One of the reason I joined the Ring a Week challenge was to try to improve my precision. I knew going into it this week that it would not be easy. Three stacked “pillows” made from metal tubing cut at 45° angle. What I didn’t realize was just how difficult it turned out to be. First, I had to make the copper tubing since I didn’t have any on hand. Not a good idea! I don’t have a draw plate or a rolling mill, and the thinnest copper sheet I had on hand was 22 gauge. After what seemed like hours of pounding and bending and huffing and puffing and cursing, I managed to get a “roundish” tube with an open seam.
Next came cutting at 45°. Even though I have a jig to cut the tubing at an angle, I don’t think I’ve ever spent as much time on any step before. I would file down the edges to what looked liked a perfect 45°, try to match it to the next piece of tubing and the next, but somehow I always ended up with a little gap somewhere. Every copper piece had to measure exactly 15 mm long. After more hours of this exercise, I decided whatever I had was good enough. Next I had to repeat the cutting step for the 2 silver elements on top, the middle 10 x 10 mm, and the very top, a whopping 5 x 5 mm. At least this time, I didn’t have to make the tubes. Surprisingly, the smaller the pieces, the easier it was to get a good angle (either that, or I got better at it!) Now I have little cuts all over my fingers from handling all the sharp edges.
Next, I had to solder the individual pillows. Oh my! more hours of futzing and cursing and melting pieces (so I had to go back and cut some more.) I finally got the pillows and ring shank done, and the last step of soldering the stack went without a hitch. I polished the ring with 220 3M bristle discs and spent another couple of hours oxidizing the middle pillow, trying not to smudge the other two (I ended up having to do it with a toothpick.)
The whole process took about a day and a half. I wanted to give up so many times, scrap it and start a new ring. I’m glad I stuck with it – I learned a lot.
- making components without the right tools is extremely difficult
- tubes can inexplicably explode when heated
- always make extra components from the beginning (now I have a stash of little pillows – I’m too tired to think about making something with them)
- if I knew how hard things would be, I would never get anything done!
I’m pretty sure next week’s ring will be something very simple…