Thanks to all for the suggestions, both on and off list.
After switching from side cutters to my premium $1 Ikea scissors for
the cutting, and using a smaller tip on the torch, and a little more
practice, I was able to increase yield to nearly 50%. Tried some
other variations as well, but these were the changes that seemed to
be helping for me.
I got the cuts clean enough and the ends lined up well enough, that
I had difficulty seeing the joint. This made it difficult to know
where to direct my attention when fusing. The only thing that saved
me was consistently lining them up facing the same direction.
So, better but still way too much work and too little progress. So I
tried with some #26 argentium. OMG. This is so much easier. Out of
~150 rings, 3 that didn’t fuse completely, I think due to the
previously mentioned problem of not being able to see the joint. Of
the rest, almost half where I couldn’t see the fused joint and the
rest where there’s a small line. But it’s hard to see and strength
I wish I had some #26 fine silver so I could see whether the
difference is just the size or if the argentium has something to do