Thursday, October 25, 2012
Whether you make precious metal jewellery, like to do wirework or use metal clay, a ring mandrel is a very useful piece of kit!
Mandrels (also known as triblets) are long stakes that you use to shape rings, bangles and any other metal pieces that need a curve. They are made of metal or wood and are made in specific sizes to fit their purpose, ie. a bangle mandrel will be much larger than a ring mandrel. Mandrels are also available for bezel and tube making, and come in many shapes including round, oval, square and triangle.
How to use a ring mandrel
Most of the time I use my mandrel in my hand and use a raw hide mallet in the other hand to hammer my rings round. A lot of jewellers will place their mandrel in a vice to hold it steady. The mandrel can be placed either vertically or horizontally (just make sure it is firmly gripped in the vice). You can also use a mandrel to enlarge a ring by annealing the ring and hitting gently on the top edge, you will need to turn the ring over so that you hammer evenly both sides. To enlarge a ring successfully it's best to keep annealing and hammering softly so the ring doesn't snap at the solder join. Wooden ring mandrels can be used to make metal clay rings, but make sure you place a piece of paper between the clay and the wood.
Ring sizing sticks
Also available to help with ring making are sizing sticks (pictured with the mandrel). A good quality sizing stick will be made of aluminium and have marks on both sides; universal, British and U.S. sizes on one side and internal diameter and circumference on the other. They also come in plastic as a budget version. Sizing stick should not be used to hammer metal rings.
Ring mandrel prices start from £4 for a basic wooden one to around £20 for a good quality stainless steel one. Ring sizing stick prices start at £3-4 for a plastic one to around £10 for a good quality aluminium one.
Mandrels are widely available from many retailers