I have been experimenting with paste solder to join the two halves
of copper and sterling beads. Sometimes it works, sometimes it
doesn’t. Mostly, it doesn’t!
I put the paste on the edges of the top half of the bead in order to
use gravity to assist with flow.
Often it seems like the pieces are joined, but on quenching in water
and with a very little pressure, the two halves come apart. The
solder leaves a granular residue that needs some pretty serious
effort to grind off in order to start again. Quite often the solder
is in grainy clumps right where I first put it, without having flowed
hardly at all.
Should I be using flux? The paste itself is supposed to contain
flux, and instructions on the pack say not to use any extra flux, so
I haven’t been using any extra.
When I hammer solder wire and place pallions on the joins with flux,
I don’t have any trouble, but using the paste - if only I could work
out how to do it correctly! - would save so much time. I make an
awful lot of beads (I love 'em, and so do my clients, thankfully!)
and to be able to use the paste solder would be a godsend. I’m using
the easy paste solder from Rio. I know there is an independent
manufacturer out there making all kinds of paste solders: would I be
better advised to use that brand?
Most of my beads are no bigger than 3/4" in diameter, most often
around 5/8" or a bit smaller, and I’m pretty sure my torch is
throwing out enough heat - but maybe it isn’t? I’ve been using a
jumbo butane torch for years which has been perfect for most of my
other work, and works fine with solder pallions, though I’m awaiting
delivery of an EZ propane torch right now. I’m not able to have an
acetylene nor oxygen tank in my studio because of fire regulations
here and my insurance company’s rules.
I have the most difficulty with the copper or bronze beads.
Any comments will be most gratefully received!