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Chain mail - to solder or not to solder


#1

as someone who has been making precious metal chain mail for a
couple years my advice is to definatly solder the work if you intend
on people wearing it.

it takes a long time to do but, you work will stand the test of
time.

even if you saw your rings nicely and put them together flush they
will not stay that way unless you use solder on your rings

otherwise you will have many, many repairs and unhappy customers in
your future


#2

The general concensus seems to be that all links should always be
soldered, all speed ahead and damn the torpedos. Is there a point at
which this becomes lunacy? My Byzantine chain uses 20ga rings at
5/32" ID, with a density of approximately 35 rings per inch. I can’t
imagine soldering such a piece without reducing it to a mass of
solder glops, filled rings, melted silver and screams of frustration.
Furthermore, I feel as though I would need to -triple- my prices if I
were to solder my pieces in this way. Who is going to pay me $750 for
a simple sterling silver byzantine chain? I’m discouraged to the
point of anger, and nearly to the point of quitting altogether, to
find that on top of my government snubbing entrepeneurs, some
sweatshop in Taiwan undercutting my prices by a disgusting margin,
and a population that has nothing but compliments for my work -
including money, that so many fellow artists would consider my work
sub-standard.


#3
    The general concensus seems to be that all links should always
be soldered, all speed ahead and damn the torpedos. 

Actually I think it was about evenly split. There was a flush of "I
never"s and then a spate of "thou musteth always!"s. About 50/50,
all told, roughly.

My feeling is that if you haven’t had a problem with snagging or
chains falling apart, not to worry about it.

I’m going to go ahead and make some chains that aren’t soldered and
see how they turn out. Since most of the chains I find interesting
are multiply-looped (e.g. not a single, flat chain mail “weave”) I
expect it won’t make much difference, but we’ll see.

So what’s your experience been? Any snags?

Sojourner


#4
The general concensus seems to be that all links should always be
soldered, all speed ahead and damn the torpedos.  Is there a point
at which this becomes lunacy? 

Yes, this becomes lunacy at the point where we are concerned with
something other than the integrity of design. For crying out loud,
we are functioning in an environment where people use glue,
feathers, cast human testicles (thanks, Kevin) and beach pebbles; it
is ludricrous to adopt a sanctimonious attitude toward soldering
chain mail links in the context of every other oddball thing we do.

Ask yourself if your finished pieces are durable, and if they are
free from the practical, functional flaws (such as snagging hair or
clothing) mentioned in various posts. If your designs are
aesthetically pleasing and functional in the applications for which
they are intended, you have no reason not to procede with them.

Lee Einer
Dos Manos Jewelry
http://www.dosmanosjewelry.com


#5

Soldering your byzantine chain will be a challenge the first couple
of times you do it, if you choose to go that route - however, making
the byzantine chain was also probably a challenge the first time
until you figured out the pattern.

You must understand the question of whether or not to solder chain
mail rings is simply a matter of opinion. If you are able to sell
your unsoldered chains with out any residual problems, then why fix
something that is not broken for you?

I believe that if you were making your chain in karat gold or
platinum, the cost of materials would justify the labor to ensure
the quality and craftsmanship is top notch, ensuring this by
soldering all links.

I hope your anger has passed and you continue to make your chains
for people, you shouldn’t quit anything you enjoy despite what
general consensus might say about soldering jump rings. All the
best, Sara

Sara Grinnell
Studio C Designs
Minneapolis, MN USA


#6

I understand your frustration at the thought of soldering hundreds
of sterling jump rings. However there are ways to do this
economically, and that is the way chains are soldered commercially.
Wire which has a solder core is used then all of the rings are
soldered at once using a oven. for a small shop I would suggest that
you discuss this with a soldering contractor, this would save you
the expense of a rather specialized piece of equipment.

WMchenk


#7

Whoa othrside,

There was nothing personal in the posting - simply a person’s
opinion. You are your own best judge on this issue “to solder, or
not to solder.” I’d say if unsoldered links were a problem in your
pieces, you’d have known about it long before now. You apparently
have a satisfied clientel, meaning your technique must be exemplary.

We know there are exceptions to every rule - consider yourself an
exception in the case of your Byzentine chain, and let it go. “And
that’s all I have to say about that.”

Judy in Kansas


#8

Hmmm, 'splain more please?

What temp would you put your piece in at to make sure all the links
"self-solder", and would you then have to “cook” it again to harden
it? If you overcook, can you end up with cracking? Will it come
out annealed? (I guess it depends what temp you have to cook it at
to get it to self-solder) What percentage of links is expected to
fail to properly solder?

Sojourner
Always on the lookout for a way to avoid work - err, save time…


#9
The general concensus seems to be that all links should always be
soldered, all speed ahead and damn the torpedos.  Is there a point
at which this becomes lunacy?  My Byzantine chain uses 20ga rings
at 5/32" ID, with a density of approximately 35 rings per inch.

I’m with you on this one! I’ve made chain where soldering felt
necessary, but many tight, well made chains, using the appropriate
ring size and guage, often don’t require soldering in my mind. If
the rings are flush and put together properly, they shouldn’t catch.
For loose open weaves, say 4-in-1 7mm 18 guage, of course, solder
them! There is a point though where it’s not sensible to do.

BTW, It’s my understanding that the English name, as in Middle ages,
was just chain. French for it was just maille. Chainmaille is a
commonly accepted merge of the two words which was later modernized
into chain mail. If it were just French I think it’s cotte de
mailles, or something like that.

I totally geeked out with the etymology there. Sorry.

Anywho, here’s two cents,
margarita


#10

Is it possible that a tumbler (with which I have had only cursory
experience) could help with the problems mentioned? Would using a
"cutting" medium remove any edges that might snag, or would it
destroy the rings? And would a burnishing medium work-harden the
rings so that they are less likely to come open? Just wondering…

Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments
Elk, CA


#11

Hi Wayne,

Could one “solder” solder-filled rings in a jewelry kiln (e.g. a PMC
kiln)? Could you explain how to do this? Also, do you (or anyone
else) know if it’s possible to fuse fine silver rings, etc., in such
a kiln?

Thanks!
Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments
Elk, CA


#12

Lisa,

I use a tumbler for the chains I make. I use mixed stainless shot in
a barrel tumbler with a little squirt of Dawn (and water to 3/4
full). It does harden the chain, clean it up, and leave it very
smooth and polished.

I do not solder the rings. However, I use a jeweler’s saw with a 5/0
blade to cut jumprings, and am hooked on 16 gauge wire for chains.
Heavy and strong. The joins in the jumprings are very tight and
flush. This is the key. The rings must be tight and flush to begin
with, because a tumbler won’t do this for you. Using a fine blade on
a jeweler’s saw prevents burrs, too.

I have a chain bracelet I made nearly a year ago that I wear every
day, no solder, and I still can’t see where the joins are on the
rings.

Of course, my eyes aren’t what they used to be!

Nancie
www.moonfishdesign.com


#13
Also, do you (or anyone else) know if it's possible to fuse fine
silver rings, etc., in such a kiln? 

Lisa, yes it is possible to fuse fine silver links in a small kiln,
but you have use a torch also. Then you are heating the metal from
both the top and the bottom.

Jennifer Friedman
enamelist, jewelry artisan, ceremonial silver