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Working With Titanium Wire
Article © MAIL User: mithrilweaver

I've been working with titanium wire in 3 grades for about 10 years. I don't know all there is to know about titanium, but I will give everyone the benefit of what I do know so hopefully you don't have to make all the same mistakes that I've made.

The different grades have different properties. Grade 1 and grade 2 are almost the same except grade 1 is more pure. I have discovered that grades 1 and 2 are great for jewelry purposes because they are relatively soft and wind easily without much spring back. The process of softening titanium into a bendable wire form is called annealing. Annealing titanium etches the wire which gives it a matte finish (not shiny). Grades 1 and 2 usually come in a rougher finish than grade 5.

I am currently working on ways to polish them. One way that I have learned to polish titanium rings is to put them in a tumbler with ceramic or stainless media, 1 tbs silicon carbide, and 1tsp of detergent for 72 hours. The tumbler should be filled half way and there should be more ceramic or stainless media than rings. Be aware that using silicon carbide gives the titanium a darker finish. This is something that I like, but others of you may not. There are chemical acid washes, but I'm not set up with a chemical lab and I'm wary of using acids that could potentially disfigure me.

Cutting grade 1 and 2 with a jewelers saw can be done with some efficiency. I can usually cut 50 rings before breaking a blade. You can bend grade 1 and 2 titanium rings 50 times and not break them; these grades are very malleable. The great thing about all titanium is that it is hypoallergenic. I've not met a person yet that ever complained about a titanium piece I made for them. Grade 5 titanium has some aluminum in it and some other elements, but I still have never heard of anyone ever being allergic to it.

Grade 5 titanium is very strong and great for armor. It is a little lighter than grades 1 and 2 also. It usually comes a bit more shiny and smoother than grades 1 and 2. It is as hard as stainless steel with considerable spring back. It's hard to wind and your ID's will not correspond well with the diameter of the mandrel used. The bigger the rod, the bigger the spring back. You can use grade 5 in jewelry too since it is a bit shinier, but it's really hard to bend, and to me its properties seem better suited for armor.

Cutting grade 5 with anything but a circular rotary blade or spring cutting machine is pretty much useless. You can cut it with a jewelers saw, but you will break a blade for every 5 rings you cut. I don't recommend snips or jewelers saws. If you don't have a machine-cutting setup or circular cutting wheel, I recommend buying your rings already saw cut. You can only bend grade 5 rings about 3 times before they break. Grade 5 titanium is more brittle.

Titanium is my favorite metal. Its light weight makes it ideal for jewelry and armor. Working with it takes hard work, determination and lots of money. This combined with its rarity makes it expensive to make and expensive for the customer to buy. Buying titanium clasps to go with jewelry is expensive as well. I won't be making any recommendations as to where people can buy titanium wire, rings, clasps, cutting tools, or tumbling media here in this article because I believe it is not my place to mass advertise for companies in this venue. Feel free to send me a private message and I will be glad to point you in the right direction.
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