Ok, here we go. Had some more time to work on the bracelet. Why is it that life gets crazy exactly when you're trying to do a WIP post for the board?
Anyway, here's the next step or two:
If you recall, we were here - we just soldered the bezel cup on the backplate - times 8.
The next step is to trim up the backplate. You can do whatever you want on all sides, but (as I was taught, and ymmv on this), it is best to leave at least a little bit of a lip on the sides where you are attaching your hinges. This way you can get your bezel pusher down between the hinge and your stone. And, you aren't soldering directly to your bezel, which can then make it distort when you try to push it. I trimmed the backplate roughly with shears, then sanded it to where I wanted it using these.
I love sanding drums. Super cheap and fast. If you use them, get the mandrel on the right: Dremel expanding sanding drum mandrel
Saves fiddling with tiny screwdrivers when you want to change them.
The next step is where your lapidary equipment helps you out (although it's not necessary). For the sides of the links where I am going to solder the tubing to make the hinges, I need the edge to be flat, not bowed, not concave. And while, yes, you could accomplish this using sandpaper on a tabletop or a wide file, I happen to HATE using both sandpaper and files. So instead I used the 180 disc on my flat lap. You still have to be careful you hold the piece nicely so the edge ends up straight, and it's still possible to get a bow in it, but it's easier. And you don't get that awful tingly feeling in your fingers from the sandpaper!
The flat lap (or probably your file too) leaves a burr along the edge, so the best tool to take that off is a silicone wheel. I used an AdvantEdge white wheel (Rio Grande link
) to take the burr off and finish rounding the corners. I freaking LOVE those wheels. The white wheel is fast for removing metal. You can carve silver with it, or clean up big solder blobs fast, or take off a burr. The black is perfect for almost everything else. I don't use the finer ones too much, although sometimes they work well to polish. Here I used the black wheel to clean up the edges of the piece all the way around.
Now we have this:
Looking pretty good. Time to ruin it by heating it up again! I'm trying to learn to not spend so much time cleaning the piece up in between soldering steps, but sometimes I can't resist. I justify it by saying that I won't be able to reach that area again as well after the next step. Which is sort of true here, because of the hinges.
Speaking of hinges, it's time to make them! Here's the tubing I used:
I'm going to use this with a pin made from 18g wire. You have to carefully check the ID of the tubing against the OD of the wire and get wire that is just barely the thinnest hair narrower than the tubing. The tubing comes in 12" lengths, and you'll need about 1.5 of them for a bracelet like this. So get 2 and you'll have enough to make mistakes.
This is fairly small tubing, for nearly invisible hinges. There is larger tubing available as well, which works with 14g wire.
Next I measured how long each hinge needed to be. Kinda. You don't have to be very precise with this construction method, which is probably why I can do it! This is a method made for lapidaries, and other people who like to "take a little bit off, and a little more off, until it looks right". There are other methods of constructing these hinges that might work great for very precise people who like to measure a lot. Not me!
The thing is to cut lengths of tubing that are about as long as the flat side of your link. And then a hair longer. Better to take some off later than make it too short. Stop where the corner starts to curve, if you have curves on yours. I like rounded corners, but they look good square too, especially if you have a lip on the top and bottom.
I just measured one, then set the lock on the caliper, and marked the tubing.
Now I have to backup a little bit. Each link consists of the bezel cup, with a hinge on each side. The hinges I'm making are 3 segment hinges, with approximately equal sizes. But you can also do them differently if you want. On the internet, they SAY the hinge is stonger if the middle part is half the total length, and the two end parts are each 1/4 of the total length. Who knows.
So if you look at two links, you see that the middle "knuckle" of the hinge is attached to the right edge of one link, and the top/bottom knuckles are attached to the left edge of the next link. Since each hinge is the same, what you're aiming for is that, for each link, you're going to solder a middle "knuckle" onto the right side of the link, and a top/bottom knuckle onto the left side of the link. So that when you line them up on the table, they all match up nicely.
First we do the top/bottom knuckles on every link. We already measured more or less how long we wanted them. Mark your tubing with a fine point Sharpie to roughly the right size segments (add a hair for the saw blade width). Don't do any math, just kind of hold the tubing up against your caliper and mark it, adding a hair each time as you go across. Doesn't have to be perfect, or even close to perfect. But just don't make any of the pieces too short. Your links might not all be exactly the same either, so just make sure you have a piece that's a hair longer than the straight side of each link.
For cutting, you can use a tubing cutting jig, but they're sooooo expensive and sometimes don't work that well. I used one for the Pinolith bracelet since I made it in class, but I don't have a jig of my own yet, so I just stuffed the tubing into my super fancy $25 vice. (Amazon delivers again, this thing is great for the price: www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0013E2AQY/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
I see it's down to $19.99 now, and on Prime no less! Wow!)
Just shove the tubing in there and cut it with your jeweler's saw. You want a 4/0 blade (or 6/0, or 3/0 might work but I didn't have one so I don't know) - the teeth are closely enough spaced that the tubing walls don't catch the teeth.) I only recently learned that's the main difference between the blade sizes - tooth spacing, not necessarily overall blade size.
Here's what we're aiming for:
Next step: soldering on the tubing. You want the tubing to be centered with the plane of the backplate. Not sitting above it or below it. Like this:
This makes the solder joint stronger and saves you having to do fancy things before soldering on the tubing that they do in some of the youtube videos (like trying to file a concave surface on the edge of the backplate - WTF?).
Not like this:
No, those aren't soldered yet. My work is NOT THAT CLEAN!
The good thing about silversmithing is that there is a trick to everything. Once you figure out the trick, it's pretty easy. So here's the trick. In class we had little bits of titanium that we used under the link itself to raise it up. Apparently titanium is immune to soldering itself onto your piece. But at home, who has bits of titanium lying around? So I improvised. I just carved a shallow trench in my solderite block with a toothpick.
That not only holds the tubing at a lower altitude than the backplate so they butt up nicely, but it keeps it from rolling away or jumping up over the lip of the backplate (as pieces were tending to do in class).
BTW, as an aside, if any beginner jewelers are reading this, leap headfirst into the art of carving up your solering blocks (and bench pins) to make things easier. It's amazing how often you'll use a verticle hole, or a horizontal line, or a little cavity or mountain, to prop your pieces up just so while soldering. Also, steel T-pins are your friend. Just don't touch them with your pickle pot tweezers!!!
So here we are, ready to solder. Complete with cat hair. Luckily cat hair burns off while soldering! Believe it or not, this worked really easily, no fiddling, it was just the right height the first time.
Yippee! It worked! (Obviously I didn't get all the solder off when I cleaned the piece before! I always use too much solder.)
Then I just repeated it 7 more times (still doing 8 links, of which I'll use 7). You can see that on some of them, the tubing is waaaay too long. That's ok, no problemo!
Except, wait, WHAT'S THIS! Here's what happens if you keep the heat on the tubing too long:
WOOPS! CRAP! The tubing can't take much heat or it kild of wilts and collapses.
So keep most of your heat on the link itself (staying away from that bezel!)
Here you can see I just royally messed up and got the whole thing waaaay too hot - even the bezel wire came apart, which I had soldered with "hard" solder.
I used "hard 75" for the bezel wire; "Medium 70" for soldering the bezel to the backplate; "Medium 65" for soldering on the long tubing; and (later) "Easy 56" for soldering on the short tubing.
No problem though, since I didn't melt the bezel (whew). I just sawed the old tube off and soldered on a new one. The bezel coming open was a bit of a problem, but being an experienced soldering hack, I had a solution. I intended this patch to be a little flower, as I've done once before, but for now it's just a semi-circle - I might decorate it somehow later. 24g. 26g probably would have been fine. Oh well.
Next step: the middle knuckles.
Figure out approximately how long you want your middle knuckle to be. Then cut a bunch of pieces of tubing a hair (1/16 to 1/8) longer than that. Room for error!
These are about half an inch long.
Solder them all on, same method as before. I used one step easier solder, plus I laid a heat sink across the side of the bezel next to the already-soldered long tubing to prevent it getting too ho
That patched one hasn't been to the pickle pot yet.
Next step (not tonight, I'm tired of fussing with silver): Cutting the hinges to length.