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Making wide bands


#1

Hi

I like to make a wide band ring, but sometimes have trouble getting
it to fit together for proper soldering. When I file the edges, I
tend to get gaps at either end of the seam…as if I am
unintentionally rocking the file when I am smoothing it out.I tried a
larger straight file and holding the two ends parallel with the file
in the middle…so, effectively, I am filing both ends at the same
time. This takes a long time and doesn’t always work. Anything?

I also will be soldering an 18k bezel to this ring (of sterling)…I
have checked the archives and I think 14k ez is the right solder for
this…

Also, (sorry) on another project I am working on, an 18k ring, I
have received 18k hard and easy solder. They are really very
different in color. Is that usual? Would the 18k easy solder be a
better choice for my sterling ring?

Sorry for all the mundane questions. I had been away from the
workshop for a few months and it seems I am rusty now.

Thanks
Kim Starbard
http://www.kimstarbarddesigns.com


#2

File or otherwise cut the blank to the right length, and as close to
square, etc, on the ends as you can do EASILY. Don’t sweat it too
much, just keep the length right, or perhaps a trace long. Now bend
it around until the seam ends touch. Because you didn’t bother filing
it perfectly, there will of course be gaps, perhaps at one side, or
both sides, or wherever. No matter. Take your jewelers saw and saw
right down the seam, so the blade is cutting both sides of the seam.
If the gaps are too wide, some parts may not be fixed in one pass.
After each pass with the saw blade, again tighten up the bent blank
so the sides of the seam touch, somewhere, then saw through it again.
Once is often enough, twice is almost always enough. Because on the
last pass, the saw blade is cutting both sides of the seam at the
same time, even if the cut itself wobbles around side to side and
isn’t square, or otherwise seems off, the two resulting ends of the
blank will match perfectly. Quick and easy.

Peter Rowe


#3

Hi Mr Rowe:

Take your jewelers saw and saw right down the seam, so the blade is
cutting both sides of the seam. If the gaps are too wide, some
parts may not be fixed in one pass. After each pass with the saw
blade, again tighten up the bent blank so the sides of the seam
touch, somewhere, then saw through it again. 

Ha! Thank you so much. I read this wrong when it was discussed
previously and thought the seam had to be soldered and then cut as
you describe above (which seemed just as difficult). Your way seems
quick and more painless. I just woke up, but I want to run right out
and try! Disadvantage of working in my garage…there’s no one around
to say “hey, you know, there is an easier way”

Thanks again
Kim


#4

If you are filing in the air, that is part of the problem. Put the
top or bottom edge of the ring (or bezel) against the bench pin so
you can hold the ring (or bezel) strip steady, run your file across
the top edge of the strip, figure which way to hold the file so it is
at right angles to the length and straight across from side to side
when you put the bezel back against the bench pin in the same
position it was in for the first stroke. Repeat as often as needed
till it is right, then do the other side.

Richard Hart


#5

Hi, Kim,

I like to make a wide band ring, but sometimes have trouble
getting it to fit together for proper soldering. 

In my experience, it is very difficult to file straight, without
rocking, if you file “freehand”. You need a “crutch” or guide. I
suggest you file while the ring blank is straight, putting the strip
in a vise with only the part to be removed sticking up, and file
down to the vise. You will feel the difference when you have removed
all the silver-- the file will skitter across the steel when there
is no more silver (gold, copper, brass) to bite into.

Parallel pliers can also work for filing, though it is harder to
keep the strip from shifting during filing. I also use a tubing
cutter with the stop removed for this purpose-- lay the strip in the
groove, hold firmly, file flush with the end. This provides an
automatic right angle-- but the strip must be completely straight.

I also will be soldering an 18k bezel to this ring (of
sterling)...I have checked the archives and I think 14k ez is the
right solder for this.... 

I would use silver solder for this. Why not?

Good luck,
Noel


#6
I like to make a wide band ring, but sometimes have trouble
getting it to fit together for proper soldering. 

When I make a bezel I wrap the bezel around the stone overlapping at
the joint. Then remove the stone holding the bezel so as not to
change position of the overlap. Then cut through both thicknesses of
the overlap with flush cutters. I use a good quality flush cutter and
use them only for bezels. Now turn the flush cutters over and trim
off the bezel end cut by the non-flush cutting side. You now have
matching ends regardless of the angle they were cut. If needed I
cleanup the ends with a couple light strokes with the file.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado
http://rockymountainwonders.com


#7

Hello Kimberly;

A very simple solution to your problem. I picked this up during my
first week of undergraduate metalsmith classes, 35 years ago.

Bend the ring around until the ends line up right with a little
tension on them (spring fit closed). Turn your bench pin over so the
flat-level side is up. Put the ring down flat on the pin, close to
the end nearest you. Hold it down firmly and keep your fingers out of
the path of the saw. Run the saw blade, by sawing, down the seam,
angling so that you are cutting from the top of the seam down to the
bottom. That will take metal off both sides of the seam evenly until
the seam, whether straight or not, will fit together tightly. If the
seam isn’t so tight that you can’t see light through it, do it again
until it is.

Hope you can visualize this process, it’s hard to explain but easy
to demonstrate.

David L. Huffman


#8

Kim -

If I remember right, you should always use the same (gold) karat
solder as you use for the bezel, or whatever else the gold parts
are. If you use 14k solder on 18k bezel, the resulting mass of gold
is NOT 18k…it’s something less. If you get really good at the
technique Peter Rowe recommends, then you won’t really see any color
difference because the seam will be so small. Also, I’d use the
solder that most closely matches your bezel in color, that is the
same karat.

From what I have researched, it appears that you must mark the gold
as to the lowest karat. It would be a shame for you to have to mark
’14k’ just because of the solder, when the bezel is glowing a
luscious ‘18k’.

best regards,
Kelley


#9

I would add this to what Peter and David say about sawing the joint
before soldering: saw the ring with it placed at the very end of the
vee in the saw-pin, so that when the saw exits the join it won’t
slam into your finger, but be caught in the wood.

Brian


#10

Hi everybody:

Thanks so much for all the tips…Yes, I did run right out yesterday
and try the method of sawing the seam (suggested by many). While I
was sawing, I did look directly down at the ring and said “hey,
there’s my finger” just like you describe above! Now I can consider
myself quicker on the uptake because I moved it out of the way :slight_smile:

Thanks again
Kim


#11
From what I have researched, it appears that you must mark the
gold as to the lowest karat. It would be a shame for you to have to
mark '14k' just because of the solder, when the bezel is glowing a
luscious '18k'. 

That might be true if you were making an item with truly two
different karats of gold, like a shank in one karat, and the bezel in
another. But the mark, at least under U.S. law, is intended to
reflect the overall composition, and does allow a tiny leeway. That
leeway/tolerance is enough to allow the use of solder.

Also remember that many solders are marked with the karat of gold on
which they are intended to be used, but that their actual gold
content may be lower than the marked karat. If this is an important
issue to you, be sure to purchase solders that are specifically
marked “plumb”. Some manufacturers will label the “below karat"
solders with just the karat number, but no “K”, while putting the
"K” on the label for plumb solders. Or manufactuers may specifically
indicate “plumb”, or the letter P. Plumb solders cost more than the
others, and may sometimes be a little harder to use, since melting
points are a little higher. Sometimes, with some colors, they flow a
little differently too.

Normally, little enough solder is used on good construction work
that should you have to use a lower karat solder on a piece, your
overall gold content, solder included, should still be up to the mark
allowing you to use the marking for the karat gold you made the thing
with, not the marking of the lower grade solder.

Peter Rowe


#12

Well I see I’m a bit late already.

For this situation I use a cut off wheel in the flexshaft.
Guaranteed quick precision cut if you watch out for the bugaboos. You
need a steady hand as the wheels are fragile and any change in the
angle of attack may result in a shattered wheel, which usually flies
in your face. If the joint is soldered a plunge cut works. If the
joint is unsoldered and under tension its better, (I find) to start
your cut from one side and progress evenly thru the shank, take care
as you approach the final section just before breakthrough. If I’m
concerned the joint will jump together at this point I’ll stop my
cut just shy of breakthru and then slip the ring on a grooved mandrel
or one of those ring clamps that can spread the ring from the inside
(the spreading effect of either keeps the joint from jamming)… and
then finish the cut from the opposite side. I don’t usually make the
entire cut on the mandrel because when the ring is jammed on the
’rigidity’ of this setup seems to exacerbate the shattering caused by
chattering. Holding the ring in your fingers dampens the vibration
and greatly reduces shattering but also increases finger burns(from
friction). But my fingertips died a long time ago.

You had the right idea of using a big rather than a small file to
get a straighter edge. But if you are using it to cut both edges
simultaneously be aware that you are spreading the joint in order to
fit the big file in, which affects the fitment of the join. It’ll
look OK from the top but viewed from the side it might appear
slightly beveled with a resultant gap on the inside(finger) surface.

Solder. Typically its best to use the same karat and go as high as
you dare. If you have to go back in later to do more soldering the
harder solder is a big help in not affecting the initial joint.

But there may be instances where silver solder might be the ticket.
For example, if you were planning to oxidize the sterling ring when
its done, if you had any excess gold solder that inadvertently flowed
onto the area you wanted black you’d have a problem as liver of
sulphur (for example) does not work on gold.


#13
I would add this to what Peter and David say about sawing the
joint before soldering: saw the ring with it placed at the very end
of the vee in the saw-pin, so that when the saw exits the join it
won't slam into your finger, but be caught in the wood. 

I personally have found it somewhat awkward to align both sides of
the ring strip and saw through depending on the gauge of the metal.
You have to hold it just right so you do not break the blade, hard
enough to keep the ends together, not hard enough to trap the blade
as you get to the end. The way I do it also works better for tapered
bands where I solder it at the widest part. I file both ends, I can
bring the two ends together and align them with the shape of the ring
an oval, solder, and then I am fortunate to have a ring stretcher for
sizing and I use that to make it round, and the right size as I
usually cut the blank a tiny bit short. This is the fastest way for me
to fabricate a ring.

I can usually cut through the strip with a saw blade at the right
angle and straight enough to bend into a oval, solder and use the
ring stretcher to round the ring. If you round the ring on a mandrel,
you have to only hammer of the side of the ring with the largest
diameter, turn it around and do the other side. Hammer all around the
edge until the metal meets the mandrel all the way around This really
makes things easy if you are using thicker than 18 gauge sheet.

This also tests the seam, if you did not do a good job soldering the
seam, it breaks. This prevents problems furthers down the road. If you
are using gold or platinum, this saves material.

Richard Hart


#14

Kim,

I can’t seem to get a perfect fit in the seam of a wide band ring
with a file. Here is how I do it - overlap the two ends (wrapping the
band around the ring mandrel at the proper size - about 1/4 to 1/2
size smaller than the size desired to make allowance for the
overlap). put the band in a vice and saw straight down through both
ends. After putting the band back on the mandrel and checking the
size, put the two ends together with tension to hold them and saw
through the seam once more. The only filing you have to do is to file
away any little (is it kerf? the word escapes me) edge that remains.
check the seam for any light - if there is a crack, put it back
together and saw again - open a bit to flux the seam and put solder
snippets on the inside. I hold the torch under the band and draw the
solder through. With your silver band, I would solder it with hard
silver solder.

As far as soldering the 18k gold bezel onto the band - I always use
silver solder (probably med) since the silver is the backing.

Tricky part - filing the bezel to fit the curvature of the band with
no gaps can take me a long time - maybe someone has a good way to do
that.

The best tool I ever bought to bend a heavy gauge ring band is Rio’s
flat stock and wire shaper. #111-615. rather expensive but wonderful
for someone like me with small, fairly weak hands.

I’m behind in reading the orchid posts but peeking ahead I see many
have answered this already - I’ll send it along anyway, its a bit
different.

Good luck.
Jan
www.designjewel.com


#15
Thanks so much for all the tips...Yes, I did run right out
yesterday and try the method of sawing the seam (suggested by
many). 

Here’s another trick that will speed up, perhaps, or at least reduce
the danger to fingers, when sawing ring shanks, either in fitting
seams or just in common ring sizing, and other similar operations.
Drill into the front edge of your workbench, a half inch diameter
hole. There may already be such a thing for a ring mandrel, though
often those supplied holes are larger, or off to the side. This
should be a few inches to the side of your bench pin, so as to be in
a good working position facing the hole. Now get yourself some half
inch diameter dowel rod from the hardware store’s lumber aisle. Any
hardwood is fine. About a five or six inch length is inserted into
the hole so it’s supported firmly, with several inches sticking out
pointing towards you. The hole should be drilled level, so the dowel
too will be level. A v notch similar to what is usually put in the
end of a bench pin is cut into the projecting end of the dowel, and
the first quarter to half inch of the top of the dowel is filed or
cut slightly lower, but still curved like the top surface of the
dowel, so as to produce a lip just before the end of the V notch. A
ring placed over that end of the dowel now rests nicely, supported on
the inside by the curved dowel surface, and braced against pushing
back further, by the lip. And the V notch, as with the usual bench
pin, is for your saw blade when cutting into the shank. Unlike a
standard bench pin, this arrangement allows your hand to be under the
ring and dowel, holding the ring from below, and the ring, supported
from the inside this way, is easy to hold steady while cutting.

This idea, of course, has already been used in commercial ring
cutting jigs. You can buy a ring peg made from a flat wood stick
intended to screw down onto the bench top, or a fancy jig (Brookhart,
I think is the brand), made of brass. But the dowel method is easily
customized for different needs, quickly made for very little money,
and easily stores in a drawer or off the bench when not in use. You
can also, in a piece of dowel like this, cut a standard shaped flat
top style mini bench pin for sawing tiny pieces that may be hard to
hold with a standard bench pin, since again, it allows your hand to
hold from below.

Peter