Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Soldering on snake chain


#1

Hello:

I want to carve in wax my own end caps to later cast for production
and then solder onto a 1.6mm snake chain ( I want to do this in high
volume) However, I have never been able to successfully solder onto a
snake chain a commercial end cap without a small part of the chain
hardening up so I doubt I will have any luck with my own designed end
caps. I even tried to job it out to a production jeweler and her
soldering job was worse then mine. Help! Is there a trick to
soldering on anything to snake chain??

DeDe


#2

DeDe,

The problem is that the snake chain is so thin that it heats up,
allowing the solder to flow up the links. There are two solutions.
First, protect the chain from the heat. The best way to do this is
with a heat sink, steel soldering tweezers work well. Just hold the
tweezer where you don’t want the heat to flow. Only allow a couple of
millimeters to be exposed to hear. The gauge of the metal is so light
that the area not protected by the tweezers will easily heat up. It
does take some practice, but after you master this, it is applicable
to many, many other uses. Second, you could use an anti flux like
yellow ochre powder or the much written about liquid paper. The
problem with anti fluxes is discoloration of the metal and dealing
with the fumes. For this reason I prefer the heat sink. Happy
soldering! Larry


#3

Hi DeDe, and friends The best way to do this is to “seal” the ends
of the chain, by anti-oxidizing them, fluxing sparingly, then
placing a larger snippet of hard solder to the end, and heating the
end until the solder “soaks” downward from the end. This is best
axcomplished by holding the chain in a pair of fire tweezers, about
a half inch below the end, the end of the chain held upwards. Pass
the flame across the very top until the heat flows the solder, and
it “soaks” into the chain end. After this has been successfully
acomplished, pickel the ends to remove flux, and file the end down
to make it flat to the point where there is very little hard solder
left. If you have flowed too much solder into the chain, cut the end
off just before the end of the solder-soaked portion. The reason you
are purposely soaking the end is to control the amount of chain that
gets soaked. When you go to solder the end cap on, use only enough
solder to make the joint. Very little of the easier solder will flow
beyond the sealed end if you apply most of the heat to the endcap
while soldering. Try to make the joint as neat as possible, and your
solder operation quick, as to prevent the conducted heat from
encouraging the solder to flow back down the length of the chain.
This works well for other chain repairs, where the chain is somewhat
"absorbent". With some rope chains, it becomes necessary to seal
ends by fusing them, but the results are superior when the soldering
takes place, as there is very little creeping of the solder beyond
the actual joint.

Best regards,
David Keeling
www.davidkeelingjewellery.com


#4

Hello DeDe, Don’t use flux when you solder chain or mesh. This will
dramatically lessen the distance the solder will flow. Have fun. Tom
Arnold


#5
    I want to carve in wax my own end caps to later cast for
production and then solder onto a 1.6mm snake chain ( I want to do
this in high volume) However, I have never been able to
successfully solder onto a snake chain a commercial end cap without
a small part of the chain hardening up so I doubt I will have any
luck with my own designed end caps. I even tried to job it out to a
production jeweler and her soldering job was worse then mine. Help!
Is there a trick to soldering on anything to snake chain?? 

This problem requires skills in production soldering, that are best
dealt with in developing both an eye and feel; for the right heat
and for measuring the proper amount of solder. There is a
solder/flux syringe on the market, that could help, it could present
other problems, these can be over come with practice and finding the
best product combination. There is an automated dispenser available
for these, as well. On a more economical side, there are solder
cutting tools that cut even sizes of both wire and sheet solder.
There is powdered solder too or you can file it and use the fileings.
Having the right amount of solder is one part. If you also make a
box, that has a top and three sides, to darken in your soldering
area, you’ll be able to better see the flame and what it is doing. If
you think you will need the soldering area to be lighted, at times,
you can easily make this a removable one. Using welding, safety
goggles is another option. These are available with lighter and
darker lenses. The main point here is that you do what is needed to
sensitize, coordinate and focus you and the job at hand, as is
usually the case. If this production is massive, then a production
shop is the way to go, and to keep shopping until you find one that
can handle it; the way you want it done. A real " Keep on, keeping on
94 type of job. An adept production shop will have: a way to make the
proper soldering jigs, have ovens to bring the heat up to where just
glaseing over the work with a torch, will finish it. They would also
have a proper finishing operation. They may have and opt to laser
weld. They may opt to use a hydrogen torch. At any rate you’d have to
work out the details with the shop. There are probably a number of
them still in the Providence RI area, maybe some in NYC too.

Don Allen


#6

Hello All: first off thats for your responses on soldering snake
chain. What i noticed its not the solder that is making the first 10
mm of the end of the chain I am soldering on stiffen up - but the
heat. I will try a heat sink an cross my fingers!

DeDe


#7

Hi DeDe, I solder on snake chain quite often w/no problem. If you
hold the snake with a third hand just above the end cap (whatever
that may be, I use silver tubing that I cut and solder a bottom on,
then add my hook and eye later). The third hand should keep the
chain cool enough to keep the solder from flowing up. Also I don’t
put heat on or above the third hand. Hope I explained this well
enough for you to understand, good luck.

Lisa
Lisa Hawthorne
@Lisa_Hawthorne


#8

Hi DeDe, Here’s 3 ways I’ve done it.

  1. If the end cap is closed, that is, it is a tube w/ one end capped
    or somehow closed off, I presolder the chain end. Place the snake
    chain in a pair of tweezers clamped on at, say 3mm, from the end.
    This is your heat sink. Fluxing just the exposed tip of the chain,
    place a bit of solder-- easy, medium, hard if you’re on your game
    that day-- and flow it on the end of the chain using a hot little
    flame. Be sure that your torch tip is pointed up, away from the
    tweezers and the bulk of the chain. (I usually have my tweezers held
    in a third arm and raised up so that the rest of the chain dangles
    down.) When you flow the solder try to stop before the solder
    totally flows,so that it is still a bit lumpy.

File or grind the solder lump down so that the profile slides snugly
into your chain cap. There should be no solder or hard chain exiting
the cap. That is, where the chain leaves the cap, it should be
totally flexible. Before sliding the chain in, flux the end. With
the cap in place, clamp the tweezers back on so that only the cap is
exposed. Flux it. Heat as before, with the flame focused on the cap
and up and away. Understanding when the solder flows can be tricky.
Learn to read the flux. When it is molten and glassy, you are quite
close to soldering temp. (for easy).

When it feels like it has flowed, pickle it and gently tug on it to
test. By presoldering the chain and then sliding it into the cap,
solder is unlikely to flow down the chain and cause problems.

  1. I’ve also drilled a small hole in the side of a cap or tube,
    slid the chain in place, fluxed, heat sunk and ran my solder in
    through the hole by placing very small balls of solder in the hole.
    The hole is the last thing to solder shut and is cleaned up w/ the
    flex shaft, etc.

  2. I often make my own end cap out of tubing. I slide the tubing
    over the chain, leaving a mm or so protruding. (This is your solder
    loading area.) Heat sink as before and apply your solder to the
    protruding chain bit. Once soldered and pickled, use files, saws,
    flex shaft-- whatever-- to cut the little soldered bit off the end of
    the tube and contour flat. If enough solder is used, you have a nice
    "solid" end. Re heat sink and solder a jump ring to this end. Even
    though the solder may flow again, the jump ring covers most of it.

Good luck, Andy Cooperman


#9

The only suggestion I can offer here is to strictly limit the amount
of solder. So don’t go feeding a strip into the heated joint, but
instead set the whole thing up cold with just a tiny snippet of
solder (and close joints). If there’s only a little solder then it
can’t spread all over the place. Except (there’s always a “gotcha”),
many commercial chains incorporate lots of solder (some are made from
solder cored wire) and these can give particular problems with links
joining together to give a solid length. In that case you can try
the various solder inhibiting pastes (yellow orchre, correction
fluid) or a heatsink.

Kevin (NW England, UK)


#10

Dear Dede-I think I successfully did this a while ago-if you solder
pickle and then manipulate the soldered end of the chain-the
flexibility returns. Chelle Kraus


#11
if you solder pickle and then manipulate the soldered end of the
chain-the flexibility returns. 

Can’t be done. What probably happened is that you had flux
"cementing" the chain so that it was inflexible and appeared to have
been soldered. Pickling removed most of the flux and manipulating the
chain got rid of any remaining residue. If the chain had truly been
soldered, you would have been out of luck.

Beth


#12

This works for me, and I’ve been doing a lot of snake chains this
past year in various terminations.

Use ochre mixed with alcohol. Apply a thin 1/8" strip below the area
that needs to be soldered. Make sure you hold the chain so gravity
doesn’t cause it to flow where you want to solder before the alcohol
evaporates. Heat it up gently until the ochre turns a dark red-brown,
and not to much heat so that the chain oxidizes.

Apply just a bit of flux (I use a short dowel rod to roll the flux
on without overdoing it). Pick up a small ball of solder on your pick
or tweezers. Touch it to where you need to solder when it’s up to
solder heat.

After you’re done soldering, put it through a pickle, then if you
happen to be lucky enough to have an ultrasonic, it will take care of
the flux and ochre. If you don’t have an ultrasonic, boil it with
water and a little dish soap.

Kind of involved, but it works well and you have a professional
looking end, without any fused areas.


#13

De De, Years ago I found that I could not repair the ultra fine gold
chain without having it turn into aball of gold, then one day I
found that if I laid the chain out flat on a carbon (graphite) board
the graphite soaked up the heat and I can now solder a single link
in a fine gold chain. Using a little torch with a fine tip

SO perhaps if you acquire a carbon ( Graphite ) sheet or paddle and
make a clamping device you could hold several chains with caps ready
to solder ? It’s worth a try. Art Smith