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First Steps in Soldering


#1

I am just starting out in the soldering process. I took a short
class, where I learned to solder with “easy” solder and made a
sterling silver linked bracelet. Of course, all went well during the
class- no problems with torch or solder. However, I have recently
purchased an Acetylene/Air Smith torch with a size 00 tip. I set up
my shop, and anxiously got to work making another bracelet. I have
encountered nothing but problems with the home shop. Clearly, I do
not know the temperature of my torch and have alternately
singed/burnt/overly oxidized scraps of sterling silver. For some
reason, the smaller gauge wire is easier for me to solder than 14g
sterling silver. Specifically, the process I was taught is: flux my
joint, let it dry. Heat the entire piece, heat a small snip of solder
until it “balls up” grab it with my titanium tip…heat the joint I
am soldering, then apply the ball of solder and VOILA! Currently,
when I heat my solder it lays flat and does not “ball up”… then if
I apply the blue part of my flame to it, it balls up rather
quickly… However, when put the ball of solder on my joint, it sits
there and does not flow. (Meanwhile the entire piece becomes
oxidize/singed). I have a feeling that the entire piece is not
heating (because I don’t see it glowing red), but how could it not
be heating when there is a torch waved over it??) I believe my
problems are related to not knowing the temperature of the flame- as
then the piece or the solder is over/under heated. Any suggestions/
knowledge of the Acetylene/Air torch would be appreciated! (I did
read the “5 problems encountered in soldering” article posted,
revisited the process… and still did not have any luck)

Brooke


#2

Brooke,

Sounds to me like your tip is too small. You must heat the whole
piece of silver equally. Then your solder should flow, as long as
your
joints ar clean and free of burs.

Candy


#3

For 14g you may want to try a larger tip, like a 1 or 2. Make sure
the solder and your joint are squeaky clean (I use scotch brite and
pumice, probably overkill, but that’s how I was taught) and that you
have a tight fit on the joint. Next you have to heat both sides or
the joint to same temp. so it doesn’t just flow to one side or the
other. You may want to use boric acid to keep the whole thing from
oxidizing too much and use handy flux for silver. I know it all
sounds really nit picky, but I couldn’t solder to save my life until
my teacher pointed all these little things to me. Now I can solder 5
inch seams without a problem. It takes a little time, and a little
trouble shooting, but be patient. :slight_smile:


#4

Sounds like you may need a larger tip for your torch, What kind of
flux are you using? Are you fluxing the whole piece or just the
joint? What are you using for a soldering surface? It sounds like
you just don’t have a large enough flame but it is hard to tell
from your description.

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#5

Brooke,

I would suggest you ditch the 00 tip!!! That tip is useless for
anything but the smallest job. An 0 tip will give you much better
service but you should practice a bit first as it puts out a wider
and hotter flame.

In fact, for the kind of soldering you are doing, I would have
advised you to get a propane/oxy Smith Little Torch with a nr 4 or 5
tip. It would allow you to get in and get out in a matter of seconds.

Live and learn huh? Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in
SOFL where simple elegance IS fine jewelry! AND, for those in the
South Florida area, if you have time this week end, drop by the Palm
Beach Gem and Mineral Show at the South Florida Fairgrounds. I will
be demonstrating the brand new Graves Caberet 6 wheel cabbing
machine. Look forward to seeing Orchadians there.

Don


#6
I have recently purchased an Acetylene/Air Smith torch with a size
00 tip. 

To hot… propane and oxygen will make your life easyier

flux my joint, let it dry. Heat the entire piece, heat a small
snip of solder until it "balls up" grab it with my titanium
tip....heat the joint I am soldering, then apply the ball of solder
and VOILA! 

Try fire coat 1st then hit it quick with the torch and burn out the
oxygen in the flux

Currently, when I heat my solder it lays flat and does not "ball
up" 

Steam clean your solder it sounds like it is dirty

then if I apply the blue part of my flame to it, it balls up
rather quickly... However, when put the ball of solder on my joint,
it sits there and does not flow. 

You are burning out all of the Nickel, dont aim your flame, heat the
area if your solder smokes you got it to hot

I have a feeling that the entire piece is not heating (because I
don’t see it glowing red), but how could it not be heating when
there is a torch waved over it??)

Use a reduceing flame… keep your flame envelope 1 ince away, get
in and get out you might be waveing your torch to much. If the
solder hasnt started to flow in 6 seconds STOP, clean and start over
again Looking for color helps in the begineing but it can get in the
way in the end… this might sound a little cosmic but you have to
"feel it" practice and you will do fine.

Sean


#7

Brooke-

You have the same setup as I use. I usually use a size 5 tip. The 00
(I haven’t used it, but it must be very small?) maybe too small for
most work. If I had to guess, I’d guess that may be your biggest
problem.

You need to make very sure the piece you are soldering on and the
solder are very clean. When I can see darkening on my solder, I
usually run a piece of fine finishing paper over the solder (I use
wire solder) to clean it.

Since I am self taught I know I don’t always do things “right” by
the book, but I usually place my solder next to the seam and heat
from underneath when possible. I melt the solder and then move it to
the joint when I am dealing with delicate pieces that may heat up too
fast if I place the solder on them and then heat.

I am completely self-taught. I discovered that no amount of reading
would substitute for practice and getting an intuitive feel for
soldering–which for me included the melting and overheating that you
are now going through. It will come to you and then be second nature
after practicing.

J. S. (Sue) Ellington
http://www.jsellington.com


#8
I have recently purchased an Acetylene/Air Smith torch with a size
00 tip. 

John, I beg to differ. Acetylene/Air Smith torch is not
acetylene/oxy. Using the ambient air, the flame is MUCH cooler than
propane/oxy.

To hot... propane and oxygen will make your life easyier flux my
joint, let it dry. Heat the entire piece, heat a small snip of
solder until it "balls up" grab it with my titanium tip....heat the
joint I am soldering, then apply the ball of solder and VOILA! Try
fire coat 1st then hit it quick with the torch and burn out the
oxygen in the flux Currently, when I heat my solder it lays flat
and does not "ball up" Steam clean your solder it sounds like it is
dirty then if I apply the blue part of my flame to it, it balls up
rather quickly... However, when put the ball of solder on my
joint, it sits there and does not flow. 

There are three parts to a flame. The cone, white/orange section and
then the lickety bit at the end. With a 0 or 00 Smith tip, they are
good for small items, bezels, jump rings, etc.

I’ve used all gas, all tips in all combinations. I’ve used solders
from Rio, to Hoover, to Hauser and Miller, Stearns and Leach, Otto
Frei and from Germany. I also teach soldering. Awhile back, I wrote a
piece on Orchid from my years of trial and error of gold, silver and
finally platinum at Krafwerks, which was cool. When would you ever
get to weld platinum. I also fabricate with gold granulation where
you take gold up to temperatures that is absolutely scary. My
favorite? My good old Smith torch Acetelyene and Air for 90 percent
of my work. I switch to propane and oxy when I have to for some work.

Technique with your hand, preparation of parts, cleanliness and most
important, good fit.

See my notes on Ganoksin.

https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/still-cant-solder

If you are interested in becoming more proficient in soldering, I am
teaching a three day workshop at Metalwerx.

http://www.metalwerx.com/workshop/104

Part of understanding soldering is how different metals heat. Copper
likes to suck heat, so does gold because of their melting
temperatures. Certain solders work better than others. Knowing what
to look for is the key.

Practice is so important. Don’t worry so much about making perfect
jewelry until you master the soldering part. One way to do that is to
cut about 25 jump rings in half and solder them down to different
metals. Then solder whole ones to each other. Make silly little
sculptures. Then invest in a package of earring posts. Or just cut
some wire and starts soldering, over and over. You’ll get it.

In my class, I take everybody through their paces, butt joints, t
joints, sweat solder, pinbacks, earring backs jump rings, rings that
are attached to rings, soldering on roller printed metal, and silver
depletion. If you want to fuse a fine silver bezel, I’ll show you how
to do that too.

It’s fun and frustrating, but that’s the challenge.

M E T A L W E R X
School for Jewelry and the Metalarts
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
781 891 3854
www.metalwerx.com


#9

I have recently purchased an Acetylene/Air Smith torch with a size
00 tip.

To hot... propane and oxygen will make your life easyier 

Acetylene air torch is just fine for this and is cooler than the
propane oxygen flame by about one thousand degrees (Acetylene/Air
4220F vs Propane/Oxygen 5111F). Her main problem is the size of the
flame not the flame temperature.

Try fire coat 1st then hit it quick with the torch and burn out the
oxygen in the flux 

This just removes water and alcohol not the oxygen.

 Currently, when I heat my solder it lays flat and does not
"ball up" Steam clean your solder it sounds like it is dirty 

possibly, but also is symptom of not enough heat i.e. needs larger
flame.

then if I apply the blue part of my flame to it, it balls up rather
quickly... However, when put the ball of solder on my joint, it sits
there and does not flow. You are burning out all of the Nickel,
dont aim your flame, heat the area if your solder smokes you got it
to hot 

There is no nickel in the standard silver solder or in the sterling,
only silver, copper and zinc. Possibly cadmium or indium in the
solder but probably not.

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#10

Your tip is too small. I switched from a #0 tip to a #1 years ago
after having the same problems you are having. On my website most of
that work was done with the same set up as yours and a #1 tip. It
seems big, but it will work, for smaller delicate work.

hth
Carla
www.carlamfox.com


#11

I’ve read through this thread - one or two have bad advise, but
mostly it’s all right-on. It does say, “Do this, do that, do
that…”, a lot - all correct, but probably confusing. Soldering is
easy, in it’s basics. I would use the analogy of whistling (which to
this day I can’t do at all well). “You just put your lips together
and blow.” Well, yeah, but it doesn’t whistle… All soldering
involves is clean metal, a good seam, flux, solder and heat. But it’s
the interrelationship of all those things that is mystifying to some.
One day, with all the advise and practice, you’ll sit down and find
that combination, and the solder will just go “ziiiiiiip”, right down
the seamline, and you’ll say, “Now I see why he said it’s easy.” You
just need to find that place where, when you pucker your lips, a
sound comes out… And finally, it’s almost always more heat…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#12

You’ve purchased a great torch. I’ve used the Smith -
acetylene/ambient air for years -on both sterling and gold and fine
silver. I’ve even done some torched enamels. The 00 torch tip is
very tiny, I use it a lot, but it’s too small for my students (they
are so afraid of melting stuff - I make them use larger tips so they
do!!!) It’s all about heat control, not the flame size. They need to
learn that.


#13

Was there ever a time when you wish you could take back a post… I
was so excited that I might be able to help that I typed faster than
I thought, Thanks for listening and sorry if I added to the
confusion.

Sean