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.

Sizing 3 Sizing 4 Sizing 5

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.

Sizing 10

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.

Sizing 11 Sizing 12

Sizing 13 Sizing 14

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!


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.


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!


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 


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.


FREE 3D Volume to Metal Conversion Worksheet

Little different content today, but I created this FREE WORKSHEET and wanted to share.

Have you ever created a 3D CAD file and wondered how much it would weigh in different metals?

For those of you who create or dabble in the digital world, I created a worksheet that converts 3D models (volume) into weights of different types of metal based on the metals specific gravity. Just enter the volume number from your 3D Program into the space associated with the metal you want, and it will magically give you your metal weight……. ok, more math than magic, but it is quick and easy.


For those of you who don’t know, I also have a website www.DougNapier.com, which is an extension of JewelryMonk.com that focuses on Providing CAD, Model Making, and Product Development to the Jewelry Manufacturing Community, as well as Consulting and Training Jewelers in a Manufacturing setting.

Between traveling a bit and focusing on building this site, that is where I have been for the past couple of months. I am not going anywhere, and will be back to creating more free content very soon…… oh, and will get back to more podcasts as well.

Thanks for stopping by, now go make something…….digital?


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!