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In this instructable, I will show you how to make matching wedding rings out of 14kt gold mokume gane (pronounced mow-koo-may gah-nay, which means wood-grained metal).  While it may seem like a complex technique, I assure you anyone can make these with the right knowledge, the right tools, and enough patience.  The first two are easily acquired, the last one takes time.

Mokume gane is a technique that joins dissimilar metals together for ornamental purposes.  Metals are joined by diffusion bonding to create striking contrast and patterns.  There are hundreds of different metal combinations, patterns and techniques to choose from.  I chose a textured combination of 14kt red, yellow and white gold.  Because all these metals are relatively inert, it provides a comparatively easy example.

I have no formal or informal training in jewelry or silversmithing.  However, I have done some blacksmithing, and I study materials science.  Don't let that scare you!  I will explain the theory behind each step, how to do it, and what to do if things go wrong.  You don't need any previous experience to get this right.

This instructable is based loosely on the website I made to catalog how I made the wedding rings.  The wedding site reads more like a story than an instructable, which is why I've restructured it for you.  You can find the original here:  http://www.mike-short.com/MnM/Rings/Rings-Intro.shtml

Step 1: Overview and Materials List

The goal of this project is to make matching mokume wedding rings from scratch.  This is accomplished in four major parts:

1)   Make a billet of mokume gane from starting metals.
2)   Cut, roll and shape that billet into strips for making rings.
3)   Form these blanks into rings, solder them together and size the rings.
4)   File, shape and polish the rings to a mirror finish.

There are many intermediate steps inside each major part.

Here is a list of tools and materials, along with links to buy them and prices as of February, 2011.  I've split the materials into the four major parts. The entire project takes a couple weeks to finish, and each of the four parts can be done on its own with a long break in between.  The materials list is a bit long, but having the right tools for the job makes it go far more smoothly.  The total cost for the project with prices from Feb. 2011 is $2,168.30.  Of that total, $1,719.00 is the gold metal, while the remaining $449.30 gets you all the tools, supplies and safety equipment to finish the entire project.  Finding or borrowing tools and supplies substantially lowers this cost.
*Note: You can substantially lower the cost of this project by using different metals, such as silver, copper or brass.

Safety Supplies (Safety First!!!) (Total cost - $36.51)
(1) Safety glasses with side protection
      http://www.riogrande.com , P/N 201708, $8.20
(5) Pairs of nitrile (blue or purple) gloves
      http://www.vwr.com , P/N 414004-441, $12.62
(1) Lab coat or other long sleeve expendable clothing
      $0, just use an old long sleeve shirt
(1) Plastic face shield
      http://www.mcmaster.com , P/N 5481T28 , $15.69

Part 1 - Starting Metals(Total cost - $1,719.00)
*Note:  The prices of gold change by the day.  Check a reputable metals site, such as http://www.kitco.com for current prices.
(2) 1" by 1" sheets of 14kt white gold
      $348 (Feb. 2011) x 2 = $696.00
(2) 1" by 1" sheets of 14kt yellow gold
      $348 (Feb. 2011) x 2 = $696.00
(2) 1" by 1" sheets of 14kt red gold
      $348 (Feb. 2011) x 2 = $696.00
Recovered dust & scraps
      (-$369.00, adjusted to Feb. 2011 prices)

Part 1 - Supplies for Mokume Billet Making(Total cost - $158.65)
(1) Senpak heat treatment bag, 8" x 10"
      http://www.mcmaster.com/ , P/N 3438K14, $9.35
(2) Pounds of dry WOOD charcoal, not briquettes!
      http://www.acehardware.com or local hardware store, P/N 8231144, $7.49
(1) Small container of acetone
      Local hardware store, ~$10.00
(2) Steel plates, 4" x 4" x 1/2" thick
      http://www.mcmaster.com , P/N 6554K321, $34.32 for a 4" x 12" x 1/2" piece
(4) 5/16" to 7/16" hex head bolts, 2" to 3" long
      http://www.mcmaster.com , P/N 91247A320, $10.03 for a 25-pack
(4) Matching nuts for the bolts above
      http://www.mcmaster.com , P/N 95505A614, $8.66 for a 100-pack
(8) Matching washers for the bolts above
      Local hardware store, ~$1
(1) Bottle of White-Out or Liquid Paper
      Local office supply store, ~$2
(1) Piece of firebrick or insulating material to use as a heat-resistant surface
      http://www.mcmaster.com , P/N 9355K2, $8.62
(1) Propane torch (not MAPP gas)
      Local hardware store, ~$25
(1) Pair of tongs, strong metal tweezers, needle nose pliers or other tool for picking up hot metal
      http://www.mcmaster.com , P/N 7379A24, $7.18
(1) Bucket of water for quenching (fast cooling)
      Found $0.00
(2) Wrenches for tightening nuts & bolts above (I like adjustable wrenches)
      Local hardware store ~$30
(1) 1/2" drill bit
      Local hardware store, ~$5
(1) Glass or pyrex container, with a capacity of 100mL to 250mL
      Found, ~$0

Part 1 - Access to Big Machines for Mokume Billet Making
-Furnace (must be set to 100°F (~55°C) lower than the lowest melting point among your metals)
-Vise
-Drill Press
-Bandsaw

Part 2 - Supplies for Making Ring Blanks(Total cost - $87.70)
(1) Piece of 180-320 grit sandpaper
       Local hardware store, ~$2
(1) Piece of ~600 grit sandpaper
       Local hardware store, ~$2
(1) Jeweler's saw
      http://www.riogrande.com , P/N 110131, $11.00
(12) #2 jeweler's saw blades
      http://www.riogrande.com , P/N 110101, $17.50 for a pack of 144
(1) Stick of jeweler's saw lubricating wax
      http://www.riogrande.com , P/N 117003, $5.25
(2) 1" x 1" pieces of sturdy cardboard
      Found, $0.00
(1) Pair of calipers or very precise ruler
      http://www.riogrande.com , P/N 115189, $27.00
(1) Metal hammer (see below) or rolling mill
      http://www.riogrande.com , P/N 112530, $22.95

Part 2 - Big Machines for Making Ring Blanks
-Vise
-Rolling mill (optional), hand-cranked or powered

Part 3 - Soldering and Sizing the Rings(Total cost - $162.44)
(1) Box of Rio-Pickle pickling agent for non-ferrous metals
      http://www.riogrande.com , P/N 5010233, $11.25 for 3 lbs.
(1) 16 oz. mini Crock Pot
      http://www.riogrande.com , P/N 501012, $19.25
(1) Thermometer (just has to go to 212°F (100°C))
      http://www.mcmaster.com , P/N 6182K14, $13.96
(1) Box of baking soda
      Supermarket, ~$3
(1) Glass stirring rod
      http://www.mcmaster.com , P/N 8496K12, $1.77
(1) Bottle of gold & silver liquid flux, 1 pint
      http://www.riogrande.com , P/N 504006, $8.95
(6) Inches of MEDIUM grade, 1/16" 14kt yellow gold wire solder
      http://www.riogrande.com , P/N 600857, $20.76 (as of Feb. 2011)
(1) Propane torch
      Use the one from Step 1, $0.00
(1) Bucket of water for quenching
      Use the one from Step 1, $0.00
(1) Mandrel with ring sizes
      http://www.riogrande.com , P/N 112367, $26.50
(1) Plastic or neoprene hammer
      http://www.riogrande.com , P/N 112800, $47.00
(1) Metal cross-peen hammer
      Use the one from Step 2, $0.00
(1) Medium size hand file
      Local hardware store, ~$10
(1) Kitchen measuring cup
      Your kitchen, $0.00

Part 3 - Big Machines for Soldering and Sizing the Rings
-Vie
-Somewhere with ventilation

Part 4 - Finishing and Polishing the Rings(Total cost - $4.00)
(1) Medium size hand file
      Use the one from Step 3, $0.00
(1) Small needle file
      Found, $0
(1) Propane torch
      Use the one from Step 1, $0.00
(1) Bucket of water for quenching
      Use the one from Step 1, $0.00
(1) Mandrel with ring sizes
      Use the one from Step 3, $0.00
(1) Plastic hammer
      Use the one from Step 3, $0.00
(1) Metal cross-peen hammer
      Use the one from Step 2, $0.00
(1) Piece of 180-320 grit sandpaper
      Use the one from Step 1, $0.00
(1) Piece of ~600 grit sandpaper
      Use the one from Step 1, $0.00
(1) Piece of ~1200 grit sandpaper
      Local hardware store, ~$2
(1) Piece of ~2400 grit sandpaper OR rag and stick of rouge
      Local hardware store, ~$2

Part 4 - Finishing and Polishing the Rings
-Vise
-Lathe (optional, but saves a LOT of polishing time)

Step 2: The Story

While you are collecting your materials, I will get a bit sentimental and explain why mokume gane (or mokume for short) symbolizes marriage to me.

Rings are time-honored symbols of commitment, with no beginning and no end.  Mokume adds an extra dimension of symbolism.  Due to the nature of how mokume is made, no two pieces can be the same.  The unique variability of every hammer blow, heat treatment and every other process ensures that no two patterns can be the same, much like no two couples can be the same.  Two rings made from one billet of mokume may appear different, but the patterns on and throughout are the same.

Like a relationship, the rings can become tarnished over time, but still stay intact.  The patterns in mokume aren't skin deep; they continue through to the core, like a couple's love.  When scratches in the rings do appear, they are buffed out, changing the patterns ever so slightly. Yet the two rings remain linked to each other as long as they exist, changing with each other like two people in a lifelong relationship.

OK, enough with the sentimentals.  Let's get smithing!

Step 3: Planning

This is the beginning of Part I: Making a Mokume Billet.  Making a billet correctly starts with careful planning.

Materials for This Step:

-Calipers (preferred) or a fine ruler

Procedure:

In this step, you will plan out the size of your billets.  If you plan carefully, you should be able to get exactly the billet you need while using as little material as possible.  This translates into savings for you, because you can sell your scraps back to a precious metals dealer for almost as much as you paid for them!

First you want to determine your ring size.  You can go to any mall jewelry store and ask them to measure it for you, if you don't know it already.  If you are making a ring for someone as a surprise, you can measure the inner diameter of one of their rings without them knowing.  Just be sure to put it back!  If for some reason you don't want to go to the mall to measure your ring size, you can measure your finger size

Next, choose the thickness and width of your rings.  The thickness is the distance from the inner diameter to the outer diameter, and the width is how far the rings extends on your finger.  Your final   billet dimensions should be roughly as follows:

Length:   ~0.25" longer than the circumference of your ring.  See the ring size chart (below) for dimensions.
Width:   ~0.1" wider than you want the finished ring to be.
Thickness:   ~0.1" thicker than you want the finished ring to be.

Rather than reproduce the entire ring size chart here, I refer you to the excellent Wikipedia article on ring sizes:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_size .  This will help you size your billet no matter which country you live in.

Step 4: Assemble & Clean Your Metals

Part I:  Billet Fabrication

Safety Supplies for This Step

-Safety glasses with side protection
-Pair of nitrile (blue or purple) gloves
-Lab coat or other long sleeve expendable clothing

Materials for This Step
-Small amount (50-100mL) of acetone
-Your metals, whatever you have chosen
-Glass or pyrex container

Procedure:
First, think about the order in which you want the metals to be.  I wanted my layer colors to alternate, with red in the center of the ring, so I made sure to keep a layer of red gold as an outer layer. Bear in mind:  the order you choose now will be the order in which your layers appear in the final ring!

Pour about 100mL of acetone into your glass or pyrex container.  One by one, put the sheets of metal in it, and gently rub both surfaces (one at a time) with your gloved finger.  Continue until all the fingerprints are removed.  It won't take more than 30 seconds each.

Make sure to only handle your metals with gloves from now on, until they go into the furnace!  Keeping them clean will avoid contamination and help to ensure a good diffusion bond.

Step 5: Create the Compression Rig

Safety Supplies for This Step:
-Safety glasses with side protection
*Note:  This step involves machining. Don't wear long sleeves or jewelry when operating big power tools, such as a drill press.  Tie back long hair so it can't get caught in the press.

Materals for This Step:
(2) Steel plates, 4" x 4" x 1/2" thick (or one 4" x 12" plate)
-1/2" drill bit

Big Machines for This Step:
-Drill press
-Bandsaw

Procedure:

If you don't have 4" x 4" pieces already, use the bandsaw to cut the 4" x 12" steel plate into two 4" x 4" pieces.  If you choose, use the bandsaw to take the sharp corners off the steel plate too.  If you cut your steel squares from a larger piece, you won't need the excess piece of steel after you make two plates.

Using the drill press and the 1/2" drill bit, drill four holes in each steel plate, one in each corner.  Make sure to clamp your piece with clamps or a vise while drilling!  Don't just hold it with your hand! Follow the drawing below for exact dimensions.  You need them to be close to the corners to make room for your metal, but far enough away that the holes won't bend when the compression rig is bolted together.  Drilling holes centered 1/2" from each side works well.

Step 6: Assemble the Compression Rig

Materials for This Step:
(2) Cut & drilled 4" x 4" steel plates (from previous step)
(1) Bottle of White-Out or Liquid Paper
(4) 5/16" to 7/16" hex head bolts, 2" to 3" long
(4) Matching nuts for the bolts above
(8) Matching washers for the bolts above
(2) Wrenches for tightening nuts & bolts above (I like adjustable wrenches)

Procedure:

Lay your two steel plates next to each other.  Apply a liberal coat of White-Out or Liquid Paper to the middle of each plate.  You need to cover about a 2" x 2" square.  Follow the picture below for guidance.  Let it dry for an hour or two.  Blowing on the plates with a fan will help them dry faster.  In the meantime, put one washer on each bolt, and put one bolt through each hole.

Once the White-Out is dry, carefully place your stack of metals on the center with a gloved hand.  Make sure your sheets of metal are lined up as precisely as possible on the center of the steel plate.  Any misaligned metal will have to be ground off later, and will be lost!

Now place the second steel plate on top of the metal stack, putting the bolts through the holes of the top plate.  Put a washer on each bolt, and then hand-tighten a nut on each bolt.  Carefully bring the assembled compression rig to a vise, and tighten the entire assembly with the vise.  It would be wise for a friend to help you with this step, just to have an extra pair of hands.

Now tighten the nuts & bolts on each corner.  Tighten opposing corners first to keep the stack even.  The bolts should be quite tight!  They have to keep the pressure on the metals even during furnace treatment.

Step 7: Heat Treatment

Safety Equipment for This Step:

-Safety glasses with side protection
-Pairs of nitrile (blue or purple) gloves
-Lab coat or other long sleeve expendable clothing (in this step, it's mainly to keep your real clothes clean and free of charcoal dust)
-Face shield

Materials for This Step:

-Assembled compression rig from the previous step
-Senpak heat treatment bag, 8" x 10"
-Dry WOOD charcoal, not briquettes!
-Long, metal tongs for inserting the assembly into the furnace

Procedure:

Determine which of your metals has the lowest melting point.  Set your furnace to about 100°F (~55°C) below that temperature.  Allow this to come up to temperature while you follow the instructions below.

Use gloves for this part.  Open the Senpak bag as shown in the second picture.  Fill about 1/8 of the bag with charcoal, and place the assembled compression rig inside.  Fill the rest of the bag with charcoal as shown in the third picture, leaving a couple inches of the bag empty.  These will be used to close the bag.

Next, roll the edges of the open bag over three times.  This will make it difficult for any air to enter the bag.  If any does, it will be immediately be absorbed by the charcoal, keeping it away from your metals.

Using long furnace tongs, carefully place the Senpak bag into the furnace.   Allow it to heat for roughly one hour.

Step 8: Diffusion Theory While You Wait

While you wait for the bond to form between the metals, here is an explanation of what is happening from a scientific point of view.

The principle behind these careful steps is to form a diffusion bond between each layer of metal.  There are many ways to join metals, but diffusion bonding is one of the few that requires no filler metals and no highly specialized equipment.

The atoms in a solid are in constant motion.  If you bring two solids in intimate contact (by squeezing them together), the atoms will begin to diffuse across the interface into each other.  If you increase the temperature, they will diffuse more quickly.  Heating the metals to within 100°F of their melting point allows for the fastest diffusion without actually melting the metals.  The ultimate goal is to make the metals diffuse into each other, as in the first picture.

Heating for longer will cause more diffusion to take place.  The reason we limit the heating time to one hour is to form a strong diffusion bond without completely mixing the two metals.  This allows us to make a strong bond, while keeping the layers visually crisp and distinct from each other.

Step 9: Billet Removal

Safety Equipment for This Step:

-Safety glasses with side protection
-Lab coat or other long sleeve expendable clothing (in this step, it's mainly to keep your real clothes clean and free of charcoal dust)
-Face shield

Materials for This Step:

-Long, metal tongs for removing the assembly into the furnace
-Piece of firebrick or insulating material to use as a heat-resistant surface

Procedure:

Once the billet has been heating in the furnace for about an hour, turn off the furnace and carefully remove the bag with the long, metal tongs.  The bag will be extremely hot for a few hours!   Let it cool to room temperature.

Once the bag is cool, open it and remove the compression rig.  Use the wrenches to loosen the bolts, and remove your billet of metal.  It should be one single piece, with no visible cracks or gaps between layers.

You may notice that some of the White-Out could be stuck to the billet, or there could be small depressions on the faces.  That's OK, they will be removed in the next part.  In the meantime, sit back and enjoy.  You now have a billet of mokume gane!

Step 10: Annealing

Safety Supplies for This Step:
-Safety glasses with side protection

Materials for This Step:
-Propane torch
-Bucket of water for quenching (fast cooling)
-Piece of firebrick or insulating material to use as a heat-resistant surface
-Pliers (needlenose or other) for picking up the billet

Procedure:

In this step, we anneal   the billet, or reset its crystal structure.  This will make it much easier to shape, and less prone to cracking.  To do so, put the billet on the piece of firebrick and heat it with the torch.  Continuously sweep the flame over the billet, and make sure not to keep the flame in one place for too long.  You want the heating to be nice and even.

Continue heating until the billet glows a cherry-red color.  Once it does, keep it there for around 5 seconds, turn off the flame, and use the pliers to drop the billet into the bucket of water.  This quenches the billet, or cools it rapidly, to keep the grain size small.  Letting it cool too slowly can make the billet brittle, causing it to crack later.

Congratulations!  You've finished Part I.  Onto Part II: Shaping.

Step 11: Grinding

This step is the beginning of Part II: Shaping

Materials for This Step:


-Piece of 180-320 grit sandpaper
-Piece of 600 grit sandpaper

Procedure:

In this step, you want to grind and polish your billet into a rectangle, with no overhanging metal, scratches, cracks, oxide or dents.  Removing overhanging metal along with any cracks in the sides is crucial, as small cracks can propagate through the piece in the next step, rolling.  Even though your material may be expensive, like gold, it is more worth it to remove excess than suffer a crack later on.

Use the rougher (180-320 grit) sandpaper to make the faces smooth, and the sides both smooth and free of cracks.  I used a rotary polisher to save time, but you can just tape/glue your sandpaper to a flat, smooth surface and still get the same result.  After that, use the 600 grit paper to polish the faces.  This will remove scratches from the rougher grit.

Step 12: Filling the Cracks (Optional)

This step is optional, but recommended if you suspect you have cracks in your billet. It's better to fill them in now and spend extra time, rather than suffer a severe crack during rolling later.

Safety Equipment for This Step:

-Safety glasses with side protection
-Face shield

Materials for This Step:
-Bottle of gold & silver liquid flux, 1 pint
-MEDIUM grade, 1/16" 14kt yellow gold wire solder
-Propane torch
-Pliers or tongs for holding the hot billet
-Bucket of water for quenching
-Piece of firebrick or insulating material to use as a heat-resistant surface

Procedure:

Support your billet with the firebrick, and get as much flux on it as you can.  Make sure you either do your soldering outdoors, or in a well-ventilated area.  Then, start heating your billet with the propane torch.  The flux will boil, leaving a whitish solid behind.  This is normal.

Continue heating by sweeping the flame back and forth every 2-3 seconds, never staying in one place for too long.  Once the billet reaches a dark orange color (for 14kt gold), remove the flame and quickly touch the side of the billet with the solder.  If it is at the correct temperature, the hot billet (NOT the flame) will melt the solder and wick it into any cracks.  This temperature is slightly above the melting point of the solder, and is called the flow temperature .  If your billet isn't hot enough, heat it a little more with the flame and repeat until it works.  If your metal starts to look 'sweaty,' stop heating it.  You may be starting to melt it!

After the sides are covered with solder, heat the entire billet to a cherry-red and quench it by dropping it in the bucket of water like in Step 10: Annealing.   Repeat the grinding/polishing procedure in Step 11: Grinding, and then continue on to the next step.  You want to make sure to grind off any extra solder blobs, as you don't want them to show up in your finished ring.  The only solder you really need has flown into the cracks, and won't be visible in the finished piece.

Step 13: Billet Extension

Safety Supplies for This Step:
-Safety glasses with side protection

Materials for This Step:
-Pair of calipers or very precise ruler
-Metal hammer (see below) or rolling mill

Big Machines for This Step:
-Rolling mill (optional), hand-cranked or powered

Procedure:

*Note:   If you are worried that there may be microcracks on the sides of your billet, it is best to close them first.  Follow the procedure in Step 12: Filling the Cracks to cover the sides of your billet in solder, which will fill in any cracks that exist.  Then grind off any excess solder and continue below.

Using the rolling mill or your metal hammer, extend the dimensions of the billet.  If you are using a rolling mill, plan on reducing the dimensions of the billet by about 5-10% in each pass.  If you are using a hammer, use the cross-peened end (the long, thin end, not the flat face), gently hitting the billet to extend it.  Use even strokes, evenly-spaced along the billet, to evenly reduce its thickness by about 25%.  Use the calipers or fine ruler to measure this thickness.  Carefully monitor it for any cracks that develop.  If you find any and catch them early, you may be able to solder them shut.

After you've reduced the thickness of the billet by about 25%, you will need to anneal  it again.  See Step 10: Annealing for this procedure.

Repeat the process of reducing the thickness by 25% and annealing until your billet reaches its desired thickness, length and height that you planned in Step 3: Planning.   Keep in mind that each reduction is 25% of the billet's current thickness, not its original thickness.

Step 14: Trimming

Safety Equipment for This Step:
-Safety glasses with side protectors

Materials for This Step:
-Jeweler's saw
-#2 jeweler's saw blades
-Stick of saw lubricating wax
(2) 1" x 1" pieces of sturdy cardboard
-Pair of calipers or very precise ruler

Big Equipment for This Step:
-Vise

Procedure:

The goal of this step is to trim the edges of the billet so that it is rectangular again.  This involves using the jeweler's saw to cut any non-straight edges off, plus any layers that have begun to crack or delaminate.

Start by clamping one of your blades into your jeweler's saw.  The saw has a clamp at each end to hold the blade.  The saw is very fine, with even finer teeth.  These blades are made for precision, and as such they are not very durable.  That's why they are sold in packs of 144!  Do not worry if you break a blade (or ten, like I did).  Just take the old blade out, replace with a new one, and continue.

Clamp your billet in the side of the vise, with a piece of cardboard on either side.  This prevents the vise from putting tooth marks in your billet.  You have to clamp the vise just tight enough that pulling on the billet cannot move it.  There's no need to overdo it.

Before cutting, and every 5-10 minutes during, lubricate your blade by running it through the stick of wax.  This will help the blade slide, reducing friction on the sides and applying more of the energy to cutting.  Watch your cuts and make sure they are straight.  Any non-straight areas will have to be ground out, and represent more lost material.

Once you are done, repeat Step 11: Grinding to make the faces and edges of your billet smooth and polished.  Now it's time to make a choice.  If you want to increase the number of layers in your billet, proceed to Step 15: Layer Increasing.   If not, you may skip to Step 16: Making Ring Strips.

Step 15: Increasing Layers

Safety Equipment for This Step:
-Safety glasses with side protectors

Materials for This Step:
-Jeweler's saw
-#2 jeweler's saw blades
-Stick of saw lubricating wax
(2) 1" x 1" pieces of sturdy cardboard
-Pair of calipers or very precise ruler

Big Equipment for This Step:
-Vise

Procedure:

Measure the width of your billet with your calipers, and divide this distance in half.  Set your calipers to this halved distance and lock them in place.  With one end of the calipers on the edge of the billet, carefully scribe a fine line on the surface with the other end.  This will be your cutting guide.

Using the same procedure from Step 14: Trimming, cut your billet in two (or three, or more, depending on how many layers you want to add).  Follow the cutting guide you just scribed to make a straighter cut.  This will result in keeping more material on the rings, wasting less in the process.

Once you have your billet cut in two, you will have to grind each half to be exactly the same dimensions.  The more accurate you are the better, as overhanging metal will have to be ground off like before.  Now, once your billets are the same size, repeat the procedures from Steps 6-14 to recompress, rebond, and reanneal the billet.  Once it is cut down to size and ground smooth, you may either repeat this step to double (or triple, etc.) the layers again, or move on to preparing the ring blanks in the next step.

I've provided a view of my billet after this step (see picture #5), after I had doubled the number of layers from 6 to 12.  Note how the lines are still clean and crisp.

Step 16: Making Ring Strips

Safety Equipment for This Step:
-Safety glasses with side protectors

Materials for This Step:
-Jeweler's saw
-#2 jeweler's saw blades
-Stick of saw lubricating wax
(2) 1" x 1" pieces of sturdy cardboard
-Pair of calipers or very precise ruler
-Hand file

Big Equipment for This Step:
-Vise

Procedure:

Using the calipers as a guide, scribe cutting lines on your billet for your ring(s).  These should be based on the sizes that you came up with in Step 3: Planning.   Then, follow the same cutting procedures in Step 14: Trimming to cut your billets along the guidelines to make your ring strips.

Now, file a 45 degree bevel on opposite sides of each ring strip.  That way, when it comes time to solder them together, there will be more surface area in the joint, resulting in a stronger bond.

That's it for Part II... onto Part III: Making the Rings!

Step 17: Curving the Ring Blanks

This is the beginning of Part III: Making the Rings.  In this part, you will transform the strips of metal into actual sized rings, ready for final polishing.

Safety Equipment for This Step:

-Safety glasses with side protectors

Materials for This Step:
-Mandrel with ring sizes
-Plastic or neoprene hammer
-Two 1"x1" pieces of sturdy cardboard

Big Equipment for This Step:
-Vise

Procedure:

Put the ring blank in the vise with just the tip (about 1/4") sticking out.  Begin curving your ring by gently tapping with the plastic hammer.  Use a plastic hammer, as it won't put any marks in your ring.  Your curvature doesn't have to be perfect - it will be fixed on the mandrel soon.

Continue by retracting the ring blank about 1/8" each time and continuing the curve, until you can't curve anymore on the vise.  At that point, put the ring blank on the mandrel and finish the curve by hammering the ring blank around the mandrel.  Get the two edges as close to each other as possible.  This may involve increasing the curvature, or making a tighter bend, around a slightly smaller part of the mandrel.  Periodically flip the ring so one side doesn't end up more curved than the other.

Now look at the size where it sits.  If your ring blank is within one U.S. ring size of your desired size, you may move on to the next step.  If it's much too small (like mine was), you will have to repeat Step 13: Billet Extension to roll out your ring blank to between 1.0 and 0.25 ring sizes of your finished size.  If it's too big, you will have to cut/grind/file some material off and tighten the curve.  It's actually better to be too small than be too big at this point.

Step 18: Pickling

Safety Equipment for This Step:
-Safety glasses with side protection
-Nitrile (blue or purple) gloves
-Lab coat or other long sleeve expendable clothing
-Plastic face shield (because the pickling solution is hot acid)

Materials for This Step:
-Rio-Pickle pickling agent for non-ferrous metals
-16 oz. mini Crock Pot
-Thermometer (just has to go to 212°F (100°C))
-Baking soda
-Glass stirring rod
-Gold & silver liquid flux
-Tweezers or pliers for retrieving the billet from the hot pickling agent

Procedure:
First, prepare your liquids.  Pour a small amount (~25mL) of flux into a container (it can be anything clean:  a beaker, a dixie cup, etc.).  This will be used in the next step.  Next, dissolve a couple tablespoons of baking soda into about a cup of water.  This will be to neutralize your acidic pickling agent.  Finally, measure out your Rio-Pickle and water in your crock pot.as indicated on the box of Rio-Pickle.  Not all of the powder will dissolve.  Then turn your crock-pot on and monitor the temperature.

Continue heating and stirring with your glass rod until the temperature reaches about 165°F (~75°C).  By now, all of the pickling powder should have dissolved.  Once it has, and once the liquid is hot enough, place your ring blank in the pickling bath for about 15 minutes.  Keep monitoring the temperature.

After 15 minutes, take the ring blank out using some tweezers or pliers, and immerse in the baking soda.  You will see some fizzing, as the baking soda neutralizes the acidic pickling solution.  Keep swishing the blank in the baking soda until all fizzing stops.

Step 19: Finally, Rings!

Safety Equipment for This Step:
-Safety glasses with side protection
-Face Shield

Materials for This Step:
-Bottle of gold & silver liquid flux, 1 pint
-MEDIUM grade, 1/16" 14kt yellow gold wire solder
-Propane torch
-Pliers or tongs for holding the hot billet
-Bucket of water for quenching
-Piece of firebrick or insulating material to use as a heat-resistant surface

Procedure:

Follow the exact same procedure as in Step 12: Filling the Cracks, except this time apply solder to the open joint of the ring, instead of the sides of the billet.  Again, heat the metal until the metal alone (without flame) can melt the solder.  If you have kept the two sides of the joint as close as possible, the solder will be wicked into the entire joint by capillary action.  This is why it was critical to bring the faces of the joint as close as possible back in Step 17: Curving the Ring Blanks.

Your joint should look the one in picture #2, where nothing but capillary action has drawn the solder through the entire joint to the other side.

This is the end of Part III: Making Rings.  Next is Part IV: Final Shaping and Polishing.

Step 20: Shaping

Safety Equipment for This Step:
-Safety glasses with side protection

Materials for This Step:
-Medium size hand file
-Two 1"x1" pieces of sturdy cardboard

Big Equipment for This Step:
-Vise

Procedure:

Clamp your ring gently in the vise, and first file the sides smooth and parallel.  Remember that files only work in one direction.  Don't file back and forth.  Rather, file in one direction (away from you), and lift the file off the piece before filing more.  This will keep the teeth of the file from bending down.

Next, gently clamp your ring using the cardboard pieces, with half sticking out of the vise.  File the outer face smooth and round, as good as you can.  You will start to see your pattern emerge at this point.

If you like your pattern, you may proceed to Step 22: Final Sizing.   If you desire a change to the pattern, you may proceed to Step 21: Texturing.

Step 21: Texturing

Safety Equipment for This Step:
-Safety glasses with side protection

Materials for This Step:
-Medium size hand file
-Mandrel with ring sizes
-Metal cross-peen hammer
-Two 1"x1" pieces of sturdy cardboard

Big Equipment for This Step:
-Vise

Procedure:

How you want to add texture to your billet is up to you.  The two main steps to texturing are 1) deformation, and 2) material removal.

For deformation, the goal is to compact, or squish, layers in some places while leaving the others intact.  I decided to add diagonal lines to my ring.  You can add lines, circles, or anything that you have a punch, chisel or die for.  (Hint:  try using letter/number punches to make messages appear in the layers!)

To add the diagonal lines that I used, place the ring on the mandrel and strike the ring at roughly equal distances around its circumference.  It need not be exact, because this introduces variation into the patterns.  Keeping it fairly regular, however, will decrease the thickness of the ring uniformly, giving it a spontaneous, yet controlled look.

Keep in mind that texturing will thin the ring out a bit, reducing its thickness and increasing the size.

Step 22: Final Sizing

This is the beginning of Part IV: Final Sizing & Polishing.  Once this part is done, you will have a unique, but matching, set of mokume gane wedding rings.

Materials for This Step:
-Mandrel with ring sizes
-Metal cross-peen hammer
-Plastic or neoprene hammer

Big Equipment for This Step:
-Vise

Procedure:

By now, you should have a fairly smooth, textured ring with a pattern that you like.  It is also probably just a bit too small, by 1/2 to 1 U.S. ring size.  Here is the best and quickest way to get the size just right.

Put your ring on the mandrel.  Note how far it has to expand to reach the desired size.  Use the plastic or neoprene hammer to lightly tap the ring on the mandrel, to make it hold tight.  Next, open the vise jaws so that they will accept the mandrel, but hold the ring back.  Now gently tap the handle of the mandrel to stretch the ring, as shown in picture #1 below.  Remove the ring and flip it every 1/8th of a U.S. ring size until your ring reaches the desired size.

The reason your ring should only be within one U.S. size of the final size is that stretching it more without annealing could break or crack it.  There is no need to anneal after this step; it actually helps not to, as the small amount of cold work that you put into the piece by stretching will increase its hardness.  This will make it more scratch-resistant.  I confirmed the scratch resistance of my ring by scratching both the hardened ring blank and an annealed scrap of 14kt gold with each other, and only the ring scratched the scrap.

Picture #2 below shows my two rings, and the large difference in size between my and my wife's ring fingers!

Step 23: Comfort Fit

Materials for This Step:
-Medium size hand file
-Small needle file

Procedure:

At this point, you want to file the sides smooth again, and ensure the outside and inside faces are smooth and parallel.  Now file the outside face to a more rounded profile using the medium size file.  Start by filing a 45 degree bevel on the outer edge, down through about 1/3rd of the thickness of the ring.  Then start working your way inward, decreasing the angle as you go.

Now comes the inside face.  Using the small needle file, start by filing the same 45 degree bevel through about 1/3rd of the rings thickness.  Try to file the same contours on the inside face as the outside face.  This is called a "comfort fit," as opposed to a "classic fit" where the inside of the ring is straight.

A comfort fit does two things.  First, it makes the ring easier to get on and off.  The smooth contours don't bunch up your skin as you put the ring on, or take it off.  Second, it makes it harder to slip off.  Using a contour fit allows you to make a slightly smaller ring than a classic fit.  This means that once it's on, it will hold tighter on less surface area, without introducing any discomfort.

Picture #2 below shows the cross section of each type of ring fit.

Step 24: Final Polishing

Materials for This Step:
-Piece of 220 grit sandpaper
-Piece of 600 grit sandpaper
-Piece of 1200 grit sandpaper
-Piece of 2400 grit sandpaper OR rag and stick of rouge
(2) 1" x 1" pieces of sturdy cardboard
-Mandrel (optional, if you have access to a lathe)

Big Equipment for This Step:
-Vise
-Lathe (optional, but saves a LOT of polishing time)

Procedure:

Using successively finer grits of sandpaper, polish the two faces and the two sides of each ring.  Start with the rough (~220 grit), and only take off enough material to create a uniform finish.  You can very lightly grip the ring in the vise using the cardboard squares.

If you have access to a lathe, then polishing the outer face can be sped up quite a bit.  You can gently tap the ring onto the mandrel.  You may have noticed that most mandrels have space at the narrow tip for insertion of a lathe spindle!  Grip the handle of the mandrel with the lathe chuck, and fit the mandrel onto the spindle attachment of the lathe.  Spin slowly, gripping the ring with the sandpaper.  Use two fingers, and you will be able to actually feel the bumps on the ring being smoothed out.

Make sure that you use the sandpaper to smooth out any bumps, depressions or corners.  The two most likely spots are the solder joint and the outside edges.  A bit of polishing now will make for a much more comfortable ring.

After you reach a mirror finish, you are done!  Admire your handiwork.  Last comes the step that I can't help you with...

Step 25: Apply Rings to Spouse, Exchange Vows, Get Married!

By now you should have two rings that both match and are theoretically irreproducible.  The patterns match each other, and as the rings wear down microscopically over time, the patterns will change with each other, as will the two of you.  No one can replicate all the hammer blows, temperatures, parameters, and other features that make your rings unique, just like your relationship cannot be compared to any other.  The rings are uniquely yours, as you are to each other.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this Instructable.  I tried to keep it as detailed as possible without including anything too bewildering.  If you would like to hear more details about the science involved or are interested in more advanced patterning techniques, feel free to send me a message.  I would be happy to respond.

If you attempt this Instructable, and would like any personalized guidance, I would be happy to provide it.  Good luck!

Step 26: What Would I Do With a Laser Cutter?

SOOOOO MANY THINGS!!!

Aside from the myriad small artistic projects that would benefit greatly from having a precision cutting/engraving machine (such as monogramming my wallet, laptop case, steaks, etc...), here is the short list of projects for which I've wished I had a laser cutter.  Some of these date back almost 10 years - I've wanted one for that long!!!

#1 - Complex Shapes in Mokume Gane
As mentioned in my Instructable, when making mokume, the pieces have to be precisely cut and aligned.  This currently restricts me to working with rectangular pieces, so if I want to make an organic form, I have to file/grind a lot of metal.  With a laser cutter, I could cut out complex, organic shapes and diffusion bond them in place!  This would allow me just to file bevels on the edges, revealing the layered structure while preserving the complex, curved, organic forms.  I haven't seen this done much in mokume, and it would allow me to take this art to what I consider a whole new level because of the savings in time, cost, and design setup.

#2 - Laser Engraving / Inlay / Personalization of Jewelry
Since making my mokume wedding rings, I have had a few requests from friends to make similar rings for them, one set of which I am working on right now.  Since I don't charge for these pieces (they are wedding presents), I don't have the finances to get my designs engraved, personalized, etc. the way I would like.  This laser cutter would allow me to do these, plus to laser-scribe guidelines for inlaying other materials.  For example, I could make a silver ring, laser-scribe the couple's initials, chisel the metal along the laser-cut guidelines, and inlay gold wire!

#3 - Laser Cutting Fittings for Damascus Steel Blades
In addition to making mokume jewelry, I am also making damascus steel knives, using similar techniques to mokume.  The end result is a blade that is sharp, tough, and incredibly ornate, with designs of raindrops, spiraling flames, etc. all along the blade.  I feel that such an ornate blade deserves similarly ornate fittings, handles and settings.  My hand dexterity with a tiny file isn't the best, and having a laser cutter will allow me to make hand guards, pommels, guides for stone inlaying, and laser-scribed sheaths to compliment the blades that I am working on.  I made a nice wooden handle for one, but it just felt like it was missing something.  This laser cutter will certainly fill the void.  Again, since I don't sell these pieces (I either keep them or give them as gifts), I don't have the means to send out parts for ornate inscribing or cutting.  Having a laser cutter will solve this problem.

To show you what I mean, the picture for this step is a photo of a blade that I've finished.  It is a "raindrop" pattern, where drilling hemispherical divots on top of each other creates concentric rings, and the blade looks like raindrops hitting the surface of a body of water.

#4 - DIY Jigsaw Puzzles
I've always loved jigsaw puzzles, and so does my entire family.  Having the ability to make my own (of arbitrary size and complexity) will be tons of fun, plus I'll be able to create lots of gifts that I know people will enjoy.

#5 - Laser Cut Invitations
The one thing I felt my wedding was missing from a technological standpoint was laser-cut invitations.  In the future, I would very much like to laser-cut invitations.  These will really make things stick out in people's memories, and add another personal dimension to already personal events.  I'm at the age where cousins are friends are getting married and/or having babies, and I'd love to contribute to some of their occasions by providing laser-cut invitations and announcement cards.

__________________________________________________________
That's it for the "short list," trust me when I say there are plenty more small and large projects that I have in mind for this laser cutter.  These are just the ones I want to tackle first, and the ones that I think the most people can relate to and understand, especially after reading this Instructable.

Thank you very much for making me a finalist!  I appreciate all the voting, views, links, and support from the whole Instructables community!!!
<p>very impressive instructable. i'm curious how the rings are looking now, I've always been told mokume gane isn't suitable for use in jewelry because the dissimilar metals, in contact with the acids in our skin, creates a tiny galvanic cell which promotes corrosion between the metal layers. it may be that this only applies to mokume gane made with Japanese alloys like rokusho, shibuichi and korumido which are primarily copper, with gold, silver, or arsenic added to affect the color and patination characteristics, but I've always seen it as a simple blanket statement &quot;don't use mokume in jewelry, it's corrode&quot;</p>
<p>Hi again,</p><p>Just a quick update, here is a picture of a mokume wedding ring I made for a friend of mine, who is visiting me right now. You can see how the ring looks like new. The metals used are 14kt white gold and 80/20 silver.</p>
<p>Almost forgot, this ring was made almost three years ago.</p>
<p>Thank you very much! Actually, my rings haven't changed at all, mostly because I used gold alloys for all the layers. I have a friend's set of rings made of sterling silver and gold which also haven't corroded at all: </p><p><a href="http://www.mike-short.com/Art/2012_08_02_JoseJaneRings/" rel="nofollow">http://www.mike-short.com/Art/2012_08_02_JoseJaneR...</a></p><p>If you use something like copper and nickel, or others which may undergo moisture or chloride corrosion, you may notice some galvanic corrosion eventually. However, you'll always be wearing them, which will rub away much of the corrosion film on contact surfaces.</p><p>If you do decide to make rings out of cheaper metals, please let us know how they last the test of time.</p>
Hello again! I've made a second complete set of practice rings out of brass, nickel, and copper and now I'm about to move on to making my final billet with gold! I just ran through the binary phase diagrams again and found that the Cu-Ag system (I have up to 40% silver in the yellow gold and up to 50% copper in the pink) has a eutectic point at about 800 degrees C (1472 degrees F), which is the lowest of any of the pairs of elements in my metals (barring zinc, because there's not much of that anyway). That means I'd set my furnace at around 1400 degrees F to form the diffusion bond. As a sanity check, does that sound about right to you? <br> <br>Also, I wasn't able to get pink gold from rio grande any thicker than 20ga. so I decided to go with 12 sheets of 22ga. instead of 6 of 18ga. That should give me the same amount of gold to work with, but I start with more (and thinner) layers. I don't think there should be a problem with that; do you know of anything that I should be careful about when working with thinner starting layers? <br> <br>I'll post pictures when I'm done!
WOW. After cooking the billet the first time everything looked good. I annealed it and ground the sides even, then as I was heating the billet to solder it, it popped apart! One of the interfaces didn't bond. I've got 3 layers seemingly fused solidly, and 9 others also seeming to be solidly fused, but between them...the yellow and white gold on that interface just didn't bond at all. <br> <br>So I sanded them down with 100 grit sandpaper, cleaned them off with acetone and put them back in the kiln. This time I cooked them for 1:30 at 1420 degrees F to really solidify that broken layer. I took the billet out and annealed it, but when I quenched after annealing that first time after it came out of the kiln it popped apart along that same seam again. The rest look good, but that one still didn't take at *all*. I'm going to sand and clean it even more carefully this time, but at this point I'm not sure what to do if it fails again. Do I just proceed with 3/4 of my billet and hope I have enough metal? Or do I sell it as scrap and buy new gold?
Hmm. So it failed a third time. I flipped one side over and filed down what was originally the outside of the billet to try doing the bond with a different metal. After it had been cooking a while I had another thought...I changed how I've been breaking up the wood charcoal to pack in the bag and there's a lot more dust in it now than I used to have. <br> <br>If charcoal dust works its way into the cracks between pieces before it bonds will that prevent the bond from occuring? Would fluxing the joint before putting it in the compression jig help, do you think?
Hi Kyle, <br> <br>Certainly if you get a lot of charcoal dust in the joint, or even a little, it could cause areas not to bond and the diffusion bond to fail. Really cranking down on the billets beforehand to squeeze out any free area also helps take care of it. I think that's part of what caused my diffusion bond to fail in my instructable. I wouldn't flux the joint before putting it in the compression rig, you want those bonds absolutely clean. Flux is just good to coat the metal surfaces to keep oxygen out when soldering/brazing, but diffusion bonds really need to be pristine. <br> <br>I would break up your charcoal, shake off the dust, and just use the big pieces. That should keep the dust down. <br> <br>Good luck, <br>-Mike
Yep. I think part of this was because I found a &quot;better&quot; way to break up my charcoal...I had a kiddie pool from another project, so I put the lumps in there on top of a brick and hit them with a mallet. That got them down to nice small pieces that could fill the bag nicely, but also produced a lot of dust. <br> <br>Anyway, I actually already tried again and it *seems* to have worked. This time I cleaned the faces and then painted flux on both of them (the flux didn't want to wet one of them until I re-cleaned it with acetone). After that I wrapped the billet tightly in saran wrap and put it in the compression jig. That actually was quite a good idea; aside from keeping dust out of the joint it also prevented the pieces from wiggling very much so I didn't have to be nearly as meticulous about keeping everything straight! <br> <br>I've removed the billet and annealed (and quenched) it once now. It didn't come apart after that and I've begun filing the sides down and they're looking *much* better. I'll keep in touch as I go!
Well, I think this is now a complete failure. I tried soldering the edges and couldn't get the solder to flow. The billet was a bright red -- nearly orange -- before the solder would melt on the edges, and when it did melt it just fell off the solder wire and sat on the surface of the billet without flowing. If I poked it with a pair of pliers I could tell it was liquid...it seemed to have formed some kind of skin that was preventing it from properly flowing. Any ideas what that's about? <br> <br>Anyway, after that rather unsuccessful attempt at soldering I noticed even more cracks in the billet than there were before. I started to hammer it out just to see if I could press on but it started delaminating from two separate layers. I think perhaps some charcoal dust got in the whole thing that first time and only one of the bonds was quite weak enough to pop apart from just the thermal cycling of annealing. Do you know if there's any way to salvage this, or should I find a buyer for it and start from scratch?
Whew...this is slow work without a rolling mill. At least in copper and brass. I don't seem to be able to reduce the thickness by quite 25% before the piece pretty much stops flattening and I need to anneal it again (I presume it work-hardens slightly faster than gold, then? Or maybe it's just that the copper is generally more of a pain to work with than gold). <br> <br>Question on the measurements, though...I started with a billet approximately 1&quot;x1&quot;x0.24&quot; (six 1&quot; squares of 18ga metal) and after reducing its thickness to about 0.17&quot; I haven't really extended the billet very much...my planning calculations indicated that I should have a blank that's about 2.3&quot; long but it's still only about 1.2&quot;. Am I on the right track, or did I miss something? <br> <br>Also, you say to repeat the process of reducing thickness and extending length until the billet reaches the dimensions from the planning step...is that correct? should I get the billet to be the final size in this step before increasing the layers? Once I increase the layers the billet will double in thickness and halve in width, won't it? <br> <br>Oh, and I guess I should ask if I'm supposed to be making the billet both wider and longer in this step, or just longer? I've been hammering along one axis only so far and that's made the billet slightly longer but yet much wider. <br> <br>Thanks again. I'm really having fun with this project.
Hi Kyle,<br><br>I think you're on the right track. Copper is indeed tougher to work with than gold, since it work hardens faster and therefore will crack more easily. Gold is totally the best!<br><br>And as for the billet sizes, keep in mind the assumption of constant volume for your billet. If it's 1x1x0.24, then you've got 0.24 cubic inches of material. If you reduce the thickness to 0.17&quot;, you still have the same volume of material. If you assume all the length extension goes into one dimension, then you would have a billet that's 0.24&quot;/0.17&quot; = 1.41&quot; long and 1&quot; thick. In reality you get some expansion in both dimensions, so if you assume your billet has become 1.1&quot; wide, and it's 0.17&quot; thick, then it would be about 1.28&quot; long. I hope that makes more sense in terms of conserving constant volume.<br><br>The reason I say to get the billet down to final dimensions before halving is that it's easier to deal with a thinner billet than a thicker one. If you halve the billet and start rolling it, you'll have to go through more steps and more hammering than if it's thinner.<br><br>Finally, as to making the billet wider/longer, that depends on the ring blanks that you want to cut out. I don't think it matters too much at this stage, especially if you just have flat layers. If you already have patterns then you have to think about how you want them to deform.<br><br>Keep the questions coming, I'm more than happy to help out!<br><br>Cheers,<br>-Mike
I've been having a lot of trouble with my second practice billet delaminating as I'm hammering it out. I think it's because my compression jig has been failing, but if that doesn't solve it I may try to find a rolling mill. I looked through Rio Grande's catalog and all the ones they have say &quot;maximum sheet thickness&quot; is 4-6mm depending on which one you get...is that going to be sufficient, or do I need to try to find one with more clearance?
I just realized why I've been having so much trouble with delamination on my second practice run: I had someone make my compression jig out of 4 sheets of 1/4&quot; steel instead of 2 sheets of 1/2&quot; (and he did a crummy job of aligning the holes, which creates more issues). The doubled sheets can slide across one another and warp separately, so after two firings the whole thing curved in enough to be almost useless -- the edges would touch and the center would still have a little &quot;bubble&quot; of space in there. Looks like I'll have to actually find a shop where I can cut and drill half-inch steel plate.
Practice round 1 is done! These rings are copper, brass, and nickle. I learned a bunch of stuff from this that I'll try to apply to round 2: <ul> <li> Use a file, not sandpaper to clean up edges after baking/cutting billet <li> Use cross-peened end of hammer to extend billet, but use broad face&nbsp;and gentler strikes as you get close to the desired thickness to minimize metal loss when&nbsp;grinding billet smooth <li> Form the blank around the mandrel then place it in the vise to get the edges aligned well for soldering <li> Use a thicker ring blank to give more leeway for shaping the ring so it's not so flat </ul> I'll post more things that I discover as I come across them.
This looks great, Kyle! Congrats on your first mokume project! I agree, it's good to start thicker, that way you have the freedom to file a comfort fit should you so choose. Did you twist your billet, or did you apply a diagonal texture with a hammer like I did?
I did not twist the billet, although that's an intriguing thought.... No, I actually used a dremel to cut diagonal slashes through a couple layers after the final diffusion bond and then hammered that out to get the billet to the final dimensions for the blanks. However, since I'm using the hammer to extend the billet rather a rolling mill I probably got a lot of texturing done while extending the billet. <br> <br>Speaking of the rolling mill, actually, a friend whom I'm keeping abreast of my progress keeps pressing me to try to find a rolling mill that I can access because it will save much time and grief (which is probably true). Another friend who was an apprentice jeweler mentioned that this kind of application might damage a rolling mill, though, and I'm curious if you had any light to shed on that possibility.
I don't think that rolling mokume of any soft metal will damage a rolling mill at all, or at least one of considerable size. My rolling mill has 4&quot; diameter rolls, which is quite large compared to hand cranked ones, but small compared to giant industrial rolls. I used my rolling mill just for extension of the billets in an already-flat state, not for any funny shaped things. <br> <br>I agree with your hammering the texture after dremeling, since that gives you finer spatial control over deformation at every location on the ring. Rolling that could lead to uneven thicknesses, or even side-to-side warping.
That's what I was guessing. Now I to see if I can find one that I can use...hrm. Anyway, I'll keep you posted on my progress. Thanks again for all your help!
Okay, so are these dimensions (in step 3) the size of the *billet* after all the layer increasing and cold working is done, or of one of the ring blanks that you cut from the final billet? Because your instructions have us make the ring slightly small and then stretch it on the mandrel, I'd expect the length of the blank to be shorter than the circumference of the finished ring and the other two dimensions to be slightly larger, but here you've got all three a bit larger. Am I missing something?
Actually, since you end up grinding a 45 degree bevel into the billet, the billet length exceeds the ID circumference, but removing the length of the bevel will usually decrease that. Plus the act of bending it in a circle puts the ID in compression, further reducing the inner circumference. If the ring were infinitely thin, then bending it wouldn't change its length. However, for billets with real thickness, the outside stretches (tension) while the inside gets compressed. I hope that helps, please let me know if it doesn't make sense, and good luck!
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Got it, thanks! I didn't realize the compression would actually change the length of the billet significantly. Makes sense, though.
Hey, it's been a while and I'm not sure if my last question got lost in your inbox (or never made it) or if I've just worn out my welcome with the questions :-) <br> <br>I'm curious what gauge sheet metals you recommend starting with and also how much I need to worry about elements that only show up in small amounts in my metals forming eutectic alloys that I need to worry about. <br> <br>Thanks!
Hi Kyle, <br> <br>Sorry I didn't get a chance to respond to you earlier! I started with 18 gauge sheets of gold, and I wouldn't worry about very minor elements. They won't change temperatures that much in most cases. If you stay 50-100F below the melting point then you've got a bit of margin, while you'll still form a nice diffusion bond. <br> <br>Also, if you run the bond for a while and it doesn't take, you can always keep cooking it for longer (provided your metals are cheap), and try different combinations of time and temperature. <br> <br>You can certainly start with thicker metal; just keep in mind that you'll have more rolling to do. You'll also cut through fewer layers for the same depth of cut. It's all about how bold/fine you want your patterns to be in the end, and at what stage you apply deformation(s). <br> <br>Finally, bonding for a long time will cause your lines to become a bit blurry and diffuse. You may be going for this, though a lot of what makes mokume look nice is just how crisp the lines are. I usually go for the minimum necessary to ensure a good bond, so my lines stay nice and sharp. <br> <br>Also, check out the next set of wedding rings I just finished: <br> <br>http://www.mike-short.com/Art/2012_08_02_JoseJaneRings/ <br> <br>These were one-hour bonds using 80/20 silver and 14kt white gold. I had 10 sheets of each, using 14ga. silver and 18ga. gold to even out the weight percentages. Much of the patterning was done after significant rolling, so more layers would be cut through. This one had hemispherical pits drilled using a ball end mill, to get the 'knots in wood' effect. <br> <br>Cheers, <br>-Mike
Those are beautiful, Mike! Good to know that I don't have to worry too much about elements with very small percentages, but I'm also curious about the Cu-Zn system. Looking at the binary phase diagram I see that the melting point of copper-zinc alloys monotonically decreases as the percentage of zinc gets higher until you get pure zinc. I'm thinking of doing some trial runs with copper and brass, and the brass looks to be up to 41% zinc (and the rest mostly copper). <br> <br>Can I run my bond at a temperature 50-100&Acirc;&deg;F cooler than the melting point of a 41%-Zinc alloy, or do I have to worry about higher concentrations of zinc forming or something? <br> <br>As for diffuse vs. sharp bonds...I shall have to experiment to see what I like. A lot of mokume is a bit too bold for my tastes; one of the reasons I really like your wedding bands is the subtlety of the pattern. I'll have to play around with it a bit. <br> <br>Thanks for the help! <br> <br>~Kyle Marsh
I'm working on doing this for my own wedding and just starting to get my equipment.&nbsp; I've got three questions so far:<br /> <ol> <li> I'm considering buying a glass fusing kiln to use as the furnace.&nbsp; I see that 14k golds have melting points somewhere around 1800&deg;F, and a full fuse for glass operates around 1700&deg;F, so I think that a kiln capable of 1800-2000&deg;F should work; am I correct in my thinking, or is there something else that I need to consider?</li> <li> You mention that the torch used for annealing and soldering should be propane, not MAPP gas...why is this important? Is it temperature, or will MAPP react poorly with something? &nbsp;I picked up a dual MAPP/Oxygen torch for cutting, brazing and welding figuring that it'd work, but if not I can return it and find something else.</li> <li> For practicing with less expensive metals I expect the&nbsp;metals to have substantially different melting points; I'm guessing that I need to do my diffusion bond at 100&deg;F cooler than the lowest melting point of the mix? should I make time adjustments to account for this?</li> </ol> Thanks! This is a fantastic instructable and a great project.
Hi Kyle, <br> <br>Thanks for the compliments, and the good questions! To answer them in order: <br> <br>1) I think your kiln will work OK, as long as you can control the temperature to within about 25F. You want to keep the temperature about 50-100F below the lowest melting point alloy that will be formed. To find this you need to look at &quot;binary phase diagrams&quot; for each combination of elements in your golds (just Google these). Check or ask for the compositions of your 14kt golds; not all are the same. Sometimes you can't just go with the lowest melting point metal, because a lowe-melting-point &quot;eutectic alloy&quot; can form. If you need help interpreting these binary alloy phase diagrams, just ask. <br> <br>2) The reason I suggest using propane instead of MAPP is because the flame is cooler (relatively), which gives you more control over the heat throughout the billet. MAPP can cause the outside to start to melt, which looks like the billet is &quot;sweating.&quot; This means that you'll have no layers where melting occurs, and you'll partially ruin your pattern. You'll have to heat for longer with propane, but the billet will heat more evenly. <br> <br>3) Again, see #1 for an explanation on picking the right temperature. I have used silver and gold together, which have very different melting points. I picked a temperature about 75F lower than the temperature of the eutectic alloy formed between gold and silver. <br> <br>Good luck to you! I'm working on another set of billets, and I&quot;ll be sure to post pictures soon.
Okay, I've got most of my equipment and I'm looking at metals now. I'm using brass, nickel and copper for my practice run and I've been able to find binary phase diagrams for most of the common elements (copper, zinc, and nickel) but my metals also have trace amounts (&lt; 6%) of lead and manganese and I'm having a harder time finding diagrams for those elements; do you know where I might find those? <br> <br>I've also got a question about what parts of the diagrams I have to worry about are. For instance, looking at the Cu-Zn diagram, the lowest melting point is pure zinc down around 775&Acirc;&deg;F, but my metals have at most 60% Zinc (where the melting point is all the way up at 1500&Acirc;&deg;F). Do I only have to worry about the highest concentration of each element within my metals, or do I have to take the entire range of concentrations into account for every elemental combination? What about those trace elements? <br> <br>Finally, what gauge of metal do you use to make your billets? Should the overall stack of metal be approximately the same thickness that you want the ring to have? 25% thicker? Twice as thick? I know there's a step to roll or hammer it out to the right thickness, but what's a ballpark number to shoot for? <br> <br>Oh, and regarding patterns...I haven't looked this up yet, but I'm guessing the longer you let the diffusion bond go for, the more gentle your final pattern will end up being? As in, a short bond would keep the layers pretty distinct and I'd get sharp contrast in the final pattern, but a longer bond would let the layers blend into one another more gradually resulting in a more subtle appearance. Am I on track with that, or am I chasing a red herring? <br> <br>Thanks!
Okay, good to know! I just discovered that I can get an MSDS from Rio Grande for their gold. So I need to look up the binary alloy phase diagram for every pairing of elements in there...that's simpler than it might have been! I'll ask you if I need help figuring it out. <br> <br>I figured that heat might have been the issue with a MAPP torch. And mine has a nice fine tip for cutting, too. I'll go back and get a propane torch instead; sounds like less to worry about overall. <br> <br>Thanks for the advice! I'll make sure to share thoughts and pictures as I progress!
Hmm...Actually I have another question. After step 15 you repeat the diffusion bond process with the two (or more) sections of the billet that you currently have. But in step 13 if you use a hammer to extend the billet rather than a cold roller I could imagine the surface being uneven...sort of &quot;rippled&quot;, I guess. <br> <br>If you have a rippled surface I imagine you'll need to find some way of making the faces you're mating perfectly flat before setting up for another diffusion bond? Is that taken care of in the grinding after you extend the billet?
Hi Kyle, <br> <br>You can certainly use a hammer, imparting a rippled texture to the layers. You will have to ensure near-perfect smoothness between layers before rebonding, which I would do by grinding/polishing your billet flat after hammering. I actually used a hammer to impart some texture after the ring was formed, on the mandrel. I basically hammered all over the surface and then polished it smooth, leaving a diagonal ripple pattern on the surface. You can even do things like drill hemispherical holes and then roll it flat, or punch holes and grind it flat to make concentric rings. Check out patterning techniques for Damascus steel if you want to see other ways of patterning mokume, and good luck!
Alright, that's what I suspected. Thanks for confirming!
This is a tough economy, That is a lot of money. Do you have something using nickel, copper, Sterling silver, or such metals to practice on? What you have given here is more of a business start-up or a rich persons project. I believe that it isn't in the tradition of this forum, or maybe it isn't in the tradition of this forum as how I view it. Wonderful work though. Anything that starts with buying gold in this economy isn't something I am going to be following up on.
Actually, you can save about 80% of the cost of this project by switching metals. See the note at the beginning of Step 1:<br><br>&quot;Note: You can substantially lower the cost of this project by using different metals, such as silver, copper or brass.&quot;<br><br>Nickel-silver, sterling silver or bronze would also work very well. That would also lower the cost of the solders used, bringing the cost of the project from the $2,200 range to the $400 range. That number goes down more if you can find/borrow tools from friends. If you can scrounge just a few things, like the sandpaper, steel, nuts &amp; bolts and a hammer, you can bring it down to around $300.
Nickel can cause adverse reactions in some people, and is not recommended for jewelry. While not -the - most authoritative source, WebMD's article is at least a starting point. http://www.webmd.com/allergies/nickel-jewelry-allergy<br><br>A much better metal for a lower cost than gold is sterling silver.
If you want to find less expensive already made billets, my favorite place to go is www.ReactiveMetals.com. ShiningWave has some materials, tips and uses mostly ReactiveMetals products, but they have some other items that will interest you. They have an interesting selection from less expensive to 22kt with 18kt called samidare. Mokume gane means literally wood eye metal which we interpret to be wood grained metal. To find out about more detail on making mokume gane metals you can go to www.faceters.com/askjeff/mokume.shtml. Rio Grande will custom make billets for you.
Fantastic work, and an excellent write-up! And you say you're not trained in jewelry smithing! You make it look easy, too. I have a two questions, if I may:<br> <br> First, I'm intrigued by the Japanese names for the smithing techniques you used (moku means wood, gane comes from kane, which means money (originally made from precious metals), etc). The Japanese do many things exceptionally well but I wasn't aware that their precious metals smithing techniques were that well known outside of Japan. I presume that other countries have their techniques as well?<br> <br> Second, I bought my own wedding bands in Japan 24 years ago and they have two layers, platinum and gold, with the platinum layer outside and a somewhat wider band of gold inside. My ring turned out to be slightly too big for my left ring finger so ever since our wedding day I have worn it on my right ring finger on which it fits just fine. I tried to have it adjusted but was told that the metals have different melting points and cannot be resoldered once they are cut for resizing. Yet you carefully detailed a technique that solders multiple layers of dissimilar metals without any problem. Am I missing something here?<br> <br> You make a lovely couple, by the way. I wish you both much joy and happiness!
Thanks for the nice comments, kmpres!<br><br>You're right on the Japanese name - moku=wood, me=eye,see and gane=metal,money. I'm not sure when mokume hit the international scene, but I don't see it as often as I'd expect to, even nowadays.<br><br>And as for your rings from Japan, they are correct that cutting (to resize) and re-soldering would be difficult. I made a diffusion bond, which was made possible because my metals could be held together at a very high pressure. Flat sheets or squarish billets are perfect for that sort of setup. I don't know if one could hold two ends of a ring together to make a strong diffusion bond. In addition, platinum melts about 700C higher than gold, and I don't know if gold solder would wet platinum metal.<br><br>Finally, with some metal combinations (luckily not Au-Pt) you run the risk of melting a eutectic alloy that forms between the two metals. This is an alloy with a lower melting point than the original two metals. Many solders are made this way, so that they melt at lower temperatures. Part of the reason I used all 14kt golds is that making a eutectic alloy at the interface wasn't a concern.
Thanks, that solves a 24 year old mystery for me. My rings are 18Kt gold and Pt900 platinum. I suspect they were made from two closely sized rings that were joined by heating both to near the melting point of gold so that when the platinum ring was placed over the gold, and both were allowed to cool, they contracted at different rates which provided the high pressure for the bond. &nbsp;At least that's been my guess all these years. &nbsp;<br> <br> They also told me that it was unlucky to cut a ring after it'd been forged as that could symbolize the eventual breakup of the relationship so it was best that I not pursue it. &nbsp;Sage advice, I thought.
I've had to cut off my wedding ring or lose the finger. The ring probably saved my hand from getting fingers/knuckles broken, but folded under the strain. We talked about having them melted down together and reforged into new rings/designs, but never got to doing it. Still have the wife (and the ring) 20 years later. <br> <br>
Kmpres. Without having to destroy your original wedding band, If you were to have another gold band made that fits your finger properly and then machined on it's outside so that it is microscopically larger than your current ring, dip the new ring into liquid nitrogen whilst gently heating your original ring in your stoves oven. be careful how much heat you use...it must not get hot enough to discolor the metals. The quickly drop the new ring into the old on a flat glass surface to align them perfectly. Once they get back to room temperature...they will never move again! Good luck! :)
Good idea. &nbsp;I'd actually thought of that some years ago but decided it wasn't worth the cost, and the wife might object to my hiding the&nbsp;original&nbsp;engraving under a new band of gold. &nbsp;The size difference is really minimal, maybe a quarter ring size, so it's not worth the effort. &nbsp;Besides, there's an advantage to my wearing mine on my right hand and she wearing hers on her left. We can stroll hand-in-hand and our two rings would make contact symbolizing our love and devotion to each other. &nbsp;Kanshoo-teki-ni narimasu, ne!
OK dunno if the last bit is a blessing or a curse!! It's just one way to solve your original problem! We use the same principle to put bearings onto shafts etc! I am pleased that you still deign to hold yr wifes hand after 24 yrs! Well done! Good marriages are very hard to find these days! Hang in there! 'Alles van die beste' !
I believe the first application of mokume gane in Japan was the forging of very strong metal blanks intended to become katana, and other blades. A mokume gane sword is much less likely to shatter than a blade forged another way. Those swords can also be honed to an unusually sharp edge. Weapons were also made from &quot;folded metal&quot; in China and Korea.<br><br>Then, there are swords from the Middle Ages made from similar-looking Damascus steel blades (from the Middle East) and &quot;damascened steel&quot; blades (from Toledo, Spain). Today, there are &quot;archeometallurgists&quot; studying ancient forged blades to actually sort this out.<br><br>And of course, your non-lethal, hand-forged gold is quite gorgeous! Thanks for sharing the experience with us.
Ah, I had thought that Japanese sword-smithing had something to do with it. Fascinating history, sword-making. &nbsp;Nothing like a sustained war to advance the state of technology. &nbsp;They found that if you heat, hammer and fold a blank 13 times you can create over 16,000 layers and create a tremendously sharp edge in the process. Japan is not all that well known for its jewelry making so the precious metals angle threw me off a bit but it makes sense that the two fields are related.
Has anyone else had a problem downloading the *.pdf file, Just wanted to see if there was a new source for the file or if possible could reload anew attachment of it?<br><br>Thanks<br>/Joe
One ring to rule them all.
good one<br>
hah thats a good one hopefully smeagol don't get to them

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