Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Soldering twisted wire to a bezel

Hi All,

I’m getting a little more adventurous with my silverwork – graduating
to larger, more complex fabricated pieces. I want to solder a
sterling twisted wire outside of a 30x40 bezel I already soldered with
medium (I already had a partial meltdown trying to do the bezel with
hard). I thought I might try a small (very small) line of easy paste
solder, but my instructor would rather I put some more snippets of
medium around the inside of the bezel and melt so that excess flow
under the bezel to the wire. Given my previous problems getting this
piece to even this stage – I still think past might be better. What
has been your experience with paste silver solder?



It sounds to me like maybe you’re not getting your silver hot enough
and perhaps you need to move your flame around more. With silver, you
can’t just heat a certain area; you must bring the whole piece up to
the optimal temperature. If this doesn’t sound like your problem, try
using a smaller torch tip. Here’s a trick to help you to get a good
contact with your decorative wire. First, solder the ends of the
decorative wire together, so that it forms an enclosed form. Shape it
to match the bezel and test fit. Next sand the bottom of the
decorative wire to increase contact to the plate. Place the wire
around the bezel. Flux, dry and place your solder snippets. Set the
assembly up on a tripod jig. Heat from the bottom, using a circular
motion with your flame. This helps protect your delicate components
from overheating. When the solder does flow, it will flow to the
plate, which is hotter than the top of the assembly, and you’ll have
good contact. Welcome to the world of 'smithing.

Doug, Paste will work, of course, but, it is important first to get
control of temperature and flow. If you are still having trouble
with hard soldering the bezel, you need to improve your basic
soldering first. Try raising the temperature slower. You can do this
by heating the overall bezel first and then using a “1 sec on 1 sec
off” at the joint. Or bring the torch gradually closer heating the
whole peice then concetrating on the joint. In both cases be ready to
remove torch when you get solder flow. Solder flows to the heat. To
solder the bezel or twisted wire on the back, heat the back
(larger/heaverier) peice first (it will take longer) then move the
heat inside or outside (depending on where you put your solder) For
the bezel you must be sure to heat both sides of the joint. I
’assume’ you have a good joint fit and, the bezel, back, and twisted
wire are perfectly flat. It helps (especially when you start) to
have the lights low so you can see the silver color/temperature.
Once you have better temperature control, you will depend much less on
easy solder. Good luck, Regis

I frequently apply twisted wire outside of my bezels. I place 4 or 5
very small snippets of medium solder (I use hard on to solder the
bezel) evenly spaced around the base of the bezel on the outside. I
make a ring of twisted wire and place it over the snippets. Heating
the piece from below or from the inside of the bezel, the solder flows
smoothly. Since you used medium solder on the bezel itself, you would
probably want to use easy on the wire. I have never used paste solder
myself, so I have no idea how that would work. Hope this helps.
–Vicki Embrey

Hello, Doug, Uniformly soldering twisted wire is a challenge. The
problem lies in the nature of the twisted wire itself. Silver solder,
as you know, will not bridge gaps. Metal must be in contact with metal
for the solder to flow along the joint. Yet twisted wire presents a
whole series of gaps - each time one wire meets another. A sawtooth
pattern, seen in profile. If you put on enough solder to jump the gaps
and make the joint it’ll also flow into and fill up the interstices
between the wires and greatly lessen the twisted effect.

The solution that works best for me is to simply file the twisted
wire flat where the joint is to be made. In other words if you’re
soldering it onto a backing plate file the bottom of the wire flat.
This removes the raised-and-lowered succession such that the entire
wire lies flat on the plate and the solder is not presented with any
gaps to jump. If it is to be soldered to the bezel, file the inside
flat. In other words I approach it not as a question of heat control
or solder use, but rather as an issue of joint preparation, of fit-up.

A corollary benefit of this approach is that with a flat-contact
joint you need very little solder, hence there is less solder flow
into the interstices of the twist, which therefore remains better

Hans Durstling
Moncton, Canada

  It sounds to me like maybe you're not getting your silver hot
enough and perhaps you need to move your flame around more. With
silver, you can't just heat a certain area; you must bring the whole
piece up to the optimal temperature. If this doesn't sound like your
problem, try using a smaller torch tip.  

My suggestion would be to use a larger tip if you’re not getting your
silver hot enough, a smaller tip won’t produce the heat needed.
Forget the tripod, it works as a heat sink . . . it may cause your
piece from heating up enough to solder at all.

Doug Here’s what I do: Join the twisted wire with hard solder and make
a good fit round the bezel, persuade it flat so that it touches the
base on every twist but see next step. Sand the base of the twisted
wire to create flat spots where you will solder - I use an oilstone
(dry), quicker than paper. fit wire over bezel but don’t push all the
way down. Place small easy solder pallions on the base directly
beneath the flat spots but hard up to the bezel, use the flux brush
with most of he hairs burnt off. Carefully push the wire down till it
touches the base. 46lux thoroughly. Using a charcoal block and a big
flame tilt the whole assembly up to say 45 degrees with a solder pick
and heat the base from underneath and the block, once the flux has
turned and the block is good and red lower the assembly onto the hot
block and play the torch around the outside until the solder flows. If
it is hard to see when the solder has flowed put a small piece inside
the bezel and watch for that to go - can be removed later.

Andy Parker, Agate House Lapidary
Ulverston, Cumbria, England
Tel: 01229 584023

I guess I should explain that I have a homemade tripod. This consists
of a weighted stand, with an upright rod, a height adjustable ring
assembly (no chrome!) with a wing nut. It’s what you use in a
chemistry lab to support flasks when heating them. On top of the ring
assembly, I have large mesh stainless steel screen. Unlike regular
smithing tripods, this conducts heat through without the heat sink
effect. I have to replace the screen every year or two.

Also, I make ‘nests’. These are made from coiled ‘tie’ wire, an iron
wire used in baling hay. It’s wrapped around a mandrel to make a coil.
The coils are slid off the mandrel. These coils can be formed into
round rings to support metal, or the can be laid side-by-side and tied
to make a mat. The open construction allows the flame to go through.
These can be made even more open by stretching the coils a bit. These
’nests’ can also be used for a quick set up on quite a few things when
you need a simple jig, because the compressed coils will hold metal or
other wire jigs (think butt and T joints). Smaller iron wire (like
binding wire) can be used the same way for holding a jump ring that
needs to be soldered to a plate in a perpendicular plane.