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Foxtail Vs Snake chain?

I am in a conundrum for a necklace I am designing. It will have
several components strung on it and I want to solder a custom made
toggle on the ends.

Snake chain is a pain to solder…I’ve tried many of the
suggestions on Orchid for soldering snake chain but I still am not
having the kind of success & control I’d like.

Foxtail is suppose to be strong (stronger then snake chain?) and
looks very similar to snake chain.

What are the differences between them? Is either one easier to
solder on then the other.

I’ve studied the Rio catalog trying to figure out the pros and cons
for each chain style. I want a strong, supple, easier to solder
chain. Which one is it? Foxtail or Snake?


Most of the fox tail chain I have worked with is a more open weave
than snake chain. Fox tail or wheat chain will be a little less
dense in their weaves than snake chain and may be easier for you to
attach ends without freezing a section.

Most of the problem with snake chain is freezing the chain with
solder leaving a stiff spot past the end.

There are several tricks to try to prevent this. You can try leaving
all the solder on the finding you will attach which will limit how
much and therefore how far the solder can wick up the chain. You may
also tray to melt the end of the chain first and grind down the melt
end until its flexible enough and solder at that point.

A good heat sink may be your best friend on this job to control how
far up the solder will go.

Using ocre will most likely be more frustrating than helpful. This as
with many other job is to pay close attention to the heat and where
the solder will run to, as it will head to the hottest point.


Carla, Regarding soldering on foxtail chains. Can’t advise as to
whether it is easier than soldering on snake chains, but just want to
warn you about some of the foxtail chains on the market. I got some,
and to my dismay found they were rhodium plated. Forget soldering on
those. Not sure whet= her or not Rio’s are plated, but it might be
advisable to ask before making the purchase.

I buy my snake in bulk form and have not had any problems soldering
clasps or toggles on them. I use the tried and true method of
soldering the ends of the snake chain into a tube which fits snuggly.
This process has been fully described in previous Orchid posts.

My first attempt to solder onto a foxtail chain ended in disaster as
the chain was Rhodium plated, even though the vendor at one of the
gem shows in Tucson assured me they were not. So much for truth in


Hi Carla–

I do some insanely tiny chain in full persian, half persian and
round maille that would make a really unique creation–just
wondering if handcrafted chain might suit–I do custom everything–

Trying to revive old school, one link at a time chain weaves doesnt
pay alot, but I love the stuff.

Hope you don’t mind me offering-- Sincerely, Charlie

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I do some insanely tiny chain in full persian, half persian and
round maille that would make a really unique creation--just
wondering if handcrafted chain might suit--I do custom

Do you solder your links closed? In my opinion, precious wire isn’t
going to be as stiff as more ordinary materials, so some of the
chains I’ve done needed soldering for security. That boosts the
labor cost out of the price range most people associate with chain
weaves, unfortunately. I’ve found a Tektronix ground clip from an
oscilloscope probe that is made of brass and steel, capable of
withstanding high temperatures and small enough to securely hold
rings that are difficult to see without magnification, making it at
least technically feasible to solder chains all the way through.

Trying to revive old school, one link at a time chain weaves
doesnt pay alot, but I love the stuff. 

Some of the modern variations are amazing, but I haven’t studied them
much. Persian, I like, Byzantine not so much. I prefer intricate
knots. :slight_smile:



Snake chain is a pain to solder....I've tried many of the
suggestions on Orchid for soldering snake chain but I still am not
having the kind of success & control I'd like. 

I’m guessing you’re trying to solder commercial chain? Maybe if you
were to match the ends with some custom links of your own, rather
than try to solder directly to the chain itself, you could be sure
of the metal you’re working with and could even shift the pattern a
little to make it easier.


Carla, a friend of mine uses snake chain quite frequently and his
method is not to solder at all. He does it by sort of riveting the
end cap on.He will make an end cap of some form and then drill
though the tube that the snake will fit into. Then when he is ready
to finish things he will insert the snake chain and drill through the
same holes he had previously drilled and drill through the snake
chain. Then he inserts a small piece of wire which has already been
balled upon one end. The last step is to cut the rivet wire to the
appropriate length and ball up the second end. He uses this
technique on all his snake chains.


Hello Carla,

I’m partial to foxtail or wheat chains, although this technique
works quite well on snake chains.

Flux an inch or so of the end. Paint “white-out” (use the
non-flammable type) over the chain surface, leaving 2 - 3 mm of the
end unpainted. Add some Battern’s flux to the unpainted end and warm.
Put Battern’s on your loop or whatever end piece and slide it into
place. Warm until the Battern’s has bubbled up and crusted. Use a
titanium or copper strip about 5-6 mm wide and bend it into a “V”;
cut a little notch in one side of the “V.” Lay the “V” down so that
little notch will fit over the chain and serve as a heat shield.
Place the notch at the place where your white-out stops. Place your
solder pallions and proceed with soldering.

I like to “pick solder.” That means to ball up the solder and pick
it up with your solder pick and place it where it will join the chain
and end piece. Heat until the solder flows.

Thanks to Noel for the tip on using the little notched “V.” She uses
strips of titanium, but 22 ga copper sheet will also work.

Judy in Kansas

I really appreciate the soldering hints. My problem is I usually
make my own findings with tubes and solder those on the ends of snake
chain. But I never know if the solder has run in the little tube, so
over-soldering or under-soldering seems to be the problem, while
also fusing the chain.

I still don’t understand the difference between sterling foxtail
(Thanks for the warning Alma) and snake chain. Is it functional or
just a different “weave?”

Thanks for all you insights.

a friend of mine uses snake chain quite frequently and his method
is not to solder at all. He does it by sort of riveting the end cap

I would be concerned that this might cause the snake chain to break
at the rivet.

Here’s a method I sometimes use:

Fit the end of the chain into a fairly snug piece of tube, then heat
just the very end, and when hot, apply a largish snippet of solder.
Then, after pickling, file the end flush-- it will look almost like
solid silver-- and either drill through the tube and put a jump ring
through, or solder a jump ring onto the end. Sometimes I hammer the
soldered end of the tube to flatten it a bit before drilling.

The solder will not run up the chain far enough to emerge from the
other end of the tube, but if in doubt, lay a piece of steel on the
chain where it emerges from the tube, just to be sure.


Howdy all–

Judy’s method is very good, I do a variation…it’s just
experimenting and finding a sweet spot that works. There’s wealth of
info/tips online if you search a bit.

Loren, I don’t solder unless requested or working with smaller
gauges in 14k. I’ve never had a problem with my chains coming
apart…14 years, although I always offer a warning for my 22 and
24ga. chains, they are delicate. Hey, Loren, can’t wait for you to
come teach your knotting technique.

Fusing Argentium is an alternative…a pinhead(or less) of paste
solder in the ring joint, then a uniform precipitation heating to
650f or whatever your paste recommends, pickle and burnish tumble.
There’s a gentleman I know of that doesn’t use paste, just heat
fuses. I love Argentium…finding it easier to work with, in
different ways, all the time.

Charlie Wyckoff

I hope nobody minds me putting my two cents worth into the
discussion. As I’ve said I am new to jewellery making, only having
been doing it for two to three months. However, I shortened a snake
chain for my daughter the other day. I took the end off, cleaned it
up to get rid of the remnants of chain, cut a couple of inches off
the length, fluxed all surfaces and soldered the end back on. The
flame was removed the instant the solder flowed.

It worked with no problem and my theory is that I am only using a
handheld butane torch. There was no wicking of the solder up the
chain and there is as much flexibility in the chain as there was
before. Could it be that it is the lower temperature flame I am
using, which is enabling me to solder snake chain without a problem
so far? If that’s a solution to the problem, then maybe keeping such
a cheap handheld torch for such jobs might be worthwhile.

It may well be that it was just beginner’s luck and that next time I
try it I may encounter all manner of problems, but maybe it’s worth
looking into.

Helen Hill

Carla, The only difference between sterling foxtail and sterling
snake chain is the weave. The foxtails that I purchased have what
can best be described as a chevron weave. They are in several
different styles. Some are flat, some are round, and some are
squarish, but all have the chevron weave.


Hello Helen,

IMHO, either you are a “natural”, or the stars were aligned for you
that day. Soldering chain is all about temperature control, and
temperature is temperature, regardless of the size of the torch.
However, the size of the FLAME does make a difference, and the little
butane torches have a small flame, so that could well have been the

Here’s to your courage and “can-do” attitude. You go, girl!

Judy in Kansas

Hi Judy,

Yes you’re right about temperature as someone else pointed out to me.
If it’s hot enough for the solder to flow, it’s hot enough for it to

Here's to your courage and "can-do" attitude. You go, girl! 

Cheers, will do.