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I had a mixed day in the studio today. On the good side, I finished… - Metals Geekery

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My artisan metalsmithing site
My original Celtic designs in various media, including jewelry
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October 6th, 2006


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10:35 pm
I had a mixed day in the studio today.

On the good side, I finished a pretty tapered-bezel ring, set with a lovely, very dark green, mine-cute style tourmaline. The setting went well- I did that yesterday- and the polishing did, too. I got a very nice finish on it indeed! So that one can get photographed at some point, and put up for sale.

Which brings me to the last of the tapered-bezel rings I started around a year ago! I wanted to do enough of them that I could be very confident I knew how to do them and do them well. And it's worked, for the most part... but there is one glaring exception that's given me a lot of grief over this whole process, and which was especially nasty today: holding the setting into the ring shank while soldering the 2 together.

A part of the problem- in fact, a great deal of it- is that the shanks are broken where the setting fits into them. I did not have these issues when the shanks remained intact, except for the (tapered) hole drilled into them in which the bezel was placed. The problem is that with the shank split, when it gets hot it wants to spread apart if there's any pressure holding the bezel in- and if there's no pressure holding the bezel in fairly firmly, it ends up askew.

I've used binding wire, with mixed success. I put a ring of it around the middle of the ring, to keep the ring from spreading (in theory), then use another loop around the bezel and the back side of the ring to hold the bezel in place. This works great... as long as it's cold. But when I apply the torch, the binding wire expands long before the ring does, and so the belt around the middle loosens, and then the one holding the bezel in expands along the side closest to the torch, and the bezel ends up crooked.

If I were making a ton of the things, all the same size, I'd carve out a soft soldering board so that would hold things into place. But I'm not, and can't really see doing so. Another approach would be tack welding, but that's tricky to do with sterling, and when I've tried I've generally gotten either no tack at all or a sort of silver explosion. I'll grant I haven't practiced that much, but still! I have not had good luck with third hands for this; they're such huge heat sinks for something like this, plus they're big enough that I can't really see to get the bezel lined up properly. Thus my main approach has been repeated tries- of which I did 2 today, both failing. So I am not a happy camper right now, and am trying to figure out a better approach.

If it were just these rings, that would be one thing! But I think the basic principles are applicable across a variety of designs, and so it behooves me to figure out a solution.

Maybe it's time to get the tack welder out again!
Current Mood: disappointeddisappointed

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