Re-fusing

I am very frustrated and angry that some of the wire I ordered fuses fine while some (the 16 gauge) just will not. It glows red but either melts and pulls away or just sits there under the heat doing nothing. I just made a wonky little S clasp a minute ago out of 14 gauge wire and it practically caught fire. I'm sure that the 16 gauge is fine silver because it shows no firescale, but it WILL NOT fuse. Melt or nothing is all I get. I am so frustrated and angry that I can barely even look at my workbench now. It's not like it's all that complex or has many variables. I've cleaned and tumbled the rings over and over again. The cut is very tight and very flush. There is NO REASON why those shouldn't fuse but they don't. I've tried over and over. And it's not just the 16 gauge, the 14 won't go either, no matter what. What a waste of time this idea was.

OK. So I didn't give up. I had a calming Smithwicks and tried again. This time I tried to figure out which step in the process changed. I decided it was the water. All of the pieces that refused to fuse had been quenched more than once and tumbled. Maybe the water accumulated particles of debris that inhibited the fusing process because I got some 12 gauge, 14 gauge and 16 gauge to fuse, even making little S-clasps out of the 14 gauge (they're messy, but hell it's my first go).

I took some pictures, but they came out lousy so I'm not posting them until later when I can work the links and make them presentable.

Gah. Does anyone have any insight as to why rings will not fuse, but will melt and others fuse just fine? I make them exactly the same way. It seems strangely inconsistent and fickle.

Comments

  1. Hi!

    I found your blog via Sandy Cahill-Johnson's. Your work is lovely.

    I'm no expert...I just started metalsmithing this year. I have been taught that if the surface of your metal is not completely clean it will not fuse correctly. Do you use a pickle in your process? Do you use a paste flux? When I join rings, I use a small solder ball (about the size of a tiny pin head), place it on the join and fuse them together that way.

    Another thing I've been told is some vendors are changing the formula's for their metals (sterling silver in particular) and that is causing the metal to no longer behave as expected. Your descriptions sound as if the rings are no longer reacting as they normally have and that made me wonder if you just recently purchased a new batch?

    Nice to find your blog. Looking forward to following your posts.

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