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Reality check: soldering accuracy


#1

Hi Gang,

I’m kind of isolated in my own world of jewelry making, and
wanted to see what your (in the proper southern vernacular:
y’all’s) perception is to this question:

What is a reasonable (expected) accuracy rate on soldering jobs,
in general? 75%? 90%? 98%? Other?

As I try to prepare myself for leaving my “real world” job, I
have to look at my productivity and whether I can actually make
enough jewelry to replace my existing income. I find myself
resoldering more often than I would like to admit, as the first
(and sometimes second) attempt wasn’t successful.

Last night I had an especially lame performance, and only had
about a 50% success rate. That really kills my productivity
when I have to pickle, clean and resolder. Not to mention
frustration/aggravation!

I know about the ground rules… fit, clean, heat control, etc.,
but I guess it’s sometimes easier said than done. I’ve even
started boiling in a baking soda solution in order to neutralize
any pickle residue.

Do you folks solder successfully the first time and every time??

Dave
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com
http://www.sebaste.com


#2

Hi Dave - I doubt that any of us solder 100% effectively every
time, but I personally think 90% would be a pretty bad day. I
work primarily in high karat gold and platinum. Gold is MUCH
easier to solder than silver, which may explain your success rate
if that is your medium. Platinum is it’s own gig with special
rules - specify your pieces and I’m sure we’ll all have some
input, Mike.


#3

hi dave, sure i do…and you should see the way i can put my
elbow in my ear. seriously, i guess you are experiencing flow
problems? well it sounds like you are considering all the right
things. when i experience flow problems it is usually cockiness
on my part to blame. after one does something a couple of
hundred thousand times, one gets ahead of themselves. my advece
to myself after being ‘lame’ is to take a second to and think
about torch tip size and what to heat first. how long and how
fast. when i actually solder it helps when i concentrate on what
i’m doing and what my plan was when i first thought about it.

sometimes it could really tick a person off when viewing a video
of a chain manufacturing machine soldering links one after the
other in seconds.

best regards,
geo fox


#4
What is a reasonable (expected) accuracy rate on soldering jobs,
in general?  75%?  90%?  98%?  Other?

Dave:

I am not quite sure what you are soldering and how, but I would
not be happy with a 50% success rate.

Alot of my soldering is for production work, lots of bezels and
such. I use wire solder held in my left hand and a torch in the
right. Since I don’t have the eyesight of my youth I also wear
magnifiers when I solder.

Most of our work is set up on soldering boards and the flux
allowed to dry.

For pieces where wire solder would not be practical I use quite
a bit of paste solder. Care has to be taken not to overheat one
piece or the other as this causes the solder to flow only on one
part.

Maybe if you could describe what type of soldering you are doing
that is giving you the most problems, it would help us to
understand more about the situation.

Hang in there.

Kenneth Gastineau
@Kenneth_Gastineau1
http://www.ud.net/gastineau


#5

What is a reasonable (expected) accuracy rate on soldering jobs,
in general? 75%? 90%? 98%? Other?
Do you folks solder successfully the first time and every time??

Hi Dave,

We’re in the luxury business, and when people pay top dollars
they expect the best in quality. Soldering was always the
toughest thing to do and I think it’s all in the mind. I’m my own
boss and have a few employees working with me in my workshop.
I’ve seen newcomers into this business who mastered the art of
soldering very quickly, and I’ve seen old timers who still are
"afraid" of soldering. My advice to my employees: “Do and Dare”,
and I try not to make a big deal out of it. I let them "play"
with the soldering technique.

I have a client - a jeweler- who inspects my jewelry with a
loupe and looks for soldering faults. I can say a have a 98%
accuracy rate. I do solder successfully the first time but there
are always exeptions and that’s when I’m under pressure to
quickly finish the piece of jewelry.

Do & Dare

FADY SAWAYA.
@Artemis

#6

Dave–My soldering successes have improved as I’ve gotten more
experience, but it’s still not near 100%. I find that often if
I’m doing several pieces with the same kind of soldering task,
everything will go very well for awhile and as soon as I
congratulate myself on my success, I start getting failures. I
think I get careless–maybe heat too fast or make it too hot or
something. Or the torch just decides to take me down a peg.
Sometimes I have to stop for awhile and go back to it later.
Good luck with your plans to switch to full time jewelry making.
Sandra/ElegantBee


#7
    What is a reasonable (expected) accuracy rate on soldering
jobs, in general?  75%?  90%?  98%?  Other? Do you folks solder
successfully the first time and every time??

G’day: about 80-90%. Bad language seems to help. And if you
think I’m a sage, then you must be off your onion. Perhaps
together we’d make good stuffing?

        /\
       / /    John Burgess, 
      / /
     / //\    @John_Burgess2
    / / \ \
   / (___) \
  (_________)

#8

Dave, After many, many years of sitting at the bench, a lot of
soldering has become routine and works well just about every
time: sizing, soldering jump rings, soldering heads etc.
Complicated fabrications are a different story for me. Most of
the time things go pretty much as I expect, but perhaps 20 to 30
percent of the time I might have to resolder. Not only each
piece is different, but also, each joint on each piece. It also
depends on whether your soldering gold, silver or platinum. Are
the joints not soldering at all or are they just soldering
partially? What kind of problems are you having that are causing
you to resolder? It does sound like you’re having a few more
problems than you should. Personally, I don’t think you should
have to resort to boiling in baking soda to resolve them. If
you give us more specifics, perhaps we all can help. Best, Steve
Workman


#9

Dear Dave:

I have to admit, about 50% of the time when I construct a new
design I always find myself in a unique and problematic soldering
problem. However once I work it through I feel like I learned
something new and this saves me time with future projects. Basic
soldering I have down pat (making bezels all shapes-soldering
larger pieces together…blah, blah…) Since being an artist often
means working alone- I found a really wonderful teacher who
teaches jewerly and I have been taking her class once a week for
years. She helps me work out construction problems and she
gives me a lot of feedback. She was trained at some of the best
schools in the states and Germany and her education is invaluable
to me since I could never afford to “study” on the scale she has.

The most invaluable tools for me during the soldering process
are binding wire (holds things tightly together, third hands (I
have used up to three of them at a time) and this great "puddy"
like substance I found in a Rio Grande catalog where you can
create a molded surface to solder on. You can reuse this puddy
over and over and when you feel like shooting yourself in the
head soldering, this stuff can be a life saver. Of course, I
can never remember names and my computer is at my office away
give you the name.

also, I found a lot of people are afraid to use a lot of HEAT
when they solder.When you solder you want to go in quick and
fast. You need to make sure you are using the correct tip on
your torch. If you notice your solder is not running within a
couple of minutes you need to use a bigger flame. Also, make
sure your solder is in tiny pieces and make sure you use enough
to cover an area. Hold up your piece to the light- if light can
be seen in an area you soldered, you did not “line” the area
with enough solder. Once your solder melts, with your pick,
make sure you drag the melted solder around your seam to make
sure everything is sealed up tight…Also I always make sure
I have a hunk of charcoal standing by with LOTS of Fluxed solder
so I can make little balls and spot solder when needed…

I will shut up now!!!Lots of luck- in time you get faster but
there will always be those bad soldering days- where the solder
gods will not lend a hand!!!

DeDe


#10

Dave,

I’m one of those ‘soldering poor hitters’ as well. As u
suggested; I know the rules and try to apply them, and then try
to analyse why I haven’t succeeded… I am fortunate to have a
very good friend and teacher to help… My primary faults are and
continue to be(hope this help you);

– Flame to oxidize(to close to purple… flame is hissing),

– Take to long. This is due to not allowing the flame to be
large enough…

Watch the difference between this and above. Entire soldering
should take only 3 seconds (WOW!! tuff).

– Not clean enough,

– Afraid to try… scared I’m going to destroy the
Piece (which I sometimes do!!).

Now to get them done at the same time!!!

Jim


#11
G'day: about 80-90%. Bad language seems to help.  And if you
think I'm a sage, then you must be off your onion.  Perhaps
together we'd make good stuffing?

I detect the distinct odor of punning. Perhaps our brains have
been flambed by our soldering flames. Marilyn Smith


#12
 I am not quite sure what you are soldering and how, but I
would not be happy with a 50% success rate. Alot of my soldering
is for production work, lots of bezels and such. I use wire
solder held in my left hand and a torch in the right. Since I
don't have the eyesight of my youth I also wear magnifiers when
I solder. 

Your method is not unusual . . . where did I put those
glasses??? ; )


#13

When I started (years ago) to solder, my accuracy was quite low.
NOW, my accuracy is 98% There are times when I have a problem
soldering bases onto bezels for large stones (tendency to ripple
causes the gaps . … ) Little stuff is simple!

Oh, and I do not neutralize. I do dip in fresh water before
touching. I’ve screwed up the pickel by using the baking soda to
neutralize and then having to dip back into the pickel. So, I’ve
stopped doing that.


#14

Jim You must be doing “really tiny pieces!!!” I’ve only melted
tiny, tiny things!!! 20 G wire while putting shot on it . . .
that type of thing. Working in Sterling NOT gold . … perhaps,
there is a difference?