Q: Are there any sheet-metal bending, punching and shearing machines made for jewelers? All I’ve seen are giant industrial models; I need miniature versions.
A: Frei and Borel sell a Swiss-made combination tool called Profiform. It’s basically a straight shear for sheet metal, which gives unusually straight-edged cuts with a minimum tool mark. But the same “ram” mechanism that moves the blade also drives a sort of bending brake arrangement below the cutter, so in addition to being a shear, it’s also a bending brake. And that same ram, instead of driving the bending fingers, can also drive optional punches. The punches and dies are available in a number of shapes, including square and rectangular, and I think, oval.
Note that these puppies are quite pricey. They’re not at all in the same league as typical disc cutters where for fifty bucks you get one die block and six or more cutting punches. These things cost more than that, I think, for each punch/die set, plus the cost of the Profiform tool itself. But it’s available, if that’s what you need.
Also, do you remember the classic old Roper Whitney Number Five hand punch? That punch has been widely knocked off by cheap Chinese/Taiwanese import copies you can get for ten or fifteen bucks. But the original company makes many styles of hand-driven punches, including those for shapes other than round. Again, you have to be willing to pay for them. They’re a lot more difficult to make than the typical round punch, so they cost a good deal more.
by Peter W. Rowe M.F.A., G.G.