This article is a book review published in the 1994 Summer issue of the Metalsmith Magazine reviewing “Hydralic Die Forming for Jewelers and Metalsmiths”


Hydralic Die Forming for Jewelers and Metalsmiths
by Susan Kingsley
20 – Ton Press, Carmel, California, 1993 ($19.95)
95 pages, 142 black and white photographs and illustrations
ISBN 0 – 9635832 – 0 – 4

Metalsmith and author Susan Kingsley has brought together her experience and resources in a practical, well written and carefully organized book. Offering the recent history of applications of the hydraulic press and guidance through numerous technologies, Hydraulic Die Forming for Jewelers and Metalsmiths is divided into five sections with discussions of equipment, non conforming dies, conforming dies, blanking dies, and die variations and combinations.

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The discussion of equipment includes numerous possibilities for press frames, but somewhat disconcertingly emphasizes the frames and accessories available through Bonny Doon. While Lee Marshall the engineer behind Bonny Doon has produced an impressive selection of tools for the press, and even though the accessories mentioned greatly increase the applications of the press, they also serve to make inexpensive hydraulic arbor presses, those available through discount suppliers appear obsolete or inadequate (“not recommended”). Here the promotion of a brand name has somewhat over-shadowed the sharing of information and the accessibility of the technology. Inexpensive presses do not come with bolt-on accessories, but only require simple modifications to provide good service. For those interested in other tooling applications however, the discussion of accessories is thorough.

With a thorough understanding of equipment the reader is prepared for detailed discussion of numerous die technologies. The heart of the book provides a thorough presentation of an impressive variety of applications from basic matrix dies, to embossing and blanking. As an example the chapter on non-conforming dies makes a compelling case for the use of urethane over the more common sheer rubber often found in metals shops. The urethane has superior response to extreme pressures and is able to flow, and form material with greater resolution. Kingsley has wisely included health and safety precautions and information.

In an age of home shopping networks and info-mercials one cannot help but notice a certain pitching of products and applications in Hydraulic Die Forming for Jewelers and Metalsmiths. Like the QVC, emphasis is placed on products and information and less so on presentation and while the presentation is adequate it does not always serve the text as well as it could. In some instances, photographs lack contrast and do not illustrate details well. Yet despite these minor caveats, the total package offers the only text which assembles all of the recent jewelry and metalsmithing applications of the hydraulic press, and a thorough discussion of each technique and related appendices, a suppliers list and more. The field has recently seen numerous self-published books by our members, among those this one would certainly rank near the top. It would be a useful book for jewelers and metalsmiths of all levels, and at $19.95 a pretty good buy.

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Matthew Hollern is a metalsmith and an assistant professor of Metals and Jewelry at the Cleveland Institute of Art. He is also the technical editor of Metalsmith.