Favorite Project of the Week: Fused Finger Rings
Soldering has always been a weak spot in my skill set as a jeweler. One of the ways I avoid soldering is fusing with fine silver wire. Curious what the difference is?
FUSING vs. SOLDERING
Soldering involves joining metal using an additional metal alloy called solder. It is placed on the join and heated using a torch. As the solder melts and cools, the metal is connected at the join to form a solid bond. Copper, sterling silver, brass, bronze and gold filled can be soldered in the same way. However, heating these metals forms a layer of cupric oxide, known as firescale, on the surface. This needs to be removed with an acid solution called pickle, or by filing and sanding before additional soldering can be done on the piece. This is time consuming, but is a necessary requirement for soldering.
Fusing is a little different. This technique requires the use of pure metals, not alloys the like the ones listed above. We are talking about pure or “fine” silver and 24Kt gold. No solder is needed to join the metal. This time the torch is used to quickly melt the metal and it joins as it cools. Since the metals are pure and contain no copper (the culprit of firescale) there is no discoloration and the metal is as shiny as it was before it was heated with the torch. No pesky pickling is required.
If you’re looking for a project to push your skills a bit and try fusing and soldering for the first time, these Fused Finger Rings by Kate Richbourg are the perfect beginner project.
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own Fused Finger Rings:
TOOLS & SUPPLIES
- 14-gauge fine silver wire, approximately 1′
- Chasing hammer
- Bench block
- Chain-nose pliers
- Butane torch
- Solder pick
- Solder tweezers
- Soldering surface (kiln brick or charcoal block)
- Rotating soldering pan or metal pan
- Heavy-duty flush cutters
- Steel ring mandrel
- Plastic or rawhide mallet
- Easy paste solder
- Pro polish pad or tumbler with steel shot
Editorial Director, Books
Learn even more soldering and fusing techniques with these great products for hot connections!