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

How to Make an End Sanding Bur

Y’all know I like to make and modify tools whenever possible, so here is a quick one for you.Have you ever been working on a piece of jewelry, and needed a tool that just wasn’t in your tool arsenal? This is the story of just about every tool I have made or modified. Allow me to share a tool that I make that is worth its weight in candy bars, or something good like that.

If you have ever used an End Brush, or used one up, do not throw them away when you are done with them. These can be modified into great end sanding tools. First, I mount the used up end brush into my Foredom and turn it slowly while I saw into it with a Saw Frame. I use a 3/0 Saw Blade to do this. I cut almost all the way through, then I just snap it off with my fingers. Now I have a flat ended mandrel.

Tool Making End Sander (1) Tool Making End Sander (2)

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After I cut the end off, I take a small ball bur and add a little “texture” to the end of the mandrel. I used a 0.8mm Ball Bur in this instance. I cut a small piece of Sandpaper, a little larger than the end of the mandrel. I add a drop of Super Glue to the mandrel and apply the sandpaper to the mandrel, grit facing out. The texture that was added is to hold onto the glue better.

Tool Making End Sander (5) Tool Making End Sander (6)

After the sandpaper is glued to the mandrel, and the glue has dried, I trim the excess off with a pair of Semi-Flush Side Cutters, then file the edge flush. I use an old #4 Flat Hand File to do this.

Tool Making End Sander (7)

I have a number of these end sanders around with different grits of sandpaper, from 320 to 600. They get inside of areas and sand flat areas, they work quick, and it the sandpaper loses it’s cut, just take the old paper off (I use a Surgical Blade) and add another piece of sandpaper.

Tool Making End Sander (8) Tool Making End Sander (9)

Again, this is a great tool to have around and definitely worth its weight in candy.

Now, enjoy this little gem and go out and see if you can make a kid smile today!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Polishing Tips Today…. Blast from the Past

Polishing Tips Today

It has been a while since I started JewelryMonk.com, and when I started it a few years ago, I kicked it off with 90 tips in 90 days. There was a lot of great content in those first few months, so while I am away from my bench for a spell, I thought I would dig up some nuggets and share over the next month…..so here we go.  (BTW, if you have time, scroll back through the many posts and see if you can find some good nuggets)

Today will be a quick tip, known by most, but very important if you want a quality finish on your jewelry. You spend a lot of time with your design, layout, stone selection, etc. but if the execution of your finishing isn’t done correctly, you might be disappointed with the end result. Last week we touched on some prep work for polishing with filing, sanding, and rubber wheeling.  Today we will touch on polishing and Polishing Wheel etiquette. I usually use 2 types of polishing compound on silver,  Graystar for pre-polishing and Red Rouge for final polishing.

Graystar is a good compound to remove the fine scratches and blemishes left over from casting , tumbling, and handwork.  Use a dedicated wheel for Graystar and only use this compound on this wheel.

Wheel Gray

Work the piece against the wheel in a “crossing” pattern, first polishing in one direction, then changing the direction of the piece and polishing in another direction. Avoid polishing the piece in the same direction, or this will cause “grooving” your piece from polishing in the same direction with the wheel. When you have gotten the piece to a point where all of the blemishes are removed, it is time to put the piece in the Ultrasonic Cleaner. You want to remove all of the Graystar before final polishing, if there is any compound left on the piece, it will affect the final polish.

Next it is time to final polish your piece. Use a dedicated wheel for your Red Rouge and only use this compound on this wheel.

Wheel Red

If there is any other compound on this wheel, it will contaminate this wheel and it will not perform at its best. Again, polish in a crossing pattern to get the luster you desire. Work with firm pressure at first, then lightly to finish.  Add piece to your Ultrasonic Cleaner to remove compound off piece and use a Steam Cleaning Machine to finish cleaning.

Again, I cannot express it enough, have a dedicated wheel for your pre-polish (Graystar) and your final polishing wheel (Red Rouge).

At a later date, I will dive into a more “Detailed” process of felt buffs, lapping wheels, brushes, etc.

Enjoy your day!

Now, go make something shiny.

Doug

020 Podcast Cleaning your Files, Pin Vises, Jewelers For Children

JewelryMonk Podcast Episode 21

In this Episode I talk about Educating, Equipping, and Encouraging, The 3 E’s that keep me going

Our Featured Artist of the Week is Jewelers For Children. Here is a quick video highlighting some of their work. You can also check them out at www.jewelersforchildren.org

The Jewelry Tip of the Week is all about Cleaning Files. I described 2 ways I do this, and I made a quick video how I clean my needle files with a Crimped Wire Steel Cup Brush. Here is a link to the brushes, and a short video:

ALSO a FREE Downloadable CAD Volume to Metal Conversion Worksheet!

CLICK HERE

I also talked about my Cool Tool Pick of the Week, Pin Vises. Here are a couple of the ones I use, as well as a link to the same ones I use. They are pretty inexpensive, and well worth the price.

Single Ended Pin Vise

Double Ended Pin Vise

ALSO, I Talked About the A to Z Design to Finished Jewelry Video Course 

http://jewelrymonk-llc.thinkific.com/courses/AtoZ

The A to Z Design to Finished Jewelry Course is a 10 lesson, 22 video series that takes you through creation a piece of jewelry, from concept and drawing, all the way to the completed piece of reproducible jewelry. The videos cover, in real time, all the processes from transferring your design onto a wax blank, preparing and carving the wax. Casting that wax into silver, and cleaning up the silver into a model that will be molded. Injecting wax into the mold and casting those waxes into silver. Preparing those castings with tumbling media and polishing the castings. Finally, the piece will be set with a pear shaped stone in a prong/bezel setting, and the piece of jewelry will be final polished and cleaned, ready to ship. Link on the right side of this page, or above.

Plus lots more in the podcast……

Now, Let’s Make something Shiny, Together.

Doug