All, I use free hand (or off-hand if you prefer) soldering quite a
bit and also teach it to my students. The technique is simple in
description but requires a steady hand, eye/hand coordination and
very good torch control. It also requires some good long tweezers of
various weights, many of which I modify for various operations.
This type of soldering uses no pins, needles, binding wire, third
hands or other holding devices except perhaps to hold the largest
item to which something smaller will be soldered. Usually the large
part can be tucked far down into a pair off heavy tweezers where
tension holds it steady. Or use a pair of forceps.
The freehand part comes in when attaching the part being soldered.
For example, if soldering a jump ring to a bezel mount, I lock the
bezel/backplate in place by pushing it down into a pair of tweezers
and stand it upright. The jump ring I hold in a pair of light
tweezers (with or without heat resist) and solder the ring in
place…immediately removing the torch followed by the tweezers.
Forceps or self-closing tweezers can also be used to hold the smaller
item. The whole idea is not to lay everything out and pin or bind it
Free hand soldering is useful for soldering smaller items to larger
ones especially when soldering silver. It allows you to heat the
larger piece to the proper temperature before bringing the smaller
part into the sphere of the flame where it could otherwise receive
too much heat and melt. Earring posts, jump rings, pin parts, etc
can all be done this way quickly and easily. There are other little
nuiances such as pre-soldering the small part, etc., but experiment a
little and you will quickly learn the rudiments.
Happy soldering from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where
simple elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut1