by Gene Lindsey.
I bought some half hard 19ga Argentium silver with the intent of making very large rings (20mm to 25mm) for a necklace and also a bib collar.
I found that I could not wrap this wire around the dowels I was using for a mandrel, as it was too springy.
I did wrap 20 or so times and then stabilized with masking tape to cut the rings.
Of course when I cut them they immediately sprang apart.
They have about 15mm gap in them.
Of course when I try to close them they go out of round and it is impossible to align the ends for soldering.
I tried annealing them to give them greater workability but now they are too soft to hold their shape for my work.
I want to know how to harden them so they will hold their shape.
Maybe a better question would be how do I make and solder large jump rings or closed rings?
by: Jamie Santellano
Hi Gene, I’ve never used Argentinium Silver before, so I can’t really comment according to that type of silver. However, I do make all of my jumprings, and have found that wooden dowels aren’t the best way to go. You would be better off spending the extra money on some metal mandrels.
Wood is very forgiving and I believe that can alter the size and shape just a bit when winding the wire especially if you’re not consistent with each wrap.
Rio Grande has a good selection of mandrels and also some of the mandrels have a hole where you can stick the wire through and locks the wire into place while winding the wire in to a coil.
Half-hard wire has a spring-back when winding, so the links will be a little looser than when first wound around the mandrel. This is why I like a metal mandrel. By keeping the wire taught in my left hand while I wind the wire with my right hand my coils turn out uniform. I get less squiggle in my coils and they are wound nice and tight. Then when the wire springs-back it’s just enough that the coil slides right off the mandrel.
At this point the coil is ready to cut. In some cases I use the jewelers saw to cut the links so that there is a flush cut seam once I close the jumprings. In other cases (especially when I’m making lots of jumprings) I use the jumpringer “saw” to cut out my links. This is best when soldering jumprings closed.
Opening and closing the rings should be done by holding the link in a pair of pliers steady and with the other pair of pliers open the link by moving your wrist toward you (remember to keep the other hand steady). Close the link in the same fashion. Your dominant hand would be the one that does the opening and closing.
If the links do not close tightly, move the hand that is doing the closing and opening toward the other while in the motion of closing (almost as if you are squeezing both hands together while holding the jumpring in both pliers.
Since you have annealed the links and now they are too soft to work with I would tumble them in a tumbler, so that they work harden and yet still keep their shape. I would suggest using the steel shot for this.
I hope this helps, and doesn’t confuse you more.
by: Sam Ryder
I too have never worked with Argentium, so I can’t say I speak with experience. 15mm is a huge amount of springback!
You could try to anneal the wire first before wrapping, this may allow it to wrap more tightly around the mandrel.
Another option is that now you know (!), wrap around a smaller mandrel to allow for the springback.
I hate it when you have an idea in your mind that doesn’t work the way you imagined it would. I know it is expensive, but perhaps you can sacrifice these rings to use for something else. A trick is to solder them together anyway (even though they may be out of round), then use two knitting needles or other mandrels placed inside the rings to pull the soldered rings in two directions (make sure that your solder joins are strong, sometimes the ring can pull apart. The trick is to be strong, but slow and steady.) Then, they can be used as oval jump rings, or hammered/patterned to use as links for other projects.
I would really appreciate hearing what ended up working for you!
by: Sam Ryder
I make my jumprings out of dead soft wire, because of the springback problem. I find that the winding, cutting and then tumbling work hardens them up sufficiently for using with chainmaille.
making jump rings
I always start with dead soft wire for making jump rings. It winds nicely, and holds it’s shape while cutting. After they are cut you can tumble them with plastic pellets or shot in a rock tumbler to harden them (this will also remove any burrs created by cutting)You only need to tumble them for a half hour or so. Now they should be hard enough to work with, and opening and closing them will work harden them even more, so they should hold their shape nicely in the finished piece.
Don’t solder, Fuse them!!
by: Lisa W.
Whether you are working with argentium, sterling, copper, or gold, its always a great idea to anneal before beginning to wrap. You get a much more accurate wrap that way, with more consistent sizes. As someone else said, sizes are more consistent on steel than wood mandrels, but I like dowels because sometimes I just use a separating disc on my flex shaft to cut them off form large coils, and I sacrifice the dowel. (Cheap jump ringer!)you will have less spring back with annealed wire.
When you form a join to solder or fuse, you need to get the ends flush for a good join, but the rings do not need to remain round to do it. You can certainly use the rings you already have, but because they will be out of round, it will take some more time and work to round them, if that’s what you want to do. Now that they are annealed, it should be easy to wrestle them into flush joins with 2 pliers. don’t worry about shape if they are that far out of round already.
Next, solder them if you wish, but you are lucky to be working with argentium wire, which fuses more beautifully than fine silver! This stuff is amazing, fuses like buttah!! For jump rings, large or small, I wouldn’t bother with solder or flux at all. Just get the ends flush, and heat with the torch. Heat the whole ring, as with sterling, then focus on the join. You will get a silvery flash indicating flow, but not as obvious as with fine silver. I was surprised when I first tried this, because the line of the join didn’t always go away to indicate fusion, as it does with fine silver. I thought my piece wasn’t joined, but I was shocked to find a perfect, strong join with almost no work. The line will disappear with sanding, filing, or finishing, and that’s with sheet. It will hardly show on a jump ring. You can might be able to forgo pickling, too, since argentium doesn’t tarnish easily.
Now that they are joined, they are also annealed again, and you can just mallet them up an appropriate mandrel (bezel, ring, knitting needle, a nail, etc) to round and harden them. You won’t need this step next time, if you anneal first and cut second.
Finally, the tumbler is also a good way to bright finish and harden them, string them onto a piece of scrap wire and twist, so you can fish them out all at once.
Hope any of these tips are helpful. and really, I can’t recommend fusing for argentium highly enough. It’s great!
Making and Soldering Large Jump Rings
by: Gene Lindsey
Thanks everyone for some really great information. I have learned that I will by dead soft from now on. The suggestion for smaller or steel rings while good and I agree the rings I was making are larger than the the mandrels I have seen from the major suppliers. I have a set from Jump ringer but none were are big enough. I have used dowels, electrical conduit and Pvc pipe to make lager rings but this batch was a really springy the wire worked more like full hard.
The comment I really enjoyed was the one to fuse rather than solder. I had never tried this and I found it to be very easy and really made a smooth and even joint. I will fuse Argenium from now on. It works great!