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Another soldering question


I have a great deal of sympathy for soldering problems. Once you
"get it" it is hard to understand how people have problems
soldering, but until then, it can be tough. I took my first jewelry
class because I was unable to solder a simple jump ring. I had
welded, soft soldered and brazed any number of bigger objects with
gas, MIG, acetylene/air, propane and oxy acetylene, but I could not
get the jump ring solder to flow. Turned out my problems were three
fold: Poor heat control, wrong “hard silver” solder and lack of

I had a good friend who was a plumber. He taught me two things, the
right way to do things, by precleaning and heating the metal joint
to cause the solder to flow and the quick and dirty way using a
plumber=92s equivalent of paste solder. It was powered soft solder
mixed with tin chloride and a very aggressive acid flux. He swore he
could tin concrete with this stuff =96 and I saw him do it! He made
sure that the inspectors never saw the stuff.

metals (except high caret gold and most Pt) is the same as most
other forms of soldering and brazing. The metals and solder must be
clean, some sort of flux must be used to protect and dissolve
oxides, use the correct solder, heat the joint metal not the solder,
and especially for the higher purity solders, close fit-up and
tolerances are a must =96 the more pure the solder metal is, the
shorter the range between solid and when it flows water thin.

I frequently use IT solder now and often prefer it to the
hard/med/easy silver solders on my bench.

I think the best way to learn the skills of soldering is to PLAY
with the stuff. Silver solder copper wires together (copper oxidizes
fast!), a thin wire to a thick sheet, thick sheets together by lap,
butt and tack welds. Then practice/play with different sizes and
weights of silver. Try different amounts of flux; use paste, wire
and sheet solder, see what happens when you heat the solder before
the joint and when you heat the joint first, try it with a small
flame, a big flame, oxidizing and reducing. Try to see what happens
when you do it right and when you do it wrong. Don=92t be shy or
afraid of the heat, flux or metal =96 play with it to understand the

Jewelry is supposed to be fun =96 play with your toys!