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Hardening ear wires

here is a couple of basic questions. I am new to silverworking
and have made several pairs of earrings with soldered on 24 guage
wires. I have tried working the wire to harden it by clamping one
end in a vise and pulling it through my fingers many times (I try
to really bend it and it does get quite hot) but can’t seem to
get it as stiff as wires on some of my wifes "store bought"
earrings. Any suggestions? I have also been making a bunch of
simple half round sterling wire rings. I am soldering with medium
solder,quenching and soaking 10 minutes or so in a diluted
sulphuric acid pickle, texturing with a hammer or a dapping
punch, polishing with a soft buff inside and out with red rouge,
then a cleaning with dish soap and if neccesary a little
scrubbing with a toothbrush and baking soda. The rings seem very
clean but I have had a couple complaints of green stains on
fingers after a day or so of wearing with a few of the rings (not
all?). I am doing all of this creating by the seat of my pants. I
am completely self taught and my only source of info is the
internet ( you folks and and Tim Mcrieght’s
book. any help with these problems would be greatly
appreciated.Thanks in advance. dave

PS Should I buy the “little torch”? It has been recomended by
some and it looks like it can solder in very tight spaces. I am
currently using a prestolite with the smallest tip. It works
great on general heating but is impossible on small jumprings on
a lobsterclaw. Any comments?

About the earwires:

Start with half-hard wire if you can. Full hard is even better.

Sometimes working the metal gently with a rawhide mallet will
harden it. You might also flatten the wire around the curve to
give it strength.

I am actually using 20 guage wire not 24 as I stated in my last
post. dave

Hi there try clamping the wire in a vice and holding it tight
with a hand vise or similiar give it a few twists for stud
earrings I usually solder on then twist with a pin vise this
seems to fix the problem all the best Gerald.

            PH 64 3 4421288 FAX 64 3 4421488

trade site

I can solder silver jumprings with a Presto-Lite. Try adjusting
the pressure or holding the flame further away. The little torch
uses oxygen and so has a hotter flame. Marilyn Smith

much of the silver wire that you buy seems to be much softer
than many commercial ear wires. I have had limited succes with
heating silver and letting it cool very slowly. This can "temper"
the wire to make it a little harder. On some of my own homemade
ear wires I hammer the “u” bend a little flat on an anvil. It may
look a little different but it seems to work well. On your rings
you might try hard solder. Many of the med and easy alloys seem
to oxidize when in contact with skin. I have a little torch and
it seems to be a good overall torch. You can get very small
flames on up to quite large ones depending on which tip you use.
On some larger silver pieces you may need the #5 tip because
silver needs to be quite a bit hotter than gold. In some kits I
have seen for sale it is not included in it.

G’day, Davy; I suspect that your wife’s bought earrings have
wires made of either stainless steel, (often called surgical
steel) which is far harder than you will ever get sterling, or
perhaps they may be of nickel silver (doesn’t contain any silver)
which is also pretty hard. Instead of passing the wires through
your fingers, try making the wires a bit longer than necessary (I
make mine about 15mm) then grip the wire with pliers and twist
one way, then the other, perhaps more than once, and you will
find this makes them sufficiently hard. Then cut the wires to
10mm, round off the ends nicely, and I put a tiny nick all around
about 3mm from the end to help the butterflies (do you call them
clips, scrolls, perhaps?) hold properly - and there you are. Are
you using sterling for the rings that leave greenish stains? I
haven’ t heard of this happening with proper sterling. Sounds
to me as though there is too much copper in the metal. Hope
this helps. Cheers,

       / /    John Burgess, 
      / /
     / //\    @John_Burgess2
    / / \ \
   / (___) \

Try gripping the end of the wire in a pinvise or pliers and
twist it until just hard enough to serve your purpose. It doesn’t
take much.

Dave, in order to harden the wire it has to become what is
called “worked harden”. Simply anneal the wire, drench in pickle,
rinse in plain water, wipe dry. With 2 pairs of pliers,holding
the wire end to end, twist wire just a little. It will become
hard. I usually use 20 gauge sterling silver wire for earring

Hope this helps. Cecile

Wow! I came to the right place for help. My earwires are nice
and springy now. Thanks! dave

All the info you received on french wires was great. For
posts, John Cogswell uses 18 ga., but I draw mine down to about
19 ga. so I don’t have to ream the hole in the clutch. Also,
gently grip the end of the post in your side-cutters and turn
them around the wire, creating a groove that allows for a "stop"
for the clutch. You can twist and untwist a post too, but the
drawing hardens it as well.



I keep seeing info on hardening ear posts, I haven’t made any of
those type earrings yet, but I am puzzled here on the advice.
Sure , you draw some wire and it gets hard, but then you solder
it to your piece and the hardening goes away. Are you guys using
soft low temp solder? Esplain please…Dave

Art Jewelry for Conscious People

Hi Dave,

After you have soldered a wire to a piece it can be hardened by
gripping the end and twisting the wire, back and forth or one
direction. Either way, the wire gets well worked without being
significantly reshaped.

Dick Caverly

dave, Try Tix solder and flux. I think it contains a small
amount of lead, so don’t pickle the object after using it. Use a
very cool flame and very little solder. It comes in wire form
and I hammer it flat and cut it into small pallions. It is good
for sterling earposts and the jumprings near your catches. When
you use it on earposts, first flow the solder on the pad of the
post, than solder it to the earring. It is very important to hold
the earpost very still until the solder cools (will no longer be
shiny). You should be able to bend the earpost without it
breaking away from the earring if you do it right.

Wendy Newman

Well, I am not a trained goldsmith, but perhaps this would work:

Solder the rings with a high melting point solder. Let it cool
down. Now it should be soft. Heat it again until the solder
almost melts, then cool it down quickly in cold water (I think
there has to be something added to the water, to protect the
metal from decoloration, I will check it), and according to my
experience, the will be hardened. Repeat last procedure if
needed. Of course, you have to be careful, if there are setted
stones in your earrings, because the quick change in temperature
could easily break them. I will check the method for hardening
metal with setted stones, if you need it.

C ya

I keep seeing info on hardening ear posts, I haven’t made any of
those type earrings yet, but I am puzzled here on the advice.
Sure , you draw some wire and it gets hard, but then you solder
it to your piece and the hardening goes away. Are you guys using
soft low temp solder? Esplain please…Dave

The hard temper of the wire is lost because of the temperature
(1300 F or so) that the solder alloys (hard solders) melt at. It
is more of a problem with sterling than with 14k oe 18k because
sterling is more conductive. By twisting the wire you work harden
it again and also find out how good a joint you made!

Rick Hamilton
Richard D. Hamilton, Jr

OK, Rick got it, I do mostly silver work, thanks…Dave

Art Jewelry for Conscious People

Well, I have two methods for hardening wire, both have been
tested and they work:

  1. Jewelry w/o stones: After soldering with a high temperature
    solder reheat the whole thing, but do not let the solder melt,
    of course, then drop it into cold tap water (as it comes from the
    tap is cold enough). Repeat procedure if required. The metal will
    change color, so you will need some polishing afterwards.

  2. Jewelry w/ stones (which do not endure heat/changes of heat)
    After soldering, pull your ring on a metal/hard wooden bar,
    which has the exact inside diameter of your ring. Now, hammer
    your ring on the bar with a rubber or wooden hammer (carefully).
    This will change the molecular structure of the metal, which is
    an exact cubic form after heating, by distorting the different
    molecular layers, thus hardening your wire.

Hope this helps.

Tibor Kiss <@Kiss_Tibor