The struck end: This the end that the hammer hits. Traditionally the struck end is smaller than the rest of the tool. This helps keep the force of the blow in alignment with the working end
The different types of tools you may use
Liners: These punches are used to outline the shapes that are later given shape and dimension with the other punches. The end of the tool is often shaped like a wedge but softened with your sandpaper so it won’t cut into the metal. You can also make liners with a gentle curve or arch so that you can line curved edges.
Modeling or forming punches: These punches are basically the punches you use to raise and push the metal around. These tools are shaped to the shape you need for your design and are usually polished. An example of these tools could be a doming punch you use from the workshop, a dap or a tool you shape yourself for a specific area of your design.
Planishing punches: These punches are used to smooth the relief (the raised background). These punches are always highly polished. You can makes these any shape; they just need to be able to fit neatly in into any corners or thinner edges of your design.
Matting Punches: These punches have a texture or pattern inscribed on the punch. This texture will be left on the metal as well as matt finish instead of the polished finish the other punches should leave. You can file, saw, carve, scribe or sand a pattern or texture onto your punch to create a series of patterns or textures on your metal. This technique can be very effective if you want to areas to contrast or stand out against each other.
Setting punches: These punches are made with the end being set at an angle. When used on the line between your design and the flat base of the metal that has not been raised it makes the line very clear. Defining your design, almost like outlying your design.
You also get hollow punches, Jig punches and stamps. These are more specialized tools and are usually bought from suppliers rather than being self made.
Making your ownTools You can make tools from tool steal or use the punches and other tools we have around the workshop. You will find that you will need to make tools to fit your specific design. You can shape your tools with sand paper and on the grinder. Remember that with working with tool steel you can blunt your files so take caution there.
How to Repoussè 1. The first important step is preparing the metal. If the metal is hard from cold working, anneal it. Cut the metal to a size for your design but leave a decent rim around your design. It has been suggested in some sources to coat one side(the side that will be going into the picth) with vasceline or a mineral based oil. This will help you remove the metal from the pitch. 2. The second step is transferring the design. There are several ways of doing this and you will need to find one that works for you. Carbon paper can be used, be sure to have the carbon paper with the appropriate side down. Then put your design on top of the carbon paper and then simply trace over your design transferring onto your metal. You can also use normal pencils or permanent markers if you feel confident to redraw your design free hand onto the metal. 3. Heat the pitch with a soft flame until goes soft then place the metal in the middle of the pitch bowl. Press gently to force out any air pockets trapped between the pitch and the metal. The pitch will also flow over the edges and keep the metal securely in place. Then allow the pitch to dry so that your piece is securely held in place.
4. Go over your design lightly with one of your tracer punches. 5. Lift your metal out of the pitch by heating lightly and then lifting with tweezers. Remove any excess pitch on your piece by burning it away or better removing it with turpentine. 6. Turn your piece over and set it back into the pitch. Then start working your design with the tools you have prepared. When you metal starts to feel stiff you need to take the piece out of the pitch again, clean and anneal. 7. Work your piece in the pitch on both the front and the back till you are happy with your design. Finishing touches like using your setting punches round the outside of your design are done at this stage. Remove from pitch and clean for the last time. Your piece is now ready to be made into a piece of jewellery, whether set in a frame or made into a bangle like the example pictures.
Marking the metal with your tools if they are not properly maintained
Splitting the metal from hammering too much- anneal reguraly!.
Sharp bits of tool or molten pitch can embed in ones eye
One can smack their knuckles with a hammer, so take care when hammering
Hearing problem/ loss of hearing (you can imagine how loud it can get when one is hammering metal with a metal tool using a metal hammer, noise becomes a problem and a prolonged exposure to it can damage your ears. This is very easy because repousse work is one that takes hours and hours to work on)
One can easily get themselves cut(sometimes the sheets of metal one works with are quite thin and can cut you very easily, much like a paper cut, whether it be in the early stages of the work or in the final stages of cleaning up)
Vibration injuries ( when one hammers, especially a metal tool, it sends vibrations back up to your arm, and this is not a very friendly motion to your joints)
Take breaks frequently ( this will eliminate the element of damaging your ears because you wont be getting prolonged exposure to the noise, and also give you joints time to rest so that you do not damage your physical being/ health. Also it is easy to make a mistake or hammer your metal too much with this kind of technique, so taking a break and coming back to your work later helps as you will be looking at your piece with fresh well rested non- deceiving eyes )
Have a curved handle (your hammer should be curved, hence why the chasing hammer has a somewhat curved bulge at the edge, this is so that you don’t have too much wrist movement and you can let the hammer just flop in your hand but still have control over it, so basically you put less stress on your wrist)
Posture (because repousse and chasing are such long processes, it important that you maintain a good and comfortable posture so that you don’t damage your back or hurt your neck leaning into your work for long hours)
Wear eye protection ie. Goggles
Store solvents in a safe and protected space or place