Yes you can make
your own earring posts. It is generally more cost effective to buy them,
but making them is not a problem and there are times that it is useful to
1) draw your wire down to the size
you want. Maybe .9 mm.
2) Anneal the wire carefully (avoid
hot spots-local overheating). Robert Kaylor anneals wire coiled up in
a tin can, playing the flame on from the outside to avoid localized overheating.
3) Clamp one end of the wire carefully
into a vise, grip the other end with draw tongs or vise grips or toothed
pliers and pull gently and hard, stretching the wire-you will see it visibly
stretch. This will straighten the wire instantly.
4) Get a piece of brass hobby tubing
about 3" (7cm) long, cut one end to a 45 degree angle or so, anneal it,
about one inch (2.5) cm below the flat end of the tube make an indentation
with a center punch and then drill a one mm hole at the bottom of the
dent. This will serve as a funnel to feed the wire into the hole (and
the tube). Then gently squash the tube near the dent and hole at 90 degrees
thus making the tube into an oval at that point. The dent with the hole
in it is a one of the ends of the oval, on the short curve of the oval.
You adjust the squish on the tube until when the wire is fed in and then
snipped off flush with the tube the piece that is cut off is the correct
length for your earring posts.
5) Then stick the angled end of the
tube into a hole you make in the top of a film can. Now when you feed
wire into the hole in the dent it slides in until it hits the far side
of the tube, is snipped off flush with the outer side of the tube at the
dent. It then falls naturally down the tube into the film can.
You can then clamp the film can in place gently in a vise and cut the
right lengths of earring posts as fast as you can feed the wire into the
hole and snip. You will find that because we made a funneling dent leading
to the hole into the tube that when you snip it the wire you are feeding
in will automatically slide into the tube and stop again ready to be snipped.
The wires gather in the film can. The procedure is very fast and smooth.
6) Now flatten the both ends of the
wires (give them a right angled flush end). Use a Zipee® belt sander (my
favorite) or a sanding or separating disc on your flex shaft which you
push the wires onto (hint-use a tool to hold them-they can get really
hot) or as I might do sand them flat on the cardboard disc sander described
at the Tips from
the jewelers bench section at Ganoksin.com.
This is a quick job to do the whole pile or earring posts you have made.
7) You will need a #30 flex shaft
handpiece or an equivalent Jacobs Chuck type handpiece for the next step.
The wire is chucked into the flex shaft with about 4mm or a quarter inch
showing. (see the 'Small tools' article in the tips section for how to
make a chuck key for prouction use of the #30 type handpiece)
8) Press the foot pedal and rotate
the wire in the handpiece at medium speed. You then make the indentation
for the ear nut on the wire by pressing onto the wire gently with a side
cutter (go gently-you can easily cut off the wire instead of making a
groove), or round nosed pliers pressed in to the turning wire, or a triangular
needle file held onto the spinning wire or my favorite solution: a pair
of side cutters one has altered the jaws on with a separating disc or
a diamond burr, so that there is a small hole in the cutters. This last
is fast and sure and does not require much skill or thinking, always a
useful attribute in a production situation.
This hole lets you clamp the cutters onto the ear wire, make the correct
depth groove quickly and without skill requirements and be sure of not
cutting off the end of the wire instead of grooving it.
Although I prefer to put the groove in before soldering the ear post
on some people solder the ear wires onto the piece and then put the groove
in by hand with side cutters, clamping gently and swinging them around
the post back and forth to make the groove at the end. Of make the groove
too deep into the wire and so weaken it and cause it to break-you should
aim for a pretty shallow groove.
9) Once the groove is made in the
correct place on the ear wire in the flex shaft then hold a 220 grit (medium)
emery stick against the end of the wire as it spins, moving it constantly
so as to quickly round off the end of the wire. A cup burr held onto the
rotating wire end will also round it off. You may then hold a piece of
leather or felt with polishing compound against the wire end to give it
a hint of polish as a finishing touch.
Some people will use a triangular file to make the groove instead of
snips, try which works best for you.
10) When you are going to solder the
earring post on use the earring post tweezers to rapidly clamp the earring
post. A pair of the cheaper, chrome plated steel self-locking tweezers
with a triangular notch filed in place at each of the ends automatically
grips and snaps earring posts to a right angle for quick earring post
soldering. To use them one simply throws the earring posts onto the table
and they are easily and quickly held at 90o no matter what angle they
are gripped from. Note that the ends have been filed so that when using
them they smoothly grasp and guide the earring post into its groove.
Clamp the earring post near the notched end. While clamped in the tweezers
rub the far flat end on an emery stick to clean it for soldering (good
solder joins require recently bared metal), then dip the bared end into
flux. Have your solder chips lightly pre-flused on the brick. Gently heat
the fluxed post end until the flux on it goes glassy, then touch it to
a pre-fluxed chip. The solder chip will stick to the hot wire end. (Do
not point the flame at the other solder chips-we need them pre-fluxed
but unheated in order to most easily stick them onto the wire end in the
way just described). Lift the wire away from the soldering surface and
gently heat the end until the solder melts onto it. Then heat the fluxed
object itself. I usually take a small round burr and just touch the back
of the earring where I want the post both to bare the metal for a better
join and to increase slightly the contact surfaces of the join to improve
As the earring gets hotter watch the flame where it leaves the metal
If it turns orange as it leaves the metal you are around 800-900 degrees
F and can bring the earring post into the flame area. If your metal is
glowwing red you missed the orange flame and it is defintiely time to
bring your earring wire into the heat. Do not point the flame at the earring
post at all (you might melt it) but keep it on the earring. When you think
the earring is hot enough place the earring post (bracing the heel of
your hand nearby so as to steady it while it solders in place). Let the
heat from the earring itself rise up and draw the premelted solder on
the post down thus joining it to the earring.
Make sure it is vertical. Remove the heat. Quench the earring in water.
Immediately test the join with a pair of pliers. Now is the time to find
out you if should do the join again, not later. To test it take your flat
nosed pliers, grip the top (notched) third of the earring with the pliers
on at a 45 degree angle (this gives a good broad area of grip on it so
you don't dent or scar the wire post). Twist the post 360 degrees around
(yes thats right) and back again the same amount.
If the post didn't fall off the join was good. If it did fall off now
is the time to solder it again. This also hardens the post in its bottom
two thirds (because the post was annealed during soldering it is dead
soft-therefore it doesn't matter how hard or soft your wire post was before
you soldered it on).
There, you are done. If you are moving quickly and you have everything
set up to go you can make good earring posts very rapidly and perhaps
even competetively with some commercially produced sources. I mostly do
this for gold posts now if I need some and I don't have commercial ones
around. There was I time when I did it for silver posts too, not really
economical but it worked.