Day 12 Pearl Posts (Metalsmith)

Step8

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 approx  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 approx 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.

Step6

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

Day 11 Tool Modification (Pits and Porosity)

Bits1

Ready for another quick lesson? Today I get to address one of my favorite-est (not a word) subjects in the world….. Tool Modification. I mentioned before that I seldom throw away tools, bits, burs, etc. I am always trying to find a way to modify them into new uses. For one reason, I can make tools for the exact job I am doing, and 2, it is a free way of expanding my tool arsenal. (you should see my garage…..)

Here is a quick way to make a tool that works wonders cleaning those hard to get into areas. If you have a small used up bur, snap/break off the end and grind of sand with a sanding disc with between 3 and 6 different angles or “facets”.

Bit4 Bit3

These edges when spun in a Foredom work as a powerful burnisher that will grind and smooth rough areas that ordinary tools and burs can’t reach.

Detailing

If you work with casted pieces, then you are no stranger to pits and porosity. This little tool also takes care of small pits and porosity, where trying to polish these away usually just reveals more pits and porosity. Use this little rotary burnisher to rough up and “smear” the metal over the bad areas, then when you sand and polish, unless the porosity is extreme, you should be able to remove or repair these areas.

Porosity1 Porosity2

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I have a huge selection of burs, burnishers, grinders, texture-makers, and pit-beaters to select from that I have made over the years.

Tools Reused

Now, put on that creative cap and make some fun tools to experiment and play with.

Doug

Day 10 Polishing Tips

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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 ediquite. 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!

Doug

Day 9 Annealing Silver (Metalwork)

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If you have done much silver work, then work hardening the silver is something you are probably familiar with. Work hardening is when you have beat, bent, stretched, folded, etc the silver so much that it has lost its flexibility or workability. One example I will give here is I have a piece of shanking material that is too thick, I could solder it as is, but then I would spend a lot of time filing and grinding the metal to size, so in this instance, I roll the piece through my rolling mill to thin the metal to the size I want.

Rolling 1

Great! Now I have the shank to the size I want, but for some reason it is very stiff and hard to work. What I have just done is “Work Hardened the metal. Here is a quick science lesson….. What has happened to the metal is the molecules in the silver, which used to be uniform (and happy), have now been flattened and deformed (and stressed). What must be done now is a process called annealing. Annealing is heat treating the metal and rearranging the molecules in a way that makes them less stressed and happy again. (ok, so I am not real scientific).

Here is quick illustration of what I am describing.

Happy Molecules:

Molecule1

Stressed Molecules:

molecule2

Happy Once Again:

molecule3

So here is a quick way to anneal your stressed metal

Use a nice “bushy” flame. (Smith Mini Torch)

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You will want to turn off your bench light so you can see the metal change colors better. Apply your nice bushy flame to the silver and watch it. Do not get it too hot too fast. Move your flame back and forth and watch the metal for changing color. You want to try to get the silver to change to a very dull pink color. Try to keep that color for 30 seconds or so by moving the heat away and brushing the flame over again. DO NOT get the silver to a glowing red color. If you do this, quench the silver in water and start the process over again.

Heat 1 Heat 2

Now quench your silver in your pickling solution.

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Leave it in your pickling solution (I use Sparex) for a few minutes, remove with Copper Tongs (or plastic tongs). Never use steel tools to remove metal from pickle, it will destroy the solution and you will notice your silver will start to turn pink….. the solution will start to react with the copper alloy in the sterling, turning your silver pink. If this starts to happen, change your pickling solution.

Copper Tongs 1

After a few minutes, remove the silver from the solution, and dip in a mixture of water and baking soda( available at your local grocery store. (approx 1 oz. (shot glass) to 2 cups of water)

Soda Water

The baking soda will neutralize the acid from the pickle and keep from getting on your hand, tools, bench, etc. Always use baking soda/water after your pickle. After that, then dip in clean water.

Finished Happy

Now you have happy silver again.

Now, have a “Happy” Day and go make some “Happy Jewelry”!

Doug

Day 8 Pre-Polishing Tips (Finishing)

               rubber wheel

Today we will touch on a couple of pre-polishing tips. A few technical details in your pre-polishing will make a huge difference in the quality of your finished jewelry. Polishing “Prep” will make your finishing job easier always. spending a few extra minutes with attention to detail will save time later, and give you a much better product. Depending on what your piece is like to begin with will decide how you approach this. If you do not take time to prep your pieces before polishing, you will polish harder and more aggressive than you need to, and lose most or all of your detail, making your pieces look overworked and washed away.

First, tumbling, if you are working with a casted piece, you will have a casting surface that is a little rough. If you have a Vibratory Tumbler, I would recommend a 2 stage tumbling process, the first stage I usually tumble in a Ceramic Media overnight for 8 – 12 hours. I have my tumbler hooked up to a timer, set it up overnight and get it in the morning. This will remove the casting surface and give you a consistent surface. Then I place the pieces in the same vibratory tumbler with STAINLESS STEEL MEDIA MIXED SHOT for 1-2 hours.

Tumbler1

media ceramic media steel

What the Steel does is “burnish” the surface and give you a shiny finish in those hard to get to places. A Magnetic Pin Tumbler also works great for this operation, and will do the job much quicker. Magnetic tumbler media is a lot “finer” and will get into those hard to reach places, like between prongs and fine detail, much better. If you are not dealing with casted products and the surface is a little better to begin with, you can go right to the steel shot or magnetic pin tumbler.

Tumbler2 media pin

If you do not have a tumbler, then work in “stages”. If your piece has scratches in it, you will have to remove the scratches before you start polishing. depending on the size and depth of the scratches will determine how aggressive you will work the piece. if you have deeper scratches, start with a file. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my favorite go-to file is a #4 cut Barrette Needle File, it has a good cut to it, it has “safe sides” meaning you can place the edge or side of the file against en edge of the piece, and it won’t leave a mark. If you get one of these files, I suggest you modify the sides of your file. The teeth of the file do hang over the side a little bit, so I rub it on a wetstone to remove the burs or teeth that hang over, then polish it on a piece of paper with Yellow Rouge on it, the same way I polish my graver blades. (see day 3 lesson)

Filing File sandpaper

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After I file the scratches or defects out, I cut a small piece of sandpaper (400-600 grit) and wrap it around the end of the same file and sand over the area I filed. You can also attack the areas with Sanding Abrasive Discs. These discs come in different grit and work wonderful. They snap on and off quickly. I would suggest a variety of these as well. The aluminum oxide ones do a great job as well. Also rubber wheels and knife edge Cratex Wheels. You can also get these in different grits.

sandpaper hand sandpaper dics rubber wheel

One thing I am trying to show you is there are different ways to go about getting the same results. you will develop your favorite processes, I am giving you some ideas to go about it, but if you skip the preping process, you work might suffer. Use some or all of these processes to prep your pieces before polishing and you will have a much better polishing experience, and a better looking piece in the end. I will go over some polishing tips soon, so stay tuned.

Now have a Great Day!

Doug