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May I polish before soldering?


#1

Hi,

I managed to get my first project mostly done, but not without some
difficulties.

My copper links made from sheet metal needed to have the inside edges
sanded, so that they would not nick the surface of the fine silver
links between them.

My question is this: Does it ever make sense to sometimes polish
metal before final assembly by soldering (now that I am successfully
soldering copper with medium solder, and just learned it could be as
easy soldering fine silver with the same)?

Had I done this, I could have saved myself a lot of thrumming with
strips of sandpaper, by polishing the stock where needed beforehand
prior to cutting.

Opinions?

Thanks,
Andrew Jonathan Fine


#2

after soldering/pickling, finishing and polishing is going to have
to be done whether or not you have polished before soldering. Why do
it twice?

John


#3

If I was your master, and you were my apprentice, after sweeping the
shop floor and making everyone their morning tea, you came to me with
such a project, Before I would let you anywhere near tools, metal,
torches etc, you would have to sit down and write out on paper the
steps you thought you would need to go through to make such a chain.
Thats assuming you had already learned how to solder etc.

Then we would go over this list and I would make you think through
any alternative options for each step of the process.

Questioning every step you wrote and why.

Then maybe let you proceed with the first step. When you had that to
my satisfaction, then let you go on to step 2 and so on.

This way you would learn the most in the shortest time, and prevent
me from wasting my time.

So you ask may you polish before soldering? You have my permission
to proceed.

Polishing long thin bits of metal is best done as follows. Clamp one
end in a bench vice, the other end gripped with an over center toggle
clamp. Pull tight and use sand paper, or what ever you think is best,
rub up and down whilst tight till all the sharp bits are removed.

Let us know how you get on.

As your a thinking person, heres a question for you.

If you have lots of small holes in a piece of metal, how would you
polish the inside of all the holes? the fastest way?


#4

Thrumming is generally done with non-abrasive, leather
strips/strings to polish inside rings, tubes, odd shaped piercings,
etc. there are abrasive cords that come on a spool for sanding things
but if you are sanding solder then you may be applying too much…

To deburr the copper links, where it sounds like you are concerned
that they are too rough for the fine silver in contact with them, why
not just use your Dremel or rotary tool (i think I remember you
saying you have one) with a felt tip and compound for polishing, or a
sanding drum for refining the links. that would be far faster than
hand filing, thrumming, sandpaper (unless its on a wood mandrel
designed to hold strips of sandpaper for ID deburring, etc If you do
use a compound - like those that come with dremel tools or a basic
home store compound ’ stick- in- -a-tube’ cheapies for precious
metals remember to clean thoroughly in pickle or any mild acid
solution, as they are wax based. If buying a compound for jewelers
look for the water soluble types- they clean up far easier, with
hottest tap water, or steam. The mounted felt or leather bits
available come in a range of shapes and hardnesses - great for
polishing inside links of any size and any material. Keep your
ferrous metal burs/bits dedicated and don’t use one for both
materials particularly if you eventually will toss the heads (felt or
leather) in the refining bin. along with your other polishings and
sweeps, bench wipes, etc…


#5

I do it all the time, especially when attaching a bezel to a ring or
bracelet. You have to plan ahead and keep in mind that a finished
solder joint can become liquid and flow or become pitted if heated
too much during later soldering operations. Use higher temperature
solder on these joints or figure out a way to keep the heat away from
them. You should also coat the finished surface with some sort of
anti fire scale product. There are several commercial products
available and you can make your own with boric acid. Good luck. Rob

Rob Meixner


#6

You should do as much finishing as possible before assembly so that
you don’t have to reach those difficult spots. How much finishing you
do will depend on the properties of the metal.

Platinum does not oxidize under the flame, so you can polish all the
way to a bright finish and it will still be bright after soldering.

24K gold does not oxidize either, but is not used much in the West.

Karat golds darken in the fire due to the alloying metals oxidizing.
You can pre-polish through tripoli, as the surface will be matte
after it’s out of the pickle. If you protect the piece with a boric
acid coating you can pre-polish to bright.

Silver should be pre-polished to tripoli and protected from the
fire. There’s no way I know of to keep it bright in the fire. But
I’ve never made an intricately articulated piece in silver, too much
trouble really, so am not the best person to give advice.

Copper will always oxidize in the flame, and the pickle will attack
the surface finish as well. I wouldn’t bother smoothing beyond fine
emery paper, but you should definitely go at least as far as fine
emery.

Elliot


#7

Jonathan- Yes. Pre-polishing is an important part of metal
fabrication.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com


#8
My question is this: Does it ever make sense to sometimes polish
metal before final assembly by soldering 

Absolutely, Andrew! That’s one of the major advantages of
fabrication. You can do a lot, if not most finishing before
assembly, actually polishing areas that will be impossible to get to
after soldering. The one main worry is firescale. In and out quickly,
nice reducing flame and plenty of firecoat is the best way to prevent
firescale. Avoid using too much solder, even a very nicely done
joint or seam can stand out if the piece is highly finished prior to
soldering. Also avoid tumbling after assembly as it can ruin the
finish you worked so hard to obtain prior to soldering.

Best of luck!
Dave Phelps


#9

Yes, Andrew, it is frequently beneficial and often necessary to “
pre-polish” components before they are soldered together. While it
is not necessary toactually polish the parts of the piece that will
be easily finished after assembly, it’s best to polish some parts
before they are soldered. Some examples might include pin backs
before the findings are soldered, stone settingsbefore they are
assembled, anything that will be difficult to get to with the buffs
when it is done. I always keep all of my components cleaned up as
Igo, at least to a final sanding before soldering, and the pre
polishing keeps things neat, crisp and clean as I come to the end
and makes the final polish much easier.

It is very important to use some kind of fire coat, I use several
coats of boric acid and alcohol mixture or Pripp’s flux, to help
prevent firescale from appearing on your polished surfaces after
they are soldered.

Keep up the good work!
Melissa Veres, engraver


#10
If you have lots of small holes in a piece of metal, how would you
polish the inside of all the holes? the fastest way? 

Okay Ted Frater, I give up. What’s the best way to do that?


#11

Sorry, I had my holloware hat on when I answered that question. With
complex jewelry, I would definitely pre-polish and use Firescoff as a
flux since it does a particularly good job at maintaining an object’s
finish. Then try delicate silver polish on a Q-tip or cotton string
to get into those hard-to-reach-places. Take a look at my Silver
Polish Abrasion Ratings page:
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep8090

Best of luck,

Jeff Herman
hermansilver.com


#12

I would suggest taking the piece to a pre-finished state (no less
than 2000 grit). If you’re using polishing compound (let’s say white
diamond), stay away from woolen buffs and use fine muslin instead.
Woolen buff fibers are much too course and will actually give a
linear texture to your piece. And make sure to use a good firescale
preventive.

Jeff Herman
hermansilver.com


#13
Silver should be pre-polished to tripoli and protected from the
fire. There's no way I know of to keep it bright in the fire. 

Silver (or gold) may be polished to a full mirror finish and kept
totally shiny through soldering! I often have to do this (when
certain parts will not be accessible for proper polishing after
soldering).

Dip the piece in a fully saturated solution of boric acid in
denatured alcohol. Ignite with candle, match, cig lighter, etc.
Torch-heat the piece slightly. Repeat dipping, lighting, and brief
heating until you have a good coating that does not pull away from
any point when heating. The brief heating gets rid of any grease/oil
that may keep the boric acid from sticking to the metal. When done
soldering, remove the borax coating in boiling water before
pickling. The piece should come out as shiny as it was when you
started.

An old Russian jeweler who learned goldsmithing in Shanghai used to
torch-heat the piece slightly and then roll it around in granulated
boric acid (no liquid). He kept heating and rolling it in the boric
acid until a good coat was built up. He always did this on repairs
so he never had to re-polish the whole piece.

Janet in Jerusalem


#14
If you have lots of small holes in a piece of metal, how would you
polish the inside of all the holes? the fastest way? Okay Ted
Frater, I give up. What's the best way to do that? 

The word Thrumming has been mentioned over the last couple of days
here on G.

So its no secret really, all it is is a piece of thread or string
tied one end to a nail on your bench, threaded through one hole at a
time in your piece of metal or jeweley, take a coupleof turns around
your finger with the other end then take your polishing compound and
rub back and forth on the said string.

Then move the metal back and forth up and down the string whilst
tight, and your hole will be polished.

take care as its quite an aggresive technique and your hole might
become a lot larger and spoil the piece.

if you have a bigger hole say 1/4in it works just as well but you
need to use 1/4 in dia string.


#15
Yes, Andrew, it is frequently beneficial and often necessary to "
pre-polish" components before they are soldered together. 

This idea must be expressed much stronger! What separates real
jewellery from haberdashery is that every component is individually
finished; components are joined via mechanical engagements; solder’s
only function is to keep joints from disengaging. SOLDER MUST NOT BE
RELIED UPON TO KEEP COMPONENTS TOGETHER.

Wether or not component can be polished after soldering is not
relevant.

Even if it can, the geometrical integrity cannot be preserved.

Final polishing after piece would have been assembled is only done to
restore color of metal. All abrasive phases must be done prior to
soldering.

Leonid Surpin
Studioarete.com


#16
This idea must be expressed much stronger! What separates real
jewellery from haberdashery is that every component is individually
finished 

Leonid is right on this one though I’ll have to have a word with him
about haberdashery.

I take great pride in my ability to pre-finish, polish and fabricate
a piece without having to do any finishing after soldering except for
a final rouge polish. Too much polishing leaves rounded edges and
drags out pits to the surface of solder joints. So do abrasive rubber
wheels.

One of my favorite tools are the little plastic backed snap on
sanding discs for flex shafts that have felt instead of grit on
them. I use them to lap in tiny little places. I can get a really
great crisp edge on say the sides of prongs etc.

Now Leonid- Having learned old school european style fur felt hat
blocking form the amazing Dayna Pinkham I can testify that it takes
great skill, time and patience and a touch of anal retentiveness to
make fine hats. Done properly it takes as much thoughtfulness,
patience, time, and skill as it does to make fine jewelry. The first
thing I learned was the difference between a 50 dollar hat and a 500
dollar hat. Same as in jewelry.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry

Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com


#17

Hi Rose

I would use green shofu (brand name) points. These things can get in
everywhere and give

a good polish. If you want a higher polish use polishing strings,
after the shofu points.

Richard
Xtines Jewels


#18

I found that half of my ring blanks have to be completely finished
and polished before I add the settings and accents. Otherwise,
trying to polish around them was impossible. It helps to finish as
much as possibleso that when you solder the last compoments on, all
you have to do is either toss in the tumbler to shine them up or
give them a final buff. I prepolish and finish as much as I can,
solder on the settings and accents, toss in the tumbler with steel
shot for a good hour to hour and half, ad then set the stones.

In fact, the earring designs I do, and some of my pendants, I have
to use mass tumble finishing, otherwise, conventional polishing will
destroy them or warp them so badly, I’ll have to scrap them.

Joy


#19
Having learned old school european style fur felt hat blocking form
the amazing Dayna Pinkham I can testify that it takes great skill,
time and patience and a touch of anal retentiveness to make fine
hats. Done properly it takes as much thoughtfulness, patience,
time, and skill as it does to make fine jewelry. 

I suspect that my use of “haberdashery” has caused some uneasiness.

In the context, “haberdashery” is a colloquialism of another term
"shoemaker", which frequently used among goldsmiths to denote low
quality work. While goldsmith doing substandard work is called
"shoemaker", his work is referred to as “haberdashery”.

Leonid Surpin
Studioarete.com


#20

I agree completely with Leonid et al on this point.

Polishing the components, saves time in the long run and gives a
better “fit” prior to soldering. The final polishing (post solder) is
very quick for this I use Hyfin on silver or rouge on gold. Also each
piece is precision made prior to soldering.

Also the metal is “clean” which is necessary for a good solder join.

Personally I get great satisfaction in looking at "finished"
components before I solder them together.

This process really brings out the “qualities” of the metal.

On this point, I was talking to a fellow jeweller regarding the
rubberised disks vs sanding sticks (sand paper wrapped round a piece
of wood).

I mentioned that the master jewellers/gem setters I know prefer the
sanding sticks, check Leonid’s blog, over the disks. You get greater
control with a sanding stick and a more even finish. He worked on
precision car engines and agreed that this was a better method.

He has used 6,000 grit I will check this source out at the moment I
finish with 3,000 before polishing.

What separates real jewellery from haberdashery is that every
component is individually finished; Educated customers look for a
quality finish, the average customer does not. I like to sell a
quality finish to the average customer in the hope they will learn
something. Also the educated customers are catered for.

Well Andrew I think you are getting some quality from
Orchid and will make great progress.

HELLO NEWBIES ANDREW POSTS SIMPLE QUESTIONS AND GETS QUALITY
ANSWERS.

DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS NO MATTER HOW DUMB YOU THINK THEY
ARE.

This is the value and beauty of Orchid. This resource is out
standing. After 35 years as a silver and goldsmith

I learn something new every post. How wonderful!!!

Richard
Xtines Jewels