Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Soldering On

Studio Tour

I'm loving my studio space. The jewelers bench is perfect for sawing, filing, sanding polishing and, of course, assembling. Having no desire to risk setting fire to my paperwork, however, I wanted to create a separate soldering station. The top of my supply cupboard, to the right of the jewelers bench, provided the perfect spot.

Let There Be Heat

Here is my soldering station. On the left, the large and small charcoal blocks I put work on for annealing and soldering. The larger block is on a rotating steel holder (very useful) and that sits in a steel pan (from and old toaster oven). The whole lot is on a large ceramic tile and has a fire brick behind it (with the smaller charcoal block standing by atop it). I figure I'd have to be seriously clumsy to set a fire with that super-safe arrangement!

In the foreground are a pair of heat-resistant pliers I can use to hold or move hot items. Next to them is a tall spray bottle filled with water. I use that to dampen the charcoal when I finish up at the end of the day to ensure it doesn't smolder all night. I don't really think it would set fire to the shop if it did, but charcoal is really expensive so I don't want it going to waste.

In the black plastic tray on the right is an old Christmas candy dish filled with water for quenching items. The wee crock pot behind that holds jewelers pickle (a mild acid) used to clean oxides off annealed or soldered metal. There is also a water bottle -- I always have at least one in case something does catch fire -- and an extraction fan that pulls fumes and dust away from me. I stand up to work here. That's fine as it gets me up from the bench quite frequently and annealing and soldering both happen so quickly that there is no danger of fatigue ;-)

Work in Progress

This week, I have been working on a pair of dangle earrings. And I'm still making cautious progress with the abalone necklace. It takes a long time to drill holes for the claws to hold the abalone and then shape them to fit around it. There is also wait time while the claws, soldered into perfectly-matched holes, pickle and dry. And so on, and so on.

The earrings have been moving faster. The photo to the left shows one of the round, domed studs that will hold the earrings and the shaped dangles ready to attach.  The second stud was in the pickle as I had just soldered the ear post onto the back of it. The parts of the abalone project are sitting there, too, with the claws in place.

Cutting and shaping the earring parts was pretty easy. I used a doming set to shape the studs and a cold chisel (borrowed from my husband's work bench) to shape the dangles. I just placed the cut-out silver pieces on a hockey puck (yup, a puck), positioned the chisel and tapped it with a brass hammer until the dangles assumed the degree of bend I was after.

Project One All Done

Here are the finished earrings. Tomorrow, when the light is better, I will photograph them for listing in my shop.