Fusing Q and A

1. What gauge of fine silver wire is best for fusing?

Beginners should start with 14 gauge fine silver, which is the most forgiving.

2. Can I fuse with other metals?

Other metals cannot be fused with the Spitfire and Butane Micro torches.

3. Can I fuse with sterling silver?

Technically, the heat from a butane torch is sufficient for fusing a sterling silver ring. However, the high heat causes molecular changes and blackening in sterling silver, so it is not recommended. Only the process of pickling will remove the black finish from sterling silver.

4. What is the difference between fine silver and sterling silver?

Fine silver is 99.9% silver. The high silver content makes it much softer then sterling silver and prevents it from blackening when heated. Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and is much harder then fine silver. Sterling silver contains copper, which causes it to blacken when heated.

5. What is the difference between sterling silver soldering and fine silver fusing?

Fine silver fusing is the process of fusing fine silver metal to itself using heat. Sterling silver soldering is a technique whereby two pieces of metal are joined by applying a molten metal such as solder. The molten metal has a lower melting point than the two metals being joined.

6. How much wire do I need to make a ring?

You will need approximately1.7 inches of 16 gauge wire to make about 1 ring. TIP: Cut several rings at once quickly and easily: Make a coil of wire by wrapping it around a mandrel and cutting the coils at one time.

7. Can I use a regular brick instead of a fire brick?

No, a regular brick will crack from the heat, whereas an insulating fire brick will not. A fire brick also retains heat, which you will need to obtain a consistent temperature around your ring and have it fuse successfully.

8. How do I hold the hot metal?

Use a pair of inexpensive pliers or stainless steel tweezers with a wooden handle to hold the hot metal. Stainless steel does not conduct heat well, so a pair of stainless steel tweezers without wood handles would also work as long as the tips are not held in the flame. Metal anneals – becomes soft –when heat is applied. Pliers will not be effective for wirework if they become annealed, so designate and label a pair for fusing use only.

9. Can I use my regular jewelry pliers to hold the hot metal?

If you use your pliers in the heat of the torch, the heat will anneal (soften) the metal, making the pliers unusable for beading and wire working.

10. Which cutters should I use to cut fine silver wire for fusing?

Because the edges of your ring need to be in full contact to fuse successfully, you must have a flush cut. We recommend the Tronex Ergonomic Razor Flush Cutter, which will give you the most flush cut of any cutter on the market. However, you should not cut heavy gauges of wire with the Tronex Ergonomic Razor Flush Cutter. These cutters are most effective because a screw just below the box joint prevents the jaws of the cutters from overlapping, making the flushest cut possible. This joint cannot withstand the degree of pressure necessary to cut heavy gauges of wire. We recommend using the Full Flush Power Max cutter for heavier wire gauges.

11. What gauges will my Tronex Ergonomic Razor Flush Cutter cut?

We recommend using Tronex Ergonomic Razor Flush Cutter on fine silver wire up to 14 gauge. Because sterling silver is a much harder metal than fine silver, we suggest cutting sterling silver wire up to 18 gauge with the Tronex Ergonomic Razor Flush Cutter. For anything heavier, we recommend that you use the Full Flush Power Max.

12. My components won’t fuse – they never turn “mercury.” What should I do?

There are several reasons why your rings may not be fusing. Try these troubleshooting techniques: 1: Is your flame hot enough? The heat of the flame can be affected by a number of things. Is the gas value on completely? Have you recently filled your torch? If you need to fill your torch, let it cool and follow the refilling instructions in Troubleshooting Torch Problems. Is the flame loose and feathered? You need a tight, strong flame for metal to fuse. Turn the oxygen valve at the front of the torch until you can see a hole all the way through it. Once that valve is opened, your flame will burn tight and strong. 2: The component you are trying to fuse may be too large or the wire gauge may be too heavy. See the chart below for the component and gauge criteria. If your component is too large or the wire gauge too heavy, the heat is insufficient for fusing. Use a lighter gauge or a smaller component. 3: Where is the tip of the blue flame? Make sure that the tip of the blue flame – the hottest part of the flame – is in contact with the wire component while fusing. 4: Does your ring have two flush cuts? If the cuts are not flush, the ring will not fuse. Please see the FusionBeads.com Fusing Technique for more information.

13. I want to fuse a large component. I am following your instructions but cannot seem to get it right. What should I do?

The size of a component that can be fused with a small butane torch is limited. Please refer to the chart at the beginning of the FAQ for the component and gauge criteria. Make sure you are evenly distributing the heat around the ring, working just past the tip of the blue cone in the flame. If your heat distribution is not even, the cool spots will pull heat away from the hot spots, preventing the ring from fusing. If you have been trying to close a ring for a couple of minutes and it won’t fuse, it is possible that you are working outside the range of possibility for your torch.

14. The wire is very soft after I have finished fusing. How can I harden it?

Fine silver is a very soft metal, and when heated, it becomes even softer. To make it wearable and durable, it is necessary to strengthen the wire through hardening. You can do this in several ways: 1.Tumble it (refer to how to use a rock tumble or the FusionBeads.com Using a Tumbler Technique). 2.Use a rubber mallet or raw hide mallet to hammer the component until it reaches the desired hardness. 3.Use a chasing hammer or texturing hammer and a bench block to flatten and texture the component.

15. The wire is no longer shiny. How can I make it shiny again?

When fine silver is heated, it is left with a matte or brushed finish. You can use a polishing cloth to shine it but the best finish will be from tumbling the piece. Refer to the FusionBeads.com Using a Tumbler Technique.

16. How do I use a rock tumbler to polish and harden my fine silver components?

Place your fused components into a rock tumbler along with 1 pound of stainless steel shot. Add one drop of Dawn dishwashing liquid and fill with water 1 inch higher than the level of the shot. Seal the first rubber lid. Place the metal lid and washer onto the tumbler, and screw on the nut. Place the tumbler on the base, and plug it in. Tumble fine silver pieces for 30 minutes. When tumbling is complete, remove the tumbler from the base, open, and pour out the contents. Rinse them all off. It is helpful to use a sieve to rinse the shot and components. Dry the components with a paper towel, and they’re ready to use. To prevent rusting, rinse and air dry the shot completely.

17. What is the largest possible component I can fuse with the Spitfire Butane Torch?

We recommend filling your torch before working on heavier gauges.

Gauge
Diameter of Component
10 Gauge Fine Silver 30mm
12 Gauge Fine Silver 40mm
14 Gauge Fine Silver 50mm
16 Gauge Fine Silver 60mm
18 Gauge Fine Silver 70mm
20 Gauge Fine Silver 80mm


18. What is the largest possible component I can fuse with the Micro Butane Torch?

We recommend filling your torch before working on heavier gauges.

Gauge
Diameter of Component
10 Gauge Fine Silver 20mm
12 Gauge Fine Silver 30mm
14 Gauge Fine Silver 40mm
16 Gauge Fine Silver 50mm
18 Gauge Fine Silver 60mm
20 Gauge Fine Silver 70mm


19. Safety Tips

Work in a well ventilated area.
Tie back long hair.
Avoid loose clothing.
Wear natural fibers such as cotton, flannel or silk. Avoid acrylic, nylon, spandex and other synthetic fabrics, which may be flammable.
Protective eye wear is always recommended when working with metal and heat. The lenses should not be tinted. It is important to see the flame and color changes in fine silver to fuse it properly.
Use general fire safety when using a torch. Have a fire extinguisher handy, know how to use it and plan an escape route in case of a fire.
Set up a work station with a heat-resistant surface protecting your table or work bench. Place the fire brick on top of that surface. Either a stainless steel sheet or a Solderite™ mat would be an ideal heat-resistant surface.
Torches may occasionally flare and spit gas when it is turned on. If this happens, turn the torch off. This could mean there was residual gas after filling the tank. Let the torch sit for a good 5 minutes after refilling. If the problem persists, the torch may be defective.
Do not walk away from a lit torch. Always turn it off first.
Do not reach in front of the torch. The heat from the flame extends beyond the visible flame, so be sure you have at least a one-foot clearance in front of the flame.
The metal of the torch will get very hot after use – avoid contact.
Store your torch in an upright position. Storing it lying down could cause a gas leak.
The Transportation Security Administration prohibits traveling with a butane torch or butane fuel.

20. What are the differences between the Butane Micro Torch and the Spitfire Butane torch?



Specifications
Butane Micro Torch
Spitfire Butane Torch
Flame Time 60-70 minutes continous flame 30 minutes continous flame
Can this torch be used upside down? No Yes
Maximum Tempterature 2,370 F 2,500 F
Fuel Requirement Triple-refined Butane Triple-refined Butane


21. How do I turn the Butane Micro Torch on and off?

Push the safety button down and press the ignite button in. Push the continuous button on and simultaneously release the ignite button. This will give you a continuous flame. Press the ignite button to turn the torch off.

22. How do I turn the Spitfire Butane Torch on and off?

Roll the trigger to lift up the release. Then push down. Press the red button into the hold position for a continuous flame. Press the red button to the off position to turn it off.

23. The flame is too small. What do I do?

Check your gas gauge and make sure it is pushed up to maximum.

24. The flame on the Micro Butane Torch is feathered. What do I do?

Make sure you have enough air coming into your torch. The metal valve on the front of the torch controls oxygen intake. Rotate the valve until you can see a gap all the way through. Do not touch this while the torch is in use – it gets very hot.

25. My torch won’t ignite. What am I doing wrong?

Make sure the torch contains butane fuel. Make sure the safety is off and you are turning it on correctly.

26. Why should I use triple-refined butane?

The cleaner the butane, the cleaner the flame. A clean flame will keep your torch clean, and using clean gas will increase the longevity of your torch.

27. How do I refill my butane torch?

Make sure your torch is completely cool – never refill a hot torch! Take the torch outdoors, turn the gas valve down, and make sure it’s off. Aim the nozzle away from your body and anything flammable. Shake the can of butane a couple of times. Hold the can of butane upside down, and line the tip of the can up with the gas intake at the bottom of the torch. Make sure you are holding your butane straight up and down. Press down the can of butane into the valve on the bottom of the torch. The torch is full when liquid begins to sputter out of the valve. A completely empty torch should take 5 to 10 seconds to fill, depending on the type of torch. When full, place the torch upright and let it rest for 5 minutes before using. This will allow the gas to settle and the fumes to dissipate. Follow any further instructions on the butane can.

28. How should I store my butane torch?

Always store your torch upright in a cool, dry place away butane and any other flammable products. Keep out of the reach of children.

29. How should I store butane?

Store butane away from excessive heat. Do not store it near your hot torch. Butane should not be kept at temperatures higher than 120 degrees F. Keep out of the reach of children.

30. How do I dispose of the torch and the gas canister?

Make sure the torch is empty before you dispose of it. To bleed a torch out, find a safe place outdoors, preferably near a concrete wall and away from anything flammable. Light the torch, set it down securely, and let it run until the flame dies. Continue to let the torch run for an additional hour, which will release any remaining gas. Take the empty torch and gas canisters to a recycling center that explicitly accepts hazardous materials. Throwing them in the trash could cause an explosion and injury.

31. Can I clean my torch?

Yes, you can clean the torch using compressed air blown into the nozzle. Make sure the torch is completely cool. Do this once a month or so for best results.

32. How do I size my ring band?

Sizing your ring 2 times smaller than desired finished size works for 10-14 gauge wire. Size thinner gauges 1 times smaller than your actual ring size to prevent the band from becoming too thin once hammered.

33. Looking at my ring band from the top I see that some parts are thicker than others. What happened?

You have hammered your ring band unevenly, take care to make sure you hammer the entire ring band and check for high spots and hammer more in those areas.

34. Click here to download the Fusing FAQ.

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