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Need soldering help


#1

Hi All, I have only done casting & have not done fabrication or
soldering but would like to become proficient at soldering first off.
I’m not in a position to be able to take classes right now so want to
try & teach myself through trial & error but would REALLY appreciate
some starting advice from you all who have more experience.

What is the easiest flux & solder to start with? Is there a
difference in solder sold per different companies? What things do I
need to pay attention to most? What should my soldering flame look like etc?


#2

Gaylen, Several months ago Lapidary Journal published a short booklet
, “The Complete Guide to Soldering” by Sara M. Sanford. This is an
outstanding little booklet that covers every aspect of soldering.
One may do some things different than Sara describes but…no one
can argue with her knowledge of how to do it!!. Suggest you give LJ a
call at 800-676-4336 or go to their web site at
www.lapidaryjournal.com and ask about getting a copy of the Guide.

Happy soldering…and cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio
in SOFL where simple elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut1


#3

Dear Gaylen, What material are you attempting to solder? A very good
practice for getting used to a torch is to make beads out of
different materials like copper & scrap sterling. Use a charcoal
block and with a ball burr and your fingers grind into the block
small half spherical indentations. Cut your metal into small pieces
approx. 5 by 5 mm would be good, place one piece per indentation,
start your torch and melt each piece. Start and stop the torch so you
get allot of practice with that and watch the metals closely, their
colors as they melt have allot to teach. What type of torch are you
using? Running beads on practice seams with less expensive materials
is good too. Butt joints, “t” joints ,Lap joints ( for over lay
projects) are all good to start with. Use Handy Flux for starters
if your working in sterling or copper and watch the colors of the
flux as it changes.Use 60 or 65 silver solder again if your using
sterling or copper. Let me know if and when you need more help. Sam
Patania, Tucson @Patania_s


#4
I have only done casting & have not done fabrication or soldering
but would like to become proficient at soldering first off. 

Hi Gaylen, Back in 1996 I developed some online content for the
ArtMetal Web site that provides an introduction to soldering. It
covers a lot of what you’re asking about. Check it out:

http://www.artmetal.com/project/TOC/proces/solder/intro.htm

P.S. That was six (!) years ago, and I’ve also learned a bit since
then. In reviewing the material I see a couple minor errors… if
anyone else notices any, please email the Webmaster with corrections.
I personally can’t fix the errors… I’ll be emailing the Webmaster
myself with what I noticed.

Good luck, and let us know if you have any questions!

Dave
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com


#5

Hi Gaylen, I would suggest getting some books that discuss
fabrication, especially soldering. Tim McCreight and Alan Revere
have some great books. One of the things that I found particularly
helpful was the different way gold and silver react to heat. Silver
conducts heat very well, so when you heat an area on a piece of
silver, the heat tends to distribute throughout the piece. Gold
doesn’t conduct heat as well, so the heat builds up in the area that
you are heating. This difference becomes apparent when you are
soldering a small piece (such as a bale) to a larger piece.
Understanding how the heat is dispersing (or not dispersing) can help
you prevent a meltdown.

There are lots of other things to know about soldering, such as
making sure the pieces you are soldering fit together perfectly since
solder doesn’t fill in gaps. I also find it helpful to keep lighting
low when soldering so that you can gauge the temperature of the metal
(as it starts to glow).

Hope it helps!

JoAnna Kelleher
Pearl Exotics Trading Company
Progressive Jewelry - Casting Services - Tahitian Pearls
www.pearlexotics.com


#6

If you are going to teach yourself, I would suggest that you get some
jewelry books and study them. Tim McCreight has some excellent books
which are filled with all sorts of valuable Check out
the books of Alan Revere, Morton, Untract etc. You will find
yourself constantly referring to them as you progress and they
should be an important part of your library. There are many other
books available, and I am sure you will get many suggestions as to
which to get. Start to build up your library. The books will have
good illustrations which you will find of great assistance.
Hope my suggestions help. Alma


#7

A recent Lapidary Journal had a pull-out section on soldering and I
think you can access the online at this link:

http://www.lapidaryjournal.com/tech_home.cfm

As a novice in torch soldering, too, I found the very
useful.

Good luck,
Dani
Greer Studios
http://artistsregister.com/artists/CO468


#8

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.

  1. Rio Grande: I believe they get their solder from Handy and
    Harmon. Easy and Medium are OK. Hard is horrible and sits like a
    lumpy mess.

  2. 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.

  3. 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
soldering marathon.

-k
Karen Christians
M E T A L W E R X
10 Walnut St.
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone:781/937-3532
Fax: 781/937-3955
http://www.metalwerx.com/
Accredited Jewelry Instruction


#9
  If you are going to teach yourself, I would suggest that you get
some jewelry books and study them.  Tim McCreight has some
excellent books which are filled with all sorts of valuable
Check out the books of Alan  Revere, Morton, Untract
etc.  You will find yourself constantly referring to them as you
progress and they should be an important part of your library.  
There are many other books available, and I am sure you will get
many suggestions as to which to get. Start to build up your
library.  The books will have good illustrations which  you will
find of  great assistance. Hope  my suggestions help. Alma 

I found a book by a Spanish jeweller CARLES CORINA to be absolutely
invaluable. If you search for this author on Amazon you will find
him. I am a big fan of his work.

all the best,
Terry


#10

Don, I subscribe to lapidary journal & did read that guide which was
very helpful & have several of the basic fabrication books which
I’ve had my nose in as well. I’m a real bookaholic. Think the
reading helped me figure out a few things that may be happening.

I feel I need to order a bigger tip for my “Little Torch” which has
a #4 tip presently *I came to this conclusion because it seemed by
the time my metal got evenly hot enough to flow the solder my flux
had burn off. then my solder only flowed about 3/4. the remaining 1/4
was a tiny bit blobby.

I could be wrong but this is my best guess. I also want to make some
Prips to use instead of Batterns & see if that helps as well.

Thanks for all the great input!


#11
    Hi All, I have only done casting & have not done fabrication
or soldering but would like to become proficient at soldering first
off. I'm not in a position to be able to take classes right now so
want to try & teach myself through trial & error but would REALLY
appreciate some starting advice from you all who have more
experience. 

There are lots of places to look for self-instruction (teaching
videos, books, etc.) I recall an issue of Lapidary Journal a while
back that had an entire “thesis” on soldering. If you don’t
subscribe, check out their website perhaps to request a back issue
(if they do that?). www.lapidaryjournal.com It was the soldering
supplement of the January 2002 issue. Hope you can find it.

ginger meek allen Little Cottage Studio one woman…in her laundry
room…hammering and soldering…while her children sleep
Wake Forest, NC, USA


#12

On the question of flux: I think a lot of beginners start with the
white paste flux, often called Handy Flux. This is a very durable
flux, and won’t lose its fluxing ability very quickly. I used it
exclusively for years, but eventually decided it was awfully messy.
Either that, or I was awfully messy with it!

A few years ago I switched to the green liquid flux. It will “peter
out” more quickly, but it is a lot more clean. For heavy jobs that
will be under the torch for a while, I’ll still pull out the old
white paste flux. One of these days I’ll get around to trying the
Pripps flux, for which the recipe can be found in the Orchid
archives.

Also, throwing back to an Orchid thread about a month ago, you
should make a solution of boric acid and denatured alcohol to dip
your piece in before soldering. Touch a flame to the piece to burn
off the alcohol, which will leave a boric acid coating on the piece,
providing and oxygen barrier. This helps reduce or prevent the
formation of firescale on your piece. This dipping and burning off
process can be repeated a few times to provide a more complete
coating.

All the best,
Dave
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com


#13
 I found a book by a Spanish jeweller CARLES CORINA 

You’ll never find it searching on that name. Usually people make a
mistake on the first name, making it “Charles”. The last name is
actually CODINA.

The title of the book is The Complete Book of Jewelry Making, Lark
Books, ISBN 1-57990-188-3. Published in Spanish in 1999, translated
to English in 2000. I agree with Terry… it is an awesome book. Lots
of great photos and fairly advanced techniques and processes! You’ll
see stuff that’s not covered by every other book in your library. I
decided this book was a “must have” when I first saw it at Mollie
Arnette’s house… and was able to pick it up at booksellers booth at
a gem show the following day!

All the best,
Dave
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com


#14

I am self-taught (and still self-teaching!) and one of the things I
wish I had done at the onset when I started soldering is to blow $10
or so and buy myself a tripod and screen for soldering. If you’re
working with silver especially, you have to bring the whole assembly
to be soldered up to temperature at the same time, which raises the
question, how do you heat up the big bulky thingy without melting
the thin little thing you are trying to attach to it- like a thin
bezel on a belt buckle, for example. The answer is often to put the
piece on a tripod with a screen, so you can apply the torch flame
from underneath initially- applying the flame to the bottom of the
large piece- then, when the big thing is near temperature, you can
bring your flame to the top to heat the smaller thing and make the
solder flow.

If you just try to go at the piece from the top, it becomes much
easier to melt bezels. An alternative is to lift one edge of the
piece of the soldering brick with a solder pick, and direct the flame
underneath that way.

Lee Einer
http://members.cox.net/appealsman/


#15

I want to second the Handy flux. I have added distilled water to it
and keep a slurry in a smaller container. I was using the green
liquid stuff and not getting good joins. I switched and it made a
great difference. Another thing when soldering silver is as soon as
it turns mercury like in consistency then pull up on the flame let it
go solid and re-heat to mercury even more briefly. Otherwise the
solder is boiled making a brittle join. Is that what others do?

Do you reheat? Jay


#16

Gaylen,

I use a Nr 5 tip on my 'Little Torch" with propane and oxy for just
about everything! Do all my gold work with it, even large silver
bezels and sweat jobs right down to chain repair. I think its really
what you get used to. I use a large round head with multiple orifaces
for casting (when I cast…not doing much anymore) but otherwise, its
just the Nr 5. By all means, I use Pripp’s flux just about all the
time too. It is not the final answer but it really helps I think.

Good luck with your soldering. Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle
Studio in SOFL where simple elegance IS fine jewelry!
@coralnut1


#17
An alternative is to lift one edge of the piece of the soldering
brick with a solder pick, and direct the flame underneath that way. 

A while back, Noel Yovovich was kind enough to send me a couple
strips of titanium sheet scrap she uses in a neat way, for this
purpose. She explained to me to fold them into a “V” shape and place
two (or more) of them on their edges under the work piece to lift it
off the soldering block so you can reflect the heat off the block to
the underside of the work.

This works extremely well, as it eliminates the problem of the
screen on a tripod acting as a form of heat sink, or melting, or
contaminating, or fusing/soldering to your piece, etc.

THANKS NOEL!!!

Dave

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com

End of forwarded message


#18
. . . how do you heat up the big bulky thingy without melting the
thin little thing you are trying to attach to it? 

By soldering on a surface that absorbs heat =AD charcoal or magnesia
blocks; by heating the block around the edge of the object you’re
soldering as well as the object itself inside of (if it’s a bezel) or
slightly to the side of the tiny little thing you are trying to
attach; by never applying the flame directly onto the tiny little
thing.

There are times when only a tripod will do but I prefer to avoid
tripods whenever possible for these reasons: visibility is blocked
and the metal screen acts as a heat sink. If it works for you,
however, that’s all that matters; it’s just that it’s certainly not
the only efficient way to solder a tiny thing to a bulky thing.

Beth


#19

Hello Dave and Orchidians,

 A while back, Noel Yovovich was kind enough to send me a couple
strips of titanium sheet scrap she uses in a neat way, for this  
purpose. She explained to me to fold them into a "V" shape and
place two (or more) of them on their edges under the work piece to
lift it off the soldering block so you can reflect the heat off
the block to   the underside of the work. 
An alternative way to elevate work for soldering is using slices of

the soldering block. I sliced off an inch thick slab from my
soldering brick. It’s so soft, that a hack saw does the job in a
minute. Then I sawed up the slab into various sized slabs and
mini-bricks. I use them to build a soldering “oven” around massive
pieces like large cuff bracelets, to shield chain while soldering,
and to elevate flat pieces I want to sweat solder so that heat
reflects off the surface of the soldering block underneath. This
group can think of other uses I’m sure.

I'd like to get some titanium sheet scraps too - anyone know a

source? The “V” shapes of titanium sheet would certainly be more
durable than chunks of soft brick, and could be stacked for compact
storage. We all need more tools in the arsenal - especially free
ones! Judy in Kansas, where another blast of arctic air is blowing
in through this danged window that won’t close!

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936


#20

There are so many ways of doing this…I will give you my slant on
soldering bezels onto a backing. Use a piece of sheet that is
either several mm larger than the bezel. Otherwise, the sheet should
have a an area that will stick out several mm from the bezel at one
end or side.

The sheet must be very flat and the bottom of the bezel must also be
sanded or filed very flat. Pripp’s flux both pieces…then place the
bezel on the sheet on a soldering block. Flux the seam with liquid
flux and as you heat it, keep the bezel from rising by holding it
down with tweezers or some other tool.

Place snippits of appropriate solder around strategic points inside
and as close to the bezel as possible. Do not use more than is
absolutely necessary…it is important to use very little solder or
else you will have large fillets around the seam.

Now pick up the entire piece with a pair of medium weight tweezers
by the sheet that protrudes beyond the bezel. Play a bushy flame
around underneath the sheet until the entire piece begins to turn a
dull red. Bring it down towards the torch or raise the torch (which
ever is easier for you) and concentrate the heat directly under one
part of the bezel. You will see the solder at that point turn a
shiny liquid and flow along the seam. Slowly move the tip of the
flame along under the bezel…the solder will follow until you reach
the next snippit. Pause slightly until it melts and flows. Continue
until you are all around the bezel.

With practice you will be able to do this very rapidly and your
bezel seam will be so perfect others will not be able to tell its
been soldered. You will not overheat your metal either and you won’t
have to mess around with stands, tripods etc.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut1