I assume he is tallking about sterling chains…Yes?
He’s probably talking more about karat gold chains, than silver,
since most of what people bring in for repair are their karat gold
chains. Sterling silver chains can be fixed too, but are often
problematic, since so many of them are rhodium plated, and when you
heat up the joint to flow the solder, the rhodium gets all bubbly and
nasty. And that is difficult or impossible to fix, so the repaired
areas are then quite visible. Sterling chains that are not rhodium
finished care not difficult to repair.
One thing he doesn’t mention much is that there are some types of
chain, notably the very thin herringbone types, especially the super
flexible ones, that are bad news to fix. You can repair them, but
soldering them anneals the links adjacent to the repair, and it’s an
almost foregone conclusion that most customers will quickly break or
stretch out that section again, and as often as not, they’ll think
it’s your fault in the way the repair was done, rather than
understanding that the fault lies in their cheap choice of overly
thin chain. If you take these in for repair, do so only with the
clear understanding on the customers part that the repair is probably
only temporary, and not likely to be a really good job. If you have
access to a laser welder, then it’s a different story, since the
laser welds are not annealed. But even then, this type of chain, if
in breaking it got a bit stretched, will never be as good as new.
Cable chains, box chains, most rope chains can be repaired pretty
well, if the rest of the links are not already totally worn out…
(make sure the ropes are the type where the links are soldered shut,
or the type where each link is two C shapes soldered together to form
a closed link… Some cheap ropes use links that are just crimped
closed. These are going to break again, and soldering one break just
makes the area right next to it, more prone to break)
Unfortunately many of the chains one sees for repair are broken
because they are way too ridiculously thin for decent wear even when
new, and the flat herringbones, especially the double and triple, or
super flex types, are the worst of these. be wary of what you agree
to fix, or you may end up forever fixing the same chain for a
disgruntled complaining customer.
When he says paste solder...is that the solder you usually use
with a soldering iron ? If not , what is it and who sells it ?
It’s not the tin/lead solder you’d use with a soldering iron. If
you use that, you’ll make a mess, not a good repair, and the next
jeweler to see the again broken chain, will have nasty things to say
Paste solder is simply normal gold or silver solder, in any of
several melting points or quality grades, powdered up and mixed with
an appropriate soldering flux and binder. You then don’t need to
apply separate soldering flux and bits of solder, but just apply a
tiny dab of paste solder.
Virtually any of the decent jewelers supply houses who sell gold and
silver solders will also sell you paste solder.
Frankly, though some, like Brad, like the stuff, a lot of us don’t.
I find it messier to use, which seems the opposite from the
experience those who like it claim. Who knows why. Perhaps some
subtle difference in our techniques, or maybe I’ve just had bad luck
with it. Plus, it’s more expensive than standard solders, and it can
dry out in the syringe. Sheet or wire solder, even many years old,
still works just fine. Silver solder might need a little cleaning,
but that’s all. the paste, on the other hand, as it dries out, gets
harder and harder both literally and to use. For my part, I’ll
stick, thank you, with knowing how to cut very tiny paillons of sheet
solder, and using those when I fix chains.
He says not to polish a chain with the buffing wheel...however,
if you tape the ends of the chain - taut- to a board, you can
safely use the buffing wheel.....just can't have any loose chain
able to be grabbed by the wheel.
Hmm. I’ll disagree with both Brad and you, on this one. Taping a
long chain down flat risks having the chain let go of the tape, with
disastrous results, because laid flat, the chain can so easily pull
up slightly above the flat surface, and Brads method with a small
brush at the bench is rather slow, and tends to be uneven. If
polishing by hand, I lightly stretch the chain almost taught (at the
bench) and just stroke it lengthwise with a good polishing cloth, like
the treated blitz cloths or Rio’s sunsheen cloths. These won’t take
out scratches, but will brighten them up a bit, which is sometimes
enough. To actually polish a chain, I DO use a large buffing motor.
As Brad says, you cannot just safely hold it in your hands. And as I
mention above, I don’t trust taping or supporting it out flat. I
prefer to wrap the chain around some sort of cylindrical item, perhaps
about two or three inches in diameter. Then use a felt wheel or
bristle brush for any tripoli or white diamond work (solid felt buffs
and brushes don’t grab the way a cloth buff does, The choice of
which to use depends on the type of chain) and about a 3-4 inch soft
buff for rouge (not too small). The idea here is that in the event
the chain breaks again, and they sometimes do, you want the length of
the chain that’s released and now dangling, to be fairly short, not
long enough to reach the spindle of the motor or be pulled around the
buff… That pretty much prevents it grabbing and wrapping around the
buff. The fact that one has the chain wrapped around an object
limits the amount that can let go, and when you hold the thing
you’ve wrapped the chain around, you use your fingers as well, to
hold down the chain above and below the buffing point, again limiting
the chains freedom, even if it were to break. And wrapped, rather
than flat, the chain is held much more down to the supporting
surface, so the buff cannot get under an edge to grab it. You can buy
neat little turned wooden spools especially made for this purpose,
or improvise. Make sure the diameter of the item you’re wrapping the
chain around is not so small as to bend the chain, nor so large that
longer lengths of chain could become freed if the chain breaks
somewhere. As brad says, NEVER hold the chain just in your hands, if
you value them.