Construction Dilemma


I’ve been procrastinating with regards to finishing a piece because
I can’t make up my mind on the best plan of attack for putting it


a) Bottom Sheet: 20gge sterling silver flat sheet, almost 2 inches
square. Has a nice pattern on it created by rolling through mill with
watercolor paper. Pattern isn’t too deep, and seems to fit flush
enough for soldering to top sheet.

b) Top Sheet: Slightly smaller 22gge sterling silver flat square
piece. Plain surface, BUT, has one small rivet hole about a quarter
of an inch inside each corner. Plan is to still solder both pieces
together. Rivets are only for decor.

c) Bezel: 18kt. yellow gold 26 or 28gge bezel (I think it’s 28,
can’t recall off top), ends soldered together with gold solder.

d) Sterling silver bail. I don’t really anticipate soldering this
piece to the main to be a problem–my greatest concern is putting
everything else together most effectively.

c) Either hard or medium silver solder, depending on the best way to
do this.


Solder everything together somehow without distorting either of the
flat sheets, having the pieces slide around, or melting the bezel.


Both Bottom and Top Sheets are about as flat as I can get them. Top
Sheet is pretty darned flat, but Bottom Sheet is ever so slightly
imperfect, perhaps about 90% flat. I have to be careful during
soldering because I don’t want the heat to distort Bottom Sheet any
further given that it is patterned, and I really can’t re-flatten it
at this point without damaging the pattern. So, my thoughts are to
CAREFULLY anneal all pieces first.

In Plan A, I wanted to sweat solder Top Sheet to Bottom Sheet, but
then there’s the issue of the bezel. My fear with that is if I sweat
soldered the two silver pieces together and then tried to solder on
the bezel afterwards, the Top Sheet on which the bezel sits might
slide if the solder starts to reflow. And then, how would I generate
enough heat to successfully get the solder for the bezel to flow to
begin with since the two larger, thicker silver pieces are now, for
the most part, one big mass of silver. I run the risk of overheating
the sheet silver mass to get the silver solder to flow for the bezel.

So, post-sweat-soldering, should I approach by focusing the heat
directly around the bezel? Or, should I heat the entire mass (again)
from the bottom on a tripod, or heat using a charcoal block? I also
thought about using the beehive kiln heating method to consistently
keep the heat on the bottom pieces, which has worked for me in
successfully soldering larger bezels to larger single sheet pieces
(thanks, Noel).

Plan B was to hard solder the bezel to Top Sheet, and then perhaps
use medium solder, heating from below, to solder the two silver
sheets together afterward. I’m still scared I run the risk of things
moving around (by nature or by accident), but I guess I could use
binding wire. Sounds pretty simple, but I want to make sure I’m not
overlooking anything.

I’m not worried about the pre-drilled rivet holes as those are
primarily pilot holes. I’ll drill through both pieces in the final

Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance.
Tamra M. Gentry

siliquar or soldering clay or investment to hold it all in place, and
act as heat sink prevent reflow with correction fluid,or stop-flow(
yellow ochre and alcohol), use a little piece of screen bent into a
table shape ( about 2x2x 1/2") instead of big tripods over the
charcoal block to reflect heat when sweating the hard solder and
absorbing the cupric oxides to some degree put the textured bottom
sheet between two pieces of fairly thin brass and give it a roll or
two to flatten- worst case scenario texture is stretched out a bit OR
use bottom sheet with slightly less flat surface as top sheet : more
pattern,lays flat due to bottom sheet now being flatter… gold solder
requires higher temp than silver to attach gold bezel, so use yellow
silver solder inside the bezel that has already been soldered with
gold hard solder…

Tamra, it’s not all that difficult, and I’m sure you’ll get several
replies. Solder the sheets first, though, and then solder the bezel.
My suggestion, though, is to not use the rivets as decorative, if you
can, use them as rivets. Solder the bezel to the top sheet and rivet
that all to the bottom sheet, nice and clean, preserve your texture,

Thanks for the replies.

John, I had initially thought about doing it the way you said, but I
figured that over time, due to gravity and the possibly very small
space between sheets (the result of that slight sheet curvature I
mentioned as well as the presence of the pattern), the rivet
connections, which are pretty small in diameter, might weaken and
then the top piece would start to sag.

I thought that soldering the pieces together might provide a bit more
insurance that that won’t happen. Am I over thinking, or am I being
paranoid? I really don’t want to make the OD of the tubing any bigger
if at all possible, and I don’t think that using thicker-walled
tubing with the same OD would work either—just wouldn’t look right.
I’d like to hear what you think about that, then I’ll make a

Thanks again for both replies.

(Whew boy! This extreme night owl thing is not my cup a’tea!)
Tamra M. Gentry

Hi, Tamra.

First off, sometimes there’s a right and wrong way in jewelry, but
very often there’s not - this is one of those times. There’s a
variety of good ways to do what you want. And I (we) don’t know all
about what it is you’re doing - what you said is two plates and a
bezel, but how is that incorporated into whatever final piece?
Rhetorical question, really. If your rivets fit tightly in the
holes, and they are set tightly, then the piece isn’t going anywhere.
I’d even consider putting a spacer in between, so you can look
between the sheets, maybe. That depends on your vision. Then you
don’t have to worry about different “flatnesses” and unsightly edges
and stuff. My fear, and why I said this to begin with, is that you
have a very delicate texture on one sheet, and there’s a big risk it
will disappear in the process of soldering it and firescale and
trying to bring it out again after soldering. At least it will be
altered, if not destroyed. You could put a spot of epoxy in the
center before you rivet, if you’re nervous about movement - very thin
so the sheets go fully together. But again, it’s not like this is the
“right” way. I just think it’s the easy way to get what you want.

Thanks, John.

Wasn’t necessarily in search of THE “right” or “wrong” way, just the
most durable and effective. I simply wanted to thoroughly think
through that variety of options you mentioned. Although, I never
would have considered the epoxy, which was the purpose of the initial
post—to discuss what I was considering, and to perhaps get ideas
for methods that might work just as or more effectively than those I

And to clarify because I don’t think I mentioned anything about the
edges, they are nicely beveled, not unsightly.

Thanks again, for the info.

I forgot to mention this, but to R. E. Rourke, thanks for the good
info and the suggestion of using the soldering clay-I’ve seen it in
the catalogs, but had never really been interested in trying
it-sounds like it might be a good general purpose thing to have handy
when soldering after all, and I am definitely going to be checking it

Tamra M. Gentry