Making your own Earring posts:
draw your wire down to the size you want. Maybe .9 mm.
Anneal the wire carefully (no hot spots). Robert Kaylor anneals
wire coiled up in a tin can, playing the flame on from the outside to
avoid localized overheating.
Clamp one end of the wire carefully into a vise, grip the other
end with draw tongs or vise grips or toothed pliers and pull gnelt;y
and hard, stretching the wire-you will see it visibly stretch. This
will straighten it instantly.
Get a piece of brass hobby tubing about 3" (7cm) long, cut one
end to a 45 degree angle or so, anneal it, about one inch (2.5) cm
below the flat end of the tube make an indentation with a center
punch and then drill a one mm hole at the bottom of the dent. This
will serve as a funnel to feed the wire into the hole (and the tube).
Then gently squash the tube near the dent and hole at 90 degrees thus
making the tube into an oval at that point. The dent with the hole in
it is a one of the ends of the oval, on the short curve of the oval.
You adjust the squish on the tube until when the wire is fed in and
then snipped off flush with the tube the piece that is cut off is the
correct length for your earring posts.
Then stick the angled end of the tube into a hole you make in the
top of a film can. Now when you feed wire into the hole in the dent
it slides in until it hits the far side of the tube, is snipped off
flush with the outer side of the tube at the dent and it falls
naturally down the tube into the film can. You can then clamp the film
can in place gently in a vise and cut the right lengths of earring
posts as fast as you can feed the wire into the hole and snip. You
will find that because we made a funneling dent leading to the hole
into the tube that when you snip the wire you are feeding in will
automatically slide into the tube and stop again ready to be
snipped. The wires gather in the film can.
Now flatten the ends of the wires (give them a right angled end).
Use a Zipee® belt sander (my favorite) or a sanding or separating
disc on your flex shaft which you push the wires onto (hint-use a
tool to hold them-they can get really hot) or as I might do sand them
flat on the cardboard disc sander described at the tips from the
jewelers bench section at Ganoksin.com. This is a quick job to do the
You will need a #30 flex shaft handpiece or an equivalent Jacobs
Chuck type handpiece for the next step. The wire is chucked into the
flex shaft with about 4mm or a quarter inch showing. (see the ‘Small
tools’ article in the tips section for how to make a chuck key for
prouction use of the #30 type handpiece)
Press the foot pedal and rotate the wire in the handpiece at
medium speed. You then make the indentation for the ear nut on the
wire by pressing onto the wire gently with a side cutter (gently-you
can easily cut off the wire instead of making a groove), or round
nosed pliers, or a pair of side cutters you have altered the jaws on
with a separating disc ora diamond burr, so that there is a small
hole in the cutters. This hole lets you clamp the cutters onto the
ear wire, make the correct depth groove quickly and without skill
requirements and be sure of not cutting off the end of the wire
instead of grooving it. Picture: —o---
Although I prefer to put the groove in before soldering the ear post
on some people solder the ear wires onto the piece and then put the
groove in by hand with side cutters, clamping gently and swinging
them around the post to make the groove at the end. Of course if you
cut off a bit of wire at that point you are in a bad spot. Make sure
you don’t make the groove too deep into the wire and so weaken it and
cause it to break-it is a pretty shallow groove.
- Once the groove is made in the correct place on the ear wire hole
then hold a 220 grit (medium) emery stick against the end of the wire
as it spins, moving it constantly so as to quickly round off the end
of the wire. A cup burr held onto the rotating wire end will also
round it off. You may then hold a piece of leather or felt with
polishing compound against the wire end to give it a hint of polish
as a finishing touch.
Some people will use a triangular file to make the groove instead of
snips, try which works best for you.
- When you are going to solder the earring post on use the earring
post tweezers (see ‘Small Tools’ article) to rapidly clamp the
earring post. Clamp it near the notched end. While clamped in the
tweezers rub the far flat end on an emery stick to clean it for
soldering (good solder joins require recently bared metal), then dip
the bared end into flux. Have your solder chips lightly pre-flused on
the brick. Gently heat the fluxed post end until the flux on it goes
glassy, then touch it to a pre-fluxed chip. The solder chip will
stick to the hot wire end. (Do not point the flame at the other
solder chips-we need them pre-fluxed but unheated in order to most
easily stick them onto the wire end in the way just described). Lift
the wire away from the soldering surface and gently heat the end
until the solder melts onto it. Then heat the fluxed object itself. I
usually take a small round burr and just touch the back of the
earring where I want the post both to bare the metal for a better
join and to increase slightly the contact surfaces of the join to
As the earring gets hotter watch the flame where it leaves the metal
If it turns orange as it leaves the metal you are around 800-900
degrees F and can bring the earring post into the flame area. If your
metal is glowwing red you missed the orange flame and it is
defintiely time to bring your wire into the heat. Do not point the
flame at the earring post at all (you might melt it) but keep it on
the earring. When you think the earring is hot enough place the
earring post (bracing the heel of your hand nearby so as to steady it
while it solders in place). Let the heat from the earring itself rise
up and draw the premelted solder on the post down thus joining it to
- Make sure it is vertical. Remove the heat. Quench the earring in
water. Immediately test the join with a pair of pliers. Now is the
time to find out you should do the join again, not later. To test it
take your flat nosed pliers, grip the top (notched) third of the
earring with the pliers on at a 45 degree angle (this gives a good
broad area of grip on it so you don’t dent or scar the wire post).
Twist the post 360 degrees around (yes thats right) and back again
the same amount. If the post didn’t fall off the join was good. If it
did fall off now is the time to solder it again. This also hardens
the post in its bottom two thirds (because the post was annealed
during soldering it is dead soft-therefore it doesn’t matter how hard
or soft your wire post was before you soldered it on).
There, done. If you are moving quickly and you have everything set
up to go you can make good earring posts very rapidly and perhaps
even competetively with some comercially produced sources. I mostly
do this for gold posts now if I need some and I don’t have comercial
ones around. There was I time when I did it for silver posts too, not
really economical but it worked.