Hi Gaylen! Good questions. The flux you use depends on the metal you
are soldering. For me, I use Superior 6 Flux available through
Metalwerx or H & N Electronics. It is a fluoride free flux which
coats your metal in a protective skin. I use this for both gold and
silver, copper and brass. It works great.
Ah, the solder question. I have found distinctive differences in
solder from each company.
Rio Grande: I believe they get their solder from Handy and
Harmon. Easy and Medium are OK. Hard is horrible and sits like a
Hoover and Strong: They seem to have a higher melting point,
possibly due to increase of silver alloy used. Trickier for
beginners, but once you master the heat, they seem have the best
color match for silver. Their gold solders are tough to use for
beginners. They make a medium and a half which is nice.
Hauser and Miller: I think they have the best all around
solders. Both the gold and silver have flow well, although the color
match on their medium and easy isn’t as close as Hoover and Strong.
What should you pay attention to the most? From my teaching
experience and jewelry experience, it is the correct fit between two
metals which drives the sucess of your piece. Solder can’t and
shouldn’t jump a cravass. I look at all my solder connections under
a loop. This tells me whether I will get into problems farther down
the road. Also, when you design a piece, de-construct on paper.
Give yourself a good roadmap of what to solder first, second, etc.
Write down any problems you encounter!!! I can’t stress this
enough. I don’t know how many times repeated dumb mistakes over and
over because I didn’t write it down.
Your flame depends on the gas mixture. If you are using acetelyene
and air, a nice bushy flame works well. Silver wants to be heated
evenly. You can get it heated with your work very close to the blue
cone, but not on it. Once your flux starts to melt, back off
immediately to more of the tip of the flame. Keep heating with a
little more time spent on your solder joint, until it flows. Newer
students tend to hold the flame at an angle which actually deflects
the heat away from the piece. Your flame should be directly on the
piece. For trickier soldering jobs, I always do a dry run. Is my
torch in the right place. Can I hold the poke around what ever needs
moving without burning my hand or my crosslock tweezers.
Trying to describe soldering in words is like trying to describe how
to tie your shoelaces! I hope this helps.
If you are ever in our neck of the woods (Boston) and I am running
my soldering workshop, give me a shout. I’ll run you through a
M E T A L W E R X
10 Walnut St.
Woburn, MA 01801
Accredited Jewelry Instruction