other metals used extensively in industry to make non-deforming molds to form or shape other metals. It has a ineiting point of approximate^ 800° F and can be poured into dry plaster or investment molds to make forming dies. It can be obtained from: Morris P. Kirk and Son, 2700 South Indiana Street, Los Angeles, CA 80023.
The lead which was used for dies pictured in these projects is melted down old automobile wheel balance weights.
They are made of a flat piece of thin 28 gauge stiver sheet, domed and trimmed like a half bead. A number of pieces of flat silver wire are bent in a variety of shapes and all soldered together, filagree fashion.
In this water color painting by Tucson artist Vic Doruthue, the 'NATANI NEZ", Of head man, is admiring his horse wearing the silver headstall. The headstall lying across the painting was made about 1830 and is considered a very fine example. The naja is hacked by leather to protect the horse's forehead.
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