I need some help with making cufflinks. Last holiday season, I made
silver cufflinks for my employers. I am not one to make findings, so
I purchased the cufflink backs from my jeweler’s supplier. The backs
were the type that has a tension-type toggle mounted between two
posts (kind of like a leaf spring for lack of a better description).
Needless to say, after soldering on the backs, the leaf-spring like
mechanism became annealed and no longer had the “snap” (springiness)
to it. Should I have attempted to dismantle the mechanism before
soldering or is there another trick to it? I thought about using a
pair of tweezers as a heat sink, but I was concerned that I’d have
difficulty getting a good soldering join. Hope this makes sense.
Thanks, you all are a wonderful group.
The toggle type cuff link backs that you have described are quite
easy to open up and remove the spring before soldering and then
re-assemble. I use a small knife to pry open one side of the back. I
use a bezel pusher to close it after soldering. If you have any
questions contact me off line.
This is perhaps the #1 mistake people make in jewelry, thinking that
if they just work fast they can get away with soldering cufflinks. At
$75 - $125 each in gold, it can be an expensive mistake. If you use a
blade, you can lift up one of the flaps that holds the swiveling part
together, and it will come apart easily. Of course you want to pay
attention to where everything goes, inside. Then solder, put it back
together, and push the flap back down - I use a bezel pusher for
that. Or use the backs that have a swivel - then you just solder the
knuckle and put in a hinge-pin.
I’d suppose that if you were real quick with a torch, you could heat
sink the gold versions with tweezers, get in and out quick, and not
have to take them apart. I don’t even try it. I take them apart. The
silver versions are another story. Silver is such an excellent heat
conductor that there is no way you’ll get them soldered without
annealing the spring. They aren’t that hard to take apart, just be
carefull not to chew them up with the pliers. I pry up the little
tabs with an exacto knife to get them apart. When putting them back,
I bend down the tabs with a piece of wood while resting them on the
bench pin. And if you have a laser, you can weld them on without
bothering with taking them apart. Probably don’t even have to fire
coat them. Sigh… it’s still on the wish list, but I see you can get
one now for around 16 thousand U.S. dollars.
David L. Huffman
You can do it without taking the toggles apart, but you have to be
really quick about it. I regularly solder sterling cufflink backs,
and do not take them apart. I make it the last soldering operation on
the cufflinks, using easy solder. Hold the toggle at the bottom with
a pair of crosslocks, preheat the cufflink, and get in and out in a
second or two. It is also best to leave the toggle in the open
position (as it would be inserted into the buttonhole), with the
spring portion facing away from you and your torch. Then immediately
quench! If there is any issue with the spring tension (typically is
not), then burnish the spring while it is in the same open position
to harden it.
There are cuff link findings that come in parts. The stem which is
soldered, a pin which is used to rivet the leaf spring like
mechanism. This type of finding is available through a variety of
I’ve made my own findings for cuff links. I’ve used jump rings - a
half that attached to the decorative part and a larger jump ring
which I would attach between the decorative part and a toggle. It
didn’t need to have the snap, it worked fine.
I have never had any problems with loss of the springiness when
soldering cufflinks. Just use easy solder, and don’t overheat. I have
only done it with sterling silver, not gold.