Annealing Metal

This is a basic skill in metalworking that took me a while to understand.  I read about it in books and articles about metalworking and did not get the point.  I mean, why not just get on with whatever needed to be done?  In a parallel track, I would see some metal jewelry made by others and wonder – how in the world did they do that?  I remember seeing a project in Lapidary Journal for a pair of earrings.  One of the steps involved folding the metal.  I wondered, unless it was very thin metal, how would you fold metal.  Metal is hard.

It wasn’t until I actually felt a piece of annealed metal in my own hands that I understood, the two parallel tracks came together and I realized what an incredibly useful technique it was.  A piece of hard metal that I could not bend with my bare hands, once annealed is pliable – for a while.  As you continue to work the metal, it begins to harden.  Depending on what you are doing, you can anneal it again.  I learned annealing best by doing it with an experienced person sitting beside me.  Basically, you are looking for a color change that you achieve by carefully heating the metal.  Then you immediately quench it in water.  It helped me to have someone tell me when I heated the metal to the right color.  Once I saw the color, I then knew what to look for.  I have also seen Internet articles and videos demonstrating the technique.  It’s nice when the pieces come together.

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