When I first read this thread I thought people were over thinking
this problem. I make what amounts to granulation beads constantly.
Then I realized I was doing some of these steps automatically with
much thought toit. I usually make individual pieces. But I do have a
need to makes gangs of them at once from time to time. And for a
number of pieces I make I beaded wire ends.
Usually I will do the singular pieces on a hard fire brick. I am
usually not concerned with consistency in size of the bead so I use
up nips and pieces from the bench. If I need consistency in size I
will slide wire intothe jaws of a pair of end cutters and when they
hit the gullet I will cut them off. The neat thing about molten
sterling and I suppose gold as well is the surface tension wants to
pull it to a ball.
The weight of the molten metal on the hard brick will give you a
flat surface which is perfect for most of my applications. I get
smoother consistently shaped pieces by swirling the flame as I
withdraw the heat by pulling the torch up and away. In a sense
slowly turning down the volume.
I find that when I am beading the end of a wire the size of the
torch can be very important. Since I use a Presto-lite Plumbers
torch I am changing tips a lot. I find a smaller tip with less noise
in the flame will do a better job of most of my beading and ball
production than will a large tip. Typically I will use boric acid as
a flux on these melts. I dip the nipped scrap in a Boric and alcohol
paste and then flame on! I have never tried the Heat Sink trick
before this morning to limit the size of the ball on the wire but I
find it works a trick. And I don’t have any Argentum to try it on
but I am not a fan of Argentum and I asyet don’t find the additional
expense to be worth the minimal benefit I have found in using the
metal I tried in applications on my bench.