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Soldering sterling sliver jump rings


#1

Another newbie question:

I’m about to switch over from putting my pendants on simple sterling
snake chains that I buy complete with clasps to attaching looped
sterling chain directly to my pendants. Up until now I have been
drilling a hole in the top of the piece, inserting a sterling jump
ring, soldering it closed and then dropping the chain through. My new
pieces will involve drilling two holes in the top of the piece,
putting a jump ring in each hole, adding another fabricated element
(holes drilled in each side) inserting another jump ring and then
attaching the looped chain to that jump ring. Then of course
attaching clasp ends, with more jump rings.

If the above is not entirely clear, I suppose it does not matter,
because the question really is about how people solder their jump
rings. I will admit that I hate soldering jump rings. I’d rather do
twenty rivets out of 16 gauge wire than solder a single jump ring. I
can do it, but I can’t always do it right the first time, nor very
prettily, and now I’m going to be doing this task many more times
per piece! In addition, I will be soldering rings between components
and will need to figure out some way of supporting them while
soldering. I have looked at some of the archive posts, and see that
use of a third hand to hold the jump ring to be soldered up in the
air is not good, because the third hand acts as a heat sink.

As I said, the rings/chains will all be sterling, but the pendant
bases and added components might be sterling, copper or brass… if
this makes a difference.

Any and all advice on how you would do this would be appreciated.
Pallions or paste flux? Solder grade? Support methods? Anything.

Many thanks,
Rachel


#2

Rachel,

The way I recommend soldering jump rings is with a third hand
set-up. Yes, a cross-locking tweezers holding the jump ring can be a
heat sink, but is only critical if it is located closer to one side
of your solder joint. Put your tweezer as close to opposite your
solder joint as you can make it, with the solder joint at the top of
your jump ring. Your jump ring should be tightly closed (with NO gap)
and exactly facing your torch, like an “O”. In this way, it will be
easiest to get the joint heated evenly, so the solder will flow
evenly at the joint. I’d recommend putting the solder on with a sharp
soldering pick. I’m not a big fan of paste solders (way too messy).
Use a very tiny amount of solder. I’d go with a medium solder.

I also direct the pinpoint torch flame slightly upward, away from
other elements, so the heat of the torch hits only the ring’s joint,
and there won’t be the possibility of the torch flame accidentally
melting other nearby jump rings or solder joints.

I’d also recommend a hot, sharp flame, either propane/oxygen, or
natural gas/oxygen. If that solder isn’t flowing within a few seconds
of putting that torch flame’s tip on it, I’d turn up the heat until
it does. Don’t forget to flux, but just a light coat.

Good luck!
Jay Whaley


#3

Would solder filled jump rings help you? I find them much faster. I
buy solder filled jump rings from MS Company in Rhode Island.

Mary A


#4

Hi Rachel,

Your new regimen will at least mean that you will perfect the
technique of soldering jump rings. You’re right about not holding the
JR’s with tweezers while soldering as the tweezers will take the heat
right out of the JR and if you did eventually get it hot enough to
solder it would be so oxidized that it probably wouldn’t solder
anyway. I’ve had the same problems as you in the past but found that
using the tweezers as a heat sink on whatever is NEXT to the JR works
really well. I would place the tweezers on the pendant and the
tweezers will support the piece. The jump ring will just sit there
but that’s okay as long as the joint is facing outwards. As for what
type of solder, I find pick soldering JR’s the easiest way.

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk


#5

Hi Rachel,

I solder or fuse lots of jumps rings in close proximity to others
when making chain & other items. Obviously some of the things you
don’t want to do is to melt a previously finished joint or join 2 or
more items that are supposed to be separate. The easiest way, for me
at least, is to use paste solder, if soldering, & just position the
link/item being solder on a fire brick so the joint is as far from
the rest of the item as possible & in a location that the flame will
be pointing away from the rest of item when the link is being
soldered. Then after applying the paste solder to the side of the
link/item fartherest away the item. The flame can now be applied in
a direction away from the piece & when the solder melts it will be
drawn into the joint. Remove the flame as soon as the solder is seen
to melt. If there are stones or other items that are sensitive to
heat in close proximity, they may have to be sheilded with wet
tissue paper or one of the commercially available heat protectors.
It’s possible to solder/fuse items less than 1/2 mm apart in this
manner.

Dave


#6

The more you solder the better you will get. The most important thing
to remember is to make sure the ring fits together without any gaps
and to use a small amount of solder. It is a lot easier to add more
solder than it is to remove excess solder. If you can afford the
investment, a laser would simplify the job. With a laser there isn’t
any fluxing, pickling or messy clean up.

Ron Carter


#7

Hi Rachel,

As another rank amateur, the way I solder jump rings is using a wire
’gibbet’. Firstly, you need to make sure that your jump rings are
really clean and, for this, I dump them in my electro-cleaner which
is a very simple affair made from a glass food jar with a bit of thin
stainless steel sheet which wraps round the inside wall of the glass
and holds in place by its own springiness - this is connected to one
side of a simple 9v ‘wall wart’ power supply with the other wire
going to a crocodile clip holding the work to be cleaned - in this
case a tiny stainless mesh ‘tea-bag ball’ which contains the jump
rings. There have been a few posts on electro cleaning which will
fill in the remainder of the details for you. I then have a ceramic
fibre block into which I push a length of iron or stainless steel
wire so that it stands vertically. The top end of this is bent at
right angles so that it is horizontal about 3" up and, at maybe an
inch from the vertical wire, I bend a little U-shaped ‘dip’ in it and
cut off the remainder. I take the jump rings out of the electro
cleaner, rinse them and flux them immediately at the joint - even if
this gets rubbed during assembly of the piece, enough of the flux
will probably remain to keep the joint faces clean. Then I assemble
the work and hook the jump ring onto the wire ‘gallows’ with the
joint to one side so that there is less chance of soldering it to the
wire support. I use tiny paillons of sheet solder and a cooks type of
butane blowtorch or a tiny oxy-Mapp gas torch to complete the joint.
It can be a good idea to paint the wire support with yellow ochre or
I use cheap white artists water colour which will help to stop the
solder sticking to the wire support. HTH.

Best wishes,
Ian
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK


#8

You can use a grinder or a cut off wheel to reshape the tweezer ends
to a finer point for less heatsinkabilty. Or you can cut a small
groove on the inside surface of the tips to better grasp a JR. Easy
way to do this is with a krause bur, size the groove to be slightly
smaller than your wire gauge, then trim the tip ends so there’s no so
much steel poking passed the groove. If you find there’s not enough
holding power on your newly modified tweezers just rebend them at the
cross for more squish.

If your solder keeps lumping to one side of the join look for a small
flashing where the JR was cut, trim that off, it may help. You might
try cutting a small detent at the joint where you can place your
solder ball in such a manner that it gets heat from both sides more
evenly and doesn’t run off to one side so easy. Remember that solder
follows the heat so make the joint the hottest part.


#9

This process may not work for you but it is how I solder links
connecting conchos.

I slip the ring through the loop that are soldered on the back of
the condchos. Close the ring so that there is no gap. Set the conchos
on a fire brick so that the link hangs in free air over the edge of
the brick with the joint away from the conchos. The conchos do not
hang over the fire brick. I then cover the conchos with a solder pad.
I do not want to heat the pre-polished conchos so I cover them with
the solder pad.

I place a drop of liquid flux on the joint and heat it to evaporate
the liquid. I then place a small solder chip on the joint. I use a
large tip on my acetylene torch. I heat the link joint from below. I
use a solder pick to get the solder to flow across the joint.

I polish the link with my Foredom.

I will post photos of the setup on my blog as soon as I can.

Lee Epperson
http://leessilver-lee.blogspot.com


#10

Hello Orchidians,

I’ve not chimed in earlier, but since no one seems to have mentioned
using Argentium (AS), now I will.

AS wire fuses quite nicely and is especially nice for jumprings.
Remember that AS is soldered and fused much like gold in that one
does not have to heat the entire piece and can direct heat to the
joint only. If the jumpring is being soldered (not fused), this
reduces the concerns related to heat loss and inadvertently soldering
from another joint. That’s a characteristic of AS I especially
like… not to mention the avoidance of fire scale!

If I had my choice, I’d only work in gold, but the stuff is priced
above my budget right now!

Judy in Kansas, where the wind is truly blowing over the prairie.
Gusting up to 40 mph! Probably we’ll see T-storms tonight and a
shift in wind direction.


#11

I hold my jump rings with Hemostats in one hand and a butane micro
torch in the other. If I am making chain I always solder half the
rings closed on my soldering block first. I position the jaws of the
hemo’s just off center and try to put those rings or the pendant (if
that’s the case) on the shortest part of the unsoldered ring and have
it/them leaning on the stats. This minimizes possible sag from the
weight of the rings or pendant when the metal relaxes from the flame
that can open a gap between the join and prevent the ring from
soldering shut. I want the join at the very top with the solder on
one side and the flame on the other at 90 deg. horizontally, slightly
pointing up. Heat till the solder is drawn into the join.

Hope this is descriptive enough.

It’s fast and comfortable for me

TL Goodwin
Lapidarian Metalsmith
http://thepacifikimage.com


#12

Try using ceramic-tipped tweezers to hold the jump rings when
soldering. With a smaller contact area than typical third-hands, and
the much lower heat conductivity of the ceramic tips, you’ll
dramatically cut down on the heat-sink effect while soldering. You
can google “ceramic tweezers” or visit:

(I don’t know if links show up in the forum).

Michael


#13

Dave,

I could not have said it better myself. Paste solder is the very
easiest way to solder jump rings. I will add that you have to use the
barest amount so that the solder does not make any lumps where the
join occurs. This is learned with experience.

The easiest way, for me, at least, is to use paste solder, if
soldering, & just position the link/item being solder on a fire brick
so the joint is as far from the rest of the item as possible & in a
location that the flame will be pointing away from the rest of item
when the link is being soldered. Then after applying the paste solder
to the side of the link/item fartherest away the item. The flame can
now be applied in a direction away from the piece & when the solder
melts it will be drawn into the joint. Remove the flame as soon as
the solder is seen to flow

It’s possible to solder/fuse items less than 1/2 mm apart in this
manner. I will suggest that you try the paste solder on some separate
jumps rings to first get the hang of how that type of solder works.
You can use the rings, after they are soldered to make a simple
chain, so the rings become finished item. One of the techniques for
soldering unattached jump rings is to place the paste solder at the
seam, on the inside of the jump ring while on a soldering brick or a
Solderite pad. Start the torch flame to the back part of the jump
ring, on the opposite side of the seam to start. Bring the flame all
around the jump ring as you heat, moving the flame in a circular
motion and moving continuously. The metal in the jump ring will start
the expansion from the side opposite the seam and make the join even
tighter. You must have the seam closed as tightly as possible so the
solder will close the ring; as soon as the solder flows, it will get
shiny. Once shiny, remove heat or for the last instant, bring the
flame across the join (seam) to make sure that the solder has flowed
in the entire seam.

Set up several rings, noting how much paste solder you are using on
each. You can then observe how much paste you need to apply to make
sure you have a soldered seam. Once you have several rings soldered,
take another un soldered ring and join two of the soldered rings.
This will be the beginning of your chain. Place the un soldered jump
ring, tightly closed, in a third hand with the seam up, and proceed
to connect the two ends of that new jump ring using a very small bit
of solder. See Dave’s suggestion of placement above. You can continue
the chain using this method and get lots of experience; as a reward,
you will create a fully soldered simple jump ring chain. A note about
paste solder… when you are soldering the ring to join both ends,
gently heat the un soldered ring just below where the solder is
applied, quickly back off in order to “set” the paste solder in
place. Do not apply too much heat or the paste solder (as with any
other solder) will move off the join. You may have to “set” the paste
solder with an additional pass of the torch. If this is the final
step of the piece that you have described, you can use the extra easy
formula (#56) as it will melt and flow the quickest. Try to use the
smallest amount that will join the two ends successfully along with
the smallest flame that will accomplish the task. once you learn the
technique, you will want to use different formulas of paste solder
for everything. It is a learning curve like anything else.

Beth Katz
http://www.myuniquesolutions.com
Paste and Powder Solder for Jewelers & Metalsmiths