Monday, July 19, 2010

How to make a simple wire claw / prong setting.


Ok, deep breath...it CAN be done. You CAN make your own claw setting. There are lots of tutorials for bezel settings, and those settings can certainly contain a faceted stone, but sometimes a little more light and colour will show off the stone better. Below is an "x-wire claw setting", containing an an Aventurine CZ. It's my favourite setting because it's barely-there. I was taught how to make this setting by my tutor at Central Saint Martins, way back in 1990. I have added my sketches just to clarify the photos.


Of course you can buy claw settings, some are nasty, some are nice. If you can learn this setting I'm showing you here, then you'll find it versatile because although I'm showing you how to make a specific shape and size, once you've made the setting you will understand that the shape can be any shape. The size can be any size (scale up the diameter of the wire accordingly). You could certainly make this setting with 6 or even 8 prongs for larger stones. Make this first, then you'll understand.

1. I'm using a round, 5mm CZ and 0.5mm round wire. Use hard solder throughout the process.


2. Put the stone upside down on a flat surface and make a circle of wire (jumpring) which sits on the stone just below the girdle (widest part of the stone). You can see the jumpring is the same width as the girdle. Take the circle off the stone and solder it closed. 

3. Now make another jumpring which exactly fits inside the 1st one you made.

4. Here you can see how by making one circle perfectly fit inside the other, the gap between the 2 circles when they are on the stone is just right. The Culet (bottom pointy bit) is not protruding beyond the smaller ring.

5. Now make a number 4 that is at least twice the size of your circles, as above. This number "4" is your cross, but made from one piece of wire instead of balancing 2 bits of wire together...much easier.

6. Use a punch with a cross filed out of it to gently punch the centre of your "4". This will squash the wires slightly where they overlap, so that they are no longer one-on-top-of-the-other and instead, on the same plane. If you punch too hard, you'll sever your wires and you'll have to start again.

You can make the punch with a big cheap nail from a hardware store (cheap ones are not hard strong steel, and therefore easy to file), just file the top flat with a large flat file, then use a triangular needle file to create your cross grooves. Clean all steel off your files thoroughly before you use them with silver again, or keep those files for steel only...otherwise particles of steel will corrode your silver when it's heated and your pickle will turn into a copper plating solution...all silver will go pink.

7. solder the "4" / cross together at the central overlap where you punched. Now, place your larger jumpring on one side of your cross, dead centre, and flux, warm up to set in position, place fluxed solder on each branch of the cross next to the jumpring and carefully solder into position.


8. Pickle the setting. Turn it over and solder your smaller jumpring onto the other side, dead centre as above.


9. If you are going to solder your setting onto a piece where you will be able to see under the stone setting to let light through, then DO NOT SAW OUT THE MIDDLE JUST YET. If as in my ring at the top of this post, you are soldering the setting onto a piece that will back the setting then you have to saw out the middle cross of the setting now.

Notice I have also used a half-round file to file the inside neat and to taper the interior form to accept the sloping form of the stone. It is more difficult to solder the setting into place if you have sawn out the centre cross, as the prongs (claws) are now not braced together. If you can saw out and file up after the setting is soldered onto the piece then there's less risk of the setting collapsing if you aren't sharp enough with the soldering.

10. Here is stone in setting so far. Now, bend up the prongs with pliers (you could saw a little nick into the wire prongs where they touch the circle, so that it bends up easier if you want). solder each prong to the top jumpring with tiny pieces of solder. If you've used a little too much solder already on the piece, then just flux and what is already there, will flow.

11. Next, use flush wire cutters to trim the prongs down so that when they fold over, the tips will be resting on the side of the stone above the girdle, but not on the face ("table") of the stone. Shape the tips neat and tapered by filing. In this picture you can see that I have made my top jumpring so that it slightly frames the stone, but traditionally you would have none of it showing at all...it's up to you.

12. Solder your setting onto the piece with Medium, or if you aren't overly confident, with Easy solder. You might want to use a very fine paintbrush and apply rouge paste or some other solder-stop, to protect the solder joins on this piece. Whatever you use, don't get the solder-stop anywhere you are about to solder. I didn't use any solder stop when I soldered this setting onto the ring. I soldered with Medium solder and heated the piece mainly from underneath, bringing the heat to the top, close to the setting at the last possible second. As soon as the solder flashed I pulled the heat away at top speed.

12. When the setting is in place and everything is polished and ready to go, pop your stone in the setting and with your pusher (one of these above), push one prong over gently, then the opposite prong over gently then the other two. Go round the prongs again, working opposite prongs so as not to skew the stone in its setting, bit by bit until the claws are making good contact with the stone. I keep the flat surface of my pusher gently roughed with fine emery paper, so that it doesn't slip. You can burnish or polish the tips of the prongs afterwards for a shine with a buffing stick. Do not use a buffing machine, the mop will catch the prongs.

I really hope this is helpful. It's hard to find a how-to for this simple setting these days and it is a skill being lost. If you prefer to set your faceted stones with a bezel, then see my tutorial here. Check out the other EtsyMetal tutorials by clicking on Tutorials in the tag menu on the right-hand side.

29 comments:

casualgal said...

Oh my gosh, you have made this look so easy - thank you for the detailed tutorial. I may just have to try this, of course I will have to go shopping for the perfect stone. :) Love your blog and the talented artists that are featured and share their expertise. Renee

Chris Parry said...

A great tutorial and shows the skill required to make a piece of jewellery. Did I miss it, who is the tutorial by?

Chris parry

Three Birds Jewelry said...

Great post- I haven't worked with faceted stones much because it all seems so intimidating. This was encouraging- I CAN do it! Also, I love the tip about making your own punch out of a cheapy nail, great idea!

Cristina said...

Awesome tutorial!! Thanks!

Beth Cyr said...

Chris - its Maria of Fluxplay - its posted underneath who the author was - http://fluxplay.etsy.com - she is fantastic, and in your neck of the woods!

kiki said...

Thank you for sharing your knowledge! Greatly appreciated.

Thomasin Durgin said...

This is so great! I have been scared to death of these - I'm going to try it. Thank you!

nyhedy said...

Ohhhh!!!!!
I have made one of those, but just winging it....
well, of course it was a major dIsaster: crooked, the point sticking out too far the cross wires not at 90 degrees, well all wrong.
Very nice of you to share the "secrets" on how to get it wright.
Hedy

Jules said...

Great tutorial! A much faster method than what I've been doing - using binding wire to try and get the prong perfectly in place - exercise in frustration!

Layne Designs said...

great tutorial. I am going to share this with my class!

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to sound daft, but can someone please tell me what hardness of wire is used here? Is it hard, half-hard, or soft? I am soooo new at this and want to do it right. Thanks to anyone who can help.:):):)

Beth Cyr said...

hey there!
I'll check with Maria to see what she uses, but it wouldn't matter really - when you heat metal, it anneals it and makes it soft. I generally only order deadsoft for this reason -it is easier to manipulate in the beginning, and it will get annealed anyway!

Fluxplay Jewellery. said...

Beth is right, it dosn't matter as once annealed, it's all soft. I just order sterling silver wire in no particular grade.

Anonymous said...

Just genius. Sooo much easier than how I was taught.

Anonymous said...

This is very userfriendly tutorials.

Imanur

silvertreemoondesign said...

great tutorial! Best I've seen on this subject. thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Great tutorial!

Thanks

PPennee said...

This works great for smaller stones, but what the heck do you do for really thick faceted stones? I'm staring out one now, wishing I had the answer! Great tute though.

Handmaden Designs said...

Great tutorial!!! I just bought some faceted stones and can't wait to try it out!

kate said...

This is so great!
I had a tough time trying to find the way to set my stone. This looks easy and nice. Can't wait to try it. Thanks tons! you're awesome! :D

Bas de Rijk said...

thank you for this great tutorial! i'm making a ring for my girlfriend with a raw turquoise, would it be a good idea to use a prong setting for somthing as oddly shaped as that? again, thank you (and sorry for eventual grammar mistakes, English is not my native lanuage)

Angela Migliore said...

Thank you for this tutorial...it looks easier than I really thought!!
Ang

Georgina said...

I'm a little late to the party, but thanks so much for this. I'm fairly new to jewellery making and so far have only been taught how to make a bezel setting. I wanted to give a claw a go but was just going to try and work out a method myself, so it's great to have this to follow instead! :)

Anthonios said...

Really lovely, thanks for this amazing tutorial :)

Anonymous said...

I could just hug you! This is an elegantly simple method. Thank you so much.

~Nickleye

studio 451 jewelry said...

I can't wait to try this! I have been struggling with a setting for a large emerald cut stone with less than satisfactory results for some time now. I have three "meh" versions as a result of mentor advice and textbook instructions that all lack sufficient detail. I'll report back on my results...wish me luck!

Anonymous said...

Great tutorial! Can anyone advise on how to get the exact measurements to create the two jump rings?

Stephanie said...

Hello! Great tutorial! I'd like to try making this but I do not own (nor can I purchase/make) the punch with the cross. Do you have any suggestions on how I could skip this step?

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous from Nov. 1st. I'm new at this, so there might be a better way, but I just made a jump ring that was obviously larger than the girdle (widest part of the stone). Then I sorta squeezed it smaller on round-nose pliers until it was same size as as the girdle. You can measure it by turning the stone upside down and plopping the jump ring on the little peak-bottom. then just eyeball it so it sits just below the girdle like instructions say. I then sawed through the 2 layers of jump ring, but that's just because as it's what I have.

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