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. 

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