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Fellow newbies struggling with basic skills


#1

oh my goodness. If you’re like me and working hard to learn the
basics- run, do not walk to Benchtube right now and watch.

I have learned more from the first two videos I chanced upon (the
tree of life and the ruby cabochon setting) than I did from 8 weeks
of face to face… something.

Thank you so much to all who have made this resource.

Hope
NSW AU


#2
oh my goodness. If you're like me and working hard to learn the
basics- run, do not walk to Benchtube right now and watch. I have
learned more from the first two videos I chanced upon (the tree of
life and the ruby cabochon setting) than I did from 8 weeks of face
to face... something. Thank you so much to all who have made this
resource. 

I will reiterate this opinion. I’m just just starting in
silversmithing, and I’ve read a dozen or so book on the subject, but
watching videos was exponentially more educational than reading books

  • for me anyhow.

In addition to BenchTube (which I’ve watched more than half of in
the last couple weeks), there are also useful videos on YouTube
(which loads much faster) RioGrande has a channel, but there are
others also.

RioGrande (and I assume others) also sells a video on basic
soldering techniques (it came with my kit), I found it quite useful
and detailed.

That said, books are a wonderful reference too.

I would also like to thank those who have taken the time to post
videos on BenchTube. They’re SO helpful.

Mark Wells


#3

you should melt stuff on purpose for the purpose of critical
observation of the stges of color and reaction of the metal to the
heat source " playing Teaches "

goo


#4

hee! Some of the (much more experienced than I) students in the class
I took last term kept saying they were “terrified” of soldering-I
couldn’t get home and melt something intentionally fast enough. I
still had silver at the end and watching the changes take place is so
fascinating. I now know why I have a huge pile of broken .925 jewelry
collected over the last 20 years or so “just in case”. muahaha!

Hope
NSW
AU


#5

Goo-

Right on!

I’ve always said that the fastest way to learn anything is to make
your mistakes right up front as fast as possible to get then out of
the way. The hardest part of soldering is getting over the fear of
the torch. I tell my students that they’ll have to melt something
right off the bat. The best way to learn the limits is to test them.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#6
I've always said that the fastest way to learn anything is to make
your mistakes right up front as fast as possible to get then out
of the way. 

Very true, you are close to being a jeweller etc when you start to
run out of new mistakes. Ya still have to avoid repeats though.

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#7
The hardest part of soldering is getting over the fear of the
torch. I tell my students that they'll have to melt something right
off the bat. 

For some reason, I was never afraid of the torch, but I can imagine
others being so. But I did spend much time melting things
deliberately, just to see how the metal behaved - and it taught me
an awful lot. I was a bit worried I may have pyromaniac tendencies
;-), as I got a lot of pleasure from melting my mistakes, but after I
did that for a while, I was no longer melting my work accidentally.

I think that philosophy goes for lots of techniques. Beat some metal
into submission too. Hammer the living daylights out of it, until
you’ve overworked it and it’s cracking. Listen to the different
sounds it makes, then you learn when metal needs to be annealed.
Deliberately pushing techniques is a great teacher.

Helen
UK


#8

Soldering is one of the more difficult issues to master no matter if
you are a newbie or not. Teaching newbies to turn on and off the
torch was practiced the very first day of any of our beginning and
intermediate classes. Melting a bit of wire until it balls up is a
great way to start. Flowing hard solder on a bit of scrap sheet is
also a good way to know the limitations of what you do, and then work
backwards.

One of the most challenging aspects of good soldering is a
foundation of good planning and understanding what metal will do and
not do. A piece of copper going around a band ring is a lovely
decoration, but copper and silver expand and heat at different
temperatures, but you won’t know that until you try.

If anyone is interested, I’m teaching a three day workshop at
Metalwerx on one of my favorite passions, soldering.

http://www.metalwerx.com/workshop/104

Karen Christians
Cleverwerx


#9

Helen,

For some reason, I was never afraid of the torch, but I can
imagine others being so. But I did spend much time melting things
deliberately, just to see how the metal behaved - and it taught me
an awful lot. 

Quite correct. First learn as many variations on mistakes as
possible, and they are then easy to avoid. The differences between
soldering, fusing, welding and all of the other techniques using heat
are pretty close together.

Wacking stuff to death with a hammer is almost as much fun, but more
work. So many tools which can inflict major changes to metal, so
little time :slight_smile:

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing


#10

This reminds me of when some ladies asked me to show them how to
shoot a pistol. I took them out to a safe place, showed them how to
properly hold the pistol, how to use the safety, the proper safety
rules, then had them fire my .45 revolver. Then I said “See, you
aren’t injured. now that you know you can fire that big thing, let’s
take this. 22 and learn how to shoot.”

Mike DeBurgh


#11
The differences between soldering, fusing, welding and all of the
other techniques using heat are pretty close together. Wacking stuff
to death with a hammer is almost as much fun, but more work. So
many tools which can inflict major changes to metal, so little time

Yep! Need to go and whack some silver and play with some fire - so
much jewellery to make, so little time!

Helen
UK


#12

The best advice I can give after 25yrs. of doing this EVERYDAY is
Practice, Practice, Practice. The more you do it the better you’ll
get, That’s true of everything in life!


#13

Karen,

Soldering is one of the more difficult issues to master no matter
if you are a newbie or not. Teaching newbies to turn on and off the
torch was practiced the very first day of any of our beginning and
intermediate classes. Melting a bit of wire until it balls up is a
great way to start. 

For learning melting the end of a wire is not the starting point.
Learn how to to melt 1/2 to 1 ounce at a time.

Making jewellery involves a lot of flame throwing, no sense to start
with little chicken steps. Start big with scrap and work your way
down to usual sized work.

Jewellery making tends to involve the application of lots of force
in little areas, back off slightly and it will fail every time.

JeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#14
For learning melting the end of a wire is not the starting point.
Learn how to to melt 1/2 to 1 ounce at a time. 

I agree with that. I used to collect all my bits of solderless scrap
and failed attempts, dip them in flux and pile them up like a mini
bonfire on my soldering board. Then I’d go at it with my torch (at
the time, one of those little handheld butane cook’s torches!). It
took lots of time and a fair amount of butane, but it taught me a
heck of a lot about the behaviour of metal with heat.

I guess in a class situation, you don’t really want students melting
large piles of scrap and using so much gas though.

Helen
UK


#15

Helen

Compared with metal gas is cheap. I think yesterday nite (31) was
the traditional time for major fire experiments, but any day will do.
Actually any day is good :slight_smile:

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#16

Jeff,

One of the biggest problems beginning metalsmiths have, seems to be
that old “fear of fire”. It is extremely common. To get around that
fear, many will avoid the torch entirely, and just string beads, for
example. Some who go out and buy torches for their studios buy a very
tiny torch, feeling that a tiny flame is less scary than a bigger
flame.

Since most beginning students will be working in silver, because of
its low cost and ease of working, a tiny torch just won’t do the job
for a majority of work. Silver, being the most fabulous heat
conducting metal, doesn’t permit a tiny heat source to solder or
fuse, unless you are working with extremely small projects. I like
my students, in their very first class, to turn on a big torch, melt
a decent amount of sterling, and pour it into an ingot mold. They get
to experience some major heat, melt metal into a liquid, and realize
that they didn’t get burned in the process. Highly dramatic, and a
great way to get over that fear of fire right away!

(Oh, and everyone in my studio signs a liability waiver first, of
course!)

Jay Whaley
Whaley Studios


#17

And another way to get over the fear of being burned, is knowing that
there is something that can kill the pain and help heal the wound
right away. I have used this product since 1965 when I was burned
frying shrimp. Hot grease splashed onto my left arm from my wrist to
my elbow. The pain was horrendous, I put everything I could think of
onto my arm to no avail. Until, I remembered reading a flyer inside
the bottle of Phillips Milk of Magnesia.

I shook up the bottle and poured it onto my burning arm and as soon
as it started to dry, the pain eased, and when it was totally dry,
there wasn’t any pain left. I used a terry wash cloth and brushed the
Milk of Magnesia off of my arm and finished frying my dinner. I
didn’t have a blister or swelling either. I never had any scarring on
my arm and to look at my arm a person wouldn’t have known I had a 3rd
degree burn on my arm.

Since that time, I keep Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia on my stove, my
workbench and on my soldering table.

I have been burned by my stove/oven, but I don’t worry about it
anymore. My son when he was 3 years old, stepped on a old fashioned
floor furnace grate and burned the bottom of his feet, I yanked him
up onto my lap and poured Milk of Magnesia onto the soles of his
feet and when it had dried he jumped down still bare footed and went
out to play. When he stepped onto the grate the second time, I asked
him, didn’t he learn the first time not to step onto something he
knew was hot and he said, yes but he knew the medicine would stop the
pain so he didn’t bother going around the grate. The only Milk of
Magnesia that works is the brand “Phillips” Plain without any mint or
coloring in it.

I don’t own any stock in this product, but sure wish I had.

My children all have grown up using Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia on
their children and neighbors. I wouldn’t try to solder without having
this product next to my bench, just incase of an accident.

This has taken away the fear of being burned while I am soldering or
trying to teach someone else to solder.

Veva Bailey


#18

Jay,

One of the biggest problems beginning metalsmiths have, seems to
be that old "fear of fire". It is extremely common. 

Strange concept. Making jewellery is so connected with controlling
fire. I do admit that the few gas /compressed air torches I have
used (bloody flame thrower) did not impress me I do now use nasty hot
small and not so small torches. Jewellery making and fire go
together with out a doubt. Granted I have learned by sight how hot
something really is since those finger nerves don’t work all that
well anymore :slight_smile:

So far I have resisted the temptation of a back yard multi kilo
casting foundry (real hell fire in a pot) but the temptation is
always there, only tempered only by $$$

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#19
Compared with metal gas is cheap. I think yesterday nite (31) was
the traditional time for major fire experiments, but any day will
do. Actually any day is good :-) 

I agree with you Jeff. I was just trying to shed some light on why
in a class situation, students might be set the task of balling up
the end of wire rather than melting piles of metal, which is
obviously more informative.

Helen
UK


#20

Hello All, I have been following this thread and wanted to chime in
here on the “fear factor” being discussed.I have noticed that the
discussion has fofused on fear of the torch flame. I have a strong
fear of fire, not of a torch flame (I like that part!!), but of the
gas tank and possibility of fire. I can listen to all the cautions
offered, but I had a house fire several years ago and the source was
a propane tank on my 3rd floor tenents porch (didn’t know it was
there as it was up against the house and not visible from the
ground). They had turned off the grill but not the tank. A smoldering
cigarette was left near by and next thing I knew I was living at my
sisters for the next 2 1/2 years. No one was home and the pets were
all saved but a tragedy none the less. When I taking a class, I have
no problem working with the torch, but the idea off bringing one into
my house has me completely turned off, even if the tank were located
outside a window… just like the grill… doesn’t ease my
concerns. So, I have been working a lot with cold connections and
what I can accomplish with my little butane torch which I admit is
pretty limited. Maybe someday I will be in a postition to have a
studio separate from my home, but until then I am going to deal with
my limitations as best I can. I am very much a newby and am closer to
a crafter than a jeweler as do not see myself ever wanting to set a
diamond or affording to work in gold, so these limitations are not as
bad as they could be and I do enjoy a challenge!! That said, I love
reading this forum and am aware of lifes quirks and could very easily
change my mind at some point! Thanks to all for advise and idea’s. My
morning ritual this past year has been my cup of tea and orchid…
never disapoints!

Best to All, Ann