Working with Wire

Related Web Pages

Related Videos

Questions and Answers

How do I ball up wire on both ends?

Question

“I’m a new and instantly hooked follower of your youtube videos. I haven’t been able to find thorough tutorials on making rivets with a ball on both ends. I did see a picture on your earring video where you did the twisted wire hoops, but you didn’t address that particular pair. They were like balled head pins that were kind of loose, not a tight rivet, and balled on both ends. I’ve only seen one other video on it and they were using a very tiny oxygen and gas tank. I use the same tanks that you do.

And on that same note, I had an instructor that told me I only had to bleed the hose if I wasn’t going to solder for an extended period of time, like a couple months. Totally freaked out after watching your video and reading about it on your website! Thanks again for all of your info and tutorials. You have really opened some doors for me!”

Answer

  Rivets, with balls on both ends are a pain! Having an oxy/gas setup (like the Smith Little Torch) is imperative. You need a tiny, tight, fast, hot flame – AND you also have to not melt anything next to it! When I ball wire (on one side), I apply the heat to a place about 5 – 10 mms above the end. This seems to work the fastest and the best. For the second ball, If you can direct the torch tip above the end, you may have more success. But, you usually don’t have that much room. So, a hot torch is necessary.

I have found that it can be difficult to create two, exactly matched balls.

Practice determining how much metal should be left, on the second end, to create a similar ball shape. I’d write down my measurements including gauge, length and metal type, for future use.

  I like to use fine silver or Argentium wire, when balling up wire, as the balls are smoother and don’t have weird gaps like sterling, bronze, brass or copper can get. I just ran a test on 5 metals and fine silver had the smoothest surface, after balling it up.

To avoid melting nearby objects, you can try laying/clipping a cross-lock on the part you don’t want to melt. The cross-locks act as a heat sink, pulling heat away from the metal. But, remember that cross-locks can crush silver – if the silver gets too hot.

Another option is to solder a ball to the end of the wire. The end of the wire needs to be flat and smooth and the ball needs a flat area – made on a flat piece of charcoal perhaps. I pre-apply solder to the ball. I would use easy solder – especially if stones are present.

Hadar Jacobson has a video on balling up wire on both sides:

Yikes! Is my response on your instructor teaching to not bleeding the torch! My studio is attached to my house. If a cat (or a rat – although, there aren’t any in the house – at this moment) chews on the hose…??? Do I want Acetylene gas floating around my studio? Probably not. As stated in Murphy’s law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Also, the pressure in the line, puts pressure on the baffles in the regulator. The regulator will need servicing earlier than a torch that is drained regularly. Smart you!