I didn't have any anti-flux, which definately was a problem, but I
think I was inept at using the torch properly. Can someone give me a
quick rundown on using a Swiss Torch for this kind of soldering?
From your post looks like you having several problems:
Anti-flux. You can buy one in jewelry supply house of your choice,
or you can use boric acid (my choice) available in any drug store.
Make sure pieces are clean. Deep it in alcohol (available in Home
Depot or any paint store) flame the alcohol and dust boric acid over
the pieces. Use gentle flame to melt boric acid until it forms a thin
Swiss Torch. Probably the best there is. Use it as any torch. The
rule of thumb is never overheat. Use as gentle flame as possible.
Start with the smallest flame and only increase if required. The size
and character of the flame depends on size and character of a piece.
Most of the soldering should be done with reducing (slightly
Neutral and oxidizing should be reserved for repairs mostly. Practice
on the scrap to understand effects of the different types… Some book
warn against soldering too slow. While somewhat true for easy
solders, overheating from using too much of the flame is a larger
- Fitting pieces for soldering. The most common mistake that
beginners make is to use solder as a structural element. Solder
should only be used to prevent disengagement of mechanical joint. In
another words pieces must fit and hold together via mechanical
engagement. There are some exceptions, but it is a good practice to
follow that rule as closely as possible.
You must ban from your shop tools like “third hand”. They only
promote bad habits. Another advise is never use picks for soldering.
If soldering pick is required, it means that joint was not planned
well. It should always be possible to solder just by placing a small
(as small as possible) square of solder and gently heat until it
runs and locks the joint.