Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sizing a ring using a dovetail joint

I knew I hadn't blogged in a long time...but 3 years??  YIKES!  Not good.  I recently had a friend ask if I could size a ring I made for her daughter and I thought it would be a great tutorial article so, here I am, blogging again after 3 years.  

My friend, who shall go nameless, says that this method of sizing a ring isn't necessary now that solders are so good.  I respectfully disagree.  I love this method for sizing a ring up.  It's super fast, really easy and, best of all, it holds itself in place while you solder.  It's called a dovetail joint and you'll need any kind of cutters (flush, semi flush or not flush at all) and stock that matches kind of closely the stock your ring is made.   You will also need: 
*dividers
*a ring mandrel
*a jewelers saw
*a small triangular file
*all the junk you need to solder something  

Step one is finding an original solder seam.  Sometimes you can find the seam, sometimes you can't.  If you can't, you'll have to just guess and pray the shank doesn't fall apart when you heat it.  Always a good time.  Use a big, bushy flame and evenly heat the piece gently until the ring turns brown.  Just as the ring turns brown, the solder seam should show up and a bright silver line.  If the ring is gold, it'll be a gold line.  Here is an example:
Once you have found the solder seam, you'll want to cut on either side of the seam with a flush cutter...but here's the trick...you want to use the NON FLUSH side to make the cut.  Usually, you want the end to be nice and flat but for this method, you want to use the opposite side of the cutters to make a pointed set of ends.  Like this:

I didn't do any filing to these, I just gut them with a pair of flush cutters.  These flush cutters.  Next, you want to make the piece that will fit in the slot you have created.  You will need your dividers for this step. Slide your cut ring on your mandrel up to where you want the new size to be.  For me, this is a 5 1/2 (except my mandrel is off, so it's a 5 1/4).  Take your dividers and measure from where your mitered cuts start.  Like this:
can you see that I'm up where the bevel starts?  So, take this measurement and now transfer it to your prerounded sizing stock like this:
I have a ring bender but you could just as easily hammer your stock over a mandrel.  Make sure it's prerounded or this whole technique won't work.  
Next, you will cut with the flush side of your cutters at your scribed line.  Your next step will be to make a cut with your saw blade on each side of this piece.  Like this:
Can you see that?  it's a terrible picture, sorry.  You want to go no deeper than the depth of the saw blade.  I used a 2/0 I think.  Do this to both sides of this tiny piece.  Go ahead...I'll wait.  
Once this is done, you will take your triangular file and run it along this saw cut.  Trust me, don't skip the saw step...it's fast and it makes a difference.  Run the triangular file a couple of times along the cut...don't go nuts...just a couple of passes.  It should look like this:

Again, sorry for the bad pictures.  So, now you have this tiny piece and it's time to fit it into place.  What you want to remember here is that you want it fit so there is enough tension to hold it in...but not so much that when you heat it, it flips out.  Again, trust me, you REALLY don't want it to flip out of there.  It will look like this:
BOOM!  It fits great, doesn't it?  And it was SO EASY!  Now all you have to do is suck solder in there and you're golden!  it will look like this after you solder:
Only...take my advice...pickle the ring after you find the solder seam in step #1.  I didn't and had some pitting in the solder that I had to clean out and fix.  No biggie.  But if I had pickled the ring, that might not have happened.  
I was in a hurry to finish this ring and took a million quick pictures of all the clean up and polish but...they sucked so I'm not going to use them.  And I think you can handle it from here.  Even with taking the photos, this took less than 15 minutes.  It's so easy.  If you have any questions, please leave them in comments below.
I hope this is helpful!
Good luck!