I was wondering if anyone can give me their thoughts on soldering paste. I’ve only tried it once, a while back when I first started soldering, and I wasn’t impressed with it then. However, it’s a best seller at my work though and I’d like to understand why. Can anyone tell me why they like it more than wire or sheet?
I can’t tell you how much I hate paste solder. What are your co workers using it on?
We have an employee studio here and we all use wire solder, but the company we work for sells solder and paste is the most popular solder that we sell. It seemed strange when I heard that, because I just remember that it seemed really grainy and lumpy when I tried it a few years ago and it was hard to control the amount when squeezing it out of the tube. It made me very curious to know why it is so well liked. I feel like I missed something the one and only time that I tried it.
I am not a fan of paste solder, having mostly underwhelming results with it. However, a friend of my daughter showed her how to use yellow / green liquid flux with soldering paste to tin some paste solder on a part, then use more yellow flux to finish the join, and it came out well. So if you don’t care for the results you get with just paste solder, try adding some yellow flux, and perhaps tinning first, rather than trying to make the join in one shot.
Paste solder is good for chain repair & hollow jewelry and back in the day it was good for rope chain that was typically handmade.
There are paste solder dispensers that may assist in getting a more consistent discharge out of the syringe.
I want to say Krohn Industries invented paste solder but not sure on that.
The only folks I know who use paste solder are folks who simply don’t know any better. They are mostly people who got their jewelry training via an arts and academic program rather than a professional track. Because of inadequate training they can’t make a living so they teach and pass on more bad info. to the next batch of poorly informed “experts” who then go on to teach etc.
The stuff just pops and spits stuff everywhere and the seams often fail.
Sorry for the rant, but it’s so frustrating for me to see poor techniques passed on and on and on.
Don’t get me started about using bezel rockers and burnishers for bezel setting. I’ll stat foaming at the mouth:-)
If anyone who uses paste solder or a bezel rocker and burnisher tried to do that in a professional shop they would be handed a cardboard box for their tools and shown the door.
I often say that there is no right or wrong way to make jewelry. However sometimes techniques are just crude and inefficient.
Thanks for the reply.
Do you think its better for chain repairs than pallion chips are?
Hi Halstead1 and Jo
While paste solder may not be the best type of solder to use when sizing rings or fabricating from sheet, it is excellent for hand fabricating filigree jewellery. My primary focus is filigree and I use a lot of paste solder.
I also use it to attach findings ie ear posts, jump rings etc to my filigree pieces. The joints are strong and do not fail.
The paste solder that I use is hydrocarbon based and does not seem to contain any (much??) water, Hence it does not pop and spit.
When I teach filigree, I demonstrate with paste, powder and pallions, but I recommend paste to my students.Most of my students are now using paste solder for their filigree work.
So not sure why your company is selling so much paste, but paste does have its uses in certain specialty areas.
Thanks, Milt. I hadn’t thought of filigree work as a good use for paste. Thanks for sharing that.
While I am not an end user but a supplier I do speak to my customers and as whole the people who use paste solder like it just fine and have been purchasing from us for many years without issues. in the end its just preference either chip, wire or paste its how you were taught/trained and what works best for you and type of work that is being done.
Milt- Oops! I apologize. I forgot about filigree.
Sorry about that.
I do have a question for you about that though. Do you use sterling or fine silver for your filigree?
If you add a bunch of paste solder does that bring down the karat purity of the finished piece? If so how do you hallmark it?
Thankuthanku, I am a self taught metalsmith and when I was first learning everyone always instructed to use burnished/bezelrocker for bezel setting, I cannot tell u how much frustration I experienced and of course knew I was doing something wrong until thru Gerry and this site I stopped using those 2 tools, I still wondered though until I just read your post, thanks I am not crazy or inept, my hands just knew those were the wrong tools, aloha, angi in hana
I must have repaired a gazillion chains back in my trade shop days in the 70s and 80s when everyone wore chains. I got really good at it and could solder even a hollow rope without leaving a stiff spot. The only chains I was unable to repair with out a stiff spot were snake and herringbone chains.
I used a hydro torch with a hypodermic syringe tip on the torch.
I used sheet pallion chips of, shudder, 10 and 6 kt solder.
Whether using wire or sheet solder I always run it through my rolling mill til it’s as thin as I can get it. That way I can cut off a pallion that looks big enough to see and handle but then melts down to a teeny tiny ball of solder.
Also if it was a dicy soldering job I’d leave the chain dirty and only have the link I wanted to solder have a clean edge so that the solder would only go there and not flood the dirty links. A pain in the a** to clean up but much better than a stiff spot.
So I have another question for you, since you were talking about pallion chips. Do you know what cut: 420 means? I thought that it would be a size of some sort but the description reads: #70 Medium Silver Solder, .5x1mm Pallion Chips. So I feel like it’s not a size now that I see the .5x1mm on it.
420 translates to the size in inches .040 x .020.
The most common use for paste solder is furnace soldering.
My filigree wire is always fine silver and my filigree frames are always sterling silver.
Paste solder that I use is about 65% silver. I use as little paste as possible, so it doesn’t depress the silver content much.
A typical pendant might be about half sterling and half fine silver, although this varies quite a bit depending on the design. Taking it a bit further, if a final piece contained as much as 5% solder, and 45% fine and 50% sterling, it would assay at 94.5% silver.
So I always mark my filigree 925. as it should always assay higher and is very unlikely to assay lower
Do you happen to know if there’s an advantage to using it in a furnace as opposed to other types of solder?
I do a lot of filigree work. That is where I learned to loathe paste solder. I went on to make my own powdered solder. Gave that up to save my knuckles when filing the ingot. I tried various commercial powdered. Solders and ranked all but one up there with my dislike of paste. The one solder is made by a very nice lady in southern Florida. Anyone wants to know the source just message me.
Paste solders to me form minute cracks in what seems like a good joint. To many times if the piece was work minimally afterwards it would open the cracks further or just plain break. When you’ve spent hours on a large piece with hundreds of small filigree wires it hurts down to your toenails to hear it ping and see it break as you curve it into a bracelet.
I never buy pre cut pallions. You cannot control how big or small you want them. I just buy the sheet or wire and roll it out super thin and then cut the pallions to the size I want for the task at hand. It seems that most companies that makes solder had different numbers for hard medium and easy. The solder I use from AAA Precious Metals are 55 is easy, 65 is medium, and 70 is hard. Then there is eutectic and enameling solders which are so high temp that it’s like walking on a high wire across the grand canyon without a net. When I am annealing or doing a scary soldering job and I am alone in the studio I turn off most of the lights so that I can see the color of the hot metal much better. Try it some time. You’ll be shocked at how much better you can see the color.
I have never experienced the problems that you have encountered with paste. I use paste from Rio Grande and have also tried the paste from the nice lady in southern Florida that you mentioned in your post.
I have made many 3 dimensional filigree objects including rings, cuffs, crowns, tiaras and and a variety of twisted filigree pendants. While it is common for a joint or two to fail as I am curving the filigree, and yes I agree that the pinging sound as a joint fails is very disheartening, I have not had any catastrophic failures.
I have also made my own powder solder and tried commercially available powder, but I always come back to using paste solder for my filigree.