Daily Tip June 23: Work Hardening Finished Jewelry

By on June 23, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
June 23, 2010

Question:

I made a necklace using both 14kt gold filled wire and .925 Argentium Sterling Silver wire. Both wires were dead soft, and I think the necklace may be easily misshapen with wear. It is too large to fit in my tumbler without bending the design. Is there a way to harden wire without using a tumbler?

-Dolcie in Farmington, New Mexico

Answer:

As your necklace has already been made (I’m sure with beads, cabs, stones, etc.), it is going to be difficult to harden it. You could use a small chasing hammer to forge the sections that do not contain items–just keep in mind that forging will also reshape and stretch the wire.

My advice is to use this one as a prototype: wear it yourself as you take orders. Then, make another one to sell, forging the wire as you work the design.

P.S. – Wire-Sculpture has just reorganized the entire Findings section–hope that helps you find what you’re looking for!

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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6 Comments

  1. avatar

    Beth Johnston

    June 23, 2010 at 8:51 am

    I have actually had some success in this area with putting the item flat on a cookie sheet in my oven until it is really, really hot and then immersing it in ice water. It all depends on the stones, of course. They might break with the change in temperature, but if it’s just a chain with no stones, it just might work.

  2. avatar

    Jane Elizabeth

    June 23, 2010 at 10:03 am

    I have done similar projects and in some cases have been able to harden even the portions containing stones. I use a leather mallet and hold the piece in hand while tapping with the mallet… It may be worth the effort!
    Jane Elizabeth

  3. avatar

    nancy

    June 23, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    “. . forging the wire as you work the design . . ”

    I am not sure how you do this? If you are making a wire sculpted design, how do you forge it without damaging the curls by using a mallet? I have heard that heating Argenteum wire in an oven will harden it, but her piece is both silver and gold filled.

    Ideas?

    thanks,
    Nancy

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      June 24, 2010 at 1:56 am

      Nancy, it really depends on what style and what design is being worked. Often a curl or spiral can be lightly forged with a chasing hammer to harden and/or texturize it as a neck design is being made. (Something I do often as seen here: http://www.cougarscreations.com/gallery-006.html )

  4. avatar

    Catherine

    June 23, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    I have had good results using a buffing pad with my dremel and polishing it.

  5. avatar

    mary

    June 24, 2010 at 7:56 am

    I know it is the “belief” of a variety of wire workers that dead soft is the way to go when doing any type of wire wrapping. For some patterns, it may work fine but you run into the problem that Dolcie is experiencing here, the piece is too soft to hold it’s shape, etc. Relying on a tumbler after the fact to “harden” your wire runs you right into Dolcie’s place again, where you have something too big to go into a tumbler.
    I’d suggest that she keep this first one as an on hands pattern and do another, only this time, work it in half-hard wire. Working in half-hard is an advantage to the piece and to yourself, since it helps you build up strength in your hands while creating a sturdier piece of jewelry, in which case, you are now relying on the tumber for cleaning up your work and doing the hardening for you.

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