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Fusing argentium rings success but ugly seams


#1

Thank you to all for having pointed me to Ronda C’s dvds on working
with Argentium and other very helpful tips! Short of holding the
torch in the wrong direction, I was doing just about everything
wrong. Now I find that I’m able to fuse all sorts of things, thanks
to the use of flux (yellow), knowing what to watch for (dancing,
liquid flux), BUT that I’m having trouble with my seams! I was trying
to make a set of stacking rings w wire and have managed to fuse ugly
seams. Fused so hard that I’m having to recut them after discovering
my errors (which is good, for the strength aspect). Any tips on
getting a nice seam

thanks in advance!
Ros


#2

Hi Ros,

Fused so hard that I'm having to recut them after discovering my
errors (which is good, for the strength aspect). Any tips on
getting a nice seam

The reason they’re fused so hard, is that the joint is actually the
parent metal, rather than a weaker alloy such as solder. The joint
is therefore as strong as the rest of the wire.

Getting your initial cuts really neat, so that you can make a really
tight, flush joint is key to neat joints. But even a little anomaly
can be filed and sanded smooth to make it invisible afterwards.

Helen
UK


#3

Thanks Helen, not sure why I didn’t think of the strength in terms
of parent metal vs an alloyed solder.

Any tips for filing properly to get a nice seam?

I spent a ridiculous amount of time on a seam tonight and tried
everything under the sun: filing on a large file (file down on my
bench), filing with my dremel and a sanding disc, filing with a
smaller metal file, then my jeweller’s saw (using the wrong blade
number no doubt). My understanding is that I shouldn’t see light in
the seam? I know that I’m doing sometihng wrong, just don’t know
what to do about it.

Thanks so much,
Ros


#4

Hi,

What sort of joint are you trying to fuse? What shape/gauge metal?

A few ideas to try for making the joint meet well:

-Ronda Coryell has a nice trick. She uses a sanding disc, mounted in
a flexible shaft, in a seam. (She shows this in her first AS video, I
think.)

-When you get the joint close, and it stays together under pressure,
saw through with a saw blade.

-If the seam does not meet perfectly, try adding a few small chips
of Argentium Silver to help fill the joint.

Finally, I’m wondering if your expectations are too high. I expect a
nice neat joint if it’s a 1 mm/18 gauge jump ring. But, if it’s a
wide band of 14 gauge/1.5mm sheet, then it’s likely to be a bit less
neat, and require more clean-up. I don’t think you should be too hard
on yourself about an “ugly” joint, as long as it is strong, and
possible to clean it up so that it looks nice after the clean up.

I hope these thoughts help!

Cindy (who is pleased to be home again, with family and dog. And who
sends her best wishes for speedy healing to Ronda…)

http://www.cynthiaeid.com


#5

Hi Ros,

I spent a ridiculous amount of time on a seam tonight and tried
everything under the sun: filing on a large file (file down on my
bench), filing with my dremel and a sanding disc, filing with a
smaller metal file, then my jeweller's saw (using the wrong blade
number no doubt). My understanding is that I shouldn't see light
in the seam? I know that I'm doing sometihng wrong, just don't know
what to do about it. 

It might help if you could describe what sort of size we’re talking
about, and what method you’re employing to try and get a neat seam
in the first place. That way we can possibly identify where you’re
going wrong. From reading between the lines, I have deduced the
following:

a) the fact that you are spending so long and using so many
aggressive tools to file the seam, says to me that the "untidiness"
of the seam is fairly large(?) - implying to me that the rings/gauge
of metal are large.

b) perhaps if you’re struggling to get the ends to meet in the first
place, the wire is maybe too hard, therefore not allowing you to
continue to bend until the ends are properly flush and tight.
Therefore, maybe the wire should be (fluxed and) annealed prior to
bending the rings flush for fusing (if they’re of a particularly
thick gauge which prevents you from forming them properly otherwise).

c) that the ends aren’t perfectly flush and ready to be fused, and a
better method needs to be found for cutting the coils of rings.

When bending your rings to fuse them (or solder them if using
standard sterling, etc), you push the ends past each other, on one
side, them bring them back past each other and push them past the
meeting point on the other side too, then bring them together for the
ends to meet, shuffling them back and forth (perpendicular to the
plane of the ring but never letting the ends part company, so in
other words, sliding the ends against each other) until the ends are
perfectly flush. This way, the rings are under compression and the
ends are trying to push together, so that when you are at fusing
temperature, you should get a lovely tight joint. If you do this, and
bring the ends together really flush, there should be minimal (if
any) clean-up needed. How are you making and cutting your coils of
rings? See c) above, as a better method might help.

Incidentally, I used to use all manner of rotary grinding and
sanding tools in my flexshaft machine, thinking it was the quickest
way to achieve what I wanted. However, I found that all they did was
dig in and create grooves where I didn’t want any, and they were more
trouble than they were worth. Now I use a decent (Glardon Vallorbe?)
set of needle files, always filing with the curve of the ring, in
each direction (remember they file on the push stroke, so no sawing
back and forth), until the seam is invisible. Then I use a couple of
different grades of sandpaper/emery (not sure of the difference) to
eliminate the file marks. After this, I can’t tell where the seam
was in the first place.

You’ll get there. Just don’t be afraid to adopt new practices for
doing things you may have thought you were happy with.

Take care,
Helen
UK


#6

Hi Ros,

Thanks Helen, not sure why I didn't think of the strength in terms
of parent metal vs an alloyed solder. 

This is an important point to remember, because (unlike a soldered
joint) you can’t melt the joint once it’s been made, you have to saw
it apart if you need to. If you’ve made a mistake with a soldered
joint, you can simply re-melt the solder to part the joint, but with
fused metals, the joint is the same parent metal as the rest of the
piece and so won’t part so easily and must be cut.

Helen
UK


#7

Thanks everyone!

Helen, I’ve order another set of needle files and will endeavour to
learn how to use them properly (right now, I seem to sharpen metal
sheet, especially higher gauges, to a nice sharp knife-like
edge…)

Cynthia, I really like the idea of using small chips in the seam -
brilliant suggestion! And if you saw a photo of the seams I don’t
think that you’d say that I was being too hard on myself - even my
soon to be 6 yr old daughter was unimpressed with the seams.I wasn’t
very clear in my description. I was trying to fuse round Argentium
wire, 14 ga and 16 ga, and then had a go at fusing 22 ga sheet
(about.5 inches in width, for rings). The ugliest round wire seams
were from trying to fuse twisted 18 ga wires, which is obviously too
advanced for me.

I found that for the sheet, by the time that I had finished buffing
like a mad woman (read, grinding bits off with my dremel), the metal
had become dangerously thin at the seam.

When I tried soldering, it was a bit better at hiding parts of the
seam, but I usually used too much solder (and then had to file like
a mad woman, metal became dangerously thin again).

Neil A. has suggested a couple more tricks for tidy filing,
including putting the sheet into a vise, which I am keen to try. I
also like Helen’s idea of making sure that the wire/sheet is
sufficiently annealed to as to fit nicely together, instead of
pulling apart.

And I need to buy some higher numbered saw blades, I think. I found
that the 2/0 was still a bit coarse (don’t get me started on the
sanding wheel for my dremel - I’m sure that I saw sparks fly - maybe
not, but it sure did chew into the metal).

Thanks again for the comments!
Most appreciated
Ros


#8

Hi Ros,

Helen, I've order another set of needle files and will endeavour
to learn how to use them properly (right now, I seem to sharpen
metal sheet, especially higher gauges, to a nice sharp knife-like
edge....) 

It’ll come. Just try to make sure you don’t get into bad habits. Make
sure you’re supporting your work against your bench pin, and file on
the push stroke. If I want to “file” the edge of a piece of sheet (or
bezel top), I place the appropriate grade of sandpaper face up on a
really flat surface, and move the work in a figure of eight motion on
the sandpaper. I used to use files for this, but the sandpaper does a
much neater job. This is also a great method for filing the bottom
edge of a bezel when making it perfectly flat for soldering/ fusing
onto a back plate. The back plate can also be hammered onto a flat
surface to make sure it’s not domed at all, and the top surface
lightly sanded so that the two pieces will join really tightly.

I was trying to fuse round Argentium wire, 14 ga and 16 ga, and
then had a go at fusing 22 ga sheet (about.5 inches in width, for
rings). The ugliest round wire seams were from trying to fuse
twisted 18 ga wires, which is obviously too advanced for me. 

Yes, maybe work on getting the more standard seams to work for you
first, then move on to more complicated things. Are you making coils
of rings, using a dowel of some sort, and then sawing through them?
This should produce neat ends for fusing. We need to try and
identify where you’re going wrong.

I found that for the sheet, by the time that I had finished
buffing like a mad woman (read, grinding bits off with my dremel),
the metal had become dangerously thin at the seam. 

Okay, herein lies one of your biggest problems. As I said yesterday,
I too made that same beginner’s mistake, of using my Dremel to grind
away anything I didn’t like. I even went clean through some bezels
in the early days! I think you need to completely change your mindset
with regard to clean-up. Use your Dremel for other things. Switch to
your new files, and think about removing as little metal as
possible. Conserve your silver wherever you can.

I used to use a thinner gauge of sheet and wire, and grind the heck
out of it! I found that it didn’t form as nicely as thicker metal,
and I was trying to neaten it up by removing metal. Now, I spend
longer forming things as perfectly as possible, getting nice, tight
joints, soldering/fusing them and then using files and sandpaper to
remove as little metal as possible, to achieve a neat finish. I
think I was just impatient, and I thought that using the Dremel would
speed up the results I wanted. It didn’t, it just gave me a really
ugly finish.

When I tried soldering, it was a bit better at hiding parts of the
seam, but I usually used too much solder (and then had to file
like a mad woman, metal became dangerously thin again). 

When filing a seam, follow the profile of the metal - let it guide
you. I think you’ll also find that with your new, better quality
files, you won’t need to “file like a mad woman”. They just work
better, and will allow you to only remove what really needs
removing, then stop when you’ve gone far enough. Look at the metal
and how light is playing on it. Move your work round so that the
light moves across a surface. You’ll see any discrepancies as light
not moving smoothly across it. It will change direction if it goes
over a bump or dip. This will highlight any areas which need filing
more. Do a bit at a time and check again. Stop when the light runs
across the work smoothly. When you’ve done this with your files, move
on to a finer grade of file, or sandpaper, to eliminate the marks
from the previous file/sandpaper, until it’s at the pre-polishing
stage.

(don't get me started on the sanding wheel for my dremel - I'm sure
that I saw sparks fly - maybe not, but it sure did chew into the
metal). 

See above about rotary tools not being the best thing to use for
filing.

I wish you lived locally to me, as I’d happily show you what I’ve
learned for myself (with the help of other Orchid folks), whilst
overcoming the same problems.

Don’t worry about asking questions - keep 'em coming. We’ll
hopefully help you work out what’s going wrong, so that you can
progress to the point of being happier with what you’re doing - and
maybe your daughter will approve too! :wink:

Regards,
Helen
UK