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Ring joins


#1

Hi,

I wander if anyone can give me some suggestions. I am never
completely satisfied with my ring joins. If you look closely in a
certain light then you can see a thin black line where the join is
some times it’s a broken line - it’s usually pretty hard to see but
it’s definitely there - I don’t actually know any one else who makes
jewellery so don’t have a visual comparison but I’m guessing you can
get a flawless enough join that if you were to look at it under a
magnifying glass you would have trouble seeing the it?

I always make sure that the ring is completely clean before
soldering - no oxides or grease or anything left on it. I get the
ends as near a perfect fit as I can then I hold it together with
binding wire and saw through where the ends meet. I then use binding
wire to hold it while I solder it.

I have spent the last couple of years working in silver and have
recently done a few pieces in gold and would like to do some rings in
gold, however I would like to perfect my ring joins before I do this.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Kind Regards,
Karen


#2

HI: The higher temperature the solder is the more it will maintain
the characteristics of the original alloy,. Often fraidy cat
jewelers use the lowest melting point solder which contains material
that will oxidize and cadmium based solder will always have an off
color. Hope this help clarify things for you Ringman


#3

One way to avoid this problem with not invisible joints is to not
solder them. Start with tubing. see :

http://www.bonnydoonengineering.com/catalogue/books/deepdrawbook.shtml

jesse


#4

The color difference can be minimized by using a temperature with a
higher melting point. Also, since solders are softer than the metal
you are soldering they are worn away by polishing more easily. Hense,
the hardest solder will wear the least and be less likely to leave a
groove. When you shape the joint, if you pass the two ends past each
other and them pull them into alignment so that there is pressure
pushing them against each other, you can saw through the joint ( the
gap must be less than the width of the saw blade) and the two sides
will push together perfectly. This can be hard to do with heavy ring
shanks! You won’t need binding wire at all. If the soldering is done
without annealing the whole piece, the tension in the metal will
continue to hold two sides together tightly. The little pits in the
solder result from gaps in the join, contamination, or over-heating
the solder. I hope this is clear and that it helps. Good luck. Jan


#5

Karen, Use Hard solder for the best colour match, fewer nasty alloys
to tarnish. Also do not depend on binding wire to hold your joint
closed, at soldering temperatures it anneals and stretches. A much
better method is to bend the shank to get a spring closure. Still
annealing concerns, as the shank gets hot you loose some of the
spring action but still much better than trying to force the joint
closed with a frail soft wire. A rolled thin piece of solder larger
than the join can be inserted into the sprung joint. Wasteful, but it
does insure enough solder. And of course LOTS of practice.

Jeff


#6

Hi, Karen, Here’s what I would say, though there are always other
ways to deal with things.

To get invisible joins,

  1. make sure the parts mate as perfectly as possible. My students
    tear their hair out trying to do this, but there’s no way around it.
    Then use minimal solder.

  2. use the hardest solder you can manage. The harder the solder, the
    closer the color match.

  3. Assuming this is silver, after all heat-work is done, “bring up
    the fine silver”. This means gentle heating and pickling as many
    times as it takes (up to 10 sometimes) to deplete the surface, and
    especially the solder, of copper. Heat the piece without flux with
    a soft flame until it just turns yellow, then plunge it into hot
    pickle. It will pickle very quickly. Rinse, dry, do it again. It
    will gradually take more heat to get discoloration, and when it
    stays white, you are done.

The last creates a disguise for solder and for firescale, but it is
just a thin layer of soft fine silver, so don’t depend on it to last
on high-wear items like rings. Concentrate on #1 & 2. But any piece
(IMHO) worth spending more than an hour making is worth #3, since
this will also substantially decrease or delay tarnish. It will also
create that beautiful soft white finish that is so popular these
days, especially in Europe.

I just looked at your post again, and I may see another issue. If
you file correctly to begin with, the sawing-through is unnecessary,
and possibly counter-productive. Get the ends flat and square, then
bend them together. Don’t worry about the shape of the ring: they’ll
meet best if they meet straight, so your ring can be quite squashed
in shape. Then, instead of binding, displace the ends to the side so
that you can force them past each other (as though they came from a
coil), then snap them back. Then do the same to the other side,
and/or to the top and bottom. This can be quite difficult on a heavy
ring, but it work-hardens the shank and creates spring, so that
ultimately the ends are pressing hard on each other. This works
way better than binding to create a tight fit. Also, I like to
solder from the inside, so any mess ends up there where cleanup is
less obvious. I stand the ring up, against a pin or block if
necessary, with the joint at the bottom. Easy enough to round it out
after it is soldered.

Good luck!
–No=EBl


#7

Hello Karen,

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,
Cheers,
Trevor F.