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Solder flow problem



I am encountering a problem for the first time, I am trying to
solder 2 border pieces of 22 gu. sterling sheet to a larger piece of
16 gu. sterling sheet. I have cleaned, fluxed, bound and have tried
with both hard and then with medium silver solder and it is not
working. I tried heating the pieces from the top, then tried it from
the bottom, and noting. Not one single piece of solder flowed! Help!

Dagne Leacock


You need to get the biggest piece hot enough for the solder to flow.
The small pieces heat up fastest. Do not put your flame directly on
solder. It will just ball up and not melt.



Dagne, silver solder won’t flow until the correct temp is reached in
the area you have put the solder. Silver is a fantastic conductor so
that the entire piece must be brought up to temp. It sounds like you
are not getting the piece hot enough, if the piece is big then you
must use a big flame. I teach that the entire peice must be heated
by moving the torch over the entire piece until the flux is cooked
down, keeping your face out of the fumes. Then concentrate the torch
on the area you want the solder to flow first and still moving the
torch over the entire piece every once in a while. This constant
movement of the torch is hard for beginners to do, you must also
keep the blue flame part of the flame just above the piece being
soldered. Lot’s to concentrate on. I also teach using the left hand
to hold the torch, you will be happy you learned this way after you
get more experience. As the solder starts to melt, keep the flame
just ahead of the solder flow, like the puddle during welding, the
solder will follow the heat. In order for the solder to melt even ly
you must also continue to heat the areas you have already had the
solder flowing in. Constant movement just like polishing.

Sam Patania, Tucson


Hi Marilyn,

Thank you. I forgot to mention in my previous email that I am using
a butane micro torch. I think it is not getting the metal hot enough
since the piece is 6 1/2" X 1 1/4". I heated the metal with my
little torch until the torch got so hot that I couldn’t hold it
anymore and the metal never got even close to red.



Hi Sam,

Thank you for your reply. I forgot to tell you that I am using a
butane micro torch, I think that is the problem. I did exactly as you
described, and like in my prior attempts, that is why I think that
the flame is just not large enough to heat the silver sufficiently.
It is a 6 1/2 " X 1 1/4". Your thoughts?


Dagne, I don’t think the micro torch will get hot enough, just not
enough gas being pushed through to heat that much silver. No access
to larger equipment? I say a Presto-lite is the best bet, with a
large tip and a BPOL tank. I used that type of torch set up for 15
years and could solder anything with. Now, of course I have 3
torches at my soldering bench, one of which is the Presto-lite which
I still use for most of my silver work.Let me know if I can help,

Sam Patania, Tucson


Hi Dagne,

What kind of gas, and how big of a torch tip are you using?

Best regards,


Hi Dagne,

I have a saying around my studio which is “Mo Betta Heat.” You are
correct in assessing that your heat is not enough to get the solder
to flow.

Butane is a pretty anemic heat source. The other question is what
kind of solder are you using and who is the manufacturer? I have
several kinds of solder from different companies, some are better
than others, some for color match, some for flow, and some don’t do
anything no matter how much heat you heat it up.

Soldering is an art form. It is a combination of heat, good fit,
cleanliness, all kinds of things. See my post

I love to solder. For me it is the perfect alchemy between joining
one piece to another. I have to decide which goes first and in what
order. For some it is stone setting, others forging metal, but for
me, it’s construction all the way.

Is there are reason why you cannot have larger compressed gas in
your work space?


Karen Christians
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio


Whoa. using a butane micro torch to solder a piece 6 1/2" X 1 1/2
inches just will not provide enough heat. That is your problem. Alma


Hello Dagne,

You need more heat than your little butane micro torch can produce
for that much silver. Plus, the dimensions are large enough that the
heat will dissipate, making it difficult to reach soldering
temperature… even with a large tipped oxygen “boosted” torch.

When I need to solder something that large, I have to build a little
oven from solder brick to hold the heat and elevate the item on
little "V"s if titanium so that the flame can be directed underneath.
It also helps to just melt bits of solder on the edge of your bezel,
then place it and flux everything well. Build the oven and turn the
torch up to flow the solder.

Hope this helps,
Judy in Kansas


Hi Ekrem,

I am using a micro butane torch made by rekrow. It only has one tip
which is not interchangeable. I suspected that the torch was the
problem to sustain the heat necessary to cover the area on I working
on, and from what I hear for others here, I was right. I will have
to invest in a new torch, but this time a “real one”.

Thank you.


Hi Sam,

Yes I figured that the torch was the problem. Living in Barbados our
supply choices are very limited and I was not able to bring certain
equipment and chemicals when I moved here from the U.S… That is
really why I have been working with the micro torch, and honestly it
has done pretty good until this project. I will have to order some
equipment and bite the “duty” bullet! LOL.

Thank you so much for your help.



Hi Karen,

Thank you for the link. I will certainly read it.

I moved from the U.S. to Barbados a few years ago, and had to leave
behind some equipment and chemicals that the custom house said would
be troublesome to get in. Barbados is a tiny island and getting
supplies is virtually very difficult, hence the use of the micro
torch. I can’t complain, since this little torch has really worked
well in all my other projects. But I really need to invest and get a
real torch. I don’t have a problem space wise, since I have studio in
my home. I will have to see what gases are available here and then go
from there.

Thank you again for your help.


Depending on the thickness, you may not even be able to solder this
piece (heating enough ) using a plumbers torch (acetyline or


Neither Butane, nor the little torch will bring the metal to
temperature for the solder to flow.

Try a plumbers torch (propane) Or get a real silversmithing torch.


Dagne, I had an an apprentice from Barbados this year for 5 weeks.
She came to me via London where she is going to art school. She said
she would send me a macaroni pie recipe from her family but she
hasn’t yet.



Hi Dagne,

In most of small repair shops here at Istanbul, we use normal picnic
tubes which contain LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas), and tips attached
with proper hosing. Tips come in various sizes, and I would use a
large tip for a similar project. I will send an address of a web
here, I don’t know if it’s allowed or not, but you can see the
pictures of what it’s like under the item “SOLDERING AND BRAZING
OUTFIT”, and see if you can find similar outfits in Barbados. BTW: I
have no affiliation with the company.

I hope it helps.
Best Regards.



Try searching under “Barbados welding suppliers” on Google.

Hope this helps.

Karen Christians
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio


Hi Ekrem,

Thank you for the link, it might come in handy if I can’t find what
I need here.