Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Silver Soldering and Hinges

In my last post I showed my progress on the casket panels and the items I bought for silver soldering, ever since Castine I have been thinking a lot about the hinges I made for the casket, I was never happy with them, knowing that although they were as thin as I wanted, I also knew they weren't very strong and that has bugged me all along. Just to prove it to myself I pulled on one of them just now and yes..... as you can see....

It didn't take a lot of force to pull that apart. Now in Castine, in Bill Robertson's class when we made the hinges for the bone chest, I saw that this time round, he used a technique that I haven't seen before, he silver soldered a tube of metal to a flat piece of metal. This makes for a strong joint and what I was after, a thinner hinge roll. Everything I know about hinge making I learned from Bill, two years ago when I received the scholarship for Guild School I took his hinge class (ha, it seems funny now but when I received the class brochure way back in 2010 and saw the hinge class and was interested in it, I had to Google to find some info on Bill as I have never heard of him before), in any case, in that first year I learned to make hinges with the basic fold over hinge barrel that many people use, but you are limited by the thickness of the metal in how thin you can go, especially when you are working on really small items like the casket or hidden hinges like the ones in my sewing table that needs to recess into already thin wood. I have never silver soldered before, but was determined to learn and so..... today I made my first hinge after a few days of experimenting, struggling, searching the internet and putting on my thinking cap, I love finding solutions for problems.

For the caskets I wanted a really thin hinge that would almost not be visible once the needlepoint has been attached. Now where to find a small metal tube.... syringe needles of course (some of my USA and Europe friends says you can only get them on prescription in those countries), well, here in SA you can buy a box with a hundred and no questions asked, in the pharmacy I bought them they are in one of the aisles, together with things like plasters, bandages, etc.

I bought a honeycomb solder block on Saturday, something I am really grateful for now, as it has holes!!! I am using a needle with an outside diameter of 0.6mm and an inside diameter of 0.3mm, keeping it from riding up onto the flat metal piece proved to be a problem, I think the flux just pulls it onto the metal when everything starts to heat up. In this photo the needle is tied down with some wire, the piece of metal (0.2mm thick tinned metal sheet from K&S metals that I had in my stash) is held in place by a piece of brass, the flux is already applied and three pieces of silver solder is on top of the flux. The tool shop gave me Easyflo flux together with an Easyflo 40 silver rod, ha, cutting that rod into very small pieces is another story, it is rather hard.

After the soldering is done, it needs to be cleaned, the instructions for this specific flux is just soaking in hot water and brushing, easy and no chemicals involved. Oh, yes, I did struggle with the heating too, this solder melts between 650 and 710 degrees Celsius, in doing some research a bushy, pulsing flame was recommended, when I tried that things got easier and I loved seeing the solder melt and run along the joint, in the beginning I also used too much solder, well, you learn a lot by trying.

All the flux leftovers has been cleaned off, now for some filing to get it nice and smooth, oh yes, be careful, that needle point is rather sharp, after all, it was made for piercing skin, as if I don't stab myself enough with needles when I do petit point ;-)

Two pieces ready to be sawed and made into hinges.

I used some jewelry wire for a hinge pin, since it bends fairly easy, I first put in a 0.3mm drill bit to line everything up nicely and then pushed the wire in. Tomorrow I want to find out if you get music wire in 0.3mm and if one of the hobby shops here carry them to use for hinge pins.

Tins are a great source of free thin metal, so far I had no luck in finding metal shim, except in bulk, when I need thicker I will have to buy a life time supply, every place I have phoned so far denies having any knowledge of where to find thin metal, you can almost hear them think "crazy woman"!!!

I made my hinge a bit bigger than needed, it is just easier to handle while soldering, here I have cut it down to the right size, the metal is thin enough to cut easy with all purpose scissors, I only polished the hinge barrel as the rest of the hinge will be covered and a scratchy surface will be better for gluing the petit point panels on.

I decided to make a recess in the casket where the hinge is going, I am really happy with how this turned out, I did tug on this hinge too and it is nice and strong. Thank you Bill for introducing this technique to me.

For all my British and European readers, Bill and some of the other IGMA teachers are teaching a few great classes just before the Kensington show in London next year, don't wait too long in deciding, I am pretty sure these classes will fill up quickly, go and have a look here.

Enjoy the rest of your week
PS: I am going to play with making brass hinges in this way too, found a 1mm brass tube in a hobby shop here.


Giac said...

Hello Elga,
I am so impressed by your perseverance. I think it is great that you do not settle until you get it just right. that is what makes your work so wonderful.
Big hug, and happy hinge making,

Gee said...

Hi Elga, I can translate most words in my head, but can't seem to concentrate right now so I will come back and read your post again tomorrow

Ludmila said...

Hi, Elga. I admire your care. Thank you for telling me about the process.

Catherine said...

Ahhhh silver soldering! One of my favorite things to do.
Well done Elga! Your hinges are going to be wonderful!

miraclechicken said...

So very interesting! Thanks for sharing this technique, the hinge is perfect :)

Josje said...

I LOVE the recessed hinge plate. It made me laugh, it is just so like you to make a recess in something which already is so thin.

You have done a great job figuring it all out and getting a good result. It is really helpful to see some of your process. Thank you so much for that!

Elga said...

Thank you everyone, I really appreciate your comments.

Josje, you made me laugh, well, this metal is a bit thicker and I want a really smooth surface for the petit point, I am getting impatient to do the upholstery but are dreading it on the other hand too, cutting petit point freaks me out every time, so much work goes into it!

Gee said...

I read your post again and thought: isn't that funny, we all need hinges in miniaturing but it is hard to find small, good ones not to mention nice ones.
Making hinges should be one of the first things we all learn when starting the mini hobby, but most of us never do.

Your hinge looks great, Elga, and what determination to get there!
Your solution using a needle is clever thinking and it looks as if it never was just a needle and a piece of metal.
Thanks for sharing and well done!