Silver ring from a lost wax casting
May 28, 2008
MATERIALS: standard silver
TECHNIQUES: wax carving, filing, sanding, polishing (actual casting performed by someone else)
TOOLS: various wax carving tools (rasp, ring sizer with cutting blade, some general tools that could be used for carving and sanding the wax), wheatsheaf ring gauge, hard wax, steel wool, wet and dry paper, half-round needle file, soft brush, buffer (tripoli mop and rouge mop), ultrasonic cleaner (+ tools for casting)
My ring model was formed from a round wax tube with an off-centre hole. My instructor had cut the tube into individual rings.
- Use a ring gauge to determine desired ring size (if the ring is for you you can just keep trying your finger until the ring is the desired size).
- Use a wax ring sizer with cutting blade to cut a hole to desired size.
- File or cut the wax ring to desired width and thickness and then use whatever tools necessary to carve the desired shape.
- Use a file and steel wool to get the ring as smooth as possible – it’s much easier to remove scratches in wax than it is to remove scratches in silver.
- Send away for casting (perhaps a future post on this process)
- File or saw any remaining ‘channels’ on the newly cast ring and then sand (file heavily scratched areas, if any, and sand, initially with a coarse paper, say 300-800 and then with a smooth paper (1000-1200).
- Polish using the tripoli mop. Clean using a soft brush and detergent and if desired result is achieved polish with the rouge mop (black caking may mean that you need to go back and do more tripoli polishing before continuing with the rouge).
- Clean off excess rouge using the ultrasonic cleaner.
- It’s very tricky to get scratches out of crevices but it’s still much easier to spend ages doing this with the wax ring than it is trying to get scratches out of the silver ring.
- My finished ring has numerous scratches on the inside because I was too scared to file/sand down the wax or silver ring too much, thus making the ring a size too big. I should have made the ring a little bit smaller to account for smoothing the inside of the ring. Alternatively I could have smeared some melted wax to fill the scratches.
- A solid silver ring is much much heavier than a wax ring! Every gram of wax will weigh 10.6 grams in silver (even more for gold!).
IF I HAD MORE TIME: I would have put some more thought into the design of the ring (it’s difficult to think of a design that’s carvable when put on the spot). I would have also spent more time carving to get a better shape and more time filing and sanding out scratches – firstly on the wax ring and then (if necessary) on the silver ring.