Mandrel - Tapered Ring Mandrel - Steel

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Sku : MAN-105

11-1/4" x 1"

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Mandrel - Tapered Ring Mandrel - Steel

Indispensible tool for rounding or enlarging rings and also for forming metal clay rings. Use with a rawhide mallet or nylon hammer to avoid distorting your work. Sizes are marked on the mandrel. Case hardened tool steel. 


Ring Making in Metal Clay 

Making a ring from metal clay may seem a little intimidating at first, but it's actually very easy. Here are the essential tools you'll need and give you some good ring building fundamentals to get you started.

Basic Metal Clay Ring Forming Tools
Finger Gauge – to measure for ring size
Ring Mandrel – to form a ring
Ring Pellets – to control the size of a ring
Waterproof Mandrel Paper – to keep a formed ring from shrink-locking to the mandrel during drying
Invisible Tape – to make a mandrel sleeve

Finger Gauge
A finger gauge is used to determine ring size. There are several different types: ring-style finger gauges, paper gauges and strip gauges.

Ring Mandrel
A ring mandrel is used to form a ring on. Mandrels may be individual rods or a single mandrel that is either stepped or tapered. A ring can be formed to the most common sizes with any of the mandrel types. Here is a detailed description of the main types of mandrels that can be used for ring making:

Silicone Mandrels

Non-stick silicone ring mandrels are the perfect tool for making rings or cylinders in metal clay. When mounted on our mandrel stand, these silicone ring mandrels are the perfect device for easily forming metal clay into any round object. No longer is wax paper or other non-stick lubricants necessary between the mandrel and your creation. Great for forming wet clay and also for refining or augmenting clay in the greenware state. Removes easily from the non-stick silicone mandrel, when ready to fire. Be sure to insert a Cool Tools Ring Sizers to ensure a perfectly round, perfectly sized ring - every time. 

Multi Mandrel – The Multi Mandrel is easy to use and so versatile. The lightweight Multi-Mandrel was designed for creating wax ring models, but it's absolutely perfect for making metal clay rings. The set of 6 ring size mandrels are 5" long. There are two sizes on each mandrel. The mandrel is fitted into a stud on the mandrel stand. The stand can be placed so the mandrel is horizontal or vertical. The mandrels can be rotated on the stud, giving you access to every possible angle. The mandrels are available in whole and half sizes, and in aluminum or wood.  The double-ended mandrels offer lots of ring-making real estate with no tapers to throw off your sizing. Multiple projects can be created simultaneously. 

Tapered Ring Mandrel - Tapered ring mandrels are made of steel so the metalworker can form metal with mallets and hammers. There are mandrels with sizes engraved into the steel, and there are mandrels with no markings at all. A finger gauge can be used to find the right size on an unmarked mandrel and a Sharpie marker can be used to mark the size. Any tapered mandrel will affect the accuracy of the ring size on wide rings. A wide ring formed on a tapered mandrel will have a difference of 1 to 1-1/2 ring sizes from one side of the band to the other which can result in a ring that is too tight or doesn't fit at all. To overcome this problem, be sure to center the middle of the ring at your desired size on the mandrel. We recommend that you make a wide ring one size larger to account for the width. A wide ring will always feel tighter than one with a narrow band of the same size. Steel mandrels tend to be fairly heavy, as much as 2lbs.

Another type of tapered mandrel is made of wood. A wooden tapered mandrel is made for polishing rings and is called a ring polishing mandrel. Some people use this type of mandrel to form metal clay rings on, however we do not recommend this type because a ring polishing mandrel is much shorter than a steel mandrel, which means the taper is more extreme. Wood mandrels are not recommended for metal clay ring forming, however, it is very handy to have for polishing, stone setting, drying and drilling.

Tapered aluminum mandrels are called ring sticks. A ring stick is a gauge meant for finding the size of a ring. The ring is slipped onto the mandrel and the size is determined by the markings on the ring stick.

A stand is available for aluminum and steel tapered mandrels that raise them off the work surface by about 3", giving you plenty of room to work. 

Stepped Ring Mandrel - A stepped ring mandrel is most often made from aluminum for wax ring creation. Each step has about 1 inch of space for each ring size. Some stepped mandrels come mounted on a rotating stand, making them very handy for metal clay ring making.

No matter what kind of mandrel is used, rings are never formed directly on the mandrel because metal clay shrinks a little bit as it dries, making it impossible to get the ring off the mandrel without damaging it. And if you did form a ring directly on a steel or aluminum mandrel, you'd soon learn about galvanic corrosion. Galvanic corrosion is something that happens when dissimilar metals are in contact in the presence of an electrolyte. An electrolyte creates an electrical charge that then corrodes the metals...and it's not pretty. The water and binder in metal clay are an electrolyte. Wet metal clay placed directly on steel will start the steel rusting immediately. Pits will form in the steel even before the clay is completely dry. The rust on the clay will remain after firing as ugly black pitted splotches that cannot be removed. Wet silver clay on bare aluminum causes pitting and corrosion on the metal. Silver clay will be blotched, discolored and pitted, and the damage is irreversible.

A simple sleeve made from waterproof mandrel paper that fits over the mandrel allows easy removal of the ring as it dries and protects from galvanic corrosion. We call this a mandrel sleeve.

Mandrel Sleeve - To make a mandrel sleeve, cut a strip of waterproof mandrel paper about 1” wide and 3” long. Wrap the paper, shiny side out, around the mandrel. Trim the strip so one end just overlaps the other end and use a small piece of tape to hold it in place. The tape should not be on the mandrel. You want it just on the paper so the sleeve can be slid off later. 

Ring Sizers - A Ring Sizer is a special pellet or plug that is placed inside the ring shank during firing to control the size. The pellet is made from a special material that does not shrink or burn during firing. As the metal clay sinters, it shrinks tightly around the pellet so the ring is the exact diameter of the pellet after firing. After cooling, the ring is put into water to dissolve the pellet. Rings cannot be formed directly on Ring Sizer because they would not have any room to shrink and would tear.

Ring Pellet Mold – The Ring Pellet Mold is a cost-effective way for metal clay artists to cast their own Ring Pellets Ring Sizers as needed. If you make lots of rings or teach classes, it may be more economical to make your own Ring Sizers. Ring Pellet Molds are available in whole, half and gang sizes. You'll need investment or paper clay to cast the Ring Pellets.

Investment - Investment is a product that is used in casting metals. Investment is mixed and poured into the Ring Pellet Mold to cast Ring Sizers. Any type of silver, gold or platinum casting investment can be used, however the mold works best with a crystobolite-based product. Crystobolite is a silica-bearing product, so it must be used with a dust mask.

Our Ultra-Smooth Investment makes Ring Pellets that are very smooth and strong, do not shrink, and can be de-molded in 25 minutes after pouring. They can also be used immediately after de-molding even though they are still slightly damp.

Paper clay can also be used to cast Ring Pellets. Press paper clay tightly into the mold cavity. De-mold after 6 hours. Air dry overnight or place in dehydrator for 2 hours.

Steps to Making a Ring
1. Measure your finger to determine your ring size. Form your ring 2 sizes larger than this. For example, if your ring size is 7, you would form the ring at size 9. (We recommend adding an additional 1/2 size when the ring shank is wide and 5 cards or less in thickness.)

2. Fit your mandrel with a mandrel sleeve (see instructions above). The ring is created directly on the sleeve. As the ring begins to dry, it will shrink a little. This can be enough to stress a seam and cause it to tear. To avoid tearing, allow the ring to dry for 10 or 15 minutes, then slide the sleeve down one size on the mandrel so it can complete drying on the outside without any strain. Once firmed up, the sleeve with the ring on it can be slid off the mandrel and dried on a hot plate or in a dehydrator. Once the outside feels completely dry, the mandrel sleeve can be removed and the inside can finish drying. Do not try to remove the mandrel sleeve until the outside of the ring feels totally dry to avoid breaking or distorting the ring.

3. Once your creation is ready to fire and completely dry, place a Ring Sizer in your desired ring size inside the shank and fire. Don't worry that the ring is larger than the pellet. During sintering the ring will shrink tightly around the Ring Sizer, resulting in a ring that is exactly the size of the pellet. If the top of the ring is wider than the shank, the ring will have to be propped up so it doesn't warp. The ring can be placed on a fiber blanket or in a dish of vermiculite or alumina hydrate for support. Be certain that nothing gets between the Sizer and the metal clay as it sinters and shrinks.

4. After firing and cooling, the Ring Sizer is removed from the ring by dissolved it in water. Polish and finish the ring as desired.

Ring Making Tips

Sterling silver clays are recommended for making rings. Fine silver is soft and can get dinged and scratched easily. Sterling silver alloys are much stronger and recommended for articles that take abuse.

5 cards thick is a good standard for rings. For heavily textured rings, make sure you have a floor of at least 3 cards thick.

Making a Half-Sized Ring with a Whole Sized Mandrel
If you need to make a half-sized ring and only have a whole sized mandrel, make the mandrel half sized by making the mandrel sleeve thicker. Simply cut a longer piece of waterproof mandrel paper and wrap it one complete revolution around the mandrel. You'll need to use the proper half-size Ring Sizer when firing.

Removing the Ring Sleeve
Once the outside of the ring feels dry, remove the sleeve so the inside can dry. Place a needle tool on the top edge of the sleeve and collapse it downward. Pinch the sides of the sleeve together and slide it out of the ring shank. Be careful not to nick the inside of the shank as it will be soft. The ring can be speed dried on a hot plate or left to air dry. Be very careful in handling the ring at this point since the inside is still wet and the ring can easily collapse. Save the sleeve! It can be used again and again.

When you have 2 ends that meet and you want to blend them, use a small ball stylus or clay shaper to “stir” the ends together rather than trying to add water and paste them together. The result is a much more reliable joint.

Seams should be joined in a bias cut rather than a straight up and down cut. This gives more area to joint and results in a stronger seam.Use the seam as a design element or position the seam so it is at the top of the ring and will be covered with a decoration or top.

Seam Stress
Metal clay shrinks a little bit as it dries. To keep the ring seam from tearing, move the ring to a smaller mandrel size as soon as it’s firm enough to hold its shape. Let it air dry for 10 to 20 minutes and then slide the ring to a mandrel 1 size smaller, giving a little bit of slack allows the clay to shrink unobstructed. We've seen seams open when no slack was given. This also usually means the ring was not thick enough.

Rings have to be formed larger than their final size to allow for shrinkage. We recommend sizing rings 2 to 2-1/2 sizes larger than the desired ring size. For example, a size 7 ring, would be formed at 9 or 9-1/2 on the mandrel.

All orders placed before 12:00 (CST) will ship the same day, Monday through Friday. Orders placed after 12:00 (CST) will ship the next day, Monday through Friday. If there is a problem with processing your order, we will contact you.

Free Shipping: US Orders Over $125.00

Paragon & Evenheat Kilns ship separately, and take 2 - 3 weeks to be delivered, direct from the manufacturer.

Same-Day Shipping

Orders before 12:00 pm CST, M-F

Next-Day Shipping

Orders after 12:00 pm CST, M-F

Free Shipping

U.S. Orders Over $125.00

Kiln Shipping

2-3 weeks delivery for Paragon