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Little torch and soldering failures/Tony's evil solder

Tony, Even more evil than solder are the gremlins that cause me to
clumsily bump a piece ever so carefully set up to solder so that a
vital element falls to the floor. It usually is not a simple bump that
simply causes the piece to fall vertically. When it is a really
delicate operation for some reason I’m tense enough that a small bump
can shoot a piece horizontally or diagonally for some distance.So many
times I find myself crawling around examining every square inch of
floor and counter space with no success in finding that one little
piece. All the while the gremlins are laughing because they are hiding
the piece. Then weeks later while I’m down again looking for another
dropped piece, a piece from long ago will be there right under my
chair where I’d looked and looked for it in vain. The gremlins wait
and empty out their stash of those pieces when you no longer need
them. Annette

    Tony, Even more evil than solder are the gremlins that cause me
to clumsily bump a piece ever so carefully set up to solder so that
a vital element falls to the floor.... Annette 

G’day Annette, and huh!! Tell me who doesn’t have that problem. But
I have a solution. Presently my wife visits me to find out what all
the swearing and carry on is about. I tell her. (trying to hold back
the worst swears) Almost invariably, after a glance round she picks
something up and holds it out. “Is this what you are looking for?”,
She asks. And envy gets you nowhere. No, you can’t even borrow her.
– Cheers now, John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ where
spring is truly sprung. Even the apple trees are in blossom.

Annette, These gremlins haunt my life and studio also. I have held
their mischief to a minimum, not by preventing it (I tell my students
that, sadly, their pieces cannot be considered finished until I have
dropped them at least once), but by saving a lot of time dealing with
fallen objects. Instead of crawling around on the floor, if I can’t
spot the item at once, I sweep the whole area, then dig through the
dustpan. This helps keep my work area clean, since I do it pretty
often. Of course, the effectiveness of this ploy is in inverse
proportion to the value of/time invested in the item dropped. Noel

All, As for the problem of having solder pallions fall away from the
joint, there is a really simple and virtually fail proof method of
averting the difficulty…all you have to do is apply a small amount
of paste solder to the joint and then place the pallion of sheet
solder on top. This method also facilitates the flow of the solder
inasmuch as the flux in the paste is seemingly more effective than
others. Once you try this method you will never go back to the old
ways. Some jewelers have recognized the fact that the tensile
strength of paste solder is less than that of sheet solder. By
combining the two methods you acheive the tensile strength of the
sheet solder with the facility of the paste solder. (Old habits die
hard ! ) This method is best acheived by applying applying the boric
acid/alcohol burn-off after placing the solder. Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA…

Dear gremlin victims, My favorite is to drop the finished piece in
FRONT of the customer who wants it. Then you get to tell them how
strong you have made it…Or better yet the diamond you have on
memo for them. Always a good laugh. Sam Patania, Tucson

annette - one of the easiest ways to find a dropped thingy in my
workroom is using a small canister vacuum with the wand attachment.
first fold over a piece of netting (lace, cut off stocking foot,
cheese cloth - whatever is mesh-like) a couple of times, wrap it over
the vacuum hose end, then attach the wand. this will pick up dust
(not that any of us have much of that in our workrooms) & small
objects from places you can’t reach with your fingers - the missing
part, stone, etc. will usually be caught in the netting, lace, etc.
good luck -


This method is best achieved by applying applying the boric
acid/alcohol burn-off after placing the solder. 

Hi Ron! Neat tip about using the paste solder in conjunction with
sheet. I’ll have to check the condition of my (old) paste solder and
give it a try! Just want to make sure I’m clear on one thing. What you
wrote above about the boric acid… am I correct in assuming you’re
applying this with a brush, rather than dipping? Seems like it would
have to be so… just want to make sure you don’t have another neat
trick hiding in there! :slight_smile:

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

Dear Dave, I neither brush nor dip the boric acid/alcohol
combination…I dribble the solution from a small plastic squeeze
bottle at a point just above the joint.On the other hand, when I am
not particularly concerned about firescale, as with a ring sizing
joint, I do not apply the boric acid/alcohol flux solution. The flux
solution is best used when soldering fine chains that might oxidise
more readily. Furthermore, I have found that a good ultrasonic, used
with liquid detergent and ammonia, does a great job of removing both
firescale and boric acid glaze. Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.