I do what all the books says to do, I flux, and do not go directly
to the solder I circle the bezel, I use wire solder, and been
using the Little Torch, with the proper head, I keep looking for
the little shine, but by that time I usually burn the bezel, I know
I'm doing something wrong.
Soldering is one of the most important and difficult jewelry
fabrication techniques to master. Do not give up. I am sure that you
have heard many times, practice, practice.
The bezel is a part that gives many trouble since it is an item that
is usually made with thin metal. My technique is working with paste
solder from Unique Solutions. I very rarely use silver hard paste
solder (formula #75), but rather use silver medium-hard paste solder.
You are talking about a melt temperature of 1350 F for the medium
hard (formula #70) paste verses the temperature of 1450 F for the
hard paste solder. You have several degrees in between those two
formulas, but to learn and have success with a soldering job will
add confidence. The lower temperature is still very high and leaves
many degrees in between the other formulas of paste solder, wire
solder or solder pallions, such as medium (formula #65) so you can
feel confident when continuing your fabrication project that you have
a good window before you would come near the temperatures of the
other lower melting silver paste solders. Some people always use
paste solder in the hard formula to do all the seams in a project.
The technique of using only hard solder for the entire piece will
come with practice, it is not, in my opinion, to be tried before you
master soldering. Every time you melt solder, you have to go to a
higher temperature the next time you want to melt that same solder;
this is why it will work to solder all seams with hard and with other
parts of the fabrication of your piece.
I form the bezel and make sure the seams are perfectly aligned with
no air gaps. I then place the paste solder in the back of the
aligned seam, on the inside of the bezel. You need to use very little
paste solder as the flow ability is very good. You also do not add
flux to the paste as it is already contained in the non-drying
formula. It is kind of a point and shoot application. I place the
bezel, with the paste solder in place on a board that has reflective
heat in a position fo having the seam perpendicular to the board… I
love the Solderite boards for this reason as they have bounce back
heat. I then start the project by positioning the flame of the little
torch on the side of the bezel opposite the seam, moving back and
forth so I do not create a heat spot and burn the metal. This allows
for expansion of the metal and the expansion of the metal tightens
the seam when the heat is applied to the “backside” of the bezel at
the beginning of the process. After I see that the metal is beginning
to get heated, I will slowly move the torch to the front (seam side)
and keep going around and around not concentrating heat in one area.
You may start to see a very small amount of smoke coming from the
paste solder, if so, you know you are getting activation of the
solder; if no smoke, continue with the process and when you see the
shine, you are there. Keep going around and around, you will start to
see the paste solder look like it is going to make a shine or flash
of a shine. It is now time to bring the flame in front of the seam
and continue going up and down along the seam to draw the solder
through the seam. Solder flows to heat. Remember, do not let your
torch flame concentrate and sit in one spot, keep it moving so you do
not create a hot spot. When you are going up and down over the seam,
you are drawing the solder from the back to the front and having the
seam soldered on all parts of the seam.