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Preventing fused catches

Hi Folks, Maybe someone out there has an idea or suggestion to help
me prevent an occasional problem. From time to time (like today,
getting ready for a show), when easy soldering a pin catch on the
back of a piece, the catch gets so hot it fuses and no longer
functions. Very frustrating, to say the least. I’ve thought of using
an anti-flux, but am afraid it would contaminate the solder job. In
order to get the solder to flow, it seems unavoidable that the catch
gets really hot. Some sort of a heat sink? Seems like it would be
awfully clumsy on a little pin catch.

Have any of you developed a reliable solution to this problem?

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

Dave, I think I have screwed up more pin catches than any other
finding. They are tricky. What I have found works best is the
combination of anti flux a heat sink and speed. First apply a bit of
anti flux to the pin joint being careful not to get it on the area
to be soldered. ocher works better than White Out because it can be
mixed thin enough to get sucked into the works if the catch. Open
and close the catch to assure distribution inside the piece. Be sure
there is no anti flux on the solder surface. Take a pair of cross
lock tweezers with fine tips and hold the piece. Apply a very very
small amount of solder to the back of the finding and flow slightly.
At this point if there is any problem with the anti flux
contaminating the solder it will become evident. Apply some more
solder to the item you are working on and heat until the solder is
just beginning to flow. Now move the pin catch into position. The
finding even with the cross locks acting as a heat sink will heat up
very quickly and if properly done the two solders will flow together
rapidly. Just do your best to get it straight the first time.
Positioning findings by hand is tricky and can be frustrating but
with practice it can really eliminate some headaches.

The bottom line is moderation. Do not use too much ocher. Do not use
a too heavy pair of cross locks. Do not apply too much solder. Do
not overheat the piece. Do not hold the piece at a flow temperature
for too long. But most of all do not get too stressed. Remember,
sometimes even when everything is done correctly, pin catches do

John Sholl
Littleton, Co

When soldering pin catches, I like to use a very tiny dab of flux on
the bottom of the catch so that the flux won’t move up into the
moving parts. Then I will apply the solder to the bottom of the
catch and let the solder half flow onto the bottom. Basically,the
areas without flux will oxidize and inhibit the flow of the
solder.Then, I will get the piece I am soldering it to near the flow
temperature of the solder and place the pin catch on just in time.
This works particularly well when soldering the pin catch to a heavy
piece, especially a casting. Sometimes the catches don’t move
immediately after you quench them, they need a little gentle coaxing
with the pliers.

Natasha Wozniak

Hi Dave - Yes, you already have the right answer in your question!

I was taught to apply a small amount of yellow ochre on the catch and
it works fine. I recently used this technique in soldering 15 pins
and wanted to use sterling pinbacks. These pin backs were fairly
small and are pretty tricky to solder. So, before using the yellow
ocre, I was having the same problem that you are encountering.

Just be sure not to let the yellow ochre get involved with the flux
at all and contaminate the area to be soldered. It prevents solder
from flowing. It is best to let the yellow ochre application dry
(either by flame or air dry) before going to the next step of adding
the flux. That way you can make sure the soldering surface is clear
of any yellow ochre residue before proceeding. I use Handy flux (and
yes, I am aware of the fluorides issue with this flux) and am sparing
with the application of flux - just putting enough where it is needed
on the catch - and not touching the yellow ochre. With the Handy flux
being a paste - it is easy to apply just the right amount of needed

You mentioned that you are using easy solder. You might want to try
the next step down to very easy silver solder (or whatever it might
be called by the supplier you use). It would still have enough
strength to hold the catch.

Also, be sure to wash off any yellow ochre residue with a brush
before pickling - because the iron content will contaminate the

Hope it helps. . .

Hi Dave. I notice that you are using easy solder for your catches.
I make a lot of pins and have been using extra-easy solder which
holds just as well as easy. I have not had any problems with
catches fusing maybe just luck so far. . I was taught to premelt a
bit of extra-easy solder on the piece, flux it, place the catch over
it and apply the torch to the piece avoiding the catch. Nothing
new here I surmise most everyone does it that way except that they
may not be using extra-easy solder.

I was also taught to use a third hand to hold the catch in place
over the pre melted solder, the third hand also acted as a heat
sink, however, with extra easy solder I found it was not

Where I have had a problem was the darn catch getting snagged in the
buffing wheel and having the lever part ripped out. Real
frustrating. Alma ( who is having a real problem getting any work
done in 95 degree heat most unusual for my part of Oregon, where we
are usually in the 70’s to low 80’s this time of year.)

Hi Dave, The possible solutions are different depending on whether
you’re working on silver or gold but here are some suggestions.

For either metal, the most efficient way to solder on findings is to
hold the finding in a tweezers in one hand and heat with the other.
When the pre-placed solder begins to flow (and it helps to bur a
slight depression where you want the finding), touch down, be sure
the solder has fully flowed, and get out.

This way the finding gets no heat until the very end of the
procedure and the tweezer acts as a heat sink additionally.
Unfortunately (for me), this takes a great deal of hand/eye
coordination and I’ve found I can only use this method dependably for
earring posts. Pin findings not only need to be placed in the right
spot but facing the right direction and I don’t seem able to get this
right. So …

When soldering pin findings to sterling silver, I don’t use a
tweezers. I flux the back of the piece and dry the flux. Then I
place the findings where I want them and carefully nudge bits of
solder so they’re touching the sides of the findings. (You can
pre-flow the solder, of course, but it’s another step and often the
solder blob won’t let the finding stand up straight). Finally, and
this is the most important point, I follow a figure eight pattern
around the two findings simultaneously, never letting the flame
touch either finding. I usually find that as the silver backing
heats up, the solder flows around both findings at virtually the same
moment. Since using this method, I haven’t had a sterling silver pin
finding melt down in years.

Unfortunately, since gold is such a poor conductor of heat, this
method won’t work. You need to heat the sheet much more directly and
locally. Again, the “touch down” method described up top is best. A
slight modification, if your hands aren’t steady enough, is to use a
third hand positioned so that when the solder flows you just push the
arm down. This doesn’t work for me either :-).

What I do, and it’s terribly inefficient but I don’t melt gold pin
findings any more, is this: Pre-flow the solder where I want the
findings; use a flex shaft tool to flatten the solder blob; reflux
and dry the flux; position one of the findings and then use a third
hand so that the end of the tweezers is resting lightly on top of the
finding and then solder. The tweezers act as enough of a heat sink
so that, if I focus the flame properly, I don’t melt the finding.
This is far from being a graceful or time-saving solution, but it
works for me.


    me prevent an occasional problem. From time to time (like
today, getting ready for a show), when easy soldering a pin catch
on the back of a piece, the catch gets so hot it fuses and no
longer functions. 

Dave, chances are the finding is getting hot enough to suck the
solder up into the catch wheel. The easy solution is to use powdered
solder or paste solder. Just a little dab will do ya. The other
solution is to use water-based Whiteout and coat the catchwheel
mechanism, even on the inside. Dry it with a torch until it darkens.
Take the bottom across some fine sandpaper before soldering to remove
any Whiteout that may have migrated. Keep your solder flame away from
the finding, and concentrate on the plate around the finding. Pickle
(citric acid will pickle the plated findings without contaminating
the silver or gold), scratch brush the gunk out of the
catch wheel. Hope it helps.

If you are working with silver, you may try using a different form
of solder. When working with clasps and the like, I use either
Super-easy (lower melting point than easy) wire solder or solder
paste, which comes in a syringe. If you are working with gold, try
using a smaller piece of sheet solder.

JoAnna Kelleher, Director of Operations
Pearl Exotics Trading Company
P.S. I’d love to get feed back on the changes to our revised website.

Keep the heat on the metal and not on the catch itself. Pre-flow a
little solder to the back of the catch. Heat the brick where you
want the metal to heat up and work the heat up towards the catch. I
call it my “stealth soldering”. By the time you reach your catch,
everything should be hot enough for the solder to flow.

Karen Christians
10 Walnut St.
Woburn, MA 01801
Fax: 781/937-3955
Accredited Jewelry Instruction

Hi Dave I set the piece I am working on, on the firebrick; locate
where the pin piece(s) will be and set them out of torch reach in the
same position. I then flux the piece put a snippet of solder where
the pin piece(s) are to go (often marked by a small x) and pick up
one of the pin pieces in a pair of long cross-locking tweezers.
Holding the pin in the correct direction I heat the project just
until the solder melts and while still liquid plunk in the pin back
piece. I always do the pin holder first as it will take more heat
than the clasp. Then I reheat to remelt the other solder point and
repeat with the clasp, pulling the heat away as soon as the clasp is
soldered into the solder. I have found the clasp is especially
sensitive to heat. You can do the same with a 1 piece pin back as

Hope this helps. From snow to Heat wave 34’ C (approx. 92’F) for
today. Going to an outdoor show in the downtown in the heat and in
the middle of the world famous Calgary Stampede :slight_smile: I just hope I sell
lots and make it worthwhile.

Karen Bahr “the Rocklady” (@Rocklady)
May your gems always sparkle.

Dave I use white out as an antiflux for pin backs. The white out
will not flow into the solder area once it dries even if you add flux
or baric acid and alcohol. You can get the pen type
applicators for very exacting application. Frank Goss

Dave, This is what I do (this happens allot to my students)…paint
white-out (typing corrector)on the catch and the wipe off most. It
will still be in the cracks separating the movable parts.Use a small
amount of solder and melt the solder first where you want the catch
to be ,then place the catch on the melted solder and reheat. Sue

Try holding the catch in a pair of gripping soldering tweezers and
applying it to an already molten pool of solder on the object. Heat
from under the main, larger piece, use easy solder.

Tony Konrath
Gold and Stone

Dave, I prefer the belt and suspenders approach. I use orthodontic
wire and yellow ochre powder mixed with alcohol. No solder sticks
to the orthodontic wire, it doesn’t melt or distort and being steel
is a suitable, if small, heat sink. The advantage to this method is
that it aligns the parts so that no time wasting clasp adjustment is
needed. You could probably use other steel, but I just love this
orthodontic stuff. It is very stiff and even the soft stuff is very
hard (read grind do not file).

This technique is great for silver as it is more likely than gold to
fuse together. First mix yellow ochre powder with denatured alcohol
thin enough to get easily into the crevices but not so thin that you
don’t get good, even coverage. Let it dry or ignite it and insert
the wire into the catch as if it were the stem.

Insert (jam) another piece of wire into the hinge part as if it were
the pin stem, in other words not in the rivet hole. This wire will
act as a pointer to the spot where you want the catch to go. Solder
the hinge part in place then remove the wire.

Using a file or pumice wheel remove the antiflux that covered the
base of the catch. Place the catch were you want it, align the wire
from the catch so that it sits on the hinge and solder the catch
onto the back.

You can use whiteout too, but generally I find that the liquid
quickly thickens in the bottle if not used quickly enough and this
keeps the liquid from penetrating into the catch far enough for my
taste. Plus you have to let it dry out on it’s own before you heat
it and I just don’t have that kind of time (or patience) to wait.


Dave, I’ve occasionally had this problem and here are some things
that may help, make sure the little tabs are at the top of the
catch, heat the piece and not the catch, and if it does fuse I can
sometimes manage to get it loose by gently working at it. I have
even gone in with a saw blade to clean up a tiny fused area. It
takes some patience.

Good luck,
Deb Karash

From time to time, when easy soldering a pin catch on the back of a
piece, the catch gets so hot it fuses and no longer functions...
Have any of you developed a reliable solution to this problem? 

Dave, I haven’t had this problem for a while. When I easy solder
catches I heat the piece from “underneath” which is to say from the
side opposite the catch. Then when the solder flows, I play the torch
briefly on the catch. As long as I’m quick in the last step the catch
does not fuse. But here’s an idea. I use graphite as an anti-flux. I
find the solder does not like to cross a line of pencil lead. I have
not tried this but you might try squirting a bit of graphite powder
(sold in hardware and auto stores as an anti-freeze for locks) into
the catch before setting it onto the piece to solder. Good luck.

Michael Conlin

 the catch gets so hot it fuses and no longer 

Dave- don’t we all know that problem! The way I have (mostly) solved
it is to do two things. First, I paint the little thing with white
out (the stuff for secretarial use). After it is dry, file any spill
over off the pad where the catch sits on the piece. Flow a small
piece of solder onto the pad of the catch, preheat the piece the
catch will go on and place the catch while continuing to heat around
the catch, but not on it. The catch will “sit down” when the solder
flows giving a good indicator for getting the torch out of there.
Works 99% of the time unless I get carried away with the torch! Hope
this was clear. Good luck! Deb Jemmott

Greetings Dave I have had good luck with using ‘White-Out’, you know
that liquid correction stuff in a bottle. I apply a couple of thin
coats, letting each dry before the application of the next. If you
fine sand the solder surface the 'white-out comes off real nice. I
can’t say this was my brainstorm though, my daughter gave me this
technique who in turn got it from her instructor. I hope it helps.

Tom Timms In Arizona were the fires are out the air temp is hot
and the monsoons have added their humidity.

    Have any of you developed a reliable solution to this problem? 

Dave, try a little white-out on the catch. Just paint it on and it
acts as antiflux, works like a charm. Sara

Dave, Disassemble the pin catch before you solder it on the back.
Reassemble it after it has cooled. I used to line these up 10 at a
time and solder them all in a batch.

Gerry Galarneau