Archive | Soldering

Pendant Project Part 1

Pendant Project

OK, if you have a little time, stick with me, over the next week or so I am going to take you on a journey, and at the end, we will end up in Cool-Pendant-Ville. But first, I am going to show you how to make just a small part of it, So pack your bags and let’s go!

If you are making jewelry long enough, eventually you are going to come across a project with a stone with a sharp corner, either a marquise, pear, or square shaped stone. Today I will demonstrate how I go about making a v-bezel for setting stones.
First, I find either a scrap piece of sheet silver or cut a piece off of some stock. I roll it down in my Rolling Mill to about 0.5mm and then anneal it. If you are unfamiliar with annealing, search “Anneal” on this blog, or CLICK HERE.

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I then file a flat edge on one side of the silver and scribe a line approx 2.5mm away from the edge. (longer or shorter if you want longer or shorter bezels.) Once you have a line scribed, use a Square Graver or a Flat Graver at a 45 degree angle to cut a grove into the silver about 2/3 the way through the sheet. After the groove is cut, I run a Square Escapement File along the groove to make it uniform and straight.

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Hold the silver sheet with a pair of Smooth Jaw Parallel Pliers with the grove even with the edge of the pliers and use a Square Prong Pusher to fold the sheet to a 45 degree (or square) angle. I also tap the silver with my Rawhide Mallet or a Plastic Head Jewelers Hammer to make sure it is seated against the other side.

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Next I fluxed the solder joint with Handy Flux and add 3 pieces of small solder, spaced evenly, to the inside of the bezel. Do not use too much solder, you can always add more, but it is a pain if there is too much. I solder from the back side of the bezel with my Smith Mini Torch, to make sure the solder penetrates the solder joint.

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Now measure the finished side and scribe a line along the other side the same width, and cut with your Jeweler Saw Frame. (I use a 3/0 Saw Blade) Again, you can trim the sides either longer or shorter, and use thicker or thinner silver, depending on the application you are using.

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Now trim off the amount you want and solder to your stone seat or pad.

OR…. Stay tuned and see what I will do with this……
Now, go make something AMAZING!
Doug

How to Make a Secure Pearl Post

How to Make Pearl Post That Will “Grab”

If you make jewelry long enough, you will eventually make a piece of jewelry with a pearl or a post that will hold a glued stone to it. Here is a quick way to make sure the pearl or the stone you set will be more secure.

If you have a Rolling Mill with a grove for rolling square stock, you are ahead of the game, just roll a piece of silver down to approximately  0.7mm or so. If you don’t have a mill with those rollers with it, well here is another way to go about it.

Find a piece of sheet silver approximately 0.7mm thick and file the straightest edge flat and then scribe a line the same width as the thickness.

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Now it is time to work on and perfect your sawing skills. Use your Jewelers Saw to cut along the side the line that you scribed. Take your time and cut right on the outside of the line. The straighter the cut, the less filing you will have to do. I use a Saw Blade 3/0 to cut this. Now file the edge that you just cut off and make the piece as wide as it is thick. 0.7mm in this instance.

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Next it is time to anneal the small piece you just made. This piece is very small, so be careful not to overheat it in the process. Use a “bushy” flame and turn off your bench lamp. Watch the color of the silver as you  heat it, you want to aim for a dull pink color in the silver. Try to maintain this color for between 15 and 30 seconds, waving the flame (not too close) back and forth over the piece. I use a Smith Mini Torch for soldering and for annealing. Do not get it red hot!  If you do, cool your piece and start over.

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Use 2 pair of pliers or a small vise and 1 pair of pliers. I prefer to use Smooth Jawed Parallel Pliers, so the silver is not marred. These are same pliers I use to hold the silver while I cut it with my saw. Now twist the silver.

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Next, just trim off enough to hold the pearl or stone and solder into place. I use a cup bur to finish off the end of the post, and drill a small divot, a little larger than the post, in the piece to be soldered to. The divot will give the post more contact area for the solder to attach the post to, and make a stronger solder joint. The twisted action of the post will bond the glue or epoxy to the stone much better.

Now, go make something beautiful and have a great day!

Doug

Ring Shank Soldering

Another blast from the past. I promised to bring you some nuggets, so here you go. A way to make sure you get a strong, solid, solder joint on a ring shank.

Today we will look at a few tips on soldering and for the example, I will size a silver ring. First, figure out what size the ring is, and what size you need it to be. For each size difference is approx 2.4mm.

Sizing 1

In this example, I will size a ring down, so I marked the ring and cut the ring using a 3/0 Saw Blades and supporting the ring with a ring jig.

Sizing 2

I cut just inside the marks I made to allow room for filing. I use an Equalling Escapement File to file the inside of the shank, what this file does is makes sure the two ends are parallel to one another so there are no gaps in the soldering process. Gaps usually means pits in your solder joint.

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Next, I make sure the two ends are touching with no gaps, if the top of the ring is strong enough, I will twist the shank a bit and bend the ring past center, to compensate for the “spring” in the metal. You want to make sure the two ends match very close.

Sizing 6

Now, clean the solder joint very well, if you have an ultrasonic cleaner and a steamer, that would do the job well, but if not, soap, water, and a soft tooth brush will work. Protect the ring’s finish by dipping and “swirling” the ring in a mixture of Denatured Alcohol and Powdered Boric Acid. I always keep this mixture around and dip everything in it before soldering. I keep it mixed, about 1-2 tablespoons of boric acid to 1 oz. of alcohol. I keep it in an old baby food jar. works great on both gold and silver. Let air dry before soldering, you will notice it will turn your jewelry “white”, this is good, it is a thin coating of protective boric acid which will help keep fire scale down.

Sizing 7

Next, I add flux and solder. I use Handy Flux, a brazing flux that works great, especially on silver, but I use it on gold as well. I also keep this in a baby food jar, along with a silver wire to apply the flux. Coat the solder joint well. Heat the piece until the flux just stops “bubbling”, then add a small piece of solder with a soldering pick. I use a TITANIUM SOLDER PICK, the solder doesn’t melt to the titanium like it will to steel. I just barely dip the tip into the jar of flux and pick up the piece of solder with the pick, then apply it to the top of the solder joint. I used medium SILVER SHEET SOLDER and I cut it as needed. You will be tempted to want to use a bunch, but you don’t need a lot. See how much I used for this application.

Sizing 9 Sizing 8

Now comes the FIRE!! I use a Smith Mini Torch and have used one for years. The gas I use is propane and oxygen, but you can use Acetylene or Natural Gas. I like the propane because it is easy to get, and it is a much cleaner gas to use. Acetylene produces black smoke and “floaties”. I use the #5 tip that comes with the torch, in fact I drill it out a bit to give me more heat on larger projects. I use the same regulator on the propane that I used to use on acetylene. You will want to get a flame that is not too “bushy” and not too “sharp and pointy”. The flame in the image is what you want to aim for.

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I mentioned that you wanted to apply the solder to the top, this is because we will be applying the heat to the bottom of the solder joint. One of the biggest mistakes many jewelers make is applying the heat to the solder, this is a NO-NO. You always want to apply the torch heat to the opposite side of the solder joint because solder is drawn to heat, like a moth to a flame. When you do this, you “draw” the solder THROUGH the solder joint, making a stronger joint with less pits. Also if you melt the solder first, you “boil” the solder, changing the characteristics of the alloys in the solder, making it flow less and more brittle.

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After soldering, place piece in a pickling solution. I use Sparex which will help remove fire scale as well. I use a very small CERAMIC LINED CROCK POT to heat the pickling solution. Heating the solution makes it work a lot quicker.

We will get a lot deeper into soldering in the future, I hope this helps.

Now, go make something Amazing!

Doug

Ring Sizing Tutorial with Free Quick Guide

“Excuse me, could you take a look at my infected toe… or my enlarged goiter.” These are the types of questions I assume I would get if I told someone I was a doctor. (I am not by the way)

Well, over time as a jeweler, you are going to be faced with the task of sizing a ring, either as a customer repair, or when your friends and family find out that you work with jewelry, and they will have certain projects you can’t say “No” to.

Sizing a ring down is intimidating enough as a beginning jeweler, but once you do it a few times, you realize it isn’t as hard as you once thought. Making a ring larger in size is a bit more scary, because you are actually adding a piece of shank, rather that cutting a piece out and soldering it back together.

Today I am going to try to alleviate your fears and walk you through the process of sizing a ring up by adding material to a ring. Hopefully, if you have never tried this, and turned projects away, this project will give you a bit of encouragement and courage to tackle this task…… and there is a FREE Downloadable Quick Guide at the end.


Ring Sizing Tutorial with Free Downloadable Quick Guide

The first thing I do before soldering on any jewelry is give it a good cleaning, either with an Ultrasonic Cleaner, or with an old tooth brush and hot soapy water. Most jewelry gathers all kinds of “gunk” in the underside, from lotions and perfumes, to food and dead skin. Yuck, I know, but this makes for some uncomfortable smells when heated.

In this example. I have chosen a gold ring with diamonds to demonstrate the task. This ring needs to be increased by 2 sizes. If you are unaware of the history of the ring, I would suggest checking to see if there are already solder joints in the shank. I do this by slowly heating the shank and looking for any discoloring lines in the shank. If you see this, it is a good sign that it has been sized before. This line is a good place to cut the ring. If there are no preexisting solder lines, then I would measure the thickness of the shank, and cut the ring at the thickest part of the shank. Another thing to check is to make sure you are not cutting across any trademark or karat stamps, These are important for the integrity of the ring.

I usually like to cut in the center of the bottom of the shank if possible, but again, every ring is different, so you will have to do some investigating to see where the best place to cut. In this example, I have chosen the center. I am using a saw blade size that is 3/0 Sawblades. This is my “utility blade” and the size saw blade I use for most jobs. After I cut the ring, I place it on the mandrel and pull it up to the size I need. I size it so that the leading edge of the ring just touches the size I am wanting. Some people debate where to size the ring on the Ring Mandrel, so the ring just touches the size? So that the center of the ring is on the line? I am of the opinion that if it just touches the line on the mandrel, that should be the size you are wanting, and if it is a little small, it can always be increased a little with a flat Chasing Hammer. It is always easier to increase a little than decrease a little, which requires cutting and soldering again.

After the ring is cut, I use an Equaling File, a file that has teeth on both sides parallel to one another, to make sure the inside of the cut is smooth and evenly parallel. This is important for a clean union, and will reduce soldering pits. I find a piece of shanking material, about the same width and thickness as the ring shank I am soldering to. Since I am increasing the size of this ring by 2 sizes, I will cut a piece of material 5mm long, which is 2.5mm per size increase. I make sure the ends of the piece of shank I am using are filed straight and flat. I insert the piece of shank into the ring. I use the tension from the ring to hold it in place. I am careful to line up the INSIDE of the piece to the ring on one side. I will solder this side first. I dip and swirl my ring in a mixture of Denatured Alcohol and Boric Acid Powder. I have this premixed at my bench in a small baby food jar. I use about 1.5 oz. (jar about ¾ full) to 1 tablespoon of Powdered Boric Acid. I mix this good before I dip my piece into it. Make sure the lid is on tight when done, or it will evaporate quickly. After I dip the piece, I let it air dry. This ensures there is a good coating or barrier of the boric acid on the piece during soldering. This is used to help prevent fire-scale on the piece while soldering.

While soldering, I use adjustable tweezers on a base called a Third Hand system. This elevates the piece and allows me to position the ring so I can solder it. I apply flux Handy Flux to the solder joint, both the top and bottom. I use a piece of solder, in this case, about 1mm wide and the length of the shank width. I heat the ring up until the flux bubbles, and once it quits bubbling, I add the solder to the top of the joint, The flux will hold it in place. I heat the ring from the inside of the shank, and “draw” the solder through the joint, to ensure the solder has completely filled the union of the two pieces. This is what is referred to as “Sweat Soldering”. Solder follows heat, so it will be drawn through the solder joint towards the flame.

Once I have this side soldered, I let it cool, use my Equaling File to ensure the next solder joint is flush and clean. I carefully line up the inside of the next solder joint, and repeat the process. I like to take extra care to line up the inside of the shanks, because it takes more time to file the inside of a shank to make it flush, than the outside. I use a Half-Round Ring File to remove any excess solder from the inside and smooth the solder joint. Then I use a sandpaper sanding drum to remove any scratches. I start with 400 grit, then 600 grit, and finish with 800 grit drums to give me a very smooth area. Once the piece is in shape, I place it on my mandrel to make sure it is nice and round, and it is the proper size.

I use a #4 Hand File on the outside of the shank to remove any excess metal and to blend the shank and the soldered in piece. I finish the outside of the surface with a file to blend the shanks together, and finish with sandpaper as well as the inside, and finish the job with a good polishing job. The smoother and less scratches there are on the surface before polishing, the easier and better the polishing will be and look great.


As Promised, I have created a FREE Downloadable Quick Guide for you to help remember the steps I used in this Tutorial:

I hope this helps you to have the courage to attempt the next sizing job you are a little afraid of attempting. As far as your friends infected toe or enlarged goiter……. Refer them to an expert.

Good Luck

Now Go Make Something Larger!

Doug

Cutting Proper Length Wire For Making Ring Shanks

Have you ever started making a ring project, and were unsure how long to cut the wire or shank, so your piece is just the right size, with no waste?  Today I have put together a quick tutorial on how I make my ring shanks just the right size every time, and have added a FREE Downloadable Spreadsheet for you to have, to print out, and keep by your workbench.

Sample Image

Click Here>>>>  Ring Size Conversion Chart  <<<<Click Here

To determine how long to cut a piece of shanking material to make a ring,  Add the circumference, (Total Length of the piece needed) PLUS the thickness of the material you are working with. For example, If you want a SIZE 8 ring that is 1.5mm thick, you will start with a piece of material that is 57.15mm +  1.5mm (Circumference for a size 8 + 1.5mm) or 58.65mm long.

  • Here I start with the shanking material that is 1.5mm thick, and 3.0mm wide:

  • I cut the shank to the desired size, and use a pair of 1/2 Round/Flat Pliers to bend the 2 halves together so it blends better after it is soldered. I also use a #6 Equaling Escapement File.

    

  • I use as little amount of solder as I can, so I have less solder clean up. See how little solder I use? (solder on fingernail)
  • I heat the ring shank from underneath the solder joint, and place the Silver Solder on top of the solder joint. I use HANDY FLUX to solder with my Smith Little Torch.

    

Again, I am a HUGE advocate of “Less Solder, Less Solder Cleanup”.

  

I hope this helps, and the handy RING SIZE CONVERSION CHART never leaves your bench!

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Now….. Let’s Make Something Shiny, Together

Doug