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Anealing gold for inlay


Steve Ellsworth

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I have noticed a few of you are working with gold

 

When you anneal gold for inlay

heat it cherry red quench in 70 percent alcohol

then go at it with the hammer

you will find it much easier to work with than using plain water

water cools it too fast and makes it harder.

enjoy..

 

do it on a carbon block and use junk tools to hold if flaming a small piece as your pliers or tweezers will be annealed too!!

 

Administrator's comment The members of this forum are a diverse group of artists with varying degrees of experience (some are novices), in many fields of creative work. The description of how to quench red hot metal in a solution of 70% alchohol could be a very dangerous experiment for the untrained persons. Please do not try this method if you have not been trained to use it.

 

I write this with concern for the safety of our members.

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Guest ford hallam

Steve,

 

when I read your post I must admit to being a little uncertain as to your intent with your "advice".

 

I have been a qualified master goldsmith for nearly 20 years and I find your suggestion that one quench red hot metal in a 70% solution of alcohol to be somewhat hazardous to say the least, not to mention utterly unnecessary.

 

Generally speaking, the alloys of gold that would be useful for inlay work should either be quenched in water once the red glow has gone ( ie; black heat ) or allowed to air cool. There are of course various white gold alloys, 9 and 14 carat yellow and red golds that need to be treated more carefully, normally air cooling, for instance. Water quenching some of these latter alloys can frequently cause brittleness and leave the metal harder, but as I have already said, these alloys need not concern us.

 

There is one application I can think of which may be what you are suggesting but it is does require a certain amount of experience and does'nt involve plunging red hot metal into highly flammible liquid. I don't think potentially dangerous techniques like this have a place on a public forum, particularly as many novices may ( in most instances, justifiably ) utilise the advice offered here.

 

A far safer procedure for annealing very fine wire is the following. Wind the wire into a loose coil, wrapping the end over to hold it all neatly in place. Place the coil into a shallow metal dish, a cleaned shoe polish lid with the paint previously burnt off is quite convenient, with a spinkling of sawdust. Now heat the lid from underneath using a gentle flame. Once the sawdust begins to char or smoke, the job is done. Allow to cool and it's ready for use. Foil can also be annealed in a metal lid like this but in this case merely mark the foil with a black marker pen, once the ink has burnt away the foil is annealed.

 

Remember,be careful when playing with fire, folks! :D

 

regards, Ford

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There was no intent to cause anyone harm

 

granted it is possible to ignite and i have done that but in a controlled environment using a very small amount of liquid

 

i was having problems annealing gold using water

checked with my cohort who is a bench jeweler and goldsmith for a fix

he looked it up in one of his old problem books and found the reference to alcohol

 

i was a bit leary but i tried it and it made a heck of a difference in the process

i had to employ far less hammer power to get the gold working

 

bear in mind i was working with 18k rose gold and a variety of other k mixes

not fine gold

 

for 24k fine i use just the torch

 

i appreciate your concern and thanks for the reply - i will be careful - hopefully others will too.

btw ganoksin makes reference to using alcohol too so others in the realm are doing it

 

maybe vodka would be more fun - at least when you are done you can have a warm drink.

 

again, I appreciate your response and concern for all concerned.

 

steve

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Guest ford hallam

Hi Steve,

 

Thank you for appreciating my concern. I can well understand the difficulties you may have experienced annealing red gold, it can be a testy alloy to master. Many of the newer, dare I say, high tech, alloys that the bullion dealers are creating now do offer great working capabilities but as you've discovered they do require very particular handling. I must admit I am still at a loss to understand what benifit is to be gained from quenching in alcohol. I my experience most red golds ( most of which are pretty hard alloys ) have required air cooling to get them reasonably well annealed.

 

There is no point in me speculating on the particulars of the alloy you are using and if you find that your approach works for you then that obviously suits you.

 

One point I would like to make regarding annealing ( and here I must exclude some of the speciality alloys referred to earlier ) is that in general too much heat is applied, and for too long. It's all about optimal grain size, ( is'nt everything? ) too much heat, for too long will create excessively large grain structure which when the metal is allowed to cool back to black heat prior to quenching does not reduce adequately in size. This can leave the metal prone to failure and can also cause brittleness and hardness.

 

As is probably evident, the whole subject of annealing can become very complex and alloy specific. I do trust however that the suggestions I've offered as alternatives may prove to be of use.

 

I generally enjoy my sake warm and perhaps plunging a glowing bar of fine gold into it just before quaffing would be a really flash ( pardon the unfortunate pun! :D ) way of warming it. I may even introduce the idea shortly in Japan.

 

I'm off next week for a 4 week stint as "artist in residence" in a museum in the mountains above Osaka. My hosts and sponsers are a sake brewing family, The Tsuji Honten, their stuff is very tasty and perhaps they may like this new approach to warming sake. :D

 

best regards, Ford

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You'd better copyright your sake warmed with gold idea- it sounds just the the crazy sort of things I hear that catch on in bars in Japan. I have no knowledge of metal quenching whatsoever, but wouldn't water vs. alcohol vs any other liquid come down to which liquid absorbed heat at the rate which produced the best results?

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Guest ford hallam

Hi Doug,

 

consider it patented, you heard it here first, photos to follow.... :D

 

The choice of coolant used can in fact provide different results when quenching hot metals. When quenching steel for instance the 3 most common mediums are plain water, brine ( ie; salt water ) and oil. The steel may have developed a layer of scale which may inhibit cooling when quenched in plain water, plunging it into brine often causes the scale to "explode" off the steel allowing it to cool quicker, although thin layers of steam can form at the interface of steel and water which can also slow cooling. Oil is a more gentle and slower cooling medium. It all depends on what you want to do to the material. It may be that the alcohol suggested earlier does in fact vapourise around the metal and thus allows a slower cooling. But that merely brings us back to letting it air cool slowly anyway. Perhaps it's all about warming one's favourite tipple after all! :D

 

 

kampai! :D

Ford

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I generally enjoy my sake warm and perhaps plunging a glowing bar of fine gold into it just before quaffing would be a really flash ( pardon the unfortunate pun! :D ) way of warming it. I may even introduce the idea shortly in Japan.

 

I'm off next week for a 4 week stint as "artist in residence" in a museum in the mountains above Osaka. My hosts and sponsers are a sake brewing family, The Tsuji Honten, their stuff is very tasty and perhaps they may like this new approach to warming sake. :D

 

best regards, Ford

Trust you to come up with that :D:D

 

Good luck over there and make sure to make plenty of photos.

 

And kampai of course in advance. :)

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Guest ford hallam

Hola Hyllyn,

 

where ya been fella? I thought someone had had you "picked up" for being a dissidant. :D

 

As for the sake warming, that the kind of thing that happens around here all the time! :D

 

thanks for the good wishes.

 

kampai, Ford

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It's all about optimal grain size, ( is'nt everything? ) too much heat, for too long will create excessively large grain structure which when the metal is allowed to cool back to black heat prior to quenching does not reduce adequately in size. This can leave the metal prone to failure and can also cause brittleness and hardness.

 

I wondered, in the dark of morning, what sort of ambient lighting does anyone have on when watching the color rise when heating the metal? Dark room vs daylight vs artificial light would all make the brightness of the metal appear differently. I know that daylight affects visual reading of the interior of ceramic kilns as the heat builds to the low reds, easier by far to see it in the dark. Is there any standard for metal annealing folks?

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Most refiners and suppliers have suggested annealing temperatures listed on their websites or the information can be requested. due to the variety of alloys it is best to contact them.as Jim stated experience is key to achiving the results you want. i have never had any problems annealing precious metals in any type of light. 18K red gold has always been problematic, even with the high tech equipment and knowledge of the refiners mistakes in the alloys can be made.

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Red gold is a #^%$^! I made a nice wee cast octopus years ago and when I annealed it to do a little forging, it shattered in tiny, tiny pieces. :angry:

 

Never had any such problem with the usual yellows, which I let air cool on my steel bench block, after bringing to a dull cherry.

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I have been a working goldsmith for over 30 years and have done a fair amount of forging, casting and raising. In my experience with annealing metals I have found that I prefer the soft light that Jim suggests and Ford's observation that people often heat the metal too much is very important. Red or pink gold has always seemed a somewhat problematic alloy - it tends to oxidize quickly and work hardens quickly as well - both of these problems I assume come from the larger amount of copper in the alloy. Coat the gold well with boric acid in a thick solution of powdered boric acid and denatured alcohol ( I suggest keeping a tight lid on the alcohol when not in use) anneal with a brushy reducing flame on a charcoal block and DON'T OVERHEAT - just enough to glaze the boric acid ( perhaps a dull red in a dark shop) - then air cool and pickle. This works for me. I have used alcohol to quench white gold alloys when I'm in a hurry but I couldn't say I really noticed any difference. An oven such as is used to burn out investment can be a useful tool for annealing when temperature is critical - I've used them for annealing large amounts of wire and sterling bowls. Happy hammering! I'd like to see some of your inlays.

Have fun in Japan, Ford. Perhaps you'll pick up a recipe for the Sake? There are some wineries up here in the Williamette valley of Oregon that make some pretty decent stuff.

 

Magnus

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Hello all-

 

I have had very little experience with heat treating metals so I would like to ask a question to the obviously more experienced members of this group.

 

I was told by a welder friend of mine that there are a kind of crayon that changes color at different temperatures. IF you want to heat the piece up to a certain point and no further, you use the approximate temperature rated crayon to make a mark on the piece and heat until it changes color. Would this work in this case if someone like myself is not experienced with the color changes the metal goes through?

 

Thank you and take care.

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Guest ford hallam

Hi Joe,

 

yes, the crayons you mentioned can be used in this context. Just be careful that when heating the piece of metal that the crayon mark is not directly heated, or burnt by the flame.

 

good luck,

 

Ford

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Hi Joe,

 

yes, the crayons you mentioned can be used in this context. Just be careful that when heating the piece of metal that the crayon mark is not directly heated, or burnt by the flame.

 

good luck,

 

Ford

 

 

Great!

 

That will help me out until I get the hang of this stuff.

 

Thanks

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Guest ford hallam

Hi Magnus,

 

your tip about heating until the boracic flux glazes is an excellent one. To be honest it's been such a while since I've used red gold in my work that I'd forgotten about it, must be that damn sake! :angry: When I read your post I immediately got a whiff of the methylated spirits we used to make up the paste. We used to use it to coat diamonds when retipping claw settings too. Funny enough though,I'll be using a little bit of red gold in a piece I'm working on right now, I need a touch of pink!

 

Your suggestion may even be a good way for those with a little less workshop experience to anneal any of their gold and silver alloys, a bit like the idea that Joe suggested, with the temperature crayons.

 

I'll take your word as to the quality of the sake produced in your neck of the woods, until that is, I get an invite :) .

 

regards, Ford

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Wow that really sparked a lot of interest! What a wonderful place this is. So much knowledge and expertice.

 

The concept of the gold sake has merit. Do a bit of research into ionic gold on the web and see what this stuff is selling for. Claims are that it is similar to Valium when ingested.

 

Whether it's true or not I can only imagine. But in the past years I have experiemented with ionic silver solutions and have had some amazing results with them in fighting off colds and infections. Interestingly enough the governemnt has made a big issue of silver being used to fight bacterial infections as being a hoax. Yet it makes me wonder why they impregnate bandages with silver solutions for the military and space missions and are using it now in the VA to bridge wounds to eliminate pain caused by surface nerve damage. Something to do with electrical conductivity issues.

 

I have used it to stop strep cold in two days and heal infections that wouldn't clear up from stabbing myself with Carbalt engravers repeatedly (dumb nickel carver syndrom). It does seem to keep one from geting common colds if taken in minute quantities - you have to be careful as it migrates just beneath the skin if the molecular structure istoo large and turns one a nice shade of blue. Hence the term Blueblood in old England where people ended up looking very weird after dining with pure silver utensils for many years.

 

Much the same as spilling silver nitrate all over yourself and going out in the sun.

 

But the gold, well who knows. It may work. The process is abit esoteric and requires ome serioushigh voltage to complete. Way to dangerous for me to play with. But IF it's true then the gold in combination with the sake would be the nickel carvers dream drink!

 

With regards tot the 18k. I have to admit I got tired of all the work with that stuff and sent it off to the smelter to be returnedin 24k fine. I am getting old and lazy. As far as I know it was pretty good stuff, all 45 grams of it. Well preserved, having spent 30 some years in my mouth as military bridgework! The VA dentists were really impressed with it. But considering it was age hardened, impact hardend, and who knows what else I figured it was time to give it and myself a rest.

 

This process of inlay that i do in coins leends itself better to dead soft lead rather than alloy with any resistance. even 24k is a bit of a snot when inlaying recut eyes on a nickel silver coin. Not much lattitude for undercutting or hammering. Even the smallest bead punch in my box is too large for the final result which must be shaped with the point of a polished sewing needle. (that's where the sake comes in!)

 

Ford - have a wonderful safe trip and do take lots of pictures so we can see some of the places you visit and the things you see.

 

Be careful about what you put in your mouth. My nephew is married to a Japanese girl and they have a B&B in Fairbanks. One day at the table we were munching down some goodies and one of the Japanese visitors remarked that I was eating stuff that most Japanese couldn't choke down. Heck I thought it was great but I after her comment I decided not to ask what it was that I was eating. At least it wan't moving!

 

Take care and thanks for all your wonderful sharing.

 

SLE

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