Sunday, June 8, 2014

More Fun With Chain

I've wanted to make some elongated chain for a while. I finally sucked up my nerve and gave it a shot:
I hadn't soldered in a while. I had a new torch this time, a propane EZ Torch. This one is configured for a disposable tank. You can get one for a refillable tank too. Just one fuel tank, with a baffle on the torch head to adjust the amount of room air that feeds the flame. Simple! It's not a super tight flame, even with the smallest head, but I don't do tiny fiddly work anyway so it works fine. It melted my hard solder in a flash.
EZ Torch kit (minus the propane tank of course)
Here's my setup:
I put the propane tank (the blue cylinder there) in a bread pan and velcroed it to the wall to keep it from tipping over. The bread pan keeps it from sliding around when I move the hose. You could put some rocks in the pan too to make it even more stable but it seems fine the way it is.

I used My-T-Flux for these, a liquid flux, from Rio Grande and it worked great.
I like to put my little solder bits in a tin can lid, pour in a tiny bit of flux (you don't need much), and coat them that way before I solder. (I learned this from a metalsmithing teacher at Glacier Metal Arts in Kalispell, Montana, Karen Chesna). Then I can just pick the bits out of the flux, as I need them, with my soldering tweezers. I use a cheap paintbrush to coat the join on the ring with the liquid flux. I like a charcoal block for my soldering surface.
For copper, I have been using copper-color solder wire that I get at Monsterslayer. The 20 gauge is easy to cut in very small pieces (don't use your good cutters though, get some burly hardware store wire cutters.) It isn't really coppery looking after you've soldered it (it's pretty much silver), but it takes liver of sulfur nicely, unlike silver solder, so at least you can darken it to make it "disappear."
(Nancy Hamilton has a great page and video about making jump rings (including oval rings)-->CLICK HERE. Here's the video. I am all kinds of excited about the dowel/saw technique, so easy! You have to watch the video for that. Plus Nancy is a NUT, you will crack up! I highly recommend her YouTube videos.

I won't go into the torching part here, let's skip to the shaping part.

After soldering, I make the ring into an oval with a couple pair of round-nose pliers. I just pull it apart, keeping the join on the side:
Then I make the curves tighter, forming a more capsule-like shape, with my round nose pliers and square nose pliers. I squeeze at both ends with the square nose pliers, using the round nose pliers as a form:
Then I hammer it, and I like to put a decorative stamp over the soldered join if the solder is visible--the liver of sulfur settles in the pattern nicely, camouflaging the solder. (My inspiration for this came from the incomparable Cindy Pack--check out her gorgeous metalwork HERE):
I joined my links with open, hammered figure 8s (I'm not quite ready to solder all my links together--I need to grow some more patience for that.) I start with short lengths of copper wire--these are 15mm lengths of 18 gauge wire, hammered flat:
Then I make the figure 8 with my round nose pliers:
Twist each end of the figure 8 open like a jump ring to attach it to the links, et voila! (I did some round link chain too):
I was pleased that the soldering went so well. The last time I tried it I was really frustrated but I got lucky this time. Starting with an easy project was helpful. I'm inching my way toward a bezel...

And in other news, here are the winners for the June Component of the Month drawing:

Mischelle of Micheladas Musings
Ann Schroeder of Bead Love
Therese Frank of Therese's Treasures

Congratulations, ladies! Linda Landig will be in touch with further information.



  1. you make it look so easy , but I know it isn't always so. I love the detail of the stamped joint , a very clever way to dress it up.
    You finished chains are lovely and don't need any other embellishments in order to wear them.

  2. Love the chains - they are drool worthy. Btu doesnt stamping on the joint make it weaker?

    1. not that i can see. and it's not like i'm going to be hanging dumbbells from it. if you've soldered it properly it should be just fine.

    2. By the time you get to stamping it you have already stretched it and hammered the crap out of it so you would know if you didnt solder correctly. no the stamping should be just fine.

  3. Keirsten, Thank you for sharing! Love your chain. But I'm most intrigued with the EZ Torch. It would be perfect for my 'kitchen' setup, too. Do you find the propane better for soldering copper vs the blazer butane? I know the blazer is perfect for when I make fine silver wire chains.

    1. You know I have a Blazer, but I don't use it--I'm just so skeptical about butane being hot enough for copper, but it may be fine for this hard copper solder (I'll have to try it!). The EZ Torch is super easy and with the intake valve for room air, plenty hot enough for soldering. If you have limited space, you might want to go with the disposable canister setup, as the refillable propane tanks can be kind of big.

  4. I love that chain! One of these days I might try soldering again but I have such a long list it's going to be awhile. Thanks for sharing!!

  5. Wow, this chain is so gorgeous! Yay you, for giving soldering another chance!

  6. Keirsten, I just LOVE handmade chain, and I especially love yours. These are wonderful! Thanks for showing us how you do it!!


We would love to hear what you have to say, please leave a comment.