Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Soldering links


I’m making a Byzantine chain. The instructions say to just twist the
links closed, but I want to solder or fuse them closed. Any tips on
how to do this without messing up the links?



Most basic question first: Is it better to solder each link soldered
as it is added to the chain, or is it easier to make the chain
first, then solder the links?



Hi Janet,

I'm making a Byzantine chain. The instructions say to just twist
the links closed, but I want to solder or fuse them closed. Any
tips on how to do this without messing up the links? 

I’ve made lots of soldered Byz chain. Here’s the scheme that works
for me.

  1. Close 1/2 the links flush & tight. As they are closed, lay them
    in a row on a fire brick with the joints at 12 o’clock. Lay them as
    close together as possible, but not touching. Leave about 1" between

  2. After the brick is covered or all the links have been closed,
    apply a small dab of paste solder to the inside of each link so it
    contacts both sides of the joint (between 11 o’clock & 1 o’clock).
    Place the solder aprox. on the upper 1/4 of the inside of each link.
    A dab of solder about 1 - 2 times the diameter of the wire works

  3. After all the links have had solder applied, turn the brick
    around so the joints are at 6 o’clock.

  4. Light the torch & begin soldering the links by applying the heat
    to the outside of the link. Direct the flame so it heats each side
    of the joint equally. Between 4 o’clock & 8 o’clock works well.

  5. After the last link has been soldered, gather the soldered links
    using a soldering pick or a stiff copper wire. If a soldering pick
    is used, transfer the links to a wire. Twist the ends of the wire
    together & place the links in the pickle.

For the soldering operation, paste solder sold in syringes works
well. If it’s stiff & hard to extrude from the syringe, placing near
an incandescent bulb or wrapping it in a cloth soaked in hot water
will soften the solder & make it easier to extrude. If it’s placed
near a light bulb, don’t let it there too long or the plastic
syringe may melt.

The same general scheme can be used for fusing by eliminating the
solder application.



Hi Janet, I would suggest making the chain first then soldering the
links. This will save you a lot of time. Especially once you get
onto a roll weaving the jump rings together in the right pattern.
Soldering was the easy part for me. Patiently putting the links
together was the hard part. If you plan on rolling it square
becareful with the first few passes so that you
do not twist and damage the chain. Mark


Betsy, When you assemble the chain first, do you have to pickle after
each link-soldering?

I.e., when I solder sterling, the metal turns black. Does this have
to be removed before I can solder again?



Hi Janet,

I don’t mean to butt in on your question but I have made these
chains. If you make the whole chain first and then dip it into boric
acid and denatured alcohol solution ( and burn it off ) you will be
ldft with a fine white coating of boric acid. This will act as an
adequate flux for soldering and will remove the necessity for a
heavier flux. Doing it this way, you won’t need to toss the piece
into a sparex jar every few links just so you can see the where the
next joint is to solder.



Never actually done something like this myself- but on this very
list it was mentioned that a good coat of flux goes a long way to
prevent firescale- you should be able to save the pickling for the
end of each session/section. Naturally that would interfere with the
heat sink/bath. Hmm, seems more thought is required.



I would like to make some chain maille out of gold wire and solder
the links together. Do you have any suggestions on how to do this? I
don’t know size of wire when talking about gauges. I would like to
make it out of wire a little less than 1/16" diameter and the links
about 5/16" diameter. I can make the links by wrapping the wire on a
dowel and cutting them with a saw. I know I can solder using sheet or
wire solder, paste and a torch but I want something faster, easier
and cleaner. Will 14 Kt gold fuse with out solder? I can buy solder
filled gold wire but I don’t know what the best way to use it is. I
have to by a fairly large dollar amount so I would like to know if it
will work before I buy it. I was told that if I cut it with a saw the
solder will smear. I don’t know why that would matter. Would it be
best to fuse this wire with a torch or in an oven? Any information
you can give me on the subject will be appreciated.

Brent Northey


Tricky business, this.

Soldering a pre-assembled Byzantine chain takes rather more
precision than I can manage, so I’ve switched to the
slower-but-easier method of soldering each link as it is added. I
use cross-lock tweezers as a makeshift third hand, grasping the link
to be soldered. This worked well at keeping the soldering area away
from the rest of the chain, but the steel tweezers also acted as a
heat sink: The link got hot enough for the solder to stick and melt
somewhat, but not enough for the solder to flow well and even out.

The solder flows great when I use a charcoal block and no tweezers,
but then the previously soldered links heat up, too, and get stuck

What is the best way to deal with this? I have yellow ocher (not
sure what to mix it with, though) and could apply it to each
finished link. Or, I could put the chain on a firebrick instead of
the charcoal block.



Janet, I recently saw and tried a method that hung the single link to
be soldered off the end of a fire brick, or charcoal block. The next
links are covered with White Out, found in any stationary store or
similar. place the tweezers over the link with the white out and
direct your flame only on the dangling link. Should work that way
without involving the following links. Teresa


Hello again Janet,

Sounds like you need to use a tighter and hotter flame. This is one
case where you don’t want to be nice to the silver. It conducts heat
too well to use a soft flame. The tweezers will act as a heat sink
but so will the rest of the silver chain. If you hold the link to be
soldered joint side up, pick up the solder with at pick, and then hit
the joint with a hot flame quickly it should take the solder well.
Get the flame off quickly once done.

Using ocre on each link will probably make you crazy by the time you
finish this chain. Keep trying you will get a feel for it qucker
than you think. Besides you have hundreds of jump rings to practice



Yellow ocher is mixed with water. It “dirties” the metal and as we
all learn, fast or slow, easy or the hard way, solder will not flow
on dirty metal. I have used potter’s clay for the same purpose and
see no difference.

Marilyn Smith


You can also mix rouge polishing compound with enough denatured
alcohol to make a creamy paste to stop the flow of solder.


Hello Orchidians, If I missed someone’s discussion about this in a
previous post, I apologize. Janet, when making a chain with soldered
links, solder half of the links before assembling. After
assembling, solder the connecting links using cross-lock tweezers as
a heat sink on the already soldered links. Even with more complex
chains, it should be possible to solder as many as possible before
assembling. Also when choosing which ones to solder before
assembly, choose the links that would be more difficult to solder
AFTER assembly.

I hope this helps “turn the light on.” Judy in Kansas

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
B.A.E. 237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhatttan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936 FAX (785) 532-6944