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Ring Sizing: Dovetail vs Butt Joints


Dear Friends, When I was trained in jewelry repair 17 years ago, I
was taught to use dovetail joints when sizing rings up. I opened a
jewelry store and began doing my own repair work. Almost
immediately, I gave up on the dovetail idea because of the time
involved. I now use butt joints on all sizings–with good results. I
would like to hear from anyone who prefers one method over the other
and their reasons why. My thanks to you in advance.

Dale Pavatte
Diamonds For You
Decherd, Tennessee USA


Dale: I do not use dove tail joints or but joints, I fuse all sizing
with karat materail relevant to the item thatbI am sizing. Solder is
softer than the the gold material and tends to show when the product
mis polished. I have eleminated the possibility of bad solder joints
and possible breakage.

Roger Kitchens


I agree with you…the dovetail joints do take more time but they
give stronger joints. They are also handy when doing a short bridge
because there is no danger of loosing the bridge from over heating
especially if one is short on experience. On the other hand…butt
joints are quick and efficient and are easy to do on longer bridges.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SO FL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut


Dale, I prefer dovetail joints when enlarging, although use butt
joints when reducing. I find the dovetail makes it easy to hold the
piece being soldered into the shank, in the gap. Keeping the insert
straight rather than curving it and bending the shank ends so that
they line up with the insert, I slip the insert in , hold it there
with tension and solder. I particularly like this technique when
enlarging a ring with a heavy shank. Jerry in Kodiak


Dale, For me, when speed is an issue (Sure, I can do that in 5
minutes!) I go for the butt joint. Using good solder, and making
sure the ends are flush, and you won’t have problem. When you get
TOO hurried and don’t get it exactly flush, you’ll see that ring
again in a month or so. Flush is the key.



Greetings Dale For the past 26 years I’ve been using butt joins for
resizing with few problems. The only times the joins break are when
using them on extremely thin or soft material (such as little girls
silver signet rings) . For these I use lap joints to slightly thicken
the material and make sure the join stays joined.Yes in these cases
it actually costs you too much time to repair, but it will never come
back for a broken join. When resizing up many sizes sometimes the
joins may be a problem so use dovetail joints, it is worth not having
an upset client returning. The client confidence is worth it.Your
reputation is worth it. Remember your good reputation will give you
return clients.

When reshanking I use step joints as they too will never come apart
when done properly.

Hope this is useful
William Russell


I’m pretty new at this, so perhaps someone could point me in the
direction of some specific as to what these dovetail
joins are. It’s just that I need to remove and replace the shank of
my wif’s 54yo engagement ring which has warn devaststingly thin and
I’m psyching myself up to having a go. It hadn’t occurred to me to do
anything other than butt joining the job.



I’m pretty new at this, so perhaps someone could point me in the
direction of some specific as to what these dovetail
joins are. It’s just that I need to remove and replace the shank of
my wif’s 54yo engagement ring which has warn devaststingly thin and
I’m psyching myself up to having a go. It hadn’t occurred to me to do
anything other than butt joining the job.



There is a way to increase the strength on the butt seam.

I have a method of making a butt seam for containers which take a
lot of abuse.

After the cut had been made, filing is done between the joint, and
well cleaned and ready to soder, take an engraving/scraping tool and
run it over each side of the seam, then soder.


Okay… I’ve got to meddle in this one. Fortunately, I don’t have to
do a lot of repairs, but for me the question doesn’t boil down to
durability of the technique, but doability of the technique. I
would do a butt join because I can do a butt join. Nine times out
of ten (maybe eight) I can file a true and square edge… maybe saw a
straight line.

The problem I would encounter with something like a dovetail or lap
joint is getting the angles to match. I have enough trouble when I’m
trying to do a butt join to file everything to mate perfectly. How
the heck do you do it with an angle thrown in there?!? Even if I were
to use a triangle or square file for the concave part, I would still
have a helluva time trying to file the convex to match, especially
the apex line of the insert. Is there a secret I’m missing, or am I
just impaired?

You guys (and gals) are just too awesome!

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)


Dave, I don’t know how others do it but I file halfway through the
outside of the shank with a square file edge then the same from the
inside. that makes two 90 degree male ends. Placing the insert in the
bench vise, I make a saw cut in the center , then follow it with a
cut from the edge of the square file making a 90 degree female cut.
The trick of course is to keep the file straight and level while
making the cuts. I figured this technique out for myself, so I
expect there is another, better, way and if so I’d sure like to hear
it. Jerry in Kodiak


Dave, I use a 4 inch (no. 4 cut) hand pillar file to f=
orm the
"male" ends on the ring shank ( or smaller needle file if the gap is
narrow). This takes a little over a minute to get the angles correct.
To fit the piece into the sizing gap I place the ring on a mandrel
at the correct size mark and, after having cut the first notch in the
sizing piece to be added, I slide the nothed end over the mandrel on
the mandrel’s smaller diameter side of the ring so that the notch is
seated against the “male” end of the dovetail and scribe a mark on
the other end of the sizing piece at the point where the wide end of
the the “male” “V” lines up. I then cut the piece about a sawblade’s
thickness (no. 6/0) longer than marked.(to allow for a little over
cutting of the notch. Note that I use sizing stock preformed to the
needed ring size. For the concave ends, on the insert piece,=
hold the piece in a ring clamp and use a sharp and lubricated 45
degree Hart bur to cut the notch; with practice the procedure takes
about 1 minute to do. I find using this tecnique slightly sl=
than butt jointing but it offers the added advantage of holding the
piece solidly in place during soldering even if the ring shank
deforms due to linear expansion of the metal (which I find happens
with a large number of commercially made rings the stores I deal with

The Paul Reilly Company
Colorado Springs, Colorado (USA)


Dale, I have sized thousands of rings and never used a dovetail
joint.I have never had a customer come back with a broken joint due
to using a but joint.It is not like we are gluing the joint
together.We use gold solder to hold the joint together.I don’t have
any data to suggest that a dove tail is stronger than a but joint and
in the furniture business Iam sure that is the case but we are not
working with wood.I feel there needs to be a reality check in some of
these schools.Meaning they need to teach people how to make a living
using techniques that are time wise and work.One response to this
thread said that he was retired and on a pension and used dovetail
joints and if it took thirty minutes to do a sizing so be it.On an
average non holiday day I do between twenty and thirty sizings that
is not counting head and sets retipping chain solders and Uncle
Festers nose ring.You do the math would we even have a repair
business or any business at that rate.When I retire I will have the
luxury to do thirty minute sizings too!Regards J Morley Coyote
Ridge Studio


I have been reading with interest, the comments on this contentious
issue. Like a lot of jewelry procedures, there is little consensus
on the “right” way to do things. My guess is that if you asked 10
jewelers how to do a particular task, you will get at least eleven
different answers.

Some swear they will never size a ring without a dovetail joint.
Others cannot understand the fuss because their butt joints never

I personally agree with those who prefer simple butt joints. I do
not see the need to spend extra time doing something that does not
matter. Sure it’s obvious that a dovetail joint will be stronger,
but is it really necessary? Doing so adds time to the operation and
it doubles the length of the seam and therefore the possibility of
some pits. But both of those issues aside, and considering the
rarity of butt jointed ring sizings that fail, I put my hat in with
those who ask, “Why bother?”

Here at the Revere Academy, we teach ring sizing primarily with
standard butt joints. However, we also explain the alternative of
using dovetail joints for those who feel this is important. In
jewelry, there are few “right” and “wrong” ways of doing things. The
bottom line is that a technique either works or does not. And for my
money, butt joints for ring sizing is just fine.

Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts
760 Market Street - Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94102
tel: 415-391-4179 fax: 415-391-7570



I have been following this thread with interest. I used the dovetail
joint many years ago when the quality of solder was lacking. It did
make a stonger joint, but there was more time involved and an
increases area for pitting. Considering time factor and the
posibility of problems with the seam, I now fuse all sizing whether
it is up or down. This eleminates possibility of pits and polishing
marks. It takes me less time, increases production and quality of the
repair. I have yet seen a fused sizing break or crack.

Roger Kitchens


dear Alan,this tread has gone on for a while ,so I thought I will my
two cents… a few years back I worked at the bench next to a Chinese
Goldsmith …amazing things I saw,but his specialty was ring sizing
/ring making,He made his own alloys.but for simple sizing jobs it was
a mutation of the butt joint only with no solder ,he would fuse ,all
gold alloys he worked this way ,he would simply slice and insert a
piece of adequate size gold and fuse more on top and bottom,but he
also did it so would end up always having to hammer up,as long as the
ring could take hammering.the result was and is (I have been using
this technique for a while now) a seamless piece of metal ,no pits or
solder lines. the skill in this technique is to match the alloy

Hratch Babikian
P.O. Box 54147
Philadelphia, PA 19105
tele215 465 9351


I’ve been a butt-joiner of ring shanks ever since I was an
apprentice. It has always worked for me. However, I do use
dovetailing for flexible joining in my forged bracelets and necklets.
After completing these joins, I hammer or roll-harden the metal over
the join to restore the springy hardness. I guess it’s another one of
those individual preference things. Rex