I just started a new job as a bench jeweler and I am having a few
issues with my solder. When I go to heat and ball up my solder, the
solder quickly gets red hot and tacky / sticky. When I remove the
flame, it cools and turns grayish in color. In the past, I had this
problem at home with some silver solder and thought it might be my
torch because at work I had no problem soldering. I took that solder
home to test my theory and it turned out to be the solder with the
Now, I am having the same issue with both 14k yellow gold solder and
sterling silver solder. I have always used oxy/propane but the shop I
just started at uses oxy/acetylene so that is something I am
adjusting to. I am also using the little torch instead of a larger
torch. The solder is from Stuller and comes in little chips in
plastic tubes so I am thinking that is not the problem. Is it
possible I am heating the solder to quickly? I've tried adjusting
the flame to no avail. I'd appreciate any input. It's really quite
frustrating not being able to solder jump rings closed.
Assuming a clean joint, heat the piece, not the solder. The heated
piece will draw the solder into the joint.
It sounds like it is oxidising in the flame. Drop one of the beads
into pickling acid and have a look at it with a lens. What sort of
surface does it have? Wrinkly? pitted? By heating to red heat you are
probably encouraging the oxidation so i would suggest cleaning your
solder pallions and when you heat them to ball them get them a little
hotter a bit quicker.
You will need to have a look at the flame of your torch and the size
of the cooler gas cone next to the nozzle. With oxyacet a very small
cone is better as it means you have less unburnt gas and acetylene is
quite a "dirty" gas with the wrong flame. Oxypropane is more
forgiving in this respect.
I hope this is of some help.