About a million years ago, while attending the wedding of my best friend, I was introduced to a fellow goldsmith, Clarence Marcotte. At least, I thought we were fellow goldsmiths. He, contrariwise, started the relationship by telling me that I couldn’t be a goldsmith because my hands were too girly. We got past that disagreement fairly quickly and chatted the evening away.
I was invited to check out his shop the next day and, since I had no other obligations, I spent the afternoon siphoning off as much information from him as I could. He gave me some new insights into pavé setting, the mad world of electric welding, and some tips on polishing silver using kerosene and lampblack. Wear old clothes would be one, I suppose.
He was a delightful mix of old-school and new tech, but for our purposes here, the best tip he gave me was about sizing rings. As discussed in my previous post on sizing, there are occasions when the standard method isn’t adequate, which involves a sort of dovetail fitting. Filing the parts to fit is fine, if you’re not in a particular hurry, but Clarence had taken the concept and turned it into a technique that, I think, could be extremely efficient if used consistently. Let me say at the outset, however, that I don’t do that much sizing, my schtick being custom design. I do use a dumbed-down method similar to his whenever I am sizing rings way up or am forced by circumstances to size some skinny-ass commercially-made lady’s ring.
What Clarence did was to use heavy end-cutters to clip the shanks. At its simplest, and the method I use most often, the shank is clipped as shown to remove the worn-out section. This leaves nicely squared-off ends that are perfectly prepared for fitting a notched piece of sizing stock. With a bit of adjusting, the piece is firmly held in place and ready for soldering. This also corresponds with Bert’s (Bert is my primary old-guy) philosophy that the pieces should hold together by themselves before soldering. Take care that there is not too much tension on the joint, as nasty things can happen during soldering. (Don#t ask me how I know. Also, don#t ask me why, in some programs, all my apostrophes turn into number signs. I will try my best to avoid them.) The ring shown here was not only thin from wear, it had also been sized several times. Yikes. best to remove the whole area.
Clarence had made this a much more workable system modifying another set of end cutters into heavy-duty flush-cutters that clipped flat on one side, and with that cool squared-end on the other. By cutting a piece out of a ring (swapping ends on the cutter appropriately,) the ring can be closed up and soldered just as in a normal sizing. Then the leftover piece is a pre-shaped bit of sizing stock for a a future up-size. All that has to be done in that case is to notch the inside of the cut ring to fit it in.
This method really only makes sense in the context of a full-time repair shop where an accumulation of a multitude of little sizing chunks is a good thing, but it is a handy way to get around the problem of those jobs where a full shank is not necessary, but the ring will be rendered weak by simply doing a regular sizing. As well, it is probably impractical when presented with a heavy shank but, then again, it#s probably not necessary. Stupid hash-tags.
The picture in my head that endures is of a set of end-cutters that looked more-or-less like this, and of Clarence and his monster hands crushing through whatever weight of shank presented itself. So long, Clarence. And Thanks.