By Melissa Muir
With the popularity of permanent jewelry, the question of how to properly weld the chain or jump ring comes up quite often. When it comes down to it, you need to get to know your machine and materials. There are a number of things to take into consideration including, the type of machine, material thickness, and type of metal, to name a few. There are also a few things you can do to ensure success.
TIP #1: If you are having issues welding a ring closed, the first thing to check is your electrode health. The electrode must be clean. A dirty electrode will impede the energy coming through the tip where the arc will happen. No, you cannot clean the electrode with a fiberglass brush. The buildup will need to be removed with the diamond disc on your rotary tool such as the Sunstone Pilot.
TIP #2: Check to ensure your electrode is sharp. This goes hand in hand with having a clean electrode. As you weld, the tip will begin to deform and round out. It is important to have a sharp tip for certain metals, especially gold. A slightly blunted tip is more desirable for heat conductive metals such as silver, copper and brass core gold fill. The blunted tip will allow the energy to spread a little more evenly in those conductive materials.
TIP #3: When welding a link or ring, hold the grounding clip or pliers as close to the electrode as possible. Positioning the ground close to the electrode keeps the energy close to the joint. A smaller energy loop minimizes the risk of the chain becoming hot.
TIP #4: Ensure the item being welded is clean. Before welding, use a little rubbing alcohol to clean the joint. Allow for it to dry completely before welding.
TIP#5: In order for a good weld to occur, you must have the joint closed completely. A small gap will spread the energy between the two ends or even just one end and you may end up with a ball on one or both ends. All is not lost however, push the balled ends together and weld again. Chances are, it will smooth out and be just about perfect.
TIP #6: Having a hard time seeing where to put the electrode while wearing welding shades? Use a red permanent
TIP #7: Using argon will help you to have a cleaner and stronger weld. Argon shields the metal while it is most at risk of oxidizing. When molten metal oxidizes you will be left with a porous join that can break much more easily. Oxidation will also leave a dirty black spot that is embedded and won’t wipe away with the fiberglass brush.
TIP #8: Find your settings by testing a sample of every- thing you plan to weld. Tape that test into a notebook and make note of the settings.
TIP#9: If the weld splatters or creates a crater, the energy is too high or the material is too thin.
The more you work with your machine and the materials you offer the easier it will be to find the right settings. Take note, that sometimes even the atmosphere can affect your welds, such as wind and humidity. Bring some extra chain to test your welds before you get going.