Questions & answers – balling up sterling wire

I often get emails from people asking for advice – I’m no master, not by any stretch of the imagination, maybe just approachable.  Anyway, I thought since I typed up the answers, I’d add the questions and my answers here.

Question: I have been having issues balling 1/2 hard sterling wire. I have a softer wire that gives a beautiful ball without any pock marks or pitting on the ball, but when I ball the 1/2 hard wire, it’s not giving a perfect ball like the softer wire. This is an issue for me, as I want to ball the wire for earwires or other stronger needs, and cannot figure out why the balls are not as nice. I am fluxing the wire beforehand and using a kitchen sized butane torch. Any suggestions?

Answer: Once you heat your wire – especially to the point of melting/balling the end up – it’s not any sort of hard anymore – it’s annealed and dead soft.  So…save your half hard wire for pieces that don’t require heat.I’ve balled up more sterling wire for head pins than I can count and they never come out pitted.  Hot flame (pointy) & paste flux is what I use to get perfectly balled pieces of wire.  Flux the wire, while holding the wire in a pair of tweezers on the opposite end where I want the ball, I put the wire right at the tip of the blue flame, and pull the wire as soon as it balls up.  let air cool for several minutes, quench and pickle.

Questions continuation: Thanks Karen..That’s exactly how I am doing it..will have to try a few more and see if they’re any better. or maybe I’m not taking them off the heat quickly enough once balled?

Answer continuation: That could be…you can always go back and heat again rather than keep the flame on them.  (I know a terrible sentence…lol)

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~ by khmetalwork on August 15, 2010.

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