Amber Ring

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My old friend John commissioned me to make a ring for his sister, Lou. Well, Lou actually did most of the commissioning, John just paid! She wanted something in amber and silver. After a bit of thinking, I came up with this concept sketch...

 

...and after a bit of building, ended up with this:

Process 

 Making the tube

 
I cut a piece of 0.7mm sterling sheet, annealed it, and formed it around a mandrel.
Then I soldered it with hard solder. I cut the corners off near the join, so that there was a shorter section to align perfectly for soldering
Then the piece was picked and the joint filed down 
I rounded the tube on the ring mandrel, taking care to not flare the ends too much 

Making the plates

I cut the two plates from 1.2mm sterling sheet using a junior hacksaw.
I made this vice press jig from some thick ply offcuts, loaded in a sheet...
...and did up the vice. I made the radius of the press a bit tighter than the finished plate radius to account for the curve lost to the spring in the sheet.
The formed plates

   
I made this clamping jig from scrap ply and brass to hold the plates in the lathe chuck at the right angle for boring
The clamping jig was loaded into the four jaw chuck and centred with the help of a dial gauge 
I foolishly started the boring process with a large end mill, hoping to avoid a series of drilling steps. This was a mistake; the highly asymmetric cutting operation snagged the end mill, pulled it into the work and completely lunched the top plate. Once a replacement had been made, I started with a centre bit, then a series of drill bits up to 13mm, before cutting to the final size with the boring tool shown in this photo. In attempting to save three minutes I lost over an hour and a few quid's worth of material
The plate boring finished

Adjusting the tube

 
I can't quire remember the circumstances, but the tube required some adjustment. Both the outside diameter had to be reduced, and the inside diameter increased. I think the total reduction in wall thickness brought it down from 0.7 to around 0.4mm. I made this mandrel to hold the tube for the plain turning

The outside of the tube being turned down 

I made an external mandrel and held the tube in place with shellac

After boring it out, I melted the shellac and pulled the tube out 

Assembly

 
I sawed out the holes for the stone, but unfortunately forgot to take a photo. I tested the assembly frequently, filing the holes until the stone was a good fit. Here are all the pieces, ready for assembly. 

Here is the assembled ring. I prepolished the components at this stage. No solder here, just friction 

I decided to solder the plates one by one, so that I could work with the plate flat, and all the solder would stay put. In retrospect, I should have soldered it in one, with heaps of excess solder, since it would all be cut and sanded off anyway. I used binding wire to hold the plate in the right place.

Solder pallions in place 

The second plate bound in place 

Soldering complete 

Next, the ends of the tube were cut back with a piercing saw, files and sandpaper. Unfortunately, I had not used enough solder and there were gaps in the joints. This required further soldering steps, and a lot of messing around. This was silly, I could have used any amount of solder since it was all cut and sanded away. 

A side view at this stage 

Lou demanded that the bottom corners be radiused off in the interest of practicality. I was most reluctant, as I thought the intersection of the round tube with the square corners much more pleasing. However, it ended up nicer than I had expected. The modification was made with a piercing saw and files.

The repeated soldering attempts had left the piece with very severe firescale, which made polishing a total nightmare. In the future I will try borax dipping, or Argotect, or a firescale-resistant alloy like Brilliante or Argentium 

Stone setting

 

I added a slot to my bench pin and used it to bend the plates outwards. As usual, I forgot to take a photo of the scariest, most exciting part as I was too engrossed!

Here one plate has been bent back into place, and the other is part way there 

The curves were restored with some careful work with the parallel pliers, and plenty of cardboard to protect the finish 

 The finished item

Quite pleased with the results, and I learnt a great deal from this project. 

categories [ ]

And I do love my ring...

My ring is amazing, the lovely Jeff worked his fine magic and I always get positive compliments about my amazing Jeff Gough original. Excellent craftsmanship, and perfectly taylored to my needs (no small children should lose their eye now thanks to the rounded off inner!)
Thanks Jeff xxx

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Ring + Swarm Robots

Hi! I just stumbled on your page, starting from a blog link of the CCC Congress. your Ring is really beautiful. I was quite impressed to see such a ring AND swarm robots made by the same person. Really cool skills you have there! Keep up the good work!

I try!

Thanks Doogie, most kind. Sorry for the slow reply! Yes, I do try to maintain a fairly broad set of skills, and I'm always looking to broaden them. Let me know if I can help you with anything.

Cheers,
Jeff

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Silver ring surface

Hi,

Your (Lou's) ring is very beautiful. And your method of execution, with all of your home made tools, etc. is truly enlightened.

But how did you retain the ring's crips form after polishing off the firescale??

I work in sterling silver, and always end up having to remove the firescale by filing, sanding with discs, etc. -- sometimes I coat the objects in a solution of alcohol and borax, but I think it is a mess plus makes it harder to keep the solder in place.

Are there some specific polishing compounds that you use, that enable you to retain the detail of the silver object and still remove the firescale well...??

Thank in advance.

Eva

time

Hi Eva,

Thanks for your kind remarks. This was the first time I'd experienced severe firescale. I polished it out with rouge on a felt wheel. I also recall using a polishing "board" made from a lolly stick with fine wet and dry sandpaper glued to it. It was extremely time consuming, the whole process took around three hours! A more aggressive cutting compound, like tripoli, would have helped, but I didn't have any on hand. I preserved the crisp detail by keeping a very close eye on the process; keeping the wheel perpendicular to the surface, and regularly checking the surface flatness by holding it up to a lamp and looking at the reflections. After all, three hours of polishing is only bearable if you're concentrating intently and always thinking about the process!

However, none of that is a very satisfying solution; we need some more engineering! Firescale-resistant alloys like argentium and brilliante are, I think, the way forward. I haven't yet embarked on another complex fabrication project to test either; watch this space. I'm certainly not going to tolerate the create-firescale-then-polish-off approach. If brilliante doesn't solve the problem, I'll move to argentium which sounds like a superior alloy, but is less available in the uk. If that fails, I'll change my soldering setup, a more reducing mix, or perhaps introducing some inert gas shielding. Small co2/argon cylinders are widely available for mig welding, and I dare say they can be repurposed!

To summarise: experiment, don't live with it.

Cheers,
Jeff

fire scale

Beautiful ring well executed with great line. But the dreaded fire scale is a nightmare especially with thin wall work where polishing weaken or distorts the work. Argentium is amazing to work with plus as a bonus you don't have to continually polish the finished piece based on little or no tarnish. The only thing better is a laser or welder I have an Orion 150 and I don't ever want to go back to a torch. The tack weld capabilities and then several welding options are amazing. Probably sound like a advertisement but I'm not just love the tool that much probably the best 5k Ive spent in the studio.

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nice work

Wow! Nice collection of Amber ring buddy. Thanks for showing us the manufacturing of the ring and I will definitely will try one of those in my home during this week and want to gift that to my fiancée. Thanks a lot.paint zoom

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