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Fixing part while soldering


I am in desperate need of some ingenuity and I know this is where I
can get the help. My problem: I have essential tremors for which I
take medication twice a day.Recently, the tremors have become so
severe that I am having trouble soldering bails onto the pendants
that I make.I like to make or use small tube bails, and normally I
put the piece in a third hand,? hold the bail with locking tweezers
and bring the bail to the piece when the solder starts to flow. I
set the bail on the edge of the piece, not on the back or front.

Buying a laser welder is out of the question (no money) Can anyone
help me come up with some device that I might try so that I can
continue this hobby I love so much?

Thank you for your help. Orchid Rocks!!!



Hi Carolyn,

I like to make or use small tube bails, and normally I put the
piece in a third hand,? hold the bail with locking tweezers and
bring the bail to the piece when the solder starts to flow. I set
the bail on the edge of the piece, not on the back or front. 

Pre-flow the solder on the edge of the piece where the bail will go
(or one one side of the tubing - whichever is easier for you). Then
use two third hands, one to hold the piece and the other to hold
the bail. Actually, rather than having the second third hand hold the
bail directly, you’ll probably want to use a locking tweezers to hold
the bail and the third hand to hold the tweezers so you can get the
angle right.

Just be careful not to overheat the bail since it will be in contact
with the main piece throughout the soldering. The tweezers will help
by acting as a heat sink, but you’ll still need to be careful not to
melt the tubing.

Hope this helps!


Hello Carolyn;

You might try one of the tack welders like the “Sparky” welder. You
connect a lead to one piece, ground the other, position the pieces
touching, then press down a foot pedal. An electric charge passes
through the pieces, and the point of contact of the two pieces fuses
very slightly. You can break the connection easily, re-position, and
try again. It still requires a somewhat steady moment when the pedal
is depressed, but you’ll eliminate the distraction and awkwardness of
the torch. You’ll also be able to keep both your hands resting on the
table when hold the pieces in place.

When you get the pieces tacked together the way you like, the bond
is strong enough to keep them in place while you pick up a small bead
of solder, position it at the joint, and bring the torch in to flow
the solder.

These machines are not terribly expensive, in the low hundreds, not
thousands, and even for jewelers with rock steady hands, they’re
very handy. By the way, what you’re doing isn’t that easy even for
those of us without physical challenges.

By the way, here’s a hint for using them. Keep a small bowl of water
handy to dip the pieces in before you tack them. Not dripping wet,
just moistened. It helps the weld happen. I know, water and
electricity… actually, these machines don’t have enough punch to
give you any kind of damaging shock, maybe a tingle, but you have to
really try for it to happen. Obviosly, you’d not want to get water
near the outlet and plug.

David L. Huffman


Hi Carolyn,

When I want to do something like that I lay my tube flat on the
soldering brick and space up my flat piece with nickels or thinner
pieces of stainless steel or another metal that doesn’t want to
solder easily.

Another method could be one could use stainless steel binding wire
and wire it into place this method has become my favorite friend.

Ken Moore



Use two sets of locking tweezers on second hand stands for bails. Use
long point nose tweezers so you do not have to jack the heat up so
high, reduces firescale. Place the tweezers at the bottom end of the
pendant when you have a choice and crossways near the bottom of the
bail so that the heat is as equal at the seam as possible.You may
only need to put a drop of flux at the seam if the piece is gold. You
still have to borax silver pieces.

For the tube bails run a piece of similar guage Silver or Steel wire
through the tube, twist the top of the wire together and hold that
with the locking tweezer on stand. Remember that the wire is a heat
sink too. This will equalize the heat flowing to the ends of the
tube and allow an even flow of solder from end to end. Silver or
steel wire will less likely accept solder than wire of the same
material as your piece thereby reducing the chance of solder getting
into the tube.


Carolyn- Get your self a hard charcoal block. Carve out a seat for
your tube bail by using a ball bur the same size as as your tubing.
Carve the seat deep enough so that your tube bail is only half
buried. Set your pendant on the surface of the block snug up to the
half buried bail and then solder. I like to cover my pieces with
borax/alcohol and flux before i put them down on the block to keep
from making a gooey black mess. If you are having problems picking
up small pieces of solder, you might want to switch to paste
solder/flux. Good luck, make lots of jewelry, and have fun.

Jo Haemer

I put the piece in a third hand,? hold the bail with locking
tweezers and bring the bail to the piece when the solder starts to

If the two parts are kept apart until the solder flows, does that
mean that you are only heating the pendant part and bringing a
comparatively cold bail to the molten solder? That is not the best

It would be better to set the pieces up so that they are already
touching, ie. clamp the pendant in the third hand as you are doing
and the bail in cross-lock tweezers, but so that they are both
sitting on your soldering block/pad and touching each other where you
want to make the joint. Bring both parts up to temperature at the
same time so that when the solder flows, the joint is made. I’ve
found that I sometimes need to give one part a tiny push if the
molten solder creates a little gap as it melts. Having the parts in
contact to begin with is the normal way to solder and would hopefully
mean that your tremors won’t be as much of a problem as you aren’t
having to hold either of the parts in question.




Sorry to hear about the tremor, I hope your medications give
reasonable control. It sure doesn’t help for detailed hand work–but
it’s not the end of the world.

I spent a large part of my 42 years of practice teaching young eye
surgeons tricks and techniques. Most folks have some degree of
tremor at least part of the time, so achieving stability and
controlling tremor is a major objective. The real key is to rigidly
support both hands, your tools and your work; always rest your
fingers or knuckles on a solid surface, clamp your workpiece solidly
(the Benchmate is excellent while most third hand devices are pretty
shakey), setup an adjustable rest for the business end of your torch.
That’s really important, think of the way the tool rest is set on a
wood lathe, a rigid support for the gouge VERY close to the work. For
buring clamp the work, if possible, and have both hands pressed
against the Benchmate, clamp or bench pin.


Contact me off line if I can be of more specific help.

Dr. Mac


Soldering investment or even casting investment can be used to
fixture many soldering jobs. By placing the parts in alignment in
wax or clay then pouring a small amount of investment over the front
side of the work then once the investment has set you remove the clay
or wax and and proceed to solder the work. Then quench the work to
break out the investment.


James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts




There is a soldering board out there called “Impressionite” (made by
Krohn industries, I think). It’s designed to be very soft and allow
you to press the impression of a piece into the surface. If you’re
going to be doing multiples in the same shape, there’s also a
hardener that you can apply to that part of the board to create a
semi-permanent impression of the piece.

I would recommend the following:

  1. Press the pendant AND bail, in the correct relative positions,
    into the board, creating a “nest” for the finished piece.

  2. Remove the bail and flow the solder onto the pendant only. Do not
    remove the pendant or quench it - you want it to remain hot!

  3. Place the bail into its portion of the impression (using
    tweezers) and reheat until the solder flows properly.

By allowing the larger pendant to retain the majority of its heat,
you’re avoiding the uneven heating that could cause problems in the
joint. The much-smaller bail will heat rapidly and should come up to
flow heat at roughly the same time as the pendant.

There is a similar soldering board available from dental supply
houses - i can’t recall the brand name of it, but it comes in the
soldering turntables sold in dental catalogs. great stuff!

Good luck,
Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry



Glue the bail onto the piece with instant glue. Push object lightly
down on a bed of soldering grains. Apply flux and solder and solder.
For clean-up reasons it might be best to solder from the back side of
the piece.



Lots of good options on this. One thing I didn’t see mentioned that
might be useful–

You can use super glue to fasten the two pieces together initially.
Once it has set up, it is easier to press the assembly into gravel,
sand, or one of the special soldering boards Rio (and probably
others) sells that are made specially for pressing parts into.

Once that is done, your hands are free to deal with the torch. Paste
solder is a big help, too, in such cases. The glue burns off cleanly
and causes no problems.

I, too, suffer from what they blythely call “benign essential
tremor”, since I was a teenager. When it got really bad 5 years ago,
the doc wanted to give me meds for it, but in my case, getting off
the other meds I was on made it recede to a managable level. Cutting
out sugar and caffein also helps.

Good luck with yours!

There is a soldering board out there called "Impressionite" (made
by Krohn industries, I think). It's designed to be very soft and
allow you to press the impression of a piece into the surface. 

I tried Impressionite and it does work as advertised. However… the
board acts as a serious heat sink and you have to use much
bigger/hotter flames than you would normally. I could never get used
to it and gave it up. YMMV.


There is a soldering board out there called "Impressionite" (made
by Krohn industries, I think). It's designed to be very soft and
allow you to press the impression of a piece into the surface. 

Rio sells an impressionable soldering board that works very well. I
took a workshop where we used it this spring. I didn’t think of that
as a solution. Seems to me it is between $15 and $25.

Beth in SC


Karen from Cleverwerx here, lover of flame and soldering devotee.

You don’t HAVE to solder everything at once, you can solder in tiny
steps. If you have difficulty in hand coordination, you will just
need to pay more attention to the soldering process. By understanding
your limitations, in either adjusting your design or spending a
little extra time in the set up, your soldering experience will be

We all have limitations of one kind or another which should never
impede our path to creative discovery. Beethoven became deaf, but
made incredible music. Helen Keller was blind, deaf and dumb and
became an icon for communication.

Ok, you have a tremor. You need to solder something together. Your
setup will take a bit of creativity on your end to find a suitable
process in which to work. For you, a tack welder might be just the
ticket. Use a process outside of soldering to temporarily hold two
pieces together, long enough to solder it together. This might
actually be an advantage for you and a maker of this type of machine,
PUK, etc., for them to help you solve your problem. You might even
wangle a major discount as they could use you as a case study.

The point of this, always try to turn a flaw into a feature.

Keep Orchid posted on you progress and how you solved your problem.
That’s how we all learn. This is what this forum is about.

Karen Christians
Waltham, MA

how much risk is there compared to quenching a flask, for exposure
to silica particles? Or, is this in an entirely different league? 

With any silica based investment there is certainly going to be some
respirable silica but the smaller volume and lower temperature of
the investment mass is going to reduce the exposure. You still need
to have adequate ventilation to capture any that is present.


James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts