The hydraulic press is often described as the biggest, strongest and easiest hammer to use in a jeweler's tool box. The hydraulic press is a great tool for silhouette die forming, fold forming, and synclastic and anti-clastic raising. Use a silhouette die in your hydraulic press to create beautiful art jewelry.
Select the silhouette die you want to use in your hydraulic press. If the die has more than one cut-out, decide which one you will use for your art jewelry piece. Note that if the form on the die is not symmetrical, then you will have a mirror image if you turn the die over and use the other side of the die.
Anneal a piece of metal that is larger than the cut-out in your die. You can use copper, sterling silver, gold, brass and most other sheet metals. Make sure the sheet extends 1 to 2 inches beyond the edges of the cut-out.
Place the sheet metal on top of the cut-out on the die form.
Place a piece of rubber or urethane sheet over the sheet metal in the die.
Put the die into the hydraulic press. Gently pump the press until you have reached a pressure of no more than 50 pounds.
Release the press, pull out the die, remove the rubber or urethane and check the metal. If you are pleased with the result, you are done. If you want a deeper form, then anneal the metal again and repeat these steps until the metal is drawn to the depth you want.
Once you are pleased with the result, use a jeweler's saw to remove the excess sheet metal. Use your imagination to integrate the die-formed component into your handmade jewelry design.
Always wear eye protection when working with a hydraulic press.