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What kilns, ovens or services do you use for your age-hardening?

Hello all,

Adding to the age/precipitation/heat hardening Ganoksin canon with a more specific question: How do you achieve your age hardening if you do not own a kiln? Do casters provide this service? Do you all just own ovens or kilns?

I’m not set up to install anything like a Paragon SC2 right now, so I’ve been reluctantly looking into the UltraLite Beehive/Studio kilns, which are laughably tiny but are affordable to purchase and operate – and seem like they could hold ramping temperatures if you use them in conjunction with a pyrometer and voltage controller. Any thoughts on this? Obviously suboptimal for production-level stuff, but…

If anyone’s interested in the use case, I’m looking into doing my bead-set designs in Continuum silver (Stuller’s proprietary palladium silver alloy, which I wouldn’t even consider if it wasn’t harder than other sterling alloys) and wanted to make sure I’d done the most I could to keep those wee diamonds in place.

Warmly,
IV

No need to harden sterling of any kind when bead setting. Once you’ve burnished them with the beading tool there should be no way of anything snagging and pulling the beads away from the stone. Also, the short and wide aspect of the beaded prong means that significant pressure would need to be applied to move a bead that has been burnished into place.
Diamonds are regularly set en pavé in 18k and those hold fine without any extra heat treatment to the metal.

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Age hardening of bead setting in particular, is a poor idea because the setting process itself thoroughly hardens the metal. Attempting to age harden the metal could actually soften it, while still leaving it a little bit brittle. Unlike work hardening, which improves both hardness and toughness, age hardening hardens the metal, but can leave it a little more brittle. And age hardening temps for a period of time starts to anneal work hardening at the same time. You’re better off with the work hardening from setting.

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