Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Earring posts


#1

Hi, Gang,

I have a novice question about sterling earring posts. I am getting tired of
buying them and need to know advantages/disadvantages of making them myself
out of wire. Assuming that is the way to go, what gauge wire? Hard or
half-hard? Any nifty tricks of the trade I need to know?

Thanks,

Candy


#2

quit sending this crap to me. I don’t want it. Thank you


#3

At 10:46 AM 11/8/96 -0500, you wrote:

quit sending this crap to me. I don’t want it. Thank you

orchid@ganoksin.com

Rather than sending this to the list, try reading the Unsubscribe
instructions second line from the bottom of the above quoted
We will cheerfully stop sending you any crap you prefer.

Susan

C Gems
Original Designs and Period Jewelry
cgems@pipeline.com


#4

At 10:13 AM 11/8/96 -0500, you wrote:

Hi, Gang,

I have a novice question about sterling earring posts. I am getting tired of
buying them and need to know advantages/disadvantages of making them myself
out of wire. Assuming that is the way to go, what gauge wire? Hard or
half-hard? Any nifty tricks of the trade I need to know?

Thanks,

Candy

Candy,

I make all my own posts/ear wires out of 20g sterling wire, usually
half-hard. Heat the piece and the wire, pick up a piece of solder on the
end of the wire and join the two. Once cooled, I lay the post on my steel
bench block and, rotating after each strike, hammer it with a rawhide mallet
until the post is straight and work-hardened, about 2-3 minutes. This way
if the wire is a little bent (never seen a piece that wasn’t, least in my
supply!) you get it nice and straight and you have the option of making the
post as long as you need. I have a couple of customers who have very thin
earlobes and don’t want the post digging into their necks as well a some who
have thicker lobes and need a slightly longer post for security (they’ve
lost earrings when the nut falls off the very end).

HTH,

Susan

C Gems
Original Designs and Period Jewelry
cgems@pipeline.com


#5

I have a novice question about sterling earring posts. I am getting tired of
buying them and need to know advantages/disadvantages of making them myself
out of wire. Assuming that is the way to go, what gauge wire? Hard or
half-hard? Any nifty tricks of the trade I need to know?

I use 20 ga or 22 ga Hard round for my earing wires. I bend them to look like
fishhooks and incorporate different designs depending on what I hang off them.
Generally use about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches of wire per hook. From my experience
there are no disadvantages to making your own. Think about it: you pay upwards
of $.25 - $.75/pair + depending on where you buy them (retail bead shops for
me). I buy my wire from a foundry for about $.50/foot and can make 4 pairs of
earwires/foot. Cost works out to just over 6 cents each. No brainer there
about which one I prefer… Just make sure you sand the end of your wire with
a Dremel or a fine nail file to make it smooth.

I’m still buying ball posts, but found Susan Chenowith’s instructions helpful
(thanks Susan! :slight_smile: ). For nuts I still buy the ones that look like bells - they
have a rubber tube on the inside that makes them grip better, especially with 20
ga wire. I haven’t lost one yet!

Have a great weekend!
Dianne Karg
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
103125.1115@compuserve.com


#6

Candy,

Just go to your local suppiler… he/she knows the wire size(s) required…
the only question is … Screw back or … Screw back are usually one
size/gague … most women I have met…WILL NOT consider anything buy gold
… Even if they will … gold Studs are the best($$$$ wise)…worth the
cost and expense, soldering… cheap will bring cheap customers…!!!

Jim(Your cost is less… your labor the same…)

At 11:14 AM 11/8/96 -0500, you wrote:


#7

I have a novice question about sterling earring posts. I am getting tired of
buying them and need to know advantages/disadvantages of making them myself
out of wire. Assuming that is the way to go, what gauge wire? Hard or
half-hard? Any nifty tricks of the trade I need to know?
Candy

Yes you can make your own. It is generally more cost effective to buy them,
but making them is not a problem.

  1. draw your wire down to the size you want. Maybe .9 mm.
  2. Anneal the wire carefully (no hot spots). Robert Kaylor anneals wire
    coiled up in a tin can, playing the flame on from the outside to avoid
    localized overheating.
  3. Clamp one end of the wire carefully into a vise, grip the other end with
    draw tongs or vise grips or toothed pliers and pull gnelt;y and hard,
    stretching the wire-you will see it visibly stretch. This will straighten
    it instantly.
  4. Get a piece of brass hobby tubing about 3" (7cm) long, cut one end to a
    45 degree angle or so, anneal it, about one inch (2.5) cm below the flat
    end of the tube make an indentation with a center punch and then drill a
    one mm hole at the bottom of the dent. This will serve as a funnel to feed
    the wire into the hole (and the tube). Then gently squash the tube near the
    dent and hole at 90 degrees thus making the tube into an oval at that
    point. The dent with the hole in it is a one of the ends of the oval, on
    the short curve of the oval. You adjust the squish on the tube until when
    the wire is fed in and then snipped off flush with the tube the piece that
    is cut off is the correct length for your earring posts.
  5. Then stick the angled end of the tube into a hole you make in the top of
    a film can. Now when you feed wire into the hole in the dent it slides in
    until it hits the far side of the tube, is snipped off flush with the outer
    side of the tube at the dent and it falls naturally down the tube into the
    film can.
    You can then clamp the film can in place gently in a vise and cut the right
    lengths of earring posts as fast as you can feed the wire into the hole and
    snip. You will find that because we made a funneling dent leading to the
    hole into the tube that when you snip the wire you are feeding in will
    automatically slide into the tube and stop again ready to be snipped. The
    wires gather in the film can.
  6. Now flatten the ends of the wires (give them a right angled end). Use a
    Zipee® belt sander (my favorite) or a sanding or separating disc on your
    flex shaft which you push the wires onto (hint-use a tool to hold them-they
    can get really hot) or as I might do sand them flat on the cardboard disc
    sander described at the tips from the jewelers bench section at
    Ganoksin.com. This is a quick job to do the whole pile.
  7. You will need a #30 flex shaft handpiece or an equivalent Jacobs Chuck
    type handpiece for the next step. The wire is chucked into the flex shaft
    with about 4mm or a quarter inch showing. (see the ‘Small tools’ article in
    the tips section for how to make a chuck key for prouction use of the #30
    type handpiece)
  8. Press the foot pedal and rotate the wire in the handpiece at medium
    speed. You then make the indentation for the ear nut on the wire by
    pressing onto the wire gently with a side cutter (gently-you can easily
    cut off the wire instead of making a groove), or round nosed pliers, or a
    pair of side cutters you have altered the jaws on with a separating disc or
    a diamond burr, so that there is a small hole in the cutters. This hole
    lets you clamp the cutters onto the ear wire, make the correct depth groove
    quickly and without skill requirements and be sure of not cutting off the
    end of the wire instead of grooving it. Picture: —o---

Although I prefer to put the groove in before soldering the ear post on
some people solder the ear wires onto the piece and then put the groove in
by hand with side cutters, clamping gently and swinging them around the
post to make the groove at the end. Of course if you cut off a bit of wire
at that point you are in a bad spot. Make sure you don’t make the groove
too deep into the wire and so weaken it and cause it to break-it is a
pretty shallow groove.
9) Once the groove is made in the correct place on the ear wire hole then
hold a 220 grit (medium) emery stick against the end of the wire as it
spins, moving it constantly so as to quickly round off the end of the wire.
A cup burr held onto the rotating wire end will also round it off. You may
then hold a piece of leather or felt with polishing compound against the
wire end to give it a hint of polish as a finishing touch.

Some people will use a triangular file to make the groove instead of snips,
try which works best for you.

  1. When you are going to solder the earring post on use the earring post
    tweezers (see ‘Small Tools’ article) to rapidly clamp the earring post.
    Clamp it near the notched end. While clamped in the tweezers rub the far
    flat end on an emery stick to clean it for soldering (good solder joins
    require recently bared metal), then dip the bared end into flux. Have your
    solder chips lightly pre-flused on the brick. Gently heat the fluxed post
    end until the flux on it goes glassy, then touch it to a pre-fluxed chip.
    The solder chip will stick to the hot wire end. (Do not point the flame at
    the other solder chips-we need them pre-fluxed but unheated in order to
    most easily stick them onto the wire end in the way just described). Lift
    the wire away from the soldering surface and gently heat the end until the
    solder melts onto it. Then heat the fluxed object itself. I usually take a
    small round burr and just touch the back of the earring where I want the
    post both to bare the metal for a better join and to increase slightly the
    contact surfaces of the join to improve strength.

As the earring gets hotter watch the flame where it leaves the metal If it
turns orange as it leaves the metal you are around 800-900 degrees F and
can bring the earring post into the flame area. If your metal is glowwing
red you missed the orange flame and it is defintiely time to bring your
wire into the heat. Do not point the flame at the earring post at all (you
might melt it) but keep it on the earring. When you think the earring is
hot enough place the earring post (bracing the heel of your hand nearby so
as to steady it while it solders in place). Let the heat from the earring
itself rise up and draw the premelted solder on the post down thus joining
it to the earring.
7)Make sure it is vertical. Remove the heat. Quench the earring in water.
Immediately test the join with a pair of pliers. Now is the time to find
out you should do the join again, not later. To test it take your flat
nosed pliers, grip the top (notched) third of the earring with the pliers
on at a 45 degree angle (this gives a good broad area of grip on it so you
don’t dent or scar the wire post). Twist the post 360 degrees around (yes
thats right) and back again the same amount. If the post didn’t fall off
the join was good. If it did fall off now is the time to solder it again.
This also hardens the post in its bottom two thirds (because the post was
annealed during soldering it is dead soft-therefore it doesn’t matter how
hard or soft your wire post was before you soldered it on).

There, done. If you are moving quickly and you have everything set up to go
you can make good earring posts very rapidly and perhaps even competetively
with some comercially produced sources. I mostly do this for gold posts
now if I need some and I don’t have comercial ones around. There was I time
when I did it for silver posts too, not really economical but it worked.

Charles

Brain Press
Box 1624, Ste M
Calgary, Alberta, T2P 2L7
Canada

tel: 403-263-3955
fax: 403-283-9053
Email: @Charles_Lewton-Brain


#8

Occasionally one of my sterling silver earrings is returned with the
post broken off. I assume that it was a poor solder joint, although
it appeared perfect when done. Very discouraging. Any tips?
Thanks.

Ann


#9

Hi Ann, You may have overheated the solder during soldering which
resulted in a joint that looked firm but was brittle. Leaving it in
the pickle can also eat the solder away and cause the post to snap off
(voice of experience). Leda


#10

I usually drill a shallow hole where I want to attach the post. I
then solder the post in the hole. Lot less chance of the solder joint
breaking and takes very little time. also you get the post exactly
shere you want it. Frank Goss


#11

Ann, Here’s what works for me:

on the earring, where I intend to solder the post, I ball burr a
slight indentation -not much larger that the diameter of the post

on the post I cup burr both ends so the post fits nicely into the
indentation

this creates a really strong bond when soldered and insures proper
placement of post

good luck Anastasia


#12

Dear Ann, Earring posts are subjected to a lot of abuse and require
special attention when soldering. I always use posts with a small
soldering pad so that you achieve a broader contact area.
Furthermore, I use a combination of paste solder and a pallion of
sheet solder. Paste solder alone has very low tensile strength. In
some cases, when I know that a customer is rough with her jewelry and
when I want to acheive greater strength, I use a white gold post. In
this latter instance it is important to determine whether the
customer is allergic to nickle. Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.


#13
Occasionally one of my sterling silver earrings is returned with the
post broken off.  I assume that it was a poor solder joint, although
it appeared perfect when done.  Very discouraging.  Any tips?
Thanks.

Grasp the end of the post with a pair of pliers and give it a half
twist down the vertical axis. This hardens the post and if there’s a
weak joint, it will come off–usually. Or try using the posts with a 1
mm pad on the end for more contact area. Or drill a small hole where
you intend to place the post, partially or totally through the metal,
which again increases your contact surface area.


#14

Re: Earring posts breaking off.

I was taught, after soldering the post on, to grab the end of the
post in a pair of pliers and pull and twist the post, at least 3
times, until it pinged when flicked with your fingernail. This
assures two things: a) that the post is securely soldered on (a poor
solder joint will twist right off) and b) that the post is “work
hardened”. Since I always do that for all the posts I solder on, I’ve
never had one break off. I had some bent when an earring was dropped
and stepped on, but have not yet had a post break off. Try it first on
a scrap piece of metal until you get the feel for pulling and twisting
and you hear the sound of the pinging when you flick the post. Hope
this helps you.

Kay


#15

Ann, Drill a hole part way into the earring, then solder as usual.

Dean D. Amick
Hamilton Jewelers
Princeton N.J.


#16

in order to assure that the post is securely soldered, I twist it
gently, but firmly with a pair of flat nosed pliers after soldering.
this serves to work harden the post, as well as to ascertain if
the joint is firm. Alma


#17

You might try drilling a very shallow depression in the back of the
earring before soldering. Use a drill bit the same size as the earring
post to make the “dent.” Using paste solder also helps - you can mound
it in the little hole.


#18

Hi, Ann,

Whenever the design of an earring allows, I drill a 20g hole through
the silver where I want the post. Next put the post through the hole
except for a tiny bit of the flange which can’t get through anyway
Then solder as usual. This method is not appropriate in every case,
but where it is you’ll have a stronger bond. Hope this helps.

Joyce Albers


#19

As to the problem of earring posts breaking off . . . As stated by Ron
at Mills Gems, it’s better if you can get apost with a soldering pad
at the base. The problem is, when solder is molten, if it’s moved
the slightest bit while it’s solidifying, the solder will crystalize
giving you what’s known as a “cold solder joint”. These are brittle
and subject to cracking off. If you are very steady holding the post
as the solder freezes, or you have the whole thing set up so that it
doesn’t move, then you’ll be fine most of the time. The solder pads
provide more surface contact, as well as stabilize the post
preventing movement as it cools.

David L. Huffman


#20

I’ll bet that the posts are not breaking at the seam but just above
it. Sterling is not a very strong material and posts are constantly
bending and being “straightened” by the client.

When I do repairs, replacing sterling posts is the most common repair
I see. I strongly recommend that earrings be produced with 14k yellow
posts. They are harder and more durable, send the message that these
earrings are worth the money and because they are yellow, send that
message clearly.

There is nothing worse than seeing a beautiful pair of artist made
earrings return again and again for something as simple as a failed
post.

Andy Cooperman