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Procdures for Sizing Rings Up


#1

My last post led to some interesting discussion concerning the prevalence of soldering versus fusing rings when sizing. Now I’m curious to know what methods the community uses to size up. This is an area that I prefer to notch my piece (I use a round file or krause bur to make a grove). Next, I use solder (hard plumb solder karated to match the alloy) and go from there. This is my procedure for gold and silver.

For those of you that fuse, how does your procedure differ? I’m still wrapping my mind around fusing in general, though for sizing down, I’m sold. Anyway, just curious.


#2

My training was old school and sizing up you always dovetailed. The ends of the shank you file into a V-like point, the piece you’re putting in gets a corresponding V-groove, done with a saw cut and a square file held in parallel pliers. The piece had to fit in there super snug, no gaps. You should theoretically be able to drop it and the piece would stay in before soldering. So that’s how I sized thousands of rings up for years and years.

Then I opened my own shop in 1988. I hired many goldsmiths over the years, some experienced, some I trained. I hired based on ability and potential. So some were right out of high school and some had fine arts degrees, some had worked in shops and some had been on their own doing shows.

With this varied group of talented and independently minded people I at first insisted that they all dove tail sizing ups. But over time I began to value their individual approaches to the various tasks, including sizing. I started saying, if you’re having problems or are unsure then do it my way…but if you’re method gives excellent results in the same amount of time, we can try your way.

What happened was that they all began doing butt joints when sizing up, I think mostly because it was easier. We had absolutely no additional problems with bad seams or cracks. In fact we had fewer pits because there was sometimes a pit at the point of the V of the dovetail, almost like an air bubble. The argument was that a dovetail joint is logically a much stronger joint, but in practice a well soldered butt joint held up just as well… and we did tons of sizings, about 15,000 a year. That was surprising to me, that the dovetail was not superior.

All of the sizings were soldered except for platinum which was fused, I guess we did occasionally fuse gold for color match reasons. Then in the mid 90’s I bought a laser welder, so at that time welded seams became more common, but gold was and is still primarily soldered when sizing. Mark


#3

I too was taught to dovetail sizings up as well as half shanks. But when thrown into a busy street shop that went out the window for speed’s sake. Never had a seam fail with just a but joint.
-Jo


#4

I also was taught dovetail but actually had way more pieces pop out when
heating from pressure changing in the ring and those thin little wings
breaking off.
Anyone doing this as a job uses butt joints and most I would say use
solder. Fusing is tricky and used when needed.
SD


#5

That’s right, I forgot about them breaking apart like that!
Who’s dumb idea was that dovetailing anyway!! :wink:


#6

You all are making me feel a lot better about my life choices. I was experiencing many of the same problems when I notch my pieces, but I always thought it was me. My wife will be happy to hear we can save money at the liquor store now that you all have solved most of my issues.


#7

Yeah I hear you there, I don’t know who that was but I’m thinking an engineer. I was pretty good at the dove tail thing but it was a pain. The idea was that there was more surface area for the joint to hold with. Stuller has a sizing system now that’s similar but it uses a curve not a V. Like Jo said there are rarely seam fails with a butt joint and with the time saved you can resolder them as they come up and you’re still way ahead. It was practicality that won over that battle. SD


#8

The guy who taught me to dovetail was formally trained in Germany, then I was his apprentice. So it may have come over from Europe.

His training was very specific and somewhat rigid. Right down to how to sit, the angle of your arm when holding a file, exactly how to hold and rotate a piece when filing…on and on. It was a bit tricky at first but it was a good way for him to teach good work habits.