Questions and Answers
Sizing finger-shaped ring shanks. How to use a square or finger-shaped ring mandrel too!
“I have a question about rings. I follow your posts and today came across the one you did on ring sizing. My question is: If I make a rounded square ring do I size the ring as if it were a normal round ring, then when soldered, form it on the mandrel of choice.”
I’ve been asked this question a few times and finally did a test today. I started with two different rings, that were already round. I measured the size of the rings, annealed them (and in one case, soldered the seam) and then shaped them on a finger-shaped ring mandrel.
- Both rings started out round. Ring #1 started out as an 8 1/4. Ring #2 was a size 7.
- To tell what size a wide banded ring is, on a ring mandrel, look at where the center (widthwise) of the ring shank sits. Whatever size is marked, under the centerline of the ring shank, is the ring size. If it is like an 8 and 1/16th, you’ll have to approximate, where that line would be. Maybe mark it on your mandrel. Most mandrels are marked with1/2 to 1/4 sizes. If you have a choice, opt for the mandrel with 1/4 sizes as many people have in-between sized fingers. I couldn’t find a mandrel with 1/8 markings.
- Ring #1 was unsoldered so, I thought that I’d share a tiny bit of the process. Here’s what my “round” ring looked like before soldering and shaping. I “flattened” the area where the seam is. It is easier to get a good fit that way. Before that, as you can see in photo #1, it was formed round.
- Here’s how ring #1 looked, right before soldering. I’m using a titanium “corner” to prop it on. I used binding wire to ensure a tight join (even though I usually despise using it! I spread the wire to lift the ring off of the charcoal so that my torch flame could reach under the ring. I could easily have also used cross locks, to hold it, or a third hand or a variety of other soldering furniture. It is fluxed, the flux is heated, then the solder is applied.
- I start the shaping process by placing the center seam on the back of the ring mandrel – the small side. Be sure to center the seam on the mandrel and that the mandrel is seated as evenly as possible. It’s easy to make some wonky shapes if things are not centered and the ring shape is not adjusted, with these mandrels. After hammering a bit, I flipped the ring over and hammered a bit more. The reason for all this flipping around is that the mandrel is a cone and if it isn’t flipped, your ring will be smaller on one side than it is on the other. Next, I turned the mandrel and hammered the top side, of the shank, flipping and adjusting as necessary to achieve an even, balanced shape.
- Here are the two rings that I rounded and then shaped to be finger-shaped. Both measured 1/2 size smaller on the ring mandrel but, fit the same as if they were a 7 and an 8 1/4.
So, I guess my brief answer would be: round the shank first, solder and then shape. No special stock sizing is required – use a standard ring blank chart (maybe one of mine? See link) or whatever method you usually use for sizing your stock for round rings. At least that is what I have found: Others may have had differing results. If they do, drop me a line on FaceBook. Just had a great typo: FauxBook. I like that.
Question on sizing and creating saddle rings
“I have SUCH a difficult time getting the sizing correct. In any event, I was wondering if you had any tips on working with saddle rings. Is there a specific template to follow for them where I could get a feel for how they’re constructed? Or is it more just whatever I design and freeform it? Again, sizing is so important and I hate wasting materials. Inevitably, if I make it in copper, it’s gorgeous and perfect. LOL. See attached image for a reference of what I’m talking about.”
Those long, wide rings are the hardest to size. There is way more finger to accommodate and more metal to make adjustments for. Can you make your rings with an open shank? I find that I can achieve 3 different half sizes and they are adjustable for days when fingers are swollen – especially common with women. Unfortunately, the finger is not all one size. You might have to get a variety of measurements: from where the ring fits on its farthest end and what size it fits at its closest end. My vote is for an adjustable shank. At least, that’s what I’d do!
As far as patterns for the ring: a. You can check out my Saddle Ring Patterns page or b. you can buy a cheap saddle ring, hammer it flat, then mark out the pattern. Scan it to a photo editing program like Photoshop or Pixlr Editor and make a few in different sizes by enlarging the image. Make samples out of tin or roofing flashing to check how they look and feel before committing to your final metal. Don’t forget to account for the difference in metal thickness between the sample and your final metal. A .25 mm difference in thickness can make a ring not the right size.
A saddle ring might also be created from creating a large disc and rolling in through the rolling mill until it is an oval. Haven’t tried that one yet.
How to Get Flush Edges on a Ring Shank for Soldering
I use the mitre vise but there always seems to be a round part which stops the seam from being flush. Can you provide any advice? A video would be great I haven’t seen one yet.
Also, what kind of files should be used and what is the largest gap you can have in the join but still have a presentable seam.
I just taught a class of beginners how to solder ring shanks. Everyone had a hard time. I have found that the thinner the shank, the easier it is. I have a webpage on how to use the miter cutting vise and jig. On that page are links to two videos that might help, on the top of the page: especially the video: Flat Square Edges on Metal. I also have a video called: “How to Make a Domed Ring” that goes over soldering a ring shank.
Soldering ring shanks, holding rings together, Argentium.
“This was the first time I have brazed Argentium. I practiced on copper ground wire beforehand and then learned that argentium is not like copper. Also, I found that, Argentium solder is not like industrial 5% – 15% silver solder. So, I ended up with some porosity in the joint, after the argentium decided to warp open about 0.020, and I just decided to fill it up with solder. Next time I will anneal the piece before soldering. Do you wire joints like this? Or use pliers? In the industrial metalworking industry, if the metal was copper or brass, we would just put a big welding clamp on it to keep it closed.
I also might have used a little too much heat – still getting used to the new torch I have, which is oxy-propane instead of oxy-acetylene. I did not realize the flame cone is different on oxy-propane.”
How to make a two layered ring band, apply an overlay or add a strip to the outside of a ring shank.
Are you talking about this ring? You can do it both ways but, I believe for this ring, that I soldered the decorative band first and then formed the ring shank. You can use a ring bender, like this one from Pepe Tools, a mandrel and a non-marring mallet or bending pliers to bend the shank. To make life easier, make sure it is annealed, before bending and often if it requires further adjusting!
- Create base shank, solder shank ends together.
- Next: figure out, approximately, how much metal you’ll need for the outer ring. Be generous is your measurements and allow extra. Use wire or other method to determine how much you’ll need (see link to my FB video below).
- Flux and apply solder pallions to the strip.
- Solder. If you can, spread the solder over the metal with a solder pick. Your goal is to not have lumpy solder – if possible.
- Pickle and then sand off any high areas of solder.
- Treat the overlay ring like a bezel – wrap the wire around the ring shank tightly, mark where the two ends overlap, cut, square edges of ring shank, and check fit.
- Once you get a tight fit, slide the band over the inner band. It should be difficult to get on and you might need a tap from a mallet. It should be tight because the band has additional thickness because of the solder. Once the solder flows, the shank will have less thickness and could be too big.
Related Web Pages
- Adjustable Ring Size Chart
- Adjustable Ring Shank Patterns
- Mandrel Holders
- Miter Cutting Vise and Jig
- Q&A: Rings
- Q&A: Stone Setting: Cabochons and Faceted Stones
- Ring Blank Chart
- Ring, Bracelet and Bezel Mandrels
- Saddle Ring Pattern
- Stones and Stone Setting
- Texturing Metal
- Flat Square Edges on Metal
- How to Make a Domed Ring: Parts One, Two and Three
- How to Make a Ring: Parts One, Two and Three
- Stone Setting: Creating a Frame Setting for Cabochons. Part One, Part Two
- How to Resize a Ring
- My Craftsy Video: Prong Settings from Start to Finish
- Here’s my YouTube “Rings” Channel.
- How to make a bezel and set a Cabochon part one and part two. I show you how to do all that PLUS demonstrate how to solder a bezel onto a ring shank as well as sweat soldering and a lot more.