I’m having trouble making heat rivets and am hoping someone here can tell me what I’m doing wrong. I ball up one end of 18k wire on one end, pass it through two 10mm wide, 24g square pieces of silver and trim the wire with just a little (maybe 1.5mm ish) wire extending out. Then comes the problem. I can’t get the other end to ball up without fusing the silver to itself and the wire. I’m sure there is something about the heat, direction, heat sink—something I’m doing wrong. I’ve been using a 0 tip on an air Acetelyne torch. I’ve tried holding the piece up with tweezers and heating upwards from below, as well as just heating from the top like normal. I tried using a thin sheet of titanium as a heat shield over the silver, but then the wire wouldn’t ball up. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!
Let’s look at the problem here. If your sterling is fusing, obviously it’s getting way too hot. Sterling melts about 100 degrees F lower than 18K. I’ve not done this myself, and 1.5mm sure isn’t much length to work with, but I’d try heating with a small, hot flame perpendicular to the the wire pointing up. Bring the torch down until the flame hits and melts the top of the wire. Very carefully and quickly move it toward the plates and then pull the flame away. Just don’t point the flame in the direction of the plates.
It’ll probably take some practice to get the timing right. Maybe practice on a longer piece of wire to get a feel for how fast it melts.
Hope this helps. Good luck, and let us know how things turn out.
Thanks @Alec, I’ll give that a try. I suspect my flame might not be hot enough.
Your air/acetylene torch isn’t capable of making a small pointed flame. You need a two-gas torch which uses an oxygen tank and a gas tank (propane or acetylene). A two gas torch allows you to control the addition of oxygen so you can get a small pointed flame…a flame size around 4mm in length and all blue in color would work well for making the ball. And would not overheat the nearby silver. I might add that if you are serious about making jewelry and improving your skills over time, you will need a two-gas torch. Take a look at the Smith Little Torch with an oxygen B tank and a disposable propane tank. Smith Little Torch Propane Caddy Jeweler's Torch Outfit 23-1010P
Thanks @vera_m, I thought that might be the case. I think about making the investment in a new torch.
If you go ahead, check Cyberweld prices against the jewelry suppliers.
Is it not possible to rivet by balling up one end, if wanted and inserting, then cutting off the other end with enough left standing proud to be planished into a mushroom head or down into a previously drilled recess? Or just use two previously cut recesses and a piece of wire that is cut long enough to make the rivet when pounded down into a rivet head? Why is it necessary to ball it up at all?
Good recommendation, Vera. I’ve found Cyberweld to have the best prices for Smith torches and accessories.
It’s a design choice, also I want the rivet to be loose enough so the pieces dangle and move. I think a regular rivet would restrict mobility. Still, thanks for the ideas.
Understood…if you are using a raised head rivet, you can slip a shim in behind the to-be-formed rivet head and then remove the shim after forming. Just another option…
Thanks, that’s a good idea, I’ll try it!
I use an acetylene atmosphere torch with 4 different tips. The smallest one gives me a very pointed flame (< 4mm) sufficient for soldering 24 g wires and balling ends. It is all in the positioning of the flame relative to where the heat needs to go.
Looking a some snow on the ground in chilly SW Michigan.
We use air/acetylene torches here in our employee studio and we have Smith 00 tips which are tiny. Having said that, I agree with royjohn about using a shim. Good luck!
Hi Kkbrunda1, before running out and getting Oxy/Hydrogen onto this job. The torch you have is a great set up. but there is no one torch for all occasions. Try this as a test first, countersink (ball burr) where the hole is that the wire is passing through and then coat the area with Ronda Coryell’s Masking Mud. No matter which ever torch you finish up using.
Hi @john911, thanks. I’ll give that a try too. Holding off on any new torches for now due to budget anyway
I agree with Alec, that 1.5mm is not enough material to make a sufficient ball on the end of your wire. You can find out how much wire length WILL make a reasonable ball end by cutting a 1" piece of wire, balling up one end to the size you want, and then measure the wire again. The difference in the length will tell you how much length to trim your rivet end to.
I expect that by now you have figured out your rivets, I just thought I’d put this here for anyone else looking for the answer to this issue.
Here is the solution I have thought up for this very problem. I love the look of balled up metal on both ends. Time consuming but it gives you control. You might want to start with a bigger ball to make it easier.
• Ball up one end the size you want. Use the method mentioned by Jean (below) and leave about 8mm to come through the other end.
- You can find out how much wire length WILL make a reasonable ball end by cutting a 1" piece of wire, balling up one end to the size you want, and then measure the wire again. The difference in the length will tell you how much length to trim your rivet end to.*
• Now that you know how much wire is needed to create the ball you like cut a length of wire this length and make a ball.
•Make a mark in the center of this ball and scribe a pilot hole. Drill a centered hole to the other side. I usually start the drilling with a drill bit held in a pin vise and do it by hand.
Start with 0.5mm and work up gradually until the wire fits through very snugly.
• Guide the ball over the wire leaving the end of the wire coming through the other end of the ball. Solder the ball to the wire at the far end and file off the excess. Smooth with sanding papers and the connection should become invisible.
Hope this works for you.
I wanted to add something to the method.
If you want both balls to be exactly the same size and look the same make two balls, (I believe they are called shots), out of the same length and gauge of wire. Drill a hole 1/3 in through the center of one and solder your wire into it. Feed wire through your piece and continue as described above.
Thanks @ishiatsu, I’m trying a bunch of methods, although this is on hold for a little while I get some other work done
This sounds like a great and doable solution to me. Thanks for this as I too have wanted to do this little barbell design.