I'm trying to solder five 18 gauge round wires in a parallel stepped
pattern. (I'm using fine silver, since I didn't have sterling on
hand, and this may be part of the problem.)
I'm having difficulty keeping the wires next to each other with no
gaps. So I'm only getting portion soldered. I also tried fusing, but
ended up with too much fusion in areas ruining the design.
I wondered if anyone had some helpful hints to accomplish this more
easily. Also just for soldering any size wires neatly together in
I think I get what you mean, and might have a solution. Straighten a
few paperclips and cut into about 1 inch pieces, then bend them into
L-shapes and push them halfway into the soldering block on either
side of the the parallel wires. Arrange them so they push the silver
wires together from the sides and above to hold them in place while
you solder. Paperclips work well as they're steel so won't become
soldered to your piece, won't melt and are much easier to form and
keep their shape better thanregular steel wire.
The wires you're soldering also need to have uniform shape, if
they're supposed to be straight, make sure they're dead straight by
pulling the wire lightly from both ends using pliers before cutting
to size. Even heating is essential, if the solder clings to one
specific area of the piece, focus the heat on the area adjacent to
the soldered part and the solder should flow.
Hope this helps,
Jamie- Fine or sterling there should be no problem unless your wires
are not perfectly straight. Most wire comes loosely rolled. Anneal
it, put one end in your vise and grab the other end with draw tongs
or any heavy set of pliers and give it a hefty yank. It should be
perfectly straight and easy to solder together.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry
Try fusing Argentium Silver wires. This is something that the metal
is particularly good at.
For tips on fusing AS, you can email me for a handout, or download
This is a difficult problem as unless the wires are all kept at the
same temperature they will and warp, rise and bend. You could try a
soft soldering block of some kind and lay your wires on it and make
some staples or take some from a stapler and insert the ends into the
block diagonally across the wires to hold them in position. Carefully
flux the wires and heat to dry before using lots of tiny pieces of
solder re-heat using a broad flame, just propane with appropriate
nozzle carefully bring the whole length up to soldering heat. I am
presuming you want a ring length? Other than that you could make a
tool to draw long lengths if you are going to make long lengths.
You can see my Ganoksin blog: 'On your Metal' Draw bench and Swage
blocks. I have examples there. http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1wx
David Cruickshank (Australia)
Anneal it, put one end in your vise and grab the other end with
draw tongs or any heavy set of pliers and give it a hefty yank.
Yeah, well, I tend to doubt the OP will go this way, but it should
be said for general purposes, I guess.
Silversmithing is sheet metal and wire work and goldsmithing is
sculpture, as I've said once or twice before. Oneway that helps to
solder wires together is to get one long wire and fold it in half,
But the goldsmith's way to solder 5 wires parallel is to ~not solder
5 wires parallel~ which is near impossible with any real precision.
Get yourself a piece of sheet metal, cut grooves at equal spaces and
finish it all off so it LOOKS like 5 wires soldered parallel. If it's
a ring shank or band, make the circle first. Sculpt it. Easy.......
It might be relatively simple and straight forward just to execute
this in a suitably thick piece of sheet metal; mark with dividers,
incise lines with saw blade, excavate with file, refine and finish.
Thank you for ideas. I was trying to solder pretty short pieces
(under two inched) in parallel, but with ends at set lengths in a
stepped pattern. It was difficult to keep the short ends perfectly
straight and also maintain the specific step pattern.
I wonder if it is better to solder longer pieces and then cut finish
ends after? I will try the ideas mentioned. I appreciate the input.
I do this as a hobby on my own, and so often have questions. Thank
But the goldsmith's way to solder 5 wires parallel is to ~not
solder 5 wires parallel~ which is near impossible with any real
That depends on who is soldering. It may be impossible for some, but
trivial to others. Soldering wires in parallel is a common exercise
I used to teach apprentices to solve soldering problems. The first
step is to get wire straight and anneal to relieve all the tension.
It has been mentioned before how to do it. The second step is to
devise the way to prevent wire from rotation.
That is what gives all the difficulties. By using wire longer than
necessary and creating angle at the end will neutralize tendency of
wire to rotate.
After that, it just the matter of positioning. Solder should be
applied with tweezes. Forget about soldering pick. Flame should be
soft and of reducing type.
I agree fully with JoAnn's commentary- however if you should ever
want to try it again*:*
1) with annealed .999 silver first dip the wire in a little very used
pickle (deep blue) mixed with gum tragacanth, or even a little
diluted white glue-thicker than half and half not as thick as double
cream. It will help short lengths of fine silver fuse as for
granulation. however..It's the hard way to go.
2).think of it like carving or forming the metal with tools at
hand*: * score the sheet deeply with a sharp awl or bench knife and
clean up with pumice radial bristle discs, or similar
3),Use heavy liner gravers, an inverted cone bur, cut-off wheel, or
bur of your choosing to get as much space (kerf) between the scores
as necessary. You can tape parallels (pieces of metal sold in a set)
down to the sheet on your bench pin to help prevent skewing the bur
or wheel from the lines you want to incise.
4) ,With gravers, embed the material into setters cement, a shellac
pad, or otherwise hold it firmly in your favourite engraving medium
so it doesn't move whilst working. Oh, and with the wheel or bur(s)
let the rotation do the work- not excessive pressure or too high a
speed 5) use cuttlebone and cast it - smooth out the texture of the
bone if not wanted, and you'll result with a piece or length of
material so you don't have to go through this again anytime soon!
On 2 April - just carve the pouring well as wide as the rod or sheet
you can fit easily into large cuttlebone. Charcoal blocks are too
expensive to cast with and positioning wires with pins in the
charcoal will work as well as most other methods- though carving the
sheet to appear as wires is the easiest, least wasteful, time
economical way to go..
6) roll print annealed sheet will also give the illusion and you can
deepen the lines easily..
Is it too late to weigh in on this? Found it in the archive.
I've done this before, and used copper wire (what I had on hand) to
wrap the straightened pieces together on each end well away from my
area of focus, gently hammered the copper wire to hold them flat,
and bent up one end and wrapped it too, to stabilize it. I used chips
of solder placed on the wires; worked just fine.
On another project I wonted to control how much was soldered (so I
could use the ends of the wires to wrap something) so I bent the
wires in spider fashion, flat. That one was harder since I didn't
wrap them. I guess I could have used steel wire but I wasn't smart
enough to think of it.