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Flawless chains


#1

Cathryn said:

However, eagle eye here is bothered by
the tiny marks left by my pliers - even the round noses mark the sterling
slightly when I join the jump rings in preparation for soldering.

As a result of your msg I examined a number of my handmade sterling chains under
a 10X loupe. I don’t know if I’m just lucky, but I didn’t find any tool marks on
the links. That kinda suprised me cause I’ve got a grip like a vise.

I use an assortment of pliers, all smooth jawed & about 4 1/2 inches from jaw
tip to end of handle.
My favorite 2 pair have blunt tips about 3 mm wide & 0.5mm thick at the end. All
the pliers have jaws that come together at the tips & leave a slight clearance
(aprox .004 in) as you go back to the joint.

I grasp the rings with about 2mm exposed on each side of the joint & close to
the top of each pliers when I close them.

I use all wire guages from 10-30. If the links are to be solder the wire is half
hard just the way it comes from the supplier. If the links won’t be soldered, I
harden the wire before coiling it. I’ve used links from 2.5mm to 35mm.

Polishing is done in a small vibratory tumbler containing about 7 lbs of
assorted shaped steel shot. To that I add a pinch of burnishing soap & about 1
oz of household ammonia. Most chains come out looking pretty good in about 30
minutes, longer is better. I’ve found that getting a good white appearance on
the piece, from the pickle pot, before tumbling, results in what I think is a
shinier finish.

Dave


#2

In a message dated 96-12-04 16:24:48 EST, you write:

<< Polishing is done in a small vibratory tumbler containing about 7 lbs of
assorted shaped steel shot. To that I add a pinch of burnishing soap & about
1
oz of household ammonia. Most chains come out looking pretty good in about
30
minutes, longer is better. I’ve found that getting a good white appearance
on
the piece, from the pickle pot, before tumbling, results in what I think is
a
shinier finish.

Dave >>

Hi Dave! I was wondering . . . How large is your vibratory tumbler??? I
have a small one (Quart) and after reading your note, I’ve decided that I
don’t have enough shot in mine. I was told (when I purchased the tumbler)
that I could use green cones (plastic or other material?) but, have been
told since, that steel shot shouldn’t be used with anything else; other than
with soap. Ammonia is a great suggestion!!! Thanks
Rita


#3

I’ve started building chains out of fat sterling wire - 2mm wide.
After tumbling, they look truly handsome. However, eagle eye here is
bothered by the tiny marks left by my pliers - even the round noses
mark the sterling slightly when I join the jump rings in preparation
for soldering.

Who on Orchid has solved this problem? I’ve tried wrapping the
pliers with different kinds of sticky tape, but it inevitably slips,
making the join not solder perfect.

Helpful hints really welcome
Thanks
Cathryn


#4

I would think the round noses would be much more likely to mar the
silver than chain-nose pliers. The pressure you’'re exerting on the
silver is directed a a very small area as opposed to being spread out
over a wider area. The smaller to point of contact, the more the
pliers would tend to have a knife-like effect. I like curved-tip
needle-nose pliers for this kind of work.

Courtney
Courtney Graham Hipp
cgHipp Jewelry Designs


#5
... even the round noses mark the sterling slightly when I join the
jump rings in preparation for soldering. 

Hello Cathryn,

Here’s a few suggestions:

  • don’t use the round nose pliers, use flat nosed ones instead
    because they spread the pressure out over a larger area and are less
    likely to dent the metal. I knocked the sharp corners off of a spare
    pair I had so they’re much less likely to nick the metal.

  • use parallel jaw pliers. They grip better with less pressure.

  • make little booties for your pliers from copper sheet (I’m using 36
    gauge sheet. Easy to work with but booties made from it will wear out
    after a while).

  • teach yourself to use only the necessary amount of pressure to get
    the job done and no more. This goes a long way to reducing plier
    "tracks".

In my experience the bottom line is that the best way to deal with
plier marks is to not put them there in the first place.

Cheers,
Trevor F.
in The City of Light


#6

Try Jett Sett on the plier jaws or better still, buy a cheap pair of
Chinese pliers, file the jaws away a bit and then build them back up
with Jett Sett (or Polymorph or Plastiform or whatever it is called
in your locality - and you can sometimes scrounge a few bits from a
friendly medical surgeon…) Alternatively, get the cheap pliers and
file the jaws away but then replace them with bits of cut up credit
card (or store loyalty card,) stuck in place.

Best Wishes
Ian
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK


#7

Hi Cathryn,

One of the things that may help is sanding the jaw edges of pliers.
Generally, the edges are sharp 90 deg corners. that are prone to
marking the soft sterling. By sanding the edges a little, the sharp
edge is removed & the marking is reduced considerably. Depending on
how tightly you grip the item marking can still occur. Only a
’calibrated’ grip grained with experience will solve this problem.

Dave


#8

try smoothe jawed parallel pliers. are you using 2mm? that should
prove no problem. you might actually have to hand polish the flaws.
Make sure your rings and links are well anealed


#9

Have you tried tough brake sheet? Flexible plastic that can be cut
and wrapped around pliers and metal. Helps prevent dents and
scratches. I have some I can sell to you.


#10

Hi, Cathryn,

There were several helpful suggestions on preventing plier marks–
I’d like to add on more. You can buy parallel-jaw pliers with nylon
surfaces. If you don’t want to rig up padded pliers of your own
devising, one or even two pairs of these are really great for
bending things like ring shanks, without marking the metal at all. I
know Rio has them; others probably do too.

–Noel


#11

Hello Cathryn

I like to use a plier with one round, needle nose jaw and one flat
jaw. The flat surface leaves very little marking on the wire and
the round needle nose serves to form the inner diameter of the chain
link.

One caveat - the flat jaw needs to be tapered on the outside edges
to mirror the taper on the needle nose jaw. It’s not hard to grind
those two sides down if the flat jaw is too wide. Check Rio’s tool
catalog page 25. You’ll see the Swanstrom version labeled
flat/round-nose forming pliers, which show the properly tapered flat
jaw. Beneath that, are two pliers that do not taper the flat jaw to
match the round jaw.

Hope this helps,

Judy in Kansas, where today is election day and I fear this state
will change its constitution to mandate discrimination in marriage.
Kansas - as bigoted as you think! (Do I sound bitter???)


#12

Another option: go to A C Moore’s or Jo-Ann Fabrics and, for about
$5 each, buy two pairs of those purple, plastic-jawed, flat-faced
craft pliers, in order to open or close large jump rings. If the
plastic protectors fall off, after a lot of use, just glue them back
on.

Judy Bjorkman


#13

The problem with those purple, plastic jawed pliers is that the
plastic is too soft. After a very short time, the plastic is dented
so badly it virtually makes the pliers unusable. I thought it would
be great for wire working, but they actually made the job more
difficult. The plastic jaw slips like crazy because it can’t get a
firm grip. I finally tossed mine aside and just use regular flat
nosed pliers.

You might also check out a few chain maille websites. There is one
who gives excellent instructions on how to make a comfort grip on
their pliers that looks kind of weird, but according to the owner,
works well. (sorry, I’m being lazy and not looking up the website)

Betty


#14
 The problem with those purple, plastic jawed pliers is that the
plastic is too soft. After a very short time, the plastic is
dented so badly it virtually makes the pliers unusable. I thought
it would be great for wire working, but they actually made the job
more difficult. The plastic jaw slips like crazy because it can't
get a firm grip 

You’re right, Betty, the plastic gets dented, and, on small items you
can’t get a decent grip (for those, I also use flat jaw pliers). But
the original e-mail mentioned use with large jump rings, and I
suspected that the bilious purple things might be right for that
particular use, where there’s a relatively large area on which to get
a grip.

Judy Bjorkman


#15

Rio Grande and others have a “ring tool” that is made for closing
jump rings without marring them. Basically, it is a sort of ring
with a slotted screw in it. You wear the ring on a finger or thumb
and use the slot in the screw to close the jump ring. Find it in
their Tools & Equipment catalog in the index under jump ring makers.
Or design one yourself.

James in SoFl


#16
You might also check out a few chain maille websites. There is one
who gives excellent instructions on how to make a comfort grip on
their pliers that looks kind of weird, but according to the owner,
works well. (sorry, I'm being lazy and not looking up the website)

I have been doing chainmaille for quite some time and have found the
Maille Artisans site to be A#1.

http://www.mailleartisans.org/

Search their articles section for ideas.
Hope this helps.

jeff
Jeff Fisher
Manager
gallery M.I.M.
Baltimore, Maryland