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Soldering under water

Hello Marie:

 When I removed the fauceted "stones before doing the
soldering I found there is a packing material  behind them to
raise them. 

I would suggest (in the future) leaving the heat sensitive
stones in place and soldering the ring with the stones under
water. If you already know this technique and it was not
plausible in this application I apologize. If not and you would
like more of this technique please feel free to
contact me.

Michael Mathews Victoria,Texas USA

Michael, for the lly challenged like me, please oh
please would you go into detail on orchid on under water
soldering? Is it anything like under water basket weaving?

God Bless, Donna

Hi Michael, I’ve tried that method (stones under water) and
soldering the metal (sterling part) above the water. I’ve found
that the sterling doesn’t become hot enough to get the solder
flowing . . . I’m using a presto-lite torch with acetaline; is my
torch just not hot enough to do this? Is there something else
I should be aware of? Thanks in advance!

I have soldered underwater without a mask and flippers. Do not
use a glass with water. I have found an empty coke can, with the
’lid’ removed, perfect. Now what is needed is a way to suspend
the ring (with stones) into the water while exposing the area
needed to be soldered. This suspending tool could be part of
another aluminum can flattened out having a slot cut out to
suspend the piece half in/out of the water. Intense(quick) heat
is required. For, when a piece is slowly heated a boiling of the
water occurs(heat from the piece) creating a 'hydro-oxidation?'
effect. I tend to get a really HOT flame and the solder balls
up. But it sometimes doesn’t flow. After trial and error and a
little more heat…I finally get a soldered joint. I’m not
certain of the metal your trying to repair…but… sterling
silver is the most difficult for me. Gold works. Haven’t tried
platinum(would assume the water would vaporize the water and the
aluminum can) good luck, steven

Michael–the fist and last time I tried soldering with the
stones under water, I cracked the Pyrex cup the water was in, and
the stone heated up anyway. Could you give more
Thanks Sandra

You might try whaat we were taught for use mainly with resizing
but it has other uses.Use fine sand with the water level to the
top of the sand the sand will hold the oblect many times and you
will have less heat transference without other holders Ash

Depends on the mass of the ring, but I use a “Little Torch” with
a #5 tip with acetelyne and oxygen on high heat and really watch
it and hope I don’t cut through the shank. Sometimes that doesn’t
work and I remove the stone. Jerry in Kodiak

Push the ring into Blu-tac at the bottom of one of the domes in
a brass doming block. Just add water. You need to use a high heat
torch, which I don’t have, by the way 8-(

B r i a n =A0 A d a m R u t h B a i r d J e w e l l e r y ph/fx +64 9 817 6816 NEW ZEALAND

Donna, You sceptic!! I too have done underwater soldering. No it
is not like underwater basket weaving, but it is a little like
trying to fry an egg with Oxy-acetylene.

Richard Whitehouse
Silversmith & Jeweller
Email: @Richard_Whitehouse1

Prestolite probably isn’t hot enough to do this with, other than
with, for example, ladies rings… Even then… Sterling is such
an exceptional conductor of heat that you have to be pumping the
heat into the metal faster than the silver can drain it away.
Normally, you need a torch burning it’s fuel with oxygen to do
that, rather than the gas/air mix of the prestolite.

Peter Rowe

Hi All, Cheesh! I thought that I was the only one who soldered
while the stones are under water! I’ve taken a ring with stones
mounted in it and thickened the shank. I waxed and cast a piece
to fit the shank. I then prepared the casting to fit the
existing shank fluxed between the old shank and shank addition.
I put the ring in a pair of locking tweezers and put the stones
down in the full glass of water I had waiting. I heated the
shank slowly so that the flux wouldn’t move the shank thickener.
I had a fairly large multi orifice tip on my national blowpipe
torch using oxy/propane ( this torch is slightly larger than the
meco midget). The flame was medium but short. I moved in from
the corona of the flame to the hot spot gradually. The flame
from the tip just about covered the entire solder job. When it
got up to temp I fed .585 dental solder and Voila’ a new shank.


   the fist and last time I tried soldering with the stones
under water, I cracked the Pyrex cup the water was in, and the
stone heated up anyway. Could you give more 

Don’t use glass. I use an old, and by now a bit rusty, tuna
fish can. Not elegant, but works well. Be sure the stone is
completely immersed, as well as enough of the metal leading up to
the stone to insure that head conducting down that metal is
"bled" off by the water contact with the metal before it
contacts the stone. With silver, this can need over a quarter
inch or more sometimes. Less with gold… More than once, when
sizing a heavy gents silver ring, I’d have the stone half of the
ring immersed, the bottom half of the shank exposed, and with a
heavy shank needed a large and seriously hot flame, such as I’d
normally use for melting gold to cast ingots, before being able
to get medium silver solder to flow. The water, of course, is
boiling merrily the whole time. The point being that if you do it
right, despite blasting a lot of heat into part of the ring, you
can still protect the stone. The turqoise in the ring gets up to
a temp of 212 F. Doesn’t hurt it. Some stones might not be
able to take even this, though. (Amber, for example)

Peter Rowe

G’day; When soldering during the resizing (etc) of sterling
rings I use a bottle cap, and preferably a metal one which will
take the width of the ring nicely. I cover the stone with cold
water - the colder the better. When doing the soldering it is
essential to use a torch with the hottest and most
needle-pointed flame you can find -I use a very small oxy-coal
gas torch but with propane and oxygen (which I brought out to NZ
over 40 years ago and long before propane was easily available.)
The hotter the flame, the shorter you need to work on the job,
and thus boil off the cooling water so the less likely will
damage be done to the stone. Even so, the ring may be damaged
if quenched in cold pickle or water. Let it cool to room
temperature first. Cheers,

       / \
     /  /
   /  /                                
 /  /__| \      @John_Burgess2

At sunny Nelson NZ where our local orchards are blooming.

HI, I’m not Michael but I’ve sized a lot of rings under water. I
use either a small stainless steel bowl or more often an empty
and cleaned cat food can (remove the paper). I put the stone
just barely under the surface held in a third hand tweezer tool,
with the tweezers placed as far away from the site of soldering
as possible. Gold is extremely easy as it does not conduct the
heat away so fast. Silver is more of a challenge because it
takes the heat away so efficiently. I"ve found that using a hot
aggresive flame and charging right in with it is the way that
works for me. I use oxy-acetylene and, for big rings, a bigger
tip than I use for regular soldering. Large men’s rings with
stones are the very hardest. Sizing down is, of course, easier
than the reverse. I have done this successfully with many
stones and other materials, including opals, abalone, mother of
pearl, turquoise, coral, amber and inlay that is held in place
with epoxy. I have had a few disasters over the years but never,
ever a damaged stone or shell. I’ve melted a few bands and had
to rebuild them.Not recently however.

I try to use hard solder but must confess to using medium and
even easy at times for a bulky ring with a large stone. One
problem that occurs in a very few cases is the occurence of
tiny pits that I believe are burst bubbles in the line where the
solder lays. They can sometimes be sanded out, but not always.
Any ideas about this? There are probably 700-800 rings being
enjoyed out there in the world that I have sized in this
manner. I must mention that these are all rings that were
constructed by me and I have an intimate knowledge of how they
were fabricated. The sizing of unfamiliar rings is its own
special challenge. Good luck in your sizing adventures.

Jima Abbott / N. Calif./ @jica

Hi, Those who have problem with this technic are generaly put the
stone(s) to deeply in water. Water should cover the stone and a
bit more, not more. To hold the water, (even if it is in copper)
I use the 3/4 inches copper cap for copper pipes.

Vincent Guy Audette
Quebec City

I’ve been reading the thread on “underwater soldering” and
thought I’d throw in my 2 cents worth. Iuse the 3-rd hand and
using a watch material can (metal-not plastic) and just some of
the water which I keep on my bench at all times to rinse pickled
items. I also have a “Y” fitting w/seperate valves on my gas
line (I normally use natural gas & Oxy.) and have a small
acetylene tank attached. Usually, I can hard solder gold and
light sterling with the oxy/gas combo. but when confronted with a
heavy sterling ring, I shut off the natural gas & open the line
to the acetylene and that produces a MUCH hotter flame which does
the job. You must use caution however, as there is a pressure
difference and the acetylene throws a much longer and dirtier
flame and you must purge the line after using acetylene. The
biggest problem remaining is the boiling water blowing out the
torch. You have to remember that only the stone(s) have to be
kept cool so keep the ring as high out of the water as safely
possible and with a little time, the job gets done. Also,
remember to check the joint to see that the solder has melted
completly, filling the seam. I know this sounds involved, but it
saves a lot of work, expense & possible headache in the long run.
Hope this helps.

Steve Klepinger

Howdy, I do alot of ring sizings and dont want to remove alot
of stones that cant take the heat. I’ve been using a small,
clear pyrex type dish filled almost to the top with water. I
put the ring in a third hand and hang the ring in the water just
covering the stone. I have to crank up the oxygen and get the
torch hotter than usual as the water sinks off the heat. I also
don’t let the flame concentrate on the dish. It can take a good
amount of heat but, better safe. I have found that soldering the
shank from the inside makes a better weld. I’ve only done this
with gold and silver. Silver being the tougher customer. It must
be very clean and the seam must fit very well as it sometimes
wont give you a second chance like gold will. I use a boric
acid/denatured alcolol dip that I light and let burn off before
I solder. I call this “pre-flux”. This helps with protecting the
finish, and retarding firescale. This I also only use on
rings/etc. that can take the heat of a burn off. On the ones
that wont, I hang the ring in the water first and brush on the
dip and then light it. Be careful as the flame from this burn
off is very pale yellow/green and can’t always be seen. Look at
is sideways through the light. After soldering this way I can
sometimes put the ring in the pickle (again if the stone can
take it) or I just hold the ring and dip only the shank to
remove the crusty stuff from the pre-flux. Taa-Daa. It does take
a bit of practice, getting to know what the surface of the metal
looks like just before the solder flows of just before a melt
down!! Yikes. It is easy to put too much heat in one place and
melt a shank or burn off your flux. If it wont flow sometimes I
try re-cleaning/sanding/dip/no-dip/more heat/raising the stone
in the water to just barely keep the stone safe, all of the
tricks i can think of. It also takes a little longer before the
solder flows but keep the flame moving oryou will have a melt
down. Practice makes purrrrfect. Linda B.

Hi all! We solder our studded item whenever in an emergency ,
like lack of time or small repairing job, broken shank or
enlarlarging ring size or making it smaller size by placing the
ring with the stone part inside a soft juicy banana. We make sure
the stone is covered well with the banana from all sides and
only the part to be soldered is exposed. This way we have
soldered very successfully without damaging the stones. It is
quite difficult to suspend the item to be soldered in water.
Whereas the banana being more firm it is easier to position the
item. Moreover in water the problem od steam and boiling water is
a distraction ! Hope this may be useful or I may be
wrong !!!

Dominic from the City of Joy


I thought the potato story was amusing, but I’m now having
images of bananas foster…what an amazing industry.

Does heat affect the blu-tak? I know that it doesn’t stick as
well when it’s very cold, but I’ve never tried heating it over
body temperature. I know it usually comes right off any surface,
but occasionally the blue compound has been very stubborn coming
off of my melamine computer desk. Anyone out there have tips and
tricks for removal? Mineral oil? Rubbing alcohol?

I want to try it out for stabilizing a piece in water bath, on
the theory that it would be easier to reach soldering temperature
holding it in blu-tak than with tweezers (Did I get that right?)


Kat Tanaka

Hi all, I’ve always done what my father and grandfather did -
use a ceramic pot of wet sand. The sand holds the piece in place
while one goes in with lots of heat on the soldering area. The
sand pot I use is an old cat’s dish about 6" across. Smaller
containers dry out too quickly. Kind regards, Rex from Oz