How to Finish a Snake Chain in Jewelry Making

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Because bulk snake chain comes unfinished, you must solder on findings to create wearable jewelry. Adding findings in exactly the size and length you need for your jewelry allows you to make many pieces to sell or give to friends. Soldering on findings also enables you to create a custom look for a popular chain that is difficult and time-consuming to make by hand. Practice a basic soldering method on remnants before tackling real projects

Things You'll Need

  • Soldering torch and equipment
  • Pickle and pickle pot
  • Findings
  • Tumbler
  • Patina (optional)
  • Cut the snake chain to your desired length using wire cutters or a jewelry saw and blade. Test the end caps to be sure they fit over the end of the snake chain. Test the clasp and jump rings to be sure they work with the end caps and snake chain. The jump ring and catch must fit through the loop on the end caps. Check to be sure you like the look before you solder. The findings should be a size that complements the snake chain and end caps selected.

  • Slide the handmade or commercial end caps over each end of the cut snake chain. Close the end caps so that they fit snugly on each end of the snake chain. The findings must be flush because solder will not fill gaps. If the findings are not tight around the chain then you will not be able to solder the ends on the chain.

  • Solder the handmade or commercial end caps to the snake chain. Wash the snake chain and end caps. Place the snake chain and end caps on a charcoal block. Flux the findings and snake chain.

  • Cut off a small piece of hard solder and place it under the seam where the end caps meet the snake chain. Solder the end caps to the end of the snake chain. Allow the end caps to cool.

  • Solder the clasp to the end caps.

  • Wash the jump ring and catch. Feed the jump ring through the loop on the end cap on one side of the snake chain. Slide the catch through the loop on the end cap at the other end of the snake chain. Solder the jump ring and the catch to create a clasp for the snake chain.

  • Allow the soldered chain and findings to cool. Place the soldered snake chain with finished clasp into the pickle pot to remove oxidation formed while soldering.

  • File and then sand away any excess solder and fire scale. Use 220 grit wet/dry sandpaper and then move to 400, 600 and ultimately 800 until the snake chain is highly polished and there are no tool marks.

  • Place the snake chain in a tumbler to burnish the chain, harden the metal and bring the chain to a high shine.

Tips & Warnings

  • Add color to the snake chain using a chemical patina, if desired. Wash the snake chain and patina according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Handmade findings will allow you to create a custom look that may increase the value of the snake chain. You can create an end cap with a jump ring and a matching end cap with a hook to form the catch. You can also include metal purity stamps and a maker's hallmark on the end caps. If you create your own findings that combine the end caps with the clasp, you can use scrap metal and save steps when you solder.
  • If you made your own findings with the clasp parts already attached to the end caps, then you will be able to solder on all the findings in one step.
  • Wear safety googles and gloves with working with soldering materials.

References

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