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Perfect ring join ready for soldering?


#1

Hi all, I’m a newbie both on the forum (and to silversmithing!) I was hoping that I could glean some wisdom from you all. Apologies for the probably basic question… I did try to do a search but couldn’t find anything.

How do you make a perfect ring join so the ends meet perfectly? I find that with thinner bands (1mm or so) I always tend to have a little gap at the top and bottom of the join while the middle bits are flush. Then end up filing away but still can’t seem to even them out. Is there a trick to this?

Also, I tried to make a ring with a thicker band today (D-shape 2 mm) and while the ends perfectly matched I didn’t have the strength in my fingers to push the ends together as my teacher has showed me (to push one end under the other then switch and the tension closes the gap). Is there another way to push the metal together to close the gap? I tried doing this with half-round pliers but really marked and scratched my ring all over.

Thanks for helping a newbie out!


#2

Secure a medium cut (#2) equaling file into your vise so that it sticks straight up. Get the ring as round as you can and the ends as close as you can. Open the gap just enough to fit the ring over the file so that one side of the gap is against one filing surface and the other side of the gap is against the other filing surface. The ring now should be stuck on the file with the file inside the gap. Carefully slide the ring up and down the file being careful not to let it rock. Inspect and repeat until you have a joint that you like. Don’t change the shape of the ring and close the gap if it is needed. The joint should be even and ready to solder. Regarding your question about closing the gap, put one side of the ring into the side of your vise jaws and close the jaws against the ring. Make sure that there is a bit of the gap end on the side inside the jaws sticking out so that you can work the other end of the gap under the side sticking out of the vise. Use your flat pliers grabbing a hold of the portion of the ring away from the vise and work it until you close the gap. You can also hold the ring gap side up on your anvil and carefully tap the side of the gap sticking up with your rawhide hammer. I sometimes actually put the ring on my finger and spring the gap open a bit and then tap. When you remove your finger, the tension on the ring will close the gap. You can refile as described above again if you don’t like the joint. You will be surprised how just a little filing changes the size. Through all of this, don’t worry about the shape of the ring until after you solder it. Once soldered, it can be shaped on your steel ring mandrel using your rawhide hammer to shape it. You are working with very narrow and probably thin stock. What I have described should work with just about any size stock that you might want to make a ring out of. Try 2mmX7mm white gold. That convinced me not to work in white gold. You can also invest in ring bending pliers or one of the ring formers made by Pepe or Durston. You will use it to make a lot more than just rings. Good luck and let us know how it goes…Rob


#3

After watching Andrew Berry on his ‘At the Bench’ pricey but informative web site, I found this video on YouTube; this is the method I always use and it really works!


Good luck!

#4

Thank you! I’ve actually used this video. The problem I have is making the ends close together. Even if both ends match up I don’t seem to have the strength in my fingers to create tension in a 2mm band to force them shut together so there is no gap…

1mm I am fine with. It’s 2mm and up.

I am 30, no trouble with my hands otherwise… do I just need to develop more finger strength?


#5

Thanks for your very informative reply! I’ll definitely try the vice trick. I don’t think I’ve been using it as much as I need to.

“I sometimes actually put the ring on my finger and spring the gap open a bit and then tap. When you remove your finger, the tension on the ring will close the gap.” You tap the ring while it’s on your finger? Just on the gap? Trying to picture this.

Thanks again.


#6

@Sundaygirl, maybe I’m misunderstanding your question, but after sawing the ends, while they are still parallel, you slightly over-tighten the circle, then by pulling apart, the ends can snap into place with some tool manipulation, but pushing with your fingers is not necessary.

Use leather between the tool and the metal to prevent marks. I get bored with my leather accessories before they are worn too much, so I save my bags, belts, leather-soled shoes and boots, then take them apart, which provides me with a wide variety of leather thicknesses and strengths to use for protecting metal.

A tool you might find useful is heavy duty bending pliers. They are difficult to find, but are a higher quality than ordinary pliers. When using them to bend a heavy metal ring, you will not feel like you’re weak nor feel like you’re bending your pliers.


#7

Thanks Betty! You’ve actually understood perfectly. Thank you for the helpful tips I will try them out tomorrow and hopefully have better luck!