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[Beginners' Corner] To solder or not to solder


#1

Hello all, I have been doing the jewelry thing for quite a while
now, but have just begun to teach myself chain making. My
husband and I work in silver and of course I would like to
incorporate the chains I make into our work. I am particularly
interested in the more complex multilink patterns like idiot’s
delight. Naturally at this point I have a quite few questions…

  1. Should I solder my links? I assumed yes but from the research
    I have done alot of people don’t. Does this effect the strength
    of the chain? My work is made to be worn alot. Or would
    soldering be impractical?

  2. Should I be working in sterling dead soft or half hard wire?
    I assume that hard wire would make the piece stronger, but I am
    not sure if there would be that much of a difference.

  3. Do I need a tumbler to polish my chains? I don’t have a
    tumbler right now, so if their is another way to polish and
    remove burs I would love to know.

  4. Are there any resources on chain making that you would
    suggest? I have done alot of Net research and I just got Irene
    From Peterson’s book, but I am sure there is more out there I
    missed.

Thanks for your help,
Amy


#2

Amy, Regarding Chains, let me answer you from a beginners
prospect.

Some 7-8 months ago I was in that position. I decided to make 4
Idiot’s Delight Fine Silver Bracelets for my families Christmas
Gifts.

I choose fine silver for its elegance and tarnish resistance. I
learned to order dead soft as anything more even annealed was
tough to manipulate. I plan on buying a Jump Ringer to facilitate
the ring making. >From advice I did not solder any links, by
experience I will solder links that are worked in as a complete
circle and need not be opened to allow other rings in to complete
a pattern.

I found it prudent to believe both the suggested gauge and dowel
size. Tim McCreight has that down pat in his book.

The jump ring attaching the clasp must be soldered.

Precise cutting of the jump rings cuts down time filing. A
Vibratory Tumbler cuts more time down. That does debur and
polish. Stainless steel shot eliminates time necessary to
preserve carbon steel shot.

There would be a section within the Orchid Archives with much
more on Chains.

HTH
Teresa


#3

I am by no means an expert here - still a student of the metal
arts :slight_smile: but I have made a few chains.

I do solder my links, however I leave one link unsoldered near
the clasp in the event the piece gets caught on something that
link will give without breaking the chain in a spot that would be
difficult if not impossible to replace. Some chains are
impossible to fix if a link is broken - be sure to test the
strength of the links as you are putting it together.

2) Should I be working in sterling dead soft or half hard wire?
I assume that hard wire would make the piece stronger, but I am
not sure if there would be that much of a difference.

I used half hard wire and hard solder. There is some wire out
there that has a solder core. I have not tried it, but would
like to if I make another woven chain. I would also recommend
using fine silver vs sterling, only because it doesn’t tarnish
like sterling.

3) Do I need a tumbler to polish my chains? I don't  have a
tumbler right now, so if their is another way to polish and
remove burs I would love to know.

Definitely need a tumbler with mixed stainless steel shot.

4) Are there any resources on chain making that you would
suggest? I have done alot of Net research and I just got Irene
From Peterson's book, but I am sure there is more out there I
missed.

I haven’t found them so if you do, pass them on!

Lynne Chantler


#4

Hello Amy, I’ve been running an evening class here in Denmark
for some years now and one of the things that my students like,
is making chains from rings. So I have seen quite a few beeing
made apart from the ones that I’ve made myself.

   1) Should I solder my links? I assumed yes but from the
research I have done alot of people don't. Does this effect the
strength of the chain? My work is made to be worn alot. Or
would soldering be impractical? 

Don’t - it is not necessary unless you will make the type of
chain that is described in Tim McCreight’s book “The complete
Metalsmith” as the Etruscan chain.

   2) Should I be working in sterling dead soft or half hard
wire? I assume that hard wire would make the piece stronger,
but I am not sure if there would be that much of a difference. 

Use half hard - it will of course jump back a little when you
make the rings but if you keep the wire tight (use a piece of
leather or a glove) this will not be a problem.

   3) Do I need a tumbler to polish my chains? I don't  have a
tumbler right now, so if their is another way to polish and
remove burs I would love to know. 

If you can afford one you will be pleased with the result. I
have heard someone suggest putting the chains in a sturdy plastic
container together with the steel shots and burnishing soap and
then put this container in your washing machine together with the
laundry - it might do the trick - haven’t tried it myself and you
should be very careful not to damage the machine. Loose steel
shots can ruin your pump! A real tumbler might be cheaper.

   4) Are there any resources on chain making that you would
suggest? I have done alot of Net research and I just got Irene
From Peterson's book, but I am sure there is more out there I
missed. 

Apart from Irene From Peterson’s book, there are other - one
written by Jorgen Markvad is rather cheap, with illustrations and
tables of wire/core relations but I do not think it is translated
to English. E-mail me if you want the address of the publisher.

Have fun with the chains
Boerge


#5

Hi, Classical Loop-In-Loop Chains by Jean Reist Start and
Josephine Reist Smith, a new one that I ordered but haven’t
received yet is by Jeanne Jerousek-McAninch 218 West Knox Drive
Tucson, AZ. 85705 The book is spiral bound with plastic covering
the covers with over 100 pages of 51 potential chain projects
formula-style. The book runs$35 . If I can think of any others,
will post them.

Marilynn

@MARILYNN_A_AUDAIN-LI
http://www.reflectionsofyou.com
"With the smallest seed of faith, all things are possible"


#6

I, too, am a beginning chainmaker and would like to add another
question to Amy’s list. I am using fine silver wire and am
learning to fuse the links instead of soldering sterling links.
This method requires a perfectly flush cut of the jump rings in
order for them fuse and when working with smaller gauges (i.e.
26-28) I find it hard to saw them neatly. Someone told me you
can get “flush cut scissors” to cut the rings with but I can’t
find them in my Rio Grande or Swest catalogs. Any suggestions on
where to get them or alternatives?


#7

Hi Everyone, Robert Sweet told me about this site
http://members.aol.com/sblades/maile.html It has animations on
making chain. Great site! Lot’s of info and answers to all your
questions. Check it out.


#8

Hi Elizabeth, I was just helping John Frei for the Frie and Borel
company at the recent SNAG conference and noticed that they had
a nice looking, very well built flush cutting snips. I do not
remember the cost, but they would probably last for years.

Jim Dailing


#9

Amy, If you were not one of the original requestors…I still
have some copies of the “Chain Gang” articles copied from the
new-defunct Jewelry Making/Gems & Minerals magazine, from the
mid-80’s. Would be glad to send you a set, if you’ll send me
your snail mail address…no cost to you, of course! They might
be of some help to you. Sharon Holt


#10

I’m not sure if this is the same thing, but I purchased a pair
of “double flush” cutters from RIO (see pg. 303, item C in the
1999 catalog). I was very excited about them, thinking that
they would solve the very problem you raised. Unfortunately,
they did not. While they do provide a good cut, they cannot be
used to cut through a coil of wire – instead, they can be used
to make individual jump rings (in thin wire), so that they are
only cutting through two thicknesses of wire at one time.

Have you tried cutting the wire with a separating disc on the
flexible shaft? With thinner wire (e.g., 20 gauge and up), I
cover the coil with scotch tape and cut through it with a
separating disc that is .009" thick, but you can start out with
.015" discs to get used to the process first (without breaking
too many discs!). This procedure eats through a lot of
separating discs, but is worth it because it makes a big
difference when fusing the links.

Hope this helps!

Neda Nassiri Morvillo


#11

Elizabeth There is no such thing as a true flush cutting pliers
or scissors. At least one side of the cut will have a nub on it.
The only way to get a flush cut is to saw. The Jump Ringer
(included in Rio’s and Swest’s catalogs) does just that. Ray


#12

Regarding sawing flush – there are no alternatives! You must
keep practicing and saw straight. Sawing is a most important
skill and worth the time invested. I avoided sawing for a year
or more when I started. So I only made things with straight
lines! What a lot of lost time.

There is the Rio Grande Jump Ringer, but I don’t know how it
cuts (if it cuts) and the ring diameters might be too small for
your needs.

You can do it. Do you have a good bench pin? A good strong
bench? A bad set up makes it harder to do good work. If you’ve
got your spring of jump rings, either in your hand or on a
wooden dowel, and you jam that into your cut out in your bench
pin (not a sawing V) and your positioning is good, your saw
blades are quality, and your mind is clear : ) you’ll be fine!
You can do it. Practice on copper if you like.

Elaine
Chicago
US


#13
There is the Rio Grande Jump Ringer, but I don't know how it
cuts (if it cuts) and the ring diameters might be too small for
your needs.

The Jump Ringer will cut coils made from .010" (0.25 mm, 30 ga.)
to .082" (2.08 mm, 12ga.) wire. It will accommodate winding
mandrels (inside diameter of rings) from .063" (1.5 mm) to .469"
(12 mm). Once the coil is secured in the coil holder, up to a 3"
(75 mm) long coil is sawn with perfect joints in less than 3
seconds. The kerf (width of the cut) is .010" (0.26 mm).

There are also attachments to wind and saw oval rings and 15"
(380 mm) long round coils for high production.

Ray Grossman
Ray Grossman Inc.


#14

After struggling with jump ring cutting for awhile I have found
a way that works fairly efficiently without having to sacrifice a
finger… I string my saw blade through the coil of rings and
re-tighten the blade in saw frame. Then, using a ring clamp (
you know, that wooden or plastic thing with a hinge in the middle
and a wedge to jam in the end) I clamp the coil of rings firmly
but not too tightly into the flat end, brace the ring clamp at an
angle against bench pin and saw rigs from inside out – keeping
fingers out of saw blade’s line of aim. When you get near the
end of the coil you will want to cut the remaining few without
ring clamp – just slide back and forth on upside down saw frame
(holding rings with a piece of leather) as you hold frame between
bench pin and body. Works for me - hope I’ve helped someone.


#15

I use the even thinner .006 seperating disks to cut off jump
ring coils. Rather than the tape idea (which is a good one I’d
not thought of, thanks) to keep the coil and rings together while
cutting, I simply cut em while they’re still on the mandrel used
to wind em. Usually, this will be the shank of one of my
numbered drill bits, a source of a nice complete set of mandrel
sizes, and easily replaced once you’ve cut so darn many rings off
that the shank is starting to look too ragged. Usually, even
with frequent use of a particular size, I only need to replace a
bit once a year or so. Surprising how long you can still get
accurate, round links from a somewhat rough mandrel. While I
could use a saw, I find the sep disks go just a whole lot
faster. At one time, I used one of Ray’s jump ringers, and if I
were really doing large volumes, I’d still do so. but usually, I
only need a dozen or two rings of a give size at a time. My way,
I can have em wound and cut off before I can even have em ready
to cut with the j.r. That’s not a reflection on the jump
ringer. just that this is really fast and easy. Goes like this:
Insert drill bit backwards into your #30 handpiece, so the
cutting end is in the chuck, leaving the smooth shank exposed.
Stick the end of your wire down next to the flutes, slightly
bending it as it comes out of the chuck, so it will wind a coil
when you then hit the foot pedal gently. Practice will teach you
to do this without the thing spinning so fast as to wind out of
control, which is a good way to make birds nest like tangled
beads, but not jump rings. Leaving the coil on the shank of the
drill, remove the drill from the chuck, and holding the bit’s
flutes, along with the initial stub of wire, in a serated jaw
pliers with the coil itself braced on your bench pin, (the pliers
are because the drill and coil will get a bit warm when you cut
em.) Now with a mounted thin seperating disk (either .009, or
.006, but I prefer the thinner ones) slice down the coil,
intentionally slightly cutting into the drill bit too. When
done, the rings just slide right off the drill bit, and you’re
done. total time is usually about a minute or so…

Peter Rowe


#16

I use a similar technic to that which Peter R. uses, but instead
of drill bits as my mandril, I have an assortment of brass tubes
of various diameters to use as mandrils. I generally make these
about six inches long and cut a slot about one inch long in one
end of the tube. The tubes are placed directly into my turning
device ( I use three different ones). If, however the diameter of
the tube I need to use cannot be chucked into the device, I have
a wooden dowel turned down to fit inside the tube and also
treated to fit into the chuck.

The three devices used for turning are 1. the flexshaft

handpiece which is plugged into a speed control unit allowing a
slow speed turning, 2. a rechargeable screwdriver which has
chucking head (hardware item) attached instead of a screw bit. I
like this since it rotates slowly, and rate can be controlled
easily. or 3. An old fashion hand cranked drill held in the
bench vice.

After turning up a length of coil, I remove the mandril and

coil of jump rings from the chuck, and, after sliding the coil
down to the slotted end of the tube, I quickly cut thru the
rings over the slot with the separating discs. Peter, I’d like
to know where to get the .006 discs. I’ve only used the .009
ones, but would prefer the thinner ones for obvious reasons.

If some of you would try this, I think you'd be delighted  with

the ease and rapidity with which you can produce jump rings.
For what it’s worth. JZD