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Steel jewelry


#1

I have a commission for a large hinged cuff bracelet that will be
heavily engraved. I have made this piece in sterling as well as 18k
without the engraving. Now my client would like another but wants
steel for the durability.

  • Does anyone know what type of steel would work best?

  • Should I try to laminate it to silver or make the entire piece
    from steel?

  • Can I sweat solder steel to silver?

  • Will I be able to drill and manipulate it as I did with the
    others?

  • What about pickling?

Thanks to anyone who can help with these questions!


#2

316 stainless
If your up to it.

Working stainless is a great deal harder than sterling or gold.

I suspect your client has no idea whats involved in making it from
iron or any of its alloys.

Can you post a picture of the sterling one so we can see what the
engineering considerations are to replicate it in stainless.

To give it a reasonable life span, you would need to join the
stainless steel with tig. IE Argon shielded arc welding.

All the 316 bracelets and other jewellery ive made have been
assembled with this fusing technique.

A great material if you can master it.


#3

Many stainless steels work harden very easily, which makes them
tricky to machine or drill. Grade 316 is one of this type, so steer
clear of it.

Grade 303 machines very well, but is not recommended for medical
usage.

Grade 304 is recommended for medical uses, but is not as machinable
as 303.

Stainless steel can be silver soldered if the correct flux is used.
EasyFlo works in many cases, but Tenacity #5 will do the job if
EasyFlo fails. Unlike EasyFlo, Tenacity is not soluble in hot water.

When machining/drilling stainless, never let the tool rub - it must
be kept cutting otherwise the work will harden up to such an extent
that further machining becomes pretty much impossible. The golden
rule is slowish speeds and heavy cuts.

I’ve not found a suitable pickle for stainless. Industry uses
hydrofluoric acid, but that is just about one of the most dangerous
chemicals you can find, so avoid it totally. I’ve found the only
satisfactory method is abrasion.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#4
Will I be able to drill and manipulate it as I did with the others? 

As far as steel goes, you need type of steel used for surgical
instruments.

Drilling and filing a bit tougher but quite doable. I have done a
few pieces in my time and I never used soldering. Only cold
connections for working with steel. The main problem will be
engraving. While I do not like powered engraving setups, it is a
viable option for steel. If you want to use hand engraving, the steel
must be softened. Place your steel in iron box, completely filled
with iron fillings. Box is closed and put in a furnace where it
maintained at red heat for 12 hours. After allowing it to cool very
slowly, the steel will be ready for engraving.

Leonid Surpin
studioarete.com


#5

Raychel,

I have been working with mild 1018 steel for a short time, and while
I am no expert, I can answer a few questions.

I have a commission for a large hinged cuff bracelet that will be
heavily engraved. I have made this piece in sterling as well as 18k
without the engraving. Now my client would like another but wants
steel for the durability.

Does anyone know what type of steel would work best? 

So that would be 1018 mild steel.

Should I try to laminate it to silver or make the entire piece from
steel? 

You could do either, but the whole thing can more easily made in
steel. Steel is 25% lighter than sterling silver so you have
strength with less weight.

Can I sweat solder steel to silver? 

Yes but you can not fuse silver to it.

Will I be able to drill and manipulate it as I did with the others? 

Yes. 1018 is softer than the steel your tools are made with and it
won’t harm them.

What about pickling? 

You can use Sparex but with several differences from silver. First,
it must be clean sparex or PH down, with no possibility of any copper
contamination from previous use by metals containing copper. It will
copper plate your steel. You must also use only stainless steel or
other tongs that do not contain copper. It is useful to know that to
anneal the steel, you must bring it up to red then DO NOT quench. Put
it into sand, vermiculite or even kittly litter to slow the rate of
cooling, which can take as long as an hour for a large/thick piece.
If you quench, the metal will be hard.

Thanks to anyone who can help with these questions! 

I have learned basic skills in iron from Chris Nelson, Urban Armour.
Go to his site for a listing of workshops he offers to learn more! I
am presently working on a collection that is not yet on my website.

Best,
Susan Ronan
Coronado CA


#6

Thanks for the info, can I ask where can I order this steel?

Anna


#7

First of all it’s worth mentioning. dont overheat the stainless when
silversoldering… and you will have way less cleanup.

“Pickling” stainless can be accomplished using citric acid and
electrostripping method.

I use about a cup of citric in quart of water for the “pickle”

for the electro stripping power use a dewalt 18 volt battery (or
suitable power supply though that’s more of an electronic tech’s
arena)

Use a voltmeter to figure out which battery terminal is positive.
You must be sure.

Ask for help from a knowledgeable friend or go visit the local
vo-tech electronics class/ auto parts place/ if you are not ok with
this part.

Hook up:

the positve battery lead connects to the “work” to be stripped (via
a flexable copper wire and alligator clip, each end)

the negative battery lead - goes to a “handle” you must make from
someting insulating like small diameter pvc or plastics. smallish but
sturdy.

run the neg lead through said handle, to a small piece of an
abrasiveplastic material like a 3m plasticized scrubbe. You want it
to t hold the scrubber but NOT contact the “work”.

put the stainless in the “pickle”…with positive lead
attached… use the handled scrubber to softly abrade the oxides
while immersed in pickle. a little work and patience will work
wonders…

(you do not want the positive lead to directly contact the work,
sincethe negative lead is already connedted that would be a short
circuit)

stainless is cool on jewelry. but you will work for it. it polishes
up like chrome… bling bling on the cheap

I would like to thank the person who shared this with me, here on
Orchid. unfortunately i’ve forgotten his name.

steve
Everything should be made as simple as possible, and no simpler.