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Soldering Problem

I have a soldering problem not encountered before. I want to attach
some sterling silver beads to a piece of sterling silver wire. The wire
was polished with red rouge, washed in a water, detergent and ammonia
mix as usual then rinsed in clear water. The solder wets the bead but
won’t touch the wire.

I know that red rough can be used as a solder resist, but the wire was
washed, scraped and sanded and still won’t solder.

All help is appreciated and thank you.

Bill in Vista where it is beautiful and hot today.

Bill, Are the beads on the wire as you try soldering it? I’m
guessing that the beads are acting like a “heat sink” for the wire
and drawing a lot of the heat away that you think the wire is
getting, so you are heating up the wire enough to solder but nothing
happens. Since the heat is being drawn away by the beads the wire is
just not hot enough to solder.

In soldering, the solder will flow towards the greater concentration
of heat. In this case, it is possible that the beads, being perhaps
thin metal, are picking up a lot more heat, due to their greater
surface area, and the solder is jumping over to the hotter surfaces.
Try wetting the wire with solder without the beads present, if that
is possible. Then, place the beads and re-melt the solder. If I am
correctly appriasing your situation, the solder should then run over
to the beads.


What you might have is not a cleanliness problem, but more of heat
transfer. What size are your beads in relation to the wire. If the
wire is smaller, than the heat is going in that direction. If your
bead is smaller, than that is where the solder will flow. Solder
follows heat, not flame. Can you draw and send a little picture of
what you are trying to do?

You might also have a connection problem. Does the bead and wire
make good contact? If you can, file or sand the area of contact.
Solder can’t jump a valley.

Hope this helps.
Mo hotta is betta.


Bill, Short time ago I asked if a solution recommended for fusing gold
would assist in fusing silver also. The answer was in the positive, I
now wonder if it could be used to solve your dilemma.

The original reference was to pulverized malachite in solution
applied to the ends being fused. It acted something like a conductor
or catalyst in my simple mind’s eye. So what if you were to
intentionally contaminate some pickle and dip your wire your wire and
balls in to attain that lovely shade of pink we all have come to hate,
then attempt to solder. Pickle to clean if successful.

Just a thought,
Terrie in lovely Oceanside where the breeze is delicious.

Hi Bill,

I am a neophyte but did have a similar problem. It is my
understanding solder flows to where there is the greatest heat
(thermal mass in this case). Your wire has a large surface to volume
ratio and therefore easily dissipates its heat, while the bead, having
a much smaller surface to volume ratio retains it and thus remains
hotter than the wire, or so I believe. Could you first apply the
solder to the wire then heat the bead to a temperature that melts the

It also could be that the amount of flux on the wire might be so
little as to run out of oxygen scrubbing activity before the wire is
hot enough to melt the solder.

Now what do the experts say?

David in Victoria

Hi; About that soldering problem, it sounds to me like the beads are a
lighter weight than the wire. Try flowing a piece of solder on the
wire first, this will prep it, then try putting heat on the wire not
the bead. Contact Thanks Raymond

Pickle it before you solder. You won’t be able to solder a polished
item unless it is pickled. Yes - you will have to re-polish it.

Tony Konrath
Electric Pencil
1002 Fleming Street
Key West
Florida 33040

bill - when i run into a #^**^%^$ component that won’t accept flux or
solder i start over after they cool but i swab them with lighter
fluid (actually the white gasoline from our backpacking stove since i
don’t like to buy tobacco products) - that usually does the trick.
good luck -

Dear Bill,

Was the rouge you used in a round tube shape or in a square shape?
The round shape is a lot less greasy than the squared shape rouge. It
seems that someone has changed the formula. I add Dawn dishwashing
detergent to my ultrasonic bath and this seem to work. Let us all

Best Regards,

TR the Teacher,
Todd Hawkinson

Before I lose my sanity,I thought I would call on the best of the
best for help. I have a repair job that is testing me.It is a SS oval
belt buckle,4in X 31/4 in,of Native American design.It has (3)large
pieces of hard natural turquoise and (8) pieces of Mediterranean
coral,it also has a number of SS appliques of
leaves,flowers,vines,and small and large rain drops (shot).Rather
than being fabricated from heavy gauge SS sheet,it was cast.It is
very heavy weight,approx. 5-6mm thick.It also has (2) large feathers
1 1/2in long with flowers,vines, and (2) large rain drops on the
reverse side of the buckle.The owner broke one of the large pieces of
turquoise and ruined the bezel cup.My concern is with applying a new
bezel cup replacement,heating from the backside(underneath)I must
contend with the appliques being painted with the flame and becoming
unsoldered,on the front the appliques being painted with the flame
and becoming unsoldered. The buckle being as heavy as it is will
require a great deal of heat for the solder to flow on the new bezel
cup.As you can imagine, I don’t know how many soldering stages were
used in attaching all of the SS appliques both front and back.I have
removed all of the remaining (10) stones (thank goodness the smith
didn’t epoxy them in). I decided to stop here until I can fiqure out
the best way to keep everything from becoming unsoldered.The one
saving grace is the owner is my brother who doesn’t know better than
to ride bulls wearing his favorite buckle.For any helpful
ideas,I will forever be in your debt, John Barton

Hi John Barton, Your soldering problem may be resolved by not
soldering. Would it be possible to carefully fit a new bezel into
the space of the original bezel cup and rivet it into place? The
turquoise replacement would have to be cut a little smaller, and then
set once the new bezel has been rivetted into place.
Kind regards,Rex Steele Merten

   Before I lose my sanity,I thought I would call on the best of
the best for help. I have a repair job that is testing me. 
 	John, I would suggest that you cut away the old bezel,  make a new

bezel, solder sterling tube on the back in several places, and drill
corresponding holes on the buckle that the tubes would go though,
spread the tube to make a rivet. Three or more tube rivets
should be strong enough to hold. Good luck, Richard in Denver

John… this may not be a soldering problem… Perhaps you can use a
cold connection to attach the new bezel cup. It is done much like
securing the ends of a hinge stem.

You could solder an appropriate size stem to the underside of a
completed bezel cup (big cup, big wire!) After completely grinding
out the original one and making the surface FLAT and ready for a new
one to be dropped into place.

Use something to hold the bezel cup secure. (A tiny bolt filled with
solder can work)

It involves a bit of fussing around, but seems a good tradeoff from
messing with all those stones and risking fire scale. And, carefully
done, it will be invisible.

Good luck!

Hi John, I’m replying to you off list because no one is going to like
my answer, and I’m not up to a big flaming right now. But they also
don’t work with Southwestern styles and have no clue.

To solve your problem, you’re going to need some solder stop, either
ochre or White-Out and some binding wire. Paint everything you don’t
want the solder to run with the solder stop, and dry it on with a
gentle flame until it’s red for ochre or dark brown/black for
White-Out. Let the piece cool. Then start wiring all the elements
down. I use wire with all the ‘tails’ on one side. Now, you’ll have a
problem with the shotting, because a round wire won’t want to stay on
top of a ball. For these you’re going to have to flatten the binding
wire to go across the area of the shotting, but leave the 'tails’
round so you can twist the wire to secure it. You can also use copper
wire if you don’t have a rolling mill to flatten the iron wire, but
you’ll need to coat it with a solder stop after flattening it and
prior to binding, and it also has to be dried on.

If you have a trinket kiln with a top cover, this will make your
soldering easier. Just put the piece in and let the kiln heat up the
metal mass, then use your torch to solder the bezel on. If you don’t
have a trinket kiln, get a helper with an extra torch to heat the
mass from the back side while you solder on the front side.

Hope it helps, and good luck!
Kathy Palochak

John - You could make the bezel cup and then rivet it onto the belt
buckle. It would avoid soldering problems. Once the rivits were in
, you could stamp them to make them fit in with the overall theme of
the back.


John - One possible solution is using an electrical resistance
soldering tool with TIX or one of the other silver-tin solders: very
low heat requirement to flow, plus the electrical resistance tool
lets you position the heat exactly where you want it. I don’t envy
you the task.

Jim Small
Small Wonders

John, you have at least three choices for replacing the bezel. I’ve
used all three of these techniques for repairs on similar jewelry.

You can try soldering the new bezel on using extra easy silver
solder, and hope for the best. Contrary to what we’ve been taught
(and usually tell students) you can hot spot sterling. Use a lot of
very tiny pieces of solder, and very small HOT flame run around the
inside edge of the bezel. Use water based White Out to protect
nearby soldered areas. It can be done, but you know the risks.

Use a low temp solder like StayBrite to solder the bezel on. It’ll
flow before the other soldered areas are at risk. It’s not real
silver solder, but it will work.

Make a bezel cup for the stone and rivet it on. There’s no risk to
any solder areas, and if there’s enough decoration around the bezel,
the cup may not be noticeable at all.

Good luck!
Karen in Boulder, Colorado

John - I’d suggest one of two approaches -

You could make a new bezel cup, with heavier than usual back, and
then double rivet the cup to the buckle.

Or use the icky but sometimes useful low temperature solder like
stuff - Sta Brite.

Judy Hoch, G.G.

Why not just coat the entire piece except the area to be soldered
with investment and solder with extra easy solder. The worst that
happens is some previous solder reflows but everything should be held
in place by the investment. Might be hard to get it hot enough
though. Rivets might be good unless the other side would be a
problem. You could cut a seat about 3mm deep, the same size as the
bezel, but wider in the bottom. Then set the bezel down into this
seat and hammer the sides of the bezel from the inside to spread into
the wider area of the seat. This would be a big pain though. I’d try
solder or rivets first.

Good luck,
Kevin Ard