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I would like to know if (since I've never worked with silver and don't have access to it currently) how hard a silver ring is to make. My girlfriend likes the idea of me forging our rings. I may just make them from the steel/iron pieces I usually consider too small to use. Any suggestions or tips? 

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If you are planning to forge them from sterling do not hammer it when it has any color, black heat only or you risk cracking it. Soldered silver rings are entry level jewelry projects, very forgiving and fast to learn.

If you make them from non-stainless steel you will need to protect them with some kind of surface finish, and more than likely line the inside of the ring with a sterling silver inner sleeve to prevent it from rusting when it constant contact with skin.

Google up sterling silver jewelry techniques, or find yourself a beginning jewelry book, because once you see what techniques you have at your disposal you won't want to stop at a simple ring :-D

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You can use a hammer too, look up Curly's thread on making a ring from a half crown (I believe) good discussion of it there, light taps and patience will keep things from warping, so a hammer can be tempting to thump it too hard (guilty). According to some of the former Navy members here it can be done with silver coins. It's probably a different process and product from what you have in mind, but it's got it's own bit of flair too:)

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I have forged many rings, bracelets, and bagels out of steel, wrought iron, pattern welded steel, fine silver, copper, and titanium. I forge it like everything else at a forgeable state. I don't have any videos of forging rings but there are some where I'm forging flowers, leaves, horses, and sea horses, that I use for jewelry. I just forge them smaller with the same hammer and anvil, and I forge it all without having to use tongs which could mar it. I don't know how to link videos from YouTube, but there are some techniques that you'd want to try before you do the tiny stuff, if you want to forge the rings. There are other techniques besides forging that most usually use to make rings and other jewelry, also.

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I've hot forged at least a pound of fine silver over the years mainly using a 1 soft firebrick forge or a charcoal forge.

 

About 2 years ago I had a student at the local Uni come to me who wanted to forge his wedding rings because he was flat broke. He was going to do it from copper or brass but I told him no and got out a tub of scrap silver and we sand cast a crude basic form and then I had him forge them out on a mandrel annealing as necessary.  A year later or so he stopped by and paid me for the silver---not something I had asked for but a nice gesture.

 

I've hot forged sterling too it's a bit more temperature sensitive.  You must PAY ATTENTION as it's easy to melt silver in a forge even a small one!!!!

 

 

If you want to practice before going on to silver use pure copper as it forges very much similar.

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You guys are awesome, and I thank you very much. Got my tax returns back and will be going to the scrap yard and some local pawnshops hunting silver. : D I'm so excited to try out all of these tips. (Except the coins one...defacing U.S. currency is illegal.) What temperature do you guys recommend for the copper and silver? Do I attempt to hammer them at their critical temperatures or not? I've not worked much with non-ferrous metals. 

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from what i have heard, (not a lawyer) it is not illegal to deface/ use coins in art, so long as you don't try to misrepresent the value.

in other words, don't make a nickel look like a quarter, or what ever.  and if you are melting em down or forging who's gonna know anyway?

 

Excited about your project! hope you post some pics when your done and Congrats!

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we had a discussion about the defacing of currency a while ago, ironsmith is correct with respect to not misrepresenting them as a different coin.

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however it appears that the interim rule against melting down nickels and pennies was finalized and is in effect

http://www.usmint.gov/pressroom/?action=press_release&ID=771

"Specifically, the newly enacted final regulation prohibits, with certain exceptions, the exportation, melting or treatment of one-cent and 5-cent coins. Some of the exceptions allow for small amounts of these coins to be exported as pocket change, and for recreational and numismatic purposes. Other exceptions include the treatment of minor quantities of these coins for educational, amusement, novelty, jewelry and similar purposes. However, the public should review the regulation for precise terms and limitations of the exceptions." excerpt from the usmint link

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Again, you guys rule. Saving the day. Haha. Oh I definitely will. I've had to start over from scratch since that tornado came through a few years ago... still don't have much built up....no permanent forge anymore. : / Just a tiny one made from a brake drum. So it might be awhile before I get anything even done. But thank you guys so much for the help and the encouragement! : D

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Derek, if you would like the use of a forge, let me know. I live in Bulls Gap, so you're not far away. I'm far from the most experienced smith, but I'm willing to lend whatever help I can. I'll be forging pattern welded rings for myself and my fiancee.

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We have a silver supply store in town (Santa Fe). I've made a couple of silver rings out of fine silver wire that I have flattened cold with the hammer. It's best to use polished faces on the hammer. The silver may or may not work harden too much to bend. Silver can be annealed by heating to a dark red and quenching in Sparex 2 solution. The Sparex will throw scale. Pestled borax mixed with water into a paste can be your flux. Solder can be purchased, or you can melt brass and silver together to make silver solder. This amalgam changes the melting temperature to lower than silver by itself. I didn't have an air-acetylene outfit, so I used a small tip reducing flame from my oxy-acetylene...with care!

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Gor,that is very kind of you! I'll keep that in mind! :D  I've never worked near another smith/with another one. This is all really exciting. I'll definitely be attempting some "light" forging this weekend. You guys have me all antsy to hammer some metal. Lol. 

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Had a friend who spent a year in the UK getting hallmarking privilages.  He told me they required everyone to know the "old methods" and he had an unglazed stoneware bowl for grinding borax for flux...He also told me that *old* british coin silver would work as a "medium" hard solder in a pinch...we were working on one of my projects a going away present for a very respected pastor:  a pectoral cross made from 30 pieces of silver---random *old* worn coins from around the world bought as silver scrap, (some had Queen Victoria on them!)

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Derek check youtube for 'coin rings' to see what that reference was about. There are actually two diferent mathods for making two styles of coin rings.

 

You might also consider making your rings from Damascus that you can make. Doesn't take much steel. My current wedding ring is 200 layer Damascus made by Dave Lisch @ Studio4. Got tired of having my gold one repaired from shop damage :) Very good experience, too.

My ring is unlined- straight Damascus with just the acid etch for a finish. Took about 4 days for the discolorization to stop. Been wearing it continuously now for about 2 years with no problems of any kind. If I damage this one it will probably require a new finger for the new ring. It is fairly heavy and stout!

Welcome!

Dave

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