Jan…my you are having some problems aren’t you?
My first advice is…definately use a protective flux when heating
sterling silver. Whether you use cupronil or Prips or whatever, use a
protective flux. Some old timers (I guess I would qualify for that)
swear you do not need to do so but I have been using it for going on
35 years and will continue to do so. Is it necessary on wire? Not
really as there is not enough visible surface to see it. Is it
necessary on fine silver bezels? Probably not…but I use it on
everything and make sure my students do too!!! Does it completely
preclude firescale? Nope…but it does a pretty good job and
certaily makes polishing a lot simpler.
Re soldering large bezels. By large…what do you mean? I solder all
my bezels up to 30x22mm holding them in front of me in tweezers and
heating them first from the back and then angeling the torch along
the sides. This gives a perfect join 95-99% of the time. (Now and
then I goof up
When they get over that size up to some real whoopers…I use a
bridge. Not a soldering stand…those things are huge heat sinks and
usually take 2 to 3 torches to get any heat into your piece. Instead,
use two soldering bricks (I use magesia blocks) placed on a firesafe
surface angled out at approx 45 deg. Place a medium weight screen
over them and your piece to be soldered on top of the screen near the
front edge. Heat from underneath keeping the torch flame under
control so the heat goes into the base plate evenly. Move the flame
in a circular fashion then, as it heats up, concentrate your heat at
the rear till the solder flows, then move it slowly completely around
until all the solder flows. Try to keep the flame on the outside edge
of the bottom to draw the solder under the bezel and towards the
A couple of tips to get ready for this procedure. Before laying the
bezel on the back plate, be sure to sand the bottom of the bezel 100%
flat. Be sure the base plate is 100% flat and sand both sides
lightly. Use protective flux on both sides. After laying the bezel
on, add some cleaning flux such as Batterns, or some such, only on
the inside of the join. Lay in as few solder snippets as
possible…i.e. on a 30x22mm I use only 4 smsall size snippets
placing them 12:00, 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00 (or north, south, east and
west). On larger pieces you may want to add one more on each side.
Thats all you use. If you miss a spot, you can add a small amount
later but that is rarely necessary.
If you do miss a spot…hold the piece in front of you in a pair of
long tweezers. Have one tang over the bezel and one under the
backplate at the open spot. DO NOT SQUEEZE…imply hold it up. Heat
around the bottom and then concentrate directly under the tweezers.
As the metal heats up it will come together and the solder will
immediately flow. Don’t overheat but don’t take too long to heat it
either as strange things can happen.
Try it…it works…all my students learn to do that and normally by
their second bezel they always complete the job the first time.
By the way…I always pickle after each soldering job, unless I’m
doing something such as multiple prongs on a bearing or some such
thing. This allows me to assess my success (or failure) and to do any
clean up before laying on the next piece. Never had any problem with
multiple pickleings ruining my solder joins. If done right, they are
so small and thin, the pickle can’t penetrate or otherwise effect the
Good luck and cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where
simple elegance IS fine jewelry!