I usually wind dead soft wire (that has not been pickled) around a
mandrel, cut the links, close every other link (for a chain), then
pickle all of the links. I pickle the links at this point because
I assume that I might have contaminated the metal by handling
(oils, etc.) and to remove a wax that I believe is coating the
silver when it is sent to me by the manufacturer (to retard
I to, make a lot of chain that’s fused or soldered. Unless you have
some very unusual work habits, the ends of the rings will not get
enough dirt in them to prevent solder from flowing. Pickling before
soldering really isn’t necessary.
Also, it’s really not necessary to use dead soft wire. I’ve used 1/2
hard wire for most all jobs. Unless, of course, you’re using
something heavier than 10 ga & are having difficulty winding it.
Here’s what I’ve found very efficient for soldering links to be used
in a handmade chain.
Close 1/2 the links flush & tight. As the link is closed, lay it
on soldering surface so the joint is at 12 o’clock. Lay the next
link in a row, right next to the last link, but not touching. Keep
the joints at 12 o’clock.
After the row is filled, start a new row about 1" below the
previous row. Continue until the soldering surface is covered or all
the links have been closed. The 1" spacing helps prevent accidents
during the soldering activity.
After the links have been closed & positioned, apply the solder.
Paste solder in syringes works well for chain links. It stays where
it’s put; the location & amount placed can be easily controlled.
Place a small dab of solder on the inside of the link, so it
contacts both sides of the joint between about 11:57 & 12:03. The
dab should be about the diameter of the wire or a little smaller.
Apply solder to each link in turn until all the links have had
When all the links have had solder applied, turn the soldering
surface around so the joints are all at 6 o’clock. Light the torch &
start in the upper right hand (for right handed folks) corner,
soldering each links in the row until the row is done. Then proceed
to the next row. The links solder well if the flame is directed at
the outside of the link between about 11:45 & 12:15. Applying the
heat from the outside pulls the solder through the joint & any
excess stays on the inside of the link & tends to spread evenly on
both sides of the joint. When all the links have been soldered,
gather them on a copper or other wire that can go in the pickle pot.
Twist the ends of the wire so the links can’t come off & pickle.
Actually, it’s not really necessary to pickle the links at this
point. They’ll get pickled after the chain is assembled & the final
soldering is done.
Assemble the chain using the soldered & unsoldered links as the
pattern dictates. Solder the unsoldered links using paste solder & a
method that you feel most comfortable with.
Attach the termination’s, pickle & polish the completed chain.