Connecting the Pieces

The wire and bezel are soldered onto the silver sheet. Detail Image from Dusk ©2011 sterling silver, pyrite

You’ve read on here about my love for rivets to connect the parts of my work. But what other ways are there to hold two parts together?

Soldering – a process in which two or more metal items are joined together by melting and flowing a filler metal (solder) into the joint, the filler metal having a lower melting point than the workpiece. Jewelers use a technique called “hard soldering” which is very similar to brazing, but using a silver based solder rather than brass.

Welding - joins materials by causing coalescence. This is often done by melting the workpieces and adding a filler material to form a pool of molten material (the weld pool) that cools to become a strong joint, with pressure sometimes used in conjunction with heat, or by itself, to produce the weld. (I took this from Wikipedia since I’ve never personally welded anything.)

Beautiful example of a welded piece by Gatski Metal. © The Steel Fork

Adhesives - this just means gluing parts together. In my experience, metalsmiths look down on gluing metal pieces together, it shows a lack of skill. But it is often used to attach non metal parts together (and sometimes to metal.) If you work with materials such as acrylic, it is almost necessary to have a good working knowledge of adhesives. Plus, a lot of people are now working in resin, which is itself an adhesive.

Cold Connections- This means any joining system that does not involve heat (and adhesives technically fall into this category.) Nuts & bolts,

Nuts & Bolts holding the parts together - Twist (detail) ©2011 WTEK brass, nickel, found steel screen

screws, and rivets are all cold connections. Twisting wire around two pieces to hold them together is a cold connection. Even setting a stone is a cold connection is you don’t cast them in place. These types of connections are often used if you can’t (or don’t want to) heat your piece up, especially if you are combining a non-metal part to your piece.

I’m sure that there are other ways to connect things and I only touched on these techniques briefly, but it gives you an idea of the different processes that metalworker go through to put a piece together.

About Wendy Edsall-Kerwin

Metal. To many it is hard, rigid, and immovable. But metal flows, bends, and can be worked over and over again. It is both industrial and
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5 Responses to Connecting the Pieces

  1. In one brief space, you’ve answered approximately six questions I’ve had about metalworking for years! Now so much more is clear to me— this will enhance my appreciation of this form! Thanks for that!

    • I’m happy to help, Courtenay! Someday I hope I’ll be able to weld too and give even more info…

      • I never did really understand the difference between the two, but your description makes it very clear. I can’t wait for most explanations.

        There are some really big metalworking artists where I live? And knowing how something is made gives me a huge sense of satisfaction.

        That means I’ll be able to look at your gorgeous work with new eyes, too. (Excited!)

  2. Dana Edsall says:

    Is glueing considered chemical bonding? I interpret chemical bonding as a bond involving electrons and protons, such as that which makes minerals.

    • It could be chemical bonding if you are gluing two plastics together using a solvent because it basically is mixing the two pieces of plastic into one. But I don’t think that happens when you glue a piece of wood to metal.

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