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Filigree Soldering

Hello again,

Thanks to all of you for the great responses to my previous
inquiries. Here’s another one.

I am trying to solder some 2.5 oz. sterling medallions to a filigree
backing. The problem I am having is getting the medallion hot
enough to melt the solder without damaging the filigree. I’ve
thought about either trying to solder with the filigree on a steel
block (acting as heat sink) or placing the pieces in my kiln at 1200,
then hitting the medallion with the torch for a final jump in heat.

Any ideas?

depends on how you’re placing the filigree. if you’re soldering it
to the edge it’s just a really hard job. on the back you’d heat the
medalion from underneath till the last second and then touch the
flame on the filigree.

on any filigree i’ve found making tiny pallions for the soldering to
be really affective. a good way to make tiny pallions is to draw
your solder down to the thickness of a hair and then flatten it with
a rolling mill or a planishing hammer. if these tools aren’t in your
shop you can just wail on the solder with any old hammer until it’s
really thin. use any sharp cutter you have even a nail clipper will
work and cut your pallions up into tiny pallions like the size of
this zero (0) or less and very thin almost like tin foil or less.
the idea is to make your solder flow almost instantly.flux all your
parts and place them. pick the pallions up with the wetted tip of a
scribing point and position on your pieces soldering points. when
you’ve placed as many as you’re comfortable soldering at on time set
a 100 watt bulb close over your work till the flux dries. this
should trap the pallions and parts together without boiling the
solder or parts out of position. heat slowly till the flux flows
then heat the larger part until the flux gets kinda clear the solder
is ready to flow about then so heat everything evenly and it should
run. thats the best i can do with words hope it helps my two cents

You might try heating the medallion first, then adding the filigree
piece while it is still hot…that way, you give the medallion a head
start. Otherwise, try super easy paste solder, make sure you heat the
whole thing well, then focus a bit on the areas that will connect.
BTW. A plain propane torch is much better for that kind of work than
a more focussed, oxypropane flame. I do filigree and I only use a
propane/air torch with small tip.


Regarding the question for soldering on filligree. What type of
solder are you using? I use easy solder that I have ground shavings
from. Additionally I try to change my flame by using a reduction
flame which covers the surface better and allows for a better
soldering. You can reduce your flame by cutting back on the O2

Jennifer Friedman
enamelist, jewelry artisan, ceremonial silver

This may help, Try powdered dry flux and solder filings. This is
the technique that Lori Talcott uses, she is a master at the craft of

James McMurray

A wonderful product for soldering filigree is powder solder. This is
a product that is used throughout the industry for doing this type
of work. There are many other applications for powder solder such as
sweat soldering all in one operation, but filigree is a prime
application for the powder. You use Handy Flux and not a liquid flux
when working with the powder. The flux needs to stand up to the job
and not burn off quickly. As was mentioned in a previous post, one
of the orchid members grinds off some solder to make it into a
powder or very, very small chips and places it a the site to be
soldered. The already made powder solder saves you the time and
effort of making you own. All temperature flows are available,
including extra easy. You had thought of soldering this type of
construction in a kiln. This would work only of you have an inert
atmosphere. It will not work in a regular kiln.

BUT… you can get the solder into all the nooks and crannies,
that is an advantage of this type of solder since it is made into
such fine particles. The heavy duty flux melts slowly as long as you
do not overheat all at once, the powder stays in the flux and when
it attains the proper temperature, it will melt. I have not tried
to do the powder with a liquid flux in filigree, but the liquid flux
just does not stand up to the powder as a general rule of thumb.

I suggest that you work on a tripod with a screen and from the back
up and apply the heat to the back of the piece (the filigree work is
on the front). Then, just as you are seeing the solder start to
flow, quickly go to the top of the piece. Since solder goes to
heat, it will flow into the spaces as you direct the heat towards
the areas that you want to be attached. Heat evenly from the back,
you can direct just a little to the side, pulling the solder into
the joins you want to make. It is a learning curve to get the
correct temperatures so your piece does not melt. By putting the
heat on the thicker part of the metal (back), you are able to bring
the piece to the proper temperature without putting direct heat on
the very thin wires of the filigree. Then, when the solder is
ready to flow, you are ready to direct it into the proper place.
Remember, you must have a good fit. No solder fills large gaps.

Beth Katz
Paste and Powder Solder for Jewelers and Metalsmiths