Some ins-and-outs of twisting sterling square rod

In pursuit of making a twisted square-section sterling ring, some old square rod of about 2mm side was annealed then twisted with one end held in a vice, the other in pliers. This gave a twist of about 2.2mm diameter, with about 18 twists in a length of 76mm. The first picture below shows the original square rod, and the twist result. I subsequently found that it was much more convenient to grip with rod at the operator end with bulldog grips, resulting in an easier, more even and denser twist.

This twist was then annealed and formed into an open (unsoldered) ring before polishing, as in the second picture above. The result, although reasonably pleasant after polishing with radial polishing wheels, was aesthetically too coarse a gauge. It was then re-annealed, straightened then untwisted. To my surprise, I managed to then roll it through the mill wire rollers to re-form perfect 2mm square rod. These latter wire rollers were not actually much use, because their minimum gauge is in fact 2mm – this accounts for the prevalence of 2mm square rod in my scrap box (all produced from old sprues). So it was rolled through the flat rollers instead, rotating the rod a quarter revolution each pass, to give a final gauge of 1.8mm square. It was then twisted in two stages with annealing to give a diameter of 1.85mm with 46 twists per 76mm.
The third picture above shows the very sharp profile of the spiral twist made by the above process, which naturally would be expected to be uncomfortable if made into a ring. So another section of the twist was lightly sanded and repolished, as shown in the last picture.


Making a rotary burnisher from an Allen key

After a tip published in Orchid by J Morley in 2004, I used an alumina separating wheel to shorten the shorter end of a 7/64" Allen key to about 1cm, and used the same wheel to roughly grind the end to a dome. Later I discovered that this latter operation was probably a waste of time, a better way was to fit the Allen key into the pendent drill and rotate the cut end against progressively finer grades of wet abrasive paper. This had the great advantage of producing a profile (providing the drill was slowly lifted and lowered to additionally shape it in another plane) which is maximal size for burnishing. The result was a very attractive looking tool, requiring no heat treatment (the same tool can be made using a bur, but this requires heating, bending, shaping, re-hardening then tempering - a lot more work).
Unfortunately, actually using the tool is a different matter. I tried it on various old pieces of cast silver with porosity, and although it bashed the surface very satisfactorily, not all porosity was closed up, and I was uncertain how to finish the resultant surface. I tried the abrasive radial wheels which did indeed get a wonderful polish, but did not remove undulations in the surface caused by the rotary hammering effect. It is faintly possible that my method of getting a maximal size burnishing surface is at fault, perhaps a much smaller burnishing surface would get better results. Of course, I realise that if nothing else, it may be useful as a power texturing tool!