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Cutting bezels easy way

Hi Terrie,

In addition to what Pam said, when the solder appears to flash,
and you are soldering a bezel onto a back plate, it is ok to circle
around in order to make certain the solder has flown into all the
join. 

Yes I do this too. Although I am self taught I don’t just do what the
books say. You have to experiment to find what works best for you. I
always play the flame round the bezel to ensure complete flow. It is
huge bezel settings I have trouble with and I think my problem is
that I am not yet using my oxy/propane torch as I’ve not yet afforded
the gas bottles for it. The creme brulee torch just doesn’t get hot
enough for doing a successful soldering job on large settings. The
problem I mentioned of not observing the flux flowing towards the
heat source (heated silver) was answered by someone who pointed out
that I was not getting the metal hot enough. I am now able to heat
the silver more as I’m using thicker silver than I was doing so it
has less chance of melting. But I have had lots of good tips from
people that I’m putting into practice so thanks to you Terrie and all
others who have contributed answers.

I no longer use thin commercial bezels. I do have some stock left,
but when that is all gone, it is 18 gauge only. 

I have never yet used commercial bezels. No I tell a lie, I was given
some and tried it once but it just shattered!!! I’ve always made my
own bezel strip, which admittedly used to be too thin for larger
stone settings but now I’ve taken to using a heavier gauge sheet
silver to make my bezels and it’s working better. I really do need to
work with a hotter flame though as I’m sure that’s my next problem
area which needs addressing.

I feel as though I’m getting closer to a good finish. I’m now much
happier that I’ve bought shed loads of bristle brushes and a lovely
Foredom flexshaft and I’m using a combination of yellow Dialux,
Fabulustre and then lastly Rouge. My jewellery is now lovely and
shiny and evenly polished and when I compare it to my early pieces
it’s embarrassing that I was ever happy with them! I now want to
remake everything I’ve made before.

Obviously no affiliation, etc, just a happy bunny.

Helen
Preston, UK

I think my problem is that I am not yet using my oxy/propane torch
as I've not yet afforded the gas bottles for it. The creme brulee
torch just doesn't get hot enough for doing a successful soldering
job on large settings. 

Ah hah, Helen. I was not aware that you were using a butane torch
when I mention you probably were getting your bezel/backplate too hot
and that was causing the warping. Now it seems to me, you probably
were spending just too much time trying to get it hot at all and the
heat differental caused by a small light flame might have caused the
warping. Often, with a small flame, as you ‘travel’ around the piece,
it will heat-cool-heat-cool which can cause that. You need a larger
bushy flame so once an area gets hot…it stays hot though you may
move to another area.

I sould suggest you get on with the pro/oxy system as soon as
possible. To wit, the creme brulee torch does not a large bezel (any
large item) make!!

Cheers, Don in SOFL

Hi Don,

Often, with a small flame, as you 'travel' around the piece, it
will heat-cool-heat-cool which can cause that. (warping) 

Yes you’re right, that’s what I observe when attempting to get a
piece up to soldering temperature. I am just chasing a small hot spot
round the piece as quickly as possible so as not to let it get cold.
Oxy\propane bottles are my next priority on the old shopping list
this week (and some more silver).

To wit, the creme brulee torch does not a large bezel (any large
item) make!! 

That made me giggle! I’ve not been making life easy for myself where
a torch is concerned but I have managed to make quite a lot despite
handicapping myself. Looking forward to using the proper thing -
which is eagerly waiting in a cupboard to be used and enjoyed.

Helen
UK

Ah hah, Helen. I was not aware that you were using a butane
torch... 

For the sake of my students and readers, as I think I mentioned
before, I have been using a butane torch, exploring what it can and
cannot do.

I found, recently, that I could complete a heavy band ring with a
tube setting, using just my little $25 Home Depot model.

Now I’m making the bracelet I mentioned in the “reversible clasp"
thread, constructing a series of 1” x 1" links-- 22g sterling
backing with 3mm x.75mm bezel. I soldered the first two or three
just fine with the butane torch. Then, on the next one, the solder
began to flow, then just stopped. More flux didn’t help. Nothing I
could think of to do with that butane torch would budge the solder
any further. I turned on my Meco Midget, and, boy, what a relief!
Even the smallest tip puts out more heat than the butane.

From this, I conclude that (to quote one of my favorite movies,
Moonstruck) the butane hand-helds “are fine, as long as nothing goes
wrong. And something always goes wrong.” (Vincent Gardinia, talking
about copper pipe)

If I had no choice but to use a hand-held, I would have a second one
on hand. It would maybe be a little tricky, soldering with two of
these at once, but it would get you out of a dilemma such as I found
myself in.

I’ve grown to like my little butane torch. Its fluffy flame is great
for some jobs, and it is nice not to have to turn two tanks on and
off. A second one would overcome some of its limitations (if I
didn’t have the Meco, as well as a Smith, right there…)

Noel

Hi Noel,

I soldered the first two or three just fine with the butane torch.
Then, on the next one, the solder began to flow, then just stopped.
More flux didn't help. Nothing I could think of to do with that
butane torch would budge the solder any further. 

This is exactly what I’ve found. You get so far and then for no
apparent reason your bits of solder just will not cooperate and flow.
But the butane torch is great for small jobs, very directionable -
but I’m looking forward to using my new oxy/propane set as I will
have higher temperatures to work with and so my big bezel settings
will hopefully be less of a nightmare. I’ll probably keep the trusty
butane handheld for tiny things and as a backup.

Helen
UK

Now I'm making the bracelet I mentioned in the "reversible clasp"
thread, constructing a series of 1" x 1" links-- 22g sterling
backing with 3mm x.75mm bezel. I soldered the first two or three
just fine with the butane torch. Then, on the next one, the solder
began to flow, then just stopped. More flux didn't help. Nothing I
could think of to do with that butane torch would budge the solder
any further. I turned on my Meco Midget, and, boy, what a relief!
Even the smallest tip puts out more heat than the butane. 

When soldering you need to remember that there is a melting range
(solidus to liquidus) for the solder. If you cannot quickly raise
the heat of the area where the solder is sitting to above the flow
point (liquidus) for the solder you will experience a phenomena
called liquation. When this occurs the lower melting phases of the
solder flow away from the bulk of the solder and leave behind a
"skull". The skull is composed of the higher melting phases of the
solder and will require greater temperature to melt and flow than the
stated flow temperature of the solder. This can cause great grief in
multiple temperature grade soldering jobs. Your butane torch does not
have enough heat output (BTU’s) to raise the area to be soldered to
above the flow point in a rapid enough manner and the result is
liquation and skull formation. This is one reason why it is better to
apply the solder to a pre heated joint with a pick as it will flow
instantly if the joint is at the correct temperature and it doesn’t
need to sit on the joint as the piece is raised to soldering
temperature.

BTW Liquation is also one aspect of solder behavior that leads to
the myth of “solder alloy content being burned out by the soldering
process and there by raising the apparent hardness of the solder”

Regards,

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550

Helen…the reason you can maybe solder part of a job with the
butane is…the metal is clean and the flux fresh and working. The
longer you heat it…the dirtier things become…the flux burns
off, crystalizes, the metal oxidizes and things really get messy.
Much of it you can see…but much you cannot. To get the remainder
to work, you would have to quench, pickle, clean it all up and start
again. The larger torch will allow you to adjust your flame and you
can get in, heat, flow and get out.

Cheers from Don in SOFL.

BTW Liquation is also one aspect of solder behavior that leads to
the myth of "solder alloy content being burned out by the
soldering process and there by raising the apparent hardness of the
solder" 

That’s a myth? I wouldn’t say that my own observation has supported
this notion, but I was taught that, when I started, and never
really questioned it/ gave it a lot of thought. So-- not true?

Noel

p.s. on your advice, I will be using white gold for the tongue,
though I’ve never worked with it, so I ordered a ready-made. Hope it
is beefy enough!

Hi Don,

the reason you can maybe solder part of a job with the butane
is....the metal is clean and the flux fresh and working. The longer
you heat it....the dirtier things become....the flux burns off,
crystalizes, the metal oxidizes and things really get messy. 

In such circumstances I do quench and pickle before carrying on. My
little butane “torch” is getting more and more unreliable as it’s
been used for hours at a time for months on end and I’m sure it
wasn’t designed for such a high volume of use. I have been soldering
for a number of months now and so have got become very accomplished
at neatly soldering small jobs without any problems but it is the
large pieces and I am 99% positive that once I have the higher
temperature flame of my oxy/propane torch, I will be able to quickly
solder the larger pieces too.

Helen

Cutting and soldering bezels can sometimes be a pain. The best
advice I ever received was from Jim Stewart of Stewart’s
International School for Jewlers. To solder: use enough heat to
solder in 6 seconds. 6 seconds is the magic number. Try it–it works.

To solder: use enough heat to solder in 6 seconds. 6 seconds is the
magic number. Try it--it works. 

I’ll keep that in mind the next time I solder a big bracelet or belt
buckle. This rule would necessitate me to use a flame so big that it
will not only remove my eyebrows but what’s left of my hair and the
roof of my studio. Just kidding. This rule must be for gold and not
silver pieces of any size. But it serves as a reminder that when
soldering silver and the solder won’t flow heating it longer is not
the answer. Stop add more flux or pickle or cleanup whatever
contamination that’s preventing the solder from flowing. More and
longer heating is only going to get you more fire scale.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Colorado Springs, Colorado
rockymountainwonders.com