Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Balling at the ends with water torch


Hello, I am interested in how people melt balls at the ends of a
piece of wire with a pearl or other stone on the wire. I heard that a
water torch is one way to do it. I have made jewelry with a melted
ball on the end of a piece of wire, but not with a bead on the wire.

April Ottey


I use the laser to ball the ends of wires and rivet wires, but I
once worked with a lady who got great results from her water torch.
Very intense heat in a very small flame.


Dear Ms. Ottey:

We manufacture the Spirflame[tm]. Balling at the ends of wires can
be done with most torches, though very difficult, next to a bead or
stone. However, a hydrogen/oxygen flame properly generated from water
is a “perfect” exact mix of two parts hydrogen to one part oxygen.
With a multicell system it is very easy to repeat the size and
temperature of flame. You just dial it in. And since this
hydrogen/oxygen flame is very “exact” axial in heating, the heat is
out in front, no heat on the sides from the flame itself. A regular
torch (bottled or piped gases) heats both out in front and on the
sides of the flame. So it is the difference between an ax and a
scalpel. This is a very handy thing to have not only in jewelry but
in industrial applications. For many years Spirflames[tm] have been
welding wires (thermocouples come to mind) with an exact and specific
ball diameter. Often fully automated, but done by hand as well,
depending upon the volume. These welds often have to fit in a
specific tube or cavity, there can be no error, and the joint must
also be perfect, without the use of flux. We have this information
and a DVD showing the process. If you could contact me directly with
your address (no PO Boxes, please we send via UPS), I would be happy
to send you (anyone in the Orchid group) this info. We also direct
you to the work of Jacqueline Ryan who routinely welds ends of wire
to balls next to enameled sections in repetition using our

Best Regards,

Gary W. Miller
Sr. Technical Advisor

I use the laser to ball the ends of wires 

I’d love to hear you elaborate.

I'd love to hear you elaborate. 

Sure Neil.

With the laser it is pretty easy to ball the ends of wire. I adjust
the voltage and beam diameter till I get the “melt” I’m looking for,
not wanting to be so aggressive that I fuse the metal to adjacent
metal or heat other adjacent materials. I then hold the wire in the
cross hairs so that I aim the pulse at the wire itself, but across
any adjacent surfaces. The concentrated beam of light is what melts
the wire itself, and not heat in the same sense as using a torch to
melt wire. I can provide further protection to other materials with
the edge of my fingernail or a small piece of dampened paper towel.
I can also “polish” the ball by lowering the voltage, increasing the
pulse length and spreading the beam diameter a bit, and carefully
plannish the surface with this less aggressive pulse. Makes for
easier final clean up.

I often ball the ends of rivet, bead wires, etc using this method. I
use this “balling” process quite a bit to fill in worn areas, and
patch damaged hollow jewelry, by creating a ball and then melting
this ball into the damaged area. I can then adjust my beam to flow
this patch into the surrounding metal, adding filler wire as needed,
and then trim away any excess.

I also often use this process in prong re tipping. I use a higher
voltage to create a large ball on the end of the wire, flatten this
ball with a pair of pliers and then, after re adjusting the laser to
a less aggressive setting, aim across the surface of the stone and
fuse the resulting cap onto the worn prong. This technique I picked
up from Steve Satow and it is very effective. A bit like making a
Redi Prong on the end of a wire handle. Works best on diamond and
other non dark colored Dark stone turn the light into heat
instantly, with VERY unsatisfying results.

Having said that, I will be using this process later today when I
undertake a major re tipping of an old emerald cluster ring that the
customer wants to try to save but which is really not worth
repairing. Both the customer and I know it’s a high risk job, but to
the customer it’s worth the heightened risk, and I’m willing to
accept the challenge. I’ll get lots of practice doing a very
difficult repair on a piece where failure is a tolerable risk. I’ve
already pulled out most of my hair anyway, and I do enjoy a
challenge, now and then. Without the laser there is simply no way
that I would attempted this repair without the customer committing to
spending a great deal of money, and it’s simply not worth it.

I aim the pulse at the wire itself, but across any adjacent

I’m unclear about this. Are you saying the shot goes roughly
perpendicular to the wire, so that the shot hits it on the side?