Annealing

Dave Smith to Silversmithing Classifieds
Annealing

A lot of difficulty in forming shapes can be avoided by annealing your components before trying to shape them. Annealing is a process where you cause the metal to become softer.
With this process, you heat the metal to near melting temperature and then quench it in water or pickle. The molecules in the metal are trapped in a position that are less aligned and farther apart. This causes the metal to be easier to manipulate.

This process will also make it easier to form your ropes around the bezel and in any case make it unnecessary to shape the bezel around a dowel.

Please practice on some scrap plate and wire to perfect the technique. Here is a step by step.

• Marker Method – Draw a mark on the silver with a magic marker. Heat with a medium flame. When the line disappears, get the piece into the pickle quickly
• Other Method – Flux the silver. Heat the piece slowly to a warm orange, not red, glow. Don’t expect the whole piece to glow orange. In most cases, it will cool too quickly. Try to heat evenly but only expect the orange glow under your flame
• Drop in pickle.
• Test hardness by comparing how it bends before and after annealing.
• The piece may get approximately 10% longer
• You can anneal a piece as many times as necessary to keep it soft while working it.

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About Zawolski 9 Articles
A longtime student of the art of Metalsmithing.

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