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[How2?] Soldering Steel Cable

Hi. I have a question. I bought some of that steel cable to
make some of those darn chokers that are so trendy! I’m curious
– does anyone have a tip on how best to attach the clasp to
these? I could do crimp beads I suppose, what is the best way to
solder an end tab to steel? I haven’t done that before. Also, I
plan to have an unsoldered jump ring on this so that if it were
stolen (you know, ripped off the neck, as on a train…it
happens in Chicago, though usually with gold.) it would release.

I am concerned about selling a necklace which lends itself to
become a garrote. Does anyone have a thought on this?

Thanks. And thanks for all the suggestions on etching with
Ferric Chloride. I’ll try it again.

Chicago, IL

I share Elaine’s question about soldering the stainless cable. -
how do you pickle it without contaminating your pickle? Also, does
anyone know a source for thin guages of this cable? The smallest
I’ve been able to find (at a steel wire outfit) was 3/32". (Very
stiff and ugly.)

Rene Calif No. Coast


There is a solder that we use in dental work called E-Z solder.
It is used to solder precious metals to steel or chrome cobalt
or nickel chrome. The sticks come as pre fluxed tubes and are
available in both yellow and white. They are available from any
dental supply house. They flow at a pretty low temperature,
Elaine you have my number so call or E-mail me. It turns out we
are neighbors.

Warmest Regards,


Back from hospital land and glad to be here!

Skip Meister
N.R.A. Endowment &
Certified Instructor
in all disciplines
Certified Illinois D.N.R.
Hunter Ed, Instructor

Elaine, the few that I have made have posed this same problem. I
have soldered and then scrubbed off the flux with hot water or
by submerging only the silver part of the finding. the finding
that I make are sterling tubes with rings on the end although I
did make a competition type with a fabricated tube clasp. This
was a tedious project but could probably be easily jerked from a
neck. It has the advantage of keeping the cable in a nice circle
because the tubes become a part of the cable and there is no flex
at the joint. The tubes can also be riveted in place or epoxied
if you have good luck with epoxy which I don’t.

Marilyn Smith

Indiana, what was once the far west and once called the bloody hunting

Hi, Elaine

Hope this helps…

I once was involved in developing “bionic ears” (we worked with
the House Ear Institute, among others). At one time we had to
develop a very strong cable for connecting an amplifier to the
earpiece. We settled on insulated stainless steel electrical
wire (it was made up of many strands of very fine wires–very
strong, super flexible). In order to solder it, the wire had to
be pickled: we had to strip the insulation back, gently heat the
wire, and then dip the hot wire in beeswax. Next, we removed
the wax from the area to be soldered, gently heated the wire
again, and dipped it in nitric acid. (The trick here is to heat
the wire again without excessively melting the beeswax!) The
acid then had to be neutralized–baking soda and water is fine.
At this point, the wire is ready to solder, and will remain so
for at least an hour or two. We soldered it using conventional
electronic soldering techniques: a hot-tipped soldering iron and
standard flux-core electronic solder. Then all you need to do is
clean off the beeswax, which is used to prevent the acid from
creeping up the strands. You also need to clean off any flux
residue–alcohol will do that (it won’t attack the wire, it’s
just ugly and unfinished!) Obviously, if you aren’t using
insulated wire/cable, you don’t need to worry about the
insulation, but you should still consider using the
beeswax–there’s less to protect from the acid. It might also
work (more slowly) to heat the acid instead of the wire, but then
you have that fumes problem…


(custom gold & silver colored gemstone jewelry, newbies to Orchid & the biz)

Dear Rene, I don’t know about the States, but in Australia we
find a large range of suitably flexible, small diameter stainless
steel cables in marine accessory shops. Boaties use very fine
cable at times and it’s perfect for us jewellers.

I don’t solder the stuff. Instead, I have a range of silver and
gold cheniers (tubes) which fit firmly over the ends of whatever
size cable I’m working with. I poke the cable with the cut-off
length of chenier into my draw-plate and simply hammer it into a
couple of holes so that the chenier is crimped tightly around and
into the wires that make up the cable. I’ve never had them come
loose. I can then attach or solder my fittings directly to the

Hope this helps, Rex from Oz

You could solder the end of the wire with soft (lead) solder.
You may also be able to solder it with a low melting point
silver solder. You could also try crimping it with brass wire.
Is tinned wire? There are some very funny people about. I don’t
think that I would want to sell something that could be used as
a weapon. remember piano wire?

Richard Whitehouse
Silversmith & Jeweller
Email: @Richard_Whitehouse1

    I share Elaine's question about soldering the stainless
cable. - how do you pickle it without contaminating your

G’day RENE: carefully dip just the capped part of the cable
into hot pickle? Wash off in washing soda solution (sodium
carbonate) Then rinse well in tap water. If you use only a very
small vessel to contain the hot pickle you can just dispose of it
in your usual way after use - it’s cheap enough. If your capping
is coppered as a result of getting part of the iron/steel cable
into the pickle, simply polish it off - it isn’t adherent.

By the way, take care to allow the job to cool VERY slowly or
the steel cable with be very hard and brittle. It is also possible
to electrolytically copper plate steel cable with a truly
adherent coat of copper so that it will take soft (lead-tin)

   Also, does anyone know a source for thin gauges of this
cable? The smallest  I've been able to find (at a steel
wire outfit) was 3/32". (Very  stiff and ugly.) 

Try some of the beading suppliers. Or, for a bit thicker cable,
try a bike shop for bicycle brake cable. Picture framers also
keep fine cable. Even brass cable. Your local DIY shop will keep
that probably. Cheers,

       / \
     /  /
   /  /                                
 /  /__| \      @John_Burgess2
(______ )       

At sunny (well, quite often!) Nelson NZ in early spring with lambs,
daffs, magnolia, kowhai all blooming. Cold starry nights, cold sunny days

Some fishing supply stores also have it. It is for leaders on
the bait. Have not checked the lengths they carry I have seen
it as small as 1/2 MM diameter.

  The smallest I've been able to find (at a steel wire outfit)
was 3/32". (Very stiff and ugly.) 

Yes, the company is Small Parts, Inc. in Miami Lakes, FL
800-220-4242. They have 1/32" stainless cable in type 304 and
many other great products.

Have fun!

I don’t think pickle becomes ‘contaminated’ does it? If the
iron/steel object is removed from the pickle it back to normal. I
mention it because don’t like the idea everyone’s throwing away
pickle for no sound reason, possibly contaminating the

B r i a n =A0 A d a m J e w e l l e r y E y e w e a r =A0
@Brian_Adam1 ph/fx +64 9 817 6816 NEW ZEALAND

I share Elaine’s question about soldering the stainless cable. -
how do you pickle it without contaminating your pickle?

It it’s stainless, it shouldn’t contaminate the pickle…

Or, if you’re worried, why not just mix up a small container of
new pickle? It’s not like the stuff was very expensive, after
all. Pickle will only give your problems with steel if you’ve
already gotton copper oxides dissolved in it from silver, gold,
bronze, etc. work. If the stuff is new, then there is no copper
in it to plate out on the steel, so no problems. Don’t then use
this pickle on your precious metals though. In theory, you only
get “plating out” of the copper in the pickle when iron or other
such base metal is actually in contact with the jewelry item, so
you could use this contaminated pickle for your jewelry as often
as not, since the contamination (iron) would be already in
solution, and not causing further reactions. Still, dissolved
base metal in the pickle is then available to cause problems if
somehow you put something in the pickle with any more reactive
metal components (zinc, for example), and then you’d not have
just copper plating out on the item, but iron as well. Yuk.

One other comment about pickling stainless. Use the pickle
fairly weak, and don’t leave the item in it very long. Some
stainless will resist pickle very well, and only oxides get
dissolved. But some stainless gets at least slightly attacked.
So don’t leave it longer than needed.

Peter Rowe

Pickle, even the substitutes, can be contaminated by steel. Your
really don’t want to use the full range of metals in one pickle
pot. Gold and Plat are fine, throw in silver or copper and you
can alter the chemistry. Get a slight copper plate. Have never
liked to solder steel cable, but silver solder is best.


As to contaminating the pickle, if it’s truly stainless steel,
it shouldn’t matter. As I recall some suppliers (?Rio Grande?)
sells stainless steel binding wire, so that it can be soldered
around then pickled without unbinding. Hope this helps this piece
of the puzzle, the idea intrigues me for sure, I’ll like hearing

Thank to all in advance…efw

You can solder with silver solder- be sure to solder all of the
strands or the cable will come apart length wise by twisting. The
best flux Ive found is black flux for stainless from the welding
supply. I like the idea of Rex from Oz about compression, but
sometimes it would not work for our designs, so I designed with
an insert and screw to hold ends on that works well, but more
expensive to produce, although if you’re not into mass
production, it could work for you. You can drill and tap the
ends and put screw perpendicular to length of cable whereby
tightening screw holds ends on. Epoxy will work for awhile, but
eventually come loose, and got tired of replacing bracelets, etc.
due to loss- same thing with solder, so had to learn to solder
properly. You can get down to 1/32" from aviation suppliers or
marine supply, the fishing and picture frame varieties are not
always stainless. I have a source for this cable in sterling- much
easier to assemble and you don/t have to keep a seperate pickle
for it.:^)

Hi Ricky, Is the source for sterling cable something you are in
a position to share? I don’t want you to break a confidence, but
I think we would all like to know. Have a good day. Tom Arnold

    Hi.  I have a question.  I bought some of that steel cable
to make some of those darn chokers that are so trendy!  <snip> 

I don’t think they have become trendy here yet (UK). Could
someone give me an outline of just what they are please …
maybe for once I can get in at the start of a new fashion.

Someone was asking about small diameter stainless cable. You
might find that Control line cable from a shop selling model
aeroplane supplies is suitable.


Kevin Eva, Northern England, UK
@Kevin_Eva (home)