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Thread: Beginner, please help!!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Default Beginner, please help!!

    Hi as a beginner I would really appreciate any help and advice from more experienced jewellery makers!

    I have done a long jewellery making course where I mostly made silver rings, I know exactly what to do if all the right equipment and silver is in front of me but now I want to carry on making rings at home I am getting a bit stuck with buying the right things!

    Firstly (and the most important thing I need!) is the actual silver. Does silver only come in sheet, wire and tube? Is the tube always hollow in the middle? This is confusing me as on the course I used tube that definately wasnt hollow but maybe it was scraps from someone else who had made it! I know silver solder comes with different melting temperatures but how do I know what temperature I will need?

    I assume pickling the silver after soldering is essential but do you have to use a pickling unit? I cant afford a proper bench polisher, what are the alternatives for polishing? Can polishing be done by hand or is the a smaller more affordable tool that can do this? I have never used a tumbler before, do I need one? I occasionally used a rolling mill, is this a good tool to have as a beginner or is that a stupid question as it just depends on if Im making anything that needs flattening etc.

    Sorry for all these questions at once, answers to any of them would be hugely helpful!

    Thanks
    Antonia

  2. #2
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    Hi Antonia, tube is by definition hollow, wire on the other hand is not necessarily thin, the word wire just indicates it is solid lengths, it comes in all manner of thicknesses and can be bought in a number of different shapes, round, square, d shaped, oval. A short length of a thick wire would perhaps be better called rod.

    As fas as the solder you use goes, most people prefer hard solder, which melts at the highest temperature, but flows nicely. Mostly it depends on the number of joints you are going to be making, you start with the hard high temperature and work down to the lower one. Though having said that, once a joint is made it then melts at a higher temperature the next time and if you are careful you can use hard for all joints. Solder comes as wire or in a paste form, which has the flux mixed in, the wire form needs a separate flux.

    Pickling can be achieved simply with salt and vinegar but it takes a while and is better warmed up, this can be done in a jar in a pan of hot water, the same goes for an alum solution, which is more effective and safe, acid can be used, sulphuric in a dilute concentration: battery acid is easily available and is sold at a level of around 37 percent ( this is what I use and do not dilute, though it is a tad on the dangerous side, but very effective :0) ). A lot of people use a cheap crock pot slow cooker for warming their pickle, I believe these can be bought at places like Argos for very little.

    Polishing can be achieved by hand, using files, sandpaper, and more modern abrasives such as micro mesh, which is a soft backed form of sandpapery type stuff. You work from rough to smooth through the grades to achieve your polish. Thereafter various paste polishes can be used though these generally would need motorised help. A hand held motor device such as a Dremmel or pendant motor with hand piece will of course take some of the work out of this.

    Tumbling is a very convenient way of achieving a polish and items can come out of the tumbler with little or no need for further polishing (though items do need to be cleaned of oxides after pickling before tumbling), depending on how high a polish you are after, personally I do not like very high polish. It is only ever worth buying a decent one and they are not cheap, though I think they are indispensable.

    A rolling mill is, at this point in your adventure, not necessary as you can buy the materials you need already in sheet and wire form, and failing that a good bash with hammers will thin material down with frequent annealing.
    Last edited by Kwant; 03-09-2012 at 11:50 AM.

  3. #3
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    Couldn't have put it better myself Kwant - phew!

    My only suggestion is to buy a really good book. I'd recommend Anastasia Young's Workench Guide to Jewellery Techniques.

  4. #4
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    As Carole said get some books, then start off with a set on bench tools, you are on the Cookson's Forum so check out their tools lists as Cookson sell beginner tool sets, see;http://www.cooksongold.com/Jewellery...code-997-1003#

    If you want a cheap bench polisher, then convert a bench grinder. Or you can buy a converted grinder with all of the polishing attachments like this one for 53 incl. postage;
    http://www.metalpolishingsupplies.co...polishing-kit/

    This same company sell the equipment for you to convert any bench grinder, see;http://www.metalpolishingsupplies.co...polishing-kit/

    James
    Last edited by Goldsmith; 03-09-2012 at 03:21 PM.

  5. #5
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    Thank you so much for all that information, really helpful!

    Great to know about silver wire, think the word wire confused me as I assumed it was tiny! Would have never known pickling could be done so simply too so thats a big help. I like the sound of tumbling, can this literally be used to polish everything therefore no need to do it by hand or motorised? Also how do you clean items of oxides?

    Sorry for more questions!

    Antonia

  6. #6
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    Oxides formed after soldering are removed by pickling, but one oxide on sterling silver which looks blue grey and patchy, also called fire scale, can only be removed by serious abrasion. It is caused by heating the metal with an oxidising flame (a sharp blue cone) in the absence of flux.

    Tarnishing of silver caused by sulphur compounds is also sometimes called oxidation, but can be removed by silver dip, or prevented by antitarnish strips in a closed box or sealed bag.

    Tumbling will give a high shine to your work, but will not adequately remove scratches or blemishes. So filing and other abrasive methods are needed first. Dennis.

  7. #7
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    Kwants' response was so good I thought I'd start by "quoting " him and just add the odd little bit!! Hope it helps

    Quote Originally Posted by Kwant View Post
    Hi Antonia, tube is by definition hollow, wire on the other hand is not necessarily thin, the word wire just indicates it is solid lengths, it comes in all manner of thicknesses and can be bought in a number of different shapes, round, square, d shaped, oval. A short length of a thick wire would perhaps be better called rod I would never have thought to state that, but true!!.

    As fas as the solder you use goes, most people prefer hard solder, which melts at the highest temperature, but flows nicely. Mostly it depends on the number of joints you are going to be making, you start with the hard high temperature and work down to the lower one Hard>medium (doesn't flow very well)>easy>extra easy. Though having said that, once a joint is made it then melts at a higher temperature the next time that goes for each type of solder and if you are careful you can use hard for all joints. Solder comes as wire or panels - a thin sheet, both wire and sheet are better if made thinner by hammering or rolling, less spills of excess solder and they go further!!in a paste form, which has the flux mixed in, the wire & panelsform needs a separate flux.

    Pickling can be achieved simply with salt and vinegar but it takes a while and is better warmed up, this can be done in a jar in a pan of hot water, the same goes for an alum solution, which is more effective and safe, acid can be used, sulphuric in a dilute concentration: battery acid is easily available and is sold at a level of around 37 percent ( this is what I use and do not dilute, though it is a tad on the dangerous side, but very effective :0) ). A lot of people use a cheap crock pot slow cooker for warming their pickle, I believe these can be bought at places like Argos for very little 5-10 but glaze can erode over time.

    Polishing can be achieved by hand, using files, sandpaper, and more modern abrasives such as micro mesh, which is a soft backed form of sandpapery type stuff. You work from rough to smooth through the grades to achieve your polish the smaller the number the coarser the paper (ie 360 is much coarser than 1200). Thereafter various paste polishes can be used though these generally would need motorised help. A hand held motor device such as a Dremmel or pendant motor with hand piece will of course take some of the work out of this Aldi/Lidl often have something similar.

    Tumbling is a very convenient way of achieving a polish and items can come out of the tumbler with little or no need for further polishing (though items do need to be cleaned of oxides after pickling before tumbling), depending on how high a polish you are after, personally I do not like very high polish. It is only ever worth buying a decent one and they are not cheap, though I think they are indispensable.

    A rolling mill is, at this point in your adventure, not necessary as you can buy the materials you need already in sheet and wire form, and failing that a good bash with hammers will thin material down with frequent annealing.
    I can't add anything else to Kwants post. As a last note, always buy the best tools you can afford, the first and best investment (I think most would agree??) is in your hand and needle files, buy the best you can (Vallorbe).

    Enjoy your making and welcome to the penniless world of tool buying ;-)

  8. #8
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    I would like to add to that please. When I started 3 or so years ago, I bought very cheap value ones to get me started and it is a big mistake. I now have replaced all of my originals with really good tools, and it would have been better to buy say one good file, rather than 6 for the same price.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Default

    There are lots of really helpful videos on youtube for 'howto' help as well.

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