I hope at least one of you remembers good 'ol Auntie EM. Years ago there were two Aunties...we wrote "how to" blog posts and answered reader questions. It was awesome. Then we realized that all our blogging was cutting into our studio time and we couldn't have that so we went on extended hiatus. I, for one, have missed you.
I have resurrected Auntie EM today for a VERY quick tutorial on hinges. This is, by no means, the only way to make hinges. It's the way I do hinges and I love it. It's quick and dirty and almost fool proof. If you're good with a torch, you will have NO problem with this technique. Let's get started.
When I took these process photos it wasn't intended for a blog post so they aren't awesome, you'll have to look closely.
The actual first step is preparing the pieces you want to hinge. In this case, it's a hinge charm that I sell in my shop here. I cut out the oval and then chop it in pieces and file the edges smooth.
Step one is cutting your knuckles. Did you know that the hinge pieces are called knuckles? No? Well, now you do. Hinges always work best with an odd number of knuckles so for this tiny hinge I use three. I could use any odd number of knuckles but, dude, I'm no masochist. Keep in mind, however, the more knuckles, the sturdier the hinge. This charm is about 6mm wide so each knuckle will be about 2mm. I cut the middle one to that length and leave the other two longer. I leave them longer so there is no chance of any solder sneaking in there later and freezing the hinge. I hate that. It sucks. I check for fit and then insert my silver wire. I have to say here that I hate yellow ochre. HATE IT. So, when I say "white out" you can sub "yellow ochre" if that's your jam. If you look closely, you can see that I have closed the ends of the hinges with white out. It's not totally necessary but it keeps everything from sliding all over the place and being annoying so I do it. I also put a little white out where I didn't want solder to flow but I don't know why I did that. It was messy and stupid and not necessary. Just do the ends like this:
Next comes the tricky and most awesome part of this technique. You are going to use three of the smallest pieces of hard solder you can make. Like, really small. Here is the trick: You are going to place your tiny balls of hard solder in the middle of each knuckle where you want it to attach to the piece. So...and I'm only going to say this because someone will write me later and say they soldered all the knuckles on the same side of their piece...you want to alternate sides for soldering. I hope that makes sense. You'll see in a second. Anyway, you are going to heat your piece JUST ENOUGH TO TACK THE SOLDER onto both the hinge knuckle and the piece but DO NOT FLOW THE SOLDER. I'm going to say that one more time because it's the essence of the technique: You are only heating the solder to the point where the solder gets grainy and sticks to both the knuckle and the piece...do not let that sh** flow. If you let it flow you're screwed and you will have to start over. Here is what it should look like when you're done:
Can you see that? Can you see where the solder is still a ball but it's holding the knuckle to the charm? Yes? Well, if yours looks like this....you can breathe a sigh of relief because you are now golden.
The next step is the usual, pickle and clean everything and come back to your soldering station. You're now going to flow either medium solder (if you'll have more soldering to do on this piece) or easy solder (if you don't...or are like me and are lazy) around that little bit of hard solder. To do this, you're going to remove the sterling hinge pin and separate the pieces. Don't try to flow the lower temp solder with everything intact...that defeats the whole purpose of this technique. So, separate and flow your lower temp solder around the knuckles and then pickle and clean up. It's like magic! Before you clean up, it'll look like this: (maybe even better!)
So...that's it. You're done! You have soldered hinges that work and are gorgeous! Hinges with this technique aren't hard at all. Obviously, the smaller the hinges the harder it is but it's really all pretty simple. I'm assuming you all know how to set the hinge pin...right? If not, let me know and I can do a part two.
Happy Hinges all!