Introduction: Making a Ring With a Hammered Finish in Less Than an Hour (from Scratch)
A simple band with a hammered texture is kind of a bread and butter piece for a lot of jewelers. It can be a great exercise to get familiar with a material and the many steps of finishing a ring. Once one gets used to the process, it can also be a fast way to pump out a nice piece of jewelry.
Step 1: Tools
You'll need the equipment for melting:
Crucible, Torch, Ingot mold
The tools for forming:
Ring mandrel, Planishing hammer, Ball end hammer
The tools for marking and cutting:
Jeweler's sawframe, calipers
The tools for finishing:
Sandpaper mandrel and sand paper from 320 grit down to 600 grit, Polishing wheels
A note about hammers; pick the hammer that makes the size mark you want and then make sure it is polished. If the end is cruddy, you will end up with cruddy hammer marks. If the end is polished you'll end up with shiny hammer marks. You should be able to see your camera in the hammerhead.
Step 2: Raw Materials
To start I'm using some scrap 14k white gold from previous castings and fabrications. The measurements are as follows: 6 mm wide, 1.6 mm thick and size 8 3/4. To figure out the length find the circumference of the ring on the ring mandrel and multiply that times PI (3.14159265359 or 3.14), then add two times the thickness of the metal and that will get you approximately the length you need. When hammering a ring bear in mind that the ring will stretch and get bigger, so figure about 1/2 to 3/4 of a size difference depending on how hard you are going to hit it. The last measurement you have to worry about is the width. Always give yourself room to work (if you can, I've had situations where I barely had enough metal), and give yourself a millimeter on each side just in case.
Step 3: Making the Ingot
Next I melt it all in a crucible and pour it into an ingot mold. There may be some fins of metal around the edges where the molten metal has tried to creep into in between the metal plates. This is called flashing (I always liked that term).
Step 4: Rolling Out the Material.
Then trim any flashing off and roll it in a rolling mill to the desired thickness.
Step 5: Bending the Metal
Next I form the basic ring shape. You should take care to make the ends meet as flush as possible. I usually run a separating disc through the space just before closing the gap.
Step 6: Fusing
Now it's time to fuse the ring together. You may also solder it together, but I prefer to have the ring seamless. It's a little trickier and takes practice, but it gives you less to worry about, like the solder seam cracking as you're doing your hammering. If there is a little dip in one side of the weld that's ok, the ring is made wider than you need for that reason.
Step 7: Forming the Ring
Put your now fused ring on the ring mandrel and hammer it with a rawhide mallet until is is pretty round. Note the size.
Step 8: Smoothing the Surface
You want to start with as smooth and perfect a surface as possible. File and sand to at least 400 grit sandpaper, but it would be better if you go ahead and polish it. If you leave sanding marks the ring they can translate to the hammer marks.
Step 9: Start Putting Hammer Marks
These are going to be your decorative element to the ring, so make them consistent. Use the same force with every blow, and overlap each mark slightly with the ones around it. This will give it a nice planished look. Note the size is changing as you hammer.
Step 10: Filing a Side
Now you will need to establish one flat side to use for parallel marking. File and sand.
Step 11: Mark and Cut
Using calipers or a compass mark the ring at the desired width. The use a jewelers saw frame to trim the ring. The discarded piece could become another ring if it was wide enough, something to consider in the beginning phase.
Step 12: More Sanding
Sometimes it seems that there is no end to the sanding in jewelry making, but it's necessary. It also necessary to do it successively. Do each grit completely before moving on to the next one, and then the polishing will be a piece of cake.
Step 13: Comfort Fit
Next you want to grind and sand the inner edge to whatever degree you like. There is a lot of grinding to get the curve of an actual comfort fit, but if you are not going there, it's always at least a good idea to knock off the edge.
Step 14: Polishing
Usually sanding down to 600 grit will be fine enough to go to the polishing phase and have it be decent. Remember that more you polish the less distinct each hammer mark will be. In this particular case the client wanted very subtle marks. I don't like to spend a lot of time polishing, so I actually go through to very fine polishing paper and then hit it with rouge. Have fun.