I am Chris and wanted to ask for some advice. I soldered my silver Bezel and soldered it to my backplate. Fine. While soldering - perfect soldering - the solder in the Bezel opened a tiny bit. So after pickling and quenching I put a pallion and flux on the tiny opening and started to solder. Unfortunately since I had changed my torch and wasn’t aware of the heat I melted the place!
Now my question: should I file both ends and try to replace this melted piece?
Or file anf leave it open (would be original … but not so beautiful);
Or shall I start from the beginning? The whole had taken so much time…
Thank you very much in advance! Will try to post pictures, not sure it will work. The gap is 5 mm if filed. The Bezel is marquise-shaped. All in Sterling silver.
To help we need more information:
- size and gauge of material used for bezel and back plate
- type of material (sterling, fine) used for bezel and back plate
- types of solder (soft, medium, hard) and flux used to solder bezel ends and bezel to back plate
- torch type, size and gas used
- how the bezel was supported and type of surface on which you worked
Bezels can be tricky and they require a lot of torch control. Your material needs to be clean and the bezel end joint should be very well fitted. There was a very good discussion recently about bezels moving around when they are soldered to the back plate. While a small bezel is likely to be completely annealed, a larger one may not be. If not, they tend to move as the metal relaxes while being soldered to the back plate possibly changing shape, so anneal the bezel before you solder it to the back plate. Use a higher melting point solder for the bezel ends than you do to solder the bezel to the back plate. This way you can reduce the possibility that heat from the second joint pulls solder out of the first joint. It is very hard to fix this once it happens. Don’t do a lot of finishing on the bezel end joint until you have done all the following soldering steps. More when you tell us more…Rob
It’s very kind of you!
I use Sterling Silver only.
Bezel: Sterling Silver, 0,4 mm (ca. 25,5 ga).
Backplate :Sterling Silver 0,4 mm (since I will solder this backplate to another stamped backplate 0,7 mm= ca. 16,5 ga)
Flux was made by a friend I cannot reach now, a very experienced jeweler.
I only use medium solder.
The torch is a kitchen torch as I’m waiting for my Sievert torch. This kitchen torch uses propane/butane.
I solder the backplate/Bezel from underneath mostly (with a tripod) and also from above to the inside (where I put my pallions + flux).
Thank you so much!
Ah And sorry - the flux is liquid, not paste.
Rob, I’m sure that you’re aware that “soft solder” refers to lead?
Thanks! an error that I often make, it should be “easy” solder…Rob
Excuse me - is it possible that my pallion was too small and the torch (probably) too hot?
I was appropriately corrected that “soft” solder is lead solder, I should have written “easy”. This is an error that I make often. I am not familiar with the Sievert torch. It looks like a propane and air design. The only propane and air torch that I have used is an EZ Torch and I only use it for annealing. Most of my work is fairly heavy and the EZ Torch doesn’t get things hot enough, especially for casting. 25.5 gauge bezel is pretty thin. All the more reason to make sure that the joint is clean and tight. Again, you might consider using hard solder for this joint so that it stays together during subsequent soldering operations. Getting hot enough for hard solder to flow and still not melt the bezel material is a matter of practice and torch control. If you can, don’t do a lot of finishing on this joint until you are done with all of your soldering steps as they might pull solder out of this very thin joint. Most of my bezels are pretty thick. Probably 1 -2 mm thick. You can’t roll this size of bezel, it has to be moved with a punch. I use a lot of medium solder, especially if there is some distance between solder joints. You can also try touch soldering with wire solder. I usually roll or draw it out so that it is fairly thin. A neat thing about wire solder is that short pieces of it will conform to some joints better than pallions. As an example, soldering two pieces of round wire together side by side.You mention that you don’t know what your flux is. There are a lot of different fluxes. I find that water thinned Handy flux works well for most of what I do, but you can just use borax and water mixed into a slurry or paste, just use a lot of it. You may be left with what looks like a permanent glassy surface that is very difficult to remove after you solder with borax and water. Just soak the piece in rinse water for a while and the glassy material will dissolve. You can grind or sand it off, but you may remove metal around it that you don’t want to remove. This is a good time to get a drink, call a friend or just multi task. If you are using liquid flux, pour a small amount into a jar and dispense it from there or even better, use a small squirt bottle with a metal tip. Practice with soldering on different surfaces. Some act like a heat sink and you have to get them up to temperature before your joint will get hot enough to flow solder. You mention a tripod and I assume screen. This allows you to get the back plate up to temperature before the bezel. You still have to heat some from the top. In the end, there is no one right way to do this, you have to practice and then replicate what works for you. What is right is to make sure everything is clean, the joints are tightly fitted and you use a lot of flux. Getting in with enough heat to get out quickly helps . It also helps to keep the fire scale down. You can also control fire scale with a coating of boric acid and alcohol applied before you solder. I keep it in a big glass jar that can be easily sealed. I put the pieces to be solder into the jar, seal it, give a shake to coat the pieces and then remove them to your soldering pad. Make sure to seal the jar first and get it out of the way so you don’t set it on fire, then burn off the alcohol leaving a nice layer of powdered boric acid to protect the surface from fire scale. You can do this prior to annealing and especially if you are soldering parts that you have already semi finished because it is easier to finish them separately than after they are soldered together. That’s about it. I enjoy passing on what I can because I don’t have anyone who wants to be my apprentice. I also have a lot to learn and enjoy learning from others, so don’t be shy about sharing your discoveries as there will always be someone out there who it will help but is too shy to ask. Good luck…Rob
Now I KNOW that’s not true. If there wasn’t a pandemic on and there was a bus that’d get me to your workspace every day, I’d totally be your apprentice! And I bet I’m not the only one.
Sure! I’d be your apprentice too
Thank you so much Rob! So much priceless information here! I will follow your advice. That’s true, only practicing will help. But I will put your tips into action. I think one problem was the torch change, unfortunately the flame is different and it doesn’t help!
Thanks again for your invaluable information
You two haven’t seen where I live, but thanks. I am hoping that one of my grand daughters might take an interest. Thanks…Rob
My daughter was learning with me, and doing quite well, but other interests eventually caused her to stop.
Melissa has a lot of talent, and was easy to teach. I have had others ask to apprentise but that always required way too much of my time and energy.
As far as saving the silver bezel, which is where this dialog began, i can see trying this in theory, but now you will be attempting to create and solder 3 good joints at the same time.
My insticts say to admit a temperary setback, and remove the damaged bezel, clean up the base, and try again.
The suggestion of using a higher temperature solder on the bezel joint, than on the bezel to base joint, is wise.
The heat required to flow your solder evenly, completely around base of your bezel, means that the soldered joint in the bezel will exposed to very high heat. Having that joint soldered with the higher melting temperature solder, helps keep this joint from melting away on you.
i live i canada and will be your apprentice…
Thank you too for your time taken to answer!
Yes I guess it doesn’t make sense to repair it because as you say it would mean soldering 3 times with 4 different parts and it’s too complicated and time-consuming- maybe I will set a stone later with an opening on one side . I will remove the band. In the meantime I made exact replicas and will use hard solder. That’s a very good reflection - a too weak solder can’t resist to the heat of the backplate soldering.
Hello Rob, rmeixner and ringdoctor,
You were right! I followed the same procedure with a silver Bezel soldered with hard solder and then soldered it to a backplate with medium solder. Works perfectly!! Thank you very much for saving my nerves and my future works!
Solving such problems, by understanding what went wrong, and how to avoid it in the future is part of building your skills.
Accidents will happen. They can also teach us what pitfalls to watch out for.
Now that the problem is solved I have a sequel on that topic… I had soldered bezels with medium solder and now I’m afraid of soldering them on the backplate. Should I make new bezels instead? Or saw the soldered place to open it and solder it again with hard solder? Thank you very much!
You will have to remove all the medium solder if you intend to re-solder using hard solder. This means that the bezel will get smaller and not fit your stone unless you somehow stretch it to fit. This is not difficult, but it will thin the bezel even more. The medium solder needs to be removed, because heating the hard solder may over heat any remaining medium solder driving off some of the alloy that makes it medium and causing it to pit. Pitting and how to avoid it is an entirely different topic that has been covered in the archives. I need to constantly remind myself to avoid it in my haste to solder a joint…Rob