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Create a sheet of metal or metal wire from an ingot

For a solid ingot, you need to fully compact the microscopic crystals of the metal. Place the ingot on a steel bench block. Use a flat chasing or planishing hammer to lightly hit the ingot on every side. The aim isn’t to flatten it but to compact and condense it. Once you have your ingot, you can make it into sheet or wire.

To make sheet: Use plain rollers in a rolling mill to compress the ingot to your desired thickness. Anneal the metal frequently to keep it from splitting on the sides. 

To make wire: Use the large (diamond-shaped) wire grooves on the rolling mill to initially compress the ingot. Pass the ingot through progressively smaller grooves; this will both reduce the diameter and increase the length. 

To form the diamond-shaped wire into round wire, use a round drawplate (a thick sheet of metal with a series of tapered holes drilled through it). 

Secure the drawplate in a bench vise with the smaller side of the tapered holes facing out. Using a hammer or the rolling mill, taper the end of the wire. Apply liquid lubricant to the largest hole in the drawplate, and insert the tapered end of the wire through the hole from the larger side.

Grip the end of the wire with drawing tongs or vice-grip pliers. Pull firmly and evenly on the wire, drawing its entire length through the hole. The compression and lengthening will heat the wire up considerably. Repeat the process, moving to progressively smaller holes in the drawplate until the wire is the desired gauge. 

Troubleshooting Your Ingot
  • Ingot splits or crumbles — Impurities are present.
  • Uneven color — The metal wasn’t mixed thoroughly.
  • Bubbles/cavities — Impurities are present and/or the ingot mold wasn’t the correct temperature.
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