I am still learning torch techniques. At home, I am using copper
because the mistakes are less costly. After I solder wire to a piece
of copper for an earring, the copper is basically annealed. Is there
a way to harden it without hammering? Thanks.
Nope. You're pretty much stuck with an annealed earwire. You can run
it in a tumbler with steel shot, and that'll help a little, but
it'll still be pretty soft. That's why you so often see earwires
attached mechanically, or more recently, with welders of various
sorts. (That's also why you frequently see nickel wires that've been
plated over with something non-alergenic.) (Or just plain
If you were really nuts, you could solder it on as a thicker wire,
then very carefully forge it down to the right diameter. That'd
harden it up again, but that does seem to be rather the hard way
Once its annealed, the only effective way to harden it is by
work-hardening. IE, you must distort it somehow. Hammering does the
job (as you already know), but bending or twisting also does it.
Tumbling in shot can slightly harden the skin, but its not very
effective 'cos it does nothing to the interior - only the skin is
If its ear-wires you're concerned about, then one method is to make
them a little too long, and bend the end into an "L" shape before
soldering the unbent end to the earring. You can then grip the "L"
end and twist it back and forth until the stem is as hard as you
need- be careful not to overdo it and break it. Then cut of the bent
bit and shape the end appropriately.
I often do this for brooch pins.
Regards, Gary Wooding
hold the wire with pliers and twist. this will work harden the wire.
I was referring to the copper, not the earwire. The copper is
Oh. Sorry. You're still stuck. The only way that most jewelry metals
harden is through mechanical deformation. (Work hardening) Unless
you do something to cause the metal structure to deform physically,
they'll stay soft.
You can age-harden normal sterling (a bit) by controlled heating (in
a kiln), and argentium is designed specifically to do that even
more, but for 'normal' metals, handled normally, the only way to do
it is by mechanical deformation.
Twisting the wire one way then the other direction will work harden
the wire again. Might need to do it more then once or twice to get
the stiffness you want.
Thanks, all. I don't know why I didn't think of twisting the sheet
metal. As far as mechanically attaching earwires, I do plenty of
that, but I was going for a look. ;)