With silver topping 30 bucks a troy ounce today, I thought this was an appropriate post.
When working on a project, invariably we generate scrap. We get dust and oddly sized pieces from cutting; we get more dust from filing; there are odd bits and bobs and more dust from wire when cutting and snipping; and of course there is scrap which was a project that is just not up to snuff.
Basically we can generate quite a bit of it and with the way the prices are going these days who would dare throw it away. I try to keep very last mote of the stuff be it copper or silver.
Last year when prices on silver started to take off, I bought quite a bit of wire and sheet stock. If I was to send my scrap to a refiner well, I would still get more for my scrap, despite the refiner taking their cut, than I paid for it originally. Think about it, if you send your scrap to a refiner and he sends you cash after he takes his cut for processing, you might end up with more money because the original price of the scrap was less than the current market price but you still have to go purchase more material and you won't get the same amount of material in weight that you sent in - so you are loosing money.
But I don't do that - I recast my scrap for my own use.
Last year, at about this time, I took the casting ingot and rolling mill 1 day class at The Whaley Studio but I never did get around to setting up my tanks though I did get a crucible and an ingot mold. Over the past year I have cast some round ingot and made my own wire and I have also cast some rectangular ingots and rolled out some sheet for use in jewelry. I also purchased a rolling mill a few months ago.
After saving my silver scrap for months, recently I went down to Jay's to use his gas setup and pour some ingots. I ended up with FOUR sterling silver ingots that total about 12 troy ounces. That is about 3 troy ounces per ingot. I also cast two ingots of Shibuishi that I alloyed my self at 90% copper and 10% silver, These two ingots together total about 5 troy ounces and are a pale rosy pink.
So do the math, at today's silver prices 12 ozt x 30.xx which works out to over 360 clams, provided it was pure. My ingots are sterling which actually works out to about 11 ozt of fine silver so my actual value is $330. That's a lot of money and if you send it into a refiner who lets say only gives you 75% of the value; that means you only get $250 and they keep $82. If you turn that around for sheet or wire, there are processing charges as well, and so you walk away with a lot less usable material.
What do I have planned for my ingots - Why I will make sheet of course!
With my rolling mill I will make some 18, 20, and smaller gauge sheet. We are not talking small amounts of sheet for jewelry - I am talking at least 3" by 3" sheet for some small vessels and I hope to get the largest ingot to almost 6" by 6". Mind you, this takes can take several hours of work, but if you do a little bit each day, it is eventually done, and it does go faster as the ingot gets thinner.
And because I did not send my scrap to a refiner, I was able to keep all this material for my self and my cost was the time and gas.
So, find your self a class to learn to cast ingots and use a rolling mill - I suggest you go take it soon and save yourself some money!
Oh, and recently I was talking to a woman and she says she has NEVER saved her scrap; she throws it away, oh no! I want to know where her garbage is so I can go through it.