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Problem with freeform bezels


Trying to solder a freeform bezel for a cab about 31 X 50 mm to a
sheet of 26 gauge silver. Bezel is 26 guage,.125 high.

Heating from underneath, as evenly as I can, the sheet still tends
to twist, creating gaps between it and the bezel. Any hints on how to
prevent this? Should I try to selectively tack it down, then go back
and fill in? I’d try to hold the bezel down while I heat, but I’m
afraid of damaging the bezel.

Any hints, tips would be appreciated!

Angelo Giaimo


when I am useing such thin material in silver which is very weak
when heated, I would place it ona sheet of steel and let th heat
transfer from the steel to the silver and solder. you can solder it
from below but with the sheet steel in place so the silver has a
brace and stays flat. but you would have to learn how steel behaves
with the heat and transfer it to silver. you can also either double
up the 26 gauge, or use a thicker gauge for that size stone.

Atelier Hratch Babikian

I’m curious as to why you’re using such a think sheet as the bezel
back. I rarely use less than 22 gauge for the very reason you state.
26 gauge is so thin, the heat buckles it before the solder melts.
Though you might try easy solder. Still not sure that would work on
such a thin sheet. You also don’t say if you’re using fine, sterling
or Argentium. All of that would make a difference too.

That being said, use a heavier sheet. Make sure the bezel is
completely flat, set it in place after fluxing. I usually use a
26-28 gauge bezel with 20-22 gauge sheet, soldering it with hard
solder. Small pallions are placed inside and heat directed around the
bezel until it melts. Hasn’t failed yet. Thanks, Don! :slight_smile:


Maybe you should use thicker sheet like 22 gauge.

Vince, Oakridge, OR

Use a heavier back plate - 26 gauge is too thin for that size. Try
22 gauge or even better 20.


Hi Angelo,

First let me say that I’m not jeweler but only a bobbiest for about
4 years.

If your finished piece entails many soldered joints soldered the
bezel wire with hard solder (high temp), it will give you a little
leeway when soldering the bezel wire to the 26 guage sheet with a
lower temp solder.

There are many,many ways to solder bezel cups and as far as I’m
concerned there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The way that you
find that best suits you is the way to do it, as long as you have a
good end result.

I always make my backs bigger then the cup,about 1/32", 1/16" or
so. This makes it much easier to keep the bezel wire on the back
when soldering.

If the back plate is not flat I anneal it and hit it with a rawhide
hammer on a polished steel plate to get it flat as possible.I find
that hitting the plate and leaving the hammer down on it,rather then
giving it a “sharp” blow does better in flattening the
plate,sort of like swatting a fly,leaving the fly swatter on
the fly and not just retrieving it immediately.

Once I get the plate as flat as possible I check the bezel wire to
make sure it fits to the plate with NO air gaps.If the bezel wire is
distorted I fit it to the cab carefully and sand it with 400 or 600
emery held flat on a perfectly flat steel plate.

The bezel wire may have very fine burs on it but I don’t remove them
as this surface will be the bottom of my bezel cup and will be
cleaned up after Isolder everything together.

I flux everything with Handy Past Flux and set the bezel wire onto
the back plate.

Now this is where I differ from everything I’ve read, seen and

I don’t cut solder pallions, nor do I cut any other pieces of
solder, to put inside of the bezel cup.

I heat the pieces from above,mostly from the sides of the plate
and then slightly from the inside of the bezel cup just to get the
flux to a clear state and stop “bubbling” and for the bezel wire to
stop moving around.

If the bezel wire has moved I use my solder pick to put it where I
want it to stay while keeping the entire piece warm enough to do so.
When I am satisfied with that I use coiled solder on the inside edge
of the bezel cup and hit the inside at maybe 3-4 places while the
solder flows around the entire solder joint.

If for any reason I see a gap between the bezel cup and the back
plate I I push the bezel cup down to the plate using VERY slight
pressure,and get the torch out of there fast.

I pickle the whole thing and then sand the outer part of the plate
with a rough 3/4" round sanding disk, to as close as I dare to the
bezel wire, using my Foredom flex shaft.

I do the final sanding right up to the back plate with a fine disk. I
now use a 1" muslin buff and Zam to get rid of any sanding marks.

What I like about the method is that I don’t care if there’s a
little too much solder inside of the bezel cup.If the cab doesn’t
fit properly I just hit the bottom edges with a 600 grit Nova wheel
to give the edges a little more “chamfer”.

I also don’t have to try to place tiny solder pallions where I want
them and then try to keep them there before and after heating the

Again,I don’t know if this is proper jewelery technique but I’m
self taught and find it the best way for ME to do it.

I invite ANY comments,good or bad,I have BIG shoulders and will
learn from all of you.

I hope this might help a little anyway!
Tom Kuzia


A few weeks ago, I wrote:

Trying to solder a freeform bezel for a cab about 31 X 50 mm to a
sheet of 26 gauge silver. Bezel is 26 guage,.125 high. Heating from
underneath, as evenly as I can, the sheet still tends to twist,
creating gaps between it and the bezel. Any hints on how to prevent
this? Should I try to selectively tack it down, then go back and
fill in? I'd try to hold the bezel down while I heat, but I'm
afraid of damaging the bezel. 

I used a 20 AWG sheet and even heat. Sheet did not buckle, bezel
never twisted. Worked like a charm!

Thanks so much for your responses.

Angelo Giaimo

I have used a couple of methods to prevent warping during soldering.
The first was already mentioned, use thicker backing material, like
20 gauge. The second is to use a combination of ways of heating, from
the bottom, as you did, and from the top but also you can turn the
entire bezel and it’s back plate over so that you are heating the
bottom of the plate from the top. The bezel us underneath the backing
plate on the soldering surface and you play the torch only on the
back of the back. This way any warping actually plays in into your
strategy. Do this after you have tacked the bezel down so that there
is sufficient solder to flow around the bezel once it gets to the
proper temp.

Sam Patania, Tucson

I had this problem recently. I solder bezels on a piece of heavy
wire screen. I put another piece on top and that seemed to provide
enough weight to keep things flush. There are all kinds of potential
pitfalls in this habit, but it worked once. I haven’t had a reason
to try it again to see if it was a fluke. You might want to avoid
using hard solder as the weight might be enough to just collapse the
whole thing as the bezel nears the flow temperature of the solder.

Rob and Sandy Meixner

I use from.5mm upwards to solder free form bezels onto, I just put
the metal sheet onto a flat soldering block. It does not warp. Is
your sheet flat to start with? I put the solder inside the bezel and
after warming the piece focus the heat from the outside.


It was suggest not to remove the burs on the bottom of the bezel that develop do to sanding. This is the opposite of what is taught. Supposedly the solder will not make contact well if there is a bur, and floats up on the bur, off the metal even tho it looks to be flowing. Stated above it says the bur will be fine if it remains, and is filed off later, but the bur is also on the inside of the bezel wire not just the outer side, and will affect solder flow. When I do this, it’s 1000% easier to solder. But per the original question… thicker back plate.

Like others have said, use thicker material. I haven’t made such a big bezel in years. When I did, I used a torch that produced a wide brush like flame. This made it easier to heat the entire bezel and back. You can use binding wire to hold the bezel to the back. As you work your way around, if a section of bezel lifts, push down on it or the wire section nearby with a titanium pick. You can also buy narrow titanium strips that you can use to weight down a section of the bezel. Your flux may burn off before you are done and you may have to stop, quench, pickle and reflux. Take your time and use thicker material. Good luck…Rob

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