I can certainly empathize with your frustrations. Ring joins can be
pretty tricky to get right … until you find a system that works for
you and then it’s smooth sailing.
I’d like to point you, in particular, to Noel’s 1, 2, 3 suggestions.
I agree with her whole-heartedly and have learned to do as she says
through trial and error. Personally I don’t often do the #3 step
–unless a particular piece calls for it-- but for me her steps 1 and
2 are bang on.
What I’d like to add to this is a great little tool I use to help me
with Noel’s step 1, getting things to fit as perfectly as possible.
There’s a handy little filing guide variously called a Miter Jig (Rio
Grande 2004, p.258, item A) or a Joint Cutter (Fischer-Pforzheim
2004, p.95, item 4365) that I’ve found invaluable to solving my own
ring shank fabrication troubles. To make a long story short it let’s
you put perfect 90 degree ends on your shank stock so that once
you’ve bent them around they meet perfectly, as in virtually no light
shines through the crack when you’ve brought the ends around to meet
and squeezed the loop closed. Once you’ve accomplished this you need
very little solder and the joint is truly hair-line thus reducing the
off-color problem too.
All other things being equal --good solder, good torch, good
technique, etc-- this tool has reduced that particular step of my
ring fabrication process to a 1 or 2 minute no-brainer. Far, far
better than the trial and error process I seemed doomed to repeat
before I ran across this gem-of-a-tool.
The downside? Two that I know of. The first is that this tool --I
have the Bergeon-- ain’t cheap! But then it’s a precision tool of
hardened steel and impeccable quality so I’m not complaining. The
other is that you if you aren’t using plain stock shanks, in other
words you taper them from top to bottom or whatever, then you need to
take that into consideration during the fabrication process.
Personally if I’m planning some simple shaping of the shank I do it
after I’ve soldered up the basic shank stock. I suppose some might
find this a problem but so far I haven’t.
Hope you find this helpful,