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Soldering weights


#1

Here’s what will probably be the first of several very elementary
soldering questions coming from me. My knowledge of soldering is
pretty basic because most of my work is cold connected. The two
things I do most with soldering is close jump rings and attach very
small flat components (usually disc shaped) to other pieces which
will then be riveted into place. I have Charles Lewton-Brain’s
article on making soldering weights and wonder if you all use such
things. I find it very difficult to keep my small discs from starting
to slide at the point when the flux goes glassy and things are about
to attach. My discs slip and end up attached in places other than
where I want them.

What do you use to keep things like this in place while soldering? A
very basic question, I know.

Rachel


#2

Hi Rachel,

I find it very difficult to keep my small discs from starting to
slide at the point when the flux goes glassy and things are about
to attach. My discs slip and end up attached in places other than
where I want them. What do you use to keep things like this in
place while soldering? 

I’ve made myself a number of small ‘soldering weights’. They are
made of 1/4" thick steel flat bar 1 1/2" wide. I cut several pieces
so that the finished piece is 1/4 x 1/2 x 1 1/2". Then I drilled a
3/32" hole about 1/2" deep in the center of one (1/4 x 1/2") end. If
you have other thicknesses of flat bar it will work as well. Using
flat bar less than 1/4" thick is problematic.

Cut a piece of 3/32" diameter copper plated welding rod about 4"
long for each piece of steel. Hold one end of the welding rod against
the side of a revolving grind stone at an angle to put a point on it
about 3/8" long. Turning the welding rod while holding it at an angle
against the side of the grinding wheel will put a fairly even point
on the rod. Lightly rotate the other end of the rod against the
grinding wheel to remove any burrs. #/32 copper plated welding rod is
available at many hardware store & home centers.

After the holes are drilled in the end of the pieces of steel & the
blunt ends of the rod have the burrs removed, insert the rods in the
holes of the steel. I’ve found putting a drop of LocTite 262 on the
end of the rod before inserting it in the hole works well to retain
the rod in the steel. LocTite is also available at many hardware
stores…

Give the LocTite 24 hr. to set. After the the LocTite is set, grasp
the pointed end of the rod about 1" back from the point with a pliers
or put it in a vise. Then bend the rod 90 deg so the point is
perpendicular to one of the 1/2 x 1 1/2" sides of the steel…

To use the weight, place the pieces to be soldered in position. Then
put the point of the weight on the top piece. The heel of the steel
will act as a fulcrum & the majority of the weight will be applied to
the pieces being held together. If you have some pieces that have
high ‘walls’ the rods can be made longer & the bend can be made more
than 1" from the end. Because of it’s small area, the point won’t
absorb an appreciable amount of heat from the items being soldered.
If needed, more than 1 weight can be used on the piece being
soldered.

Dave


#3
My discs slip and end up attached in places other than where I want
them. 

Here’s a link to Noel’s soldering weights she made:

http://tinyurl.com/mj2k8

In general, I try not to use weights, binding wire, 3rd hands,
tweezers, etc., though of course sometimes a situation calls for it.

I wonder what type of flux your using and what the total picture is
with this sliding? Are you, for example, using Dandix paste flux and
it’s getting all bubbly and your discs are floating on this mess of
flux?

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com


#4

I realize from the reply posts, both on and offline, that I should
have clarified my soldering situation. I am using Handy Flux (on the
advice of the tech people at Rio Grande when I first got started, so
it’s not like I have some personal preference, I’ve just never used
anything else). I am using regular sheet solder, cut into paillions,
but what I do is first flux the back side of the small piece, place
the solder paillion, then heat to spread the solder (I believe this
method is called tinning?). Then I clean the piece in pickle, reflux
and place it onto the larger piece, which I also flux.

I usually use some water to thin the Handy Flux a bit. Always
experience this slippage with the small pieces. Sometimes more than
others. I keep a pick in one hand, to try to nudge the piece back
into place before it attaches, not always successfully, but maybe
this is the only solution.

Maybe this post should be “What flux should I be using?”

Hmmm…

Thanks,
Rachel


#5

copper washers and cotter pins work great, and binding wire is
quintessential…I use (Ti) binding wire when its absolutelly
necessary to hold something with more than two parts together. I
also stay away from paste flux prefering borax cones ground with
water ( to the consistency of thick /top milk) or a "self pickling"
type flux like Battern’s or Pripps,depending on what I am working
with ( what colour of gold) or for fine silver Cupronil can’t be beat
as its an anti-firescale and flux in one.


#6

One time honored, but often forgotten, method is using stitches to
keep the part in place.

A stitch is a tiny prong raised up with a graver to catch the edge
of the piece being soldered down. The idea is to hide the cut from
the graver under the piece being soldered.

Let’s take a worst case scenario. You want to solder a small dome to
a large dome. It is off to one side and every time the flux flows,
the small dome flows with it.

Before fluxing, while the metal is clean, place the small dome where
you want it and lightly scribe a line as close as possible to the
point where the two pieces touch.

Remove the small dome. Using a sharp graver, like an onglette or a
bevel edge, take a fine stabbing cut starting about 1/2 mm to
interior of the scribed area, stopping the cut when the burr reaches
the scribed line.

Put two or three of these stitches as needed. Now when you place the
small dome on it will nestle in the stitches. Flux and solder.

You might have to hold it down with a solder pick while the flux
boils off and foams up, but once it flows, the piece should stay
put.

Paul K. Dickman

p.s. In the case of dome on dome soldering you should also drill a
vent hole under the small dome.


#7
Maybe this post should be "What flux should I be using?" 

Yes, I suggest you switch to Batterns flux, or the Rio version of it.
Liquid, greenish, “self-pickling.” That will stop your floating away
problem.

And you don’t have to do the tinning thing.

Here’s another way to do applique (or sweat soldering):

flux both sides of both pieces you’ll be soldering

place multiple small pieces of solder on the back of the smaller
piece. The solder bits should be similar in size.

allow to dry. the stickiness of the flux will hold the solder down.

Flip the smaller piece over, place it where it goes on the larger
piece, and solder!

Nothing moves, there’s no nudging with tweezers.

Yes, the set up takes longer than with other methods, but then you
solder and you’re done.

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com


#8

Rachel -

There was actually something in the new Lapidary Journal Jewelry
Artist Magazine about using nickels to help weight down pieces while
soldering - although in the example it was for keeping a bezel in
place. They put a strip of metal over the top of the bezel, and then
placed nickels on the ends of the strip of metal to hold it down. It
had to do with how nickel has a much higher melting point. I would
recommend checking out the magazine!

http://www.lapidaryjournal.com/cooltools/reader-roundup.cfm

Jen
http://www.jmwjewelry.com


#9

An easy solution to this problem is using a soldering pick that can
take the pressure and heat at the same time. Conventional picks just
don’t work. There are a lot of options mention on this list for other
materials that can do this, but check out the pick on my website. I
designed this so it will do both. Most picks these days either have a
wooden handle with a tiny rod of metal which is steel, tungsten or
titanium. The grade is lower and the wire is very narrow. Under
consistent use, they will eventually bend under pressure. Take a look
and see if this pick might work better for you.

Best,

-k
Karen Christians
http://www.cleverwerx.com
Waltham, MA


#10
Maybe this post should be "What flux should I be using? 

For soldering silver Handy Flux is the best I have found. It doesn’t
burn off so quickly when you get the piece to soldering temperature.
For fluxing stuff with lots of nooks and crannies that paste flux
won’t get into I use Battern’s Self Pickling flux.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado
rockymountainwonders.com


#11
An easy solution to this problem is using a soldering pick that
can take the pressure and heat at the same time. 

Respectfully, Karen, I think we’ve got it! :>)

Seriously, as wonderful as I’m sure your picks are (and I really do
not doubt it!) a solder weight is still handy because it will sit
there and steadily hold your work in place for as long as needed. It
won’t get tired, it won’t occupy one of your hands, and-- most
important for someone like me who has what is laughably called
"benign essential tremor"-- it doesn’t shake, shift, or change
degree of pressure.

Noel


#12
They put a strip of metal over the top of the bezel, and then
placed nickels on the ends of the strip of metal to hold it down. 

I like this solder weight idea, but I can improve on it a tiny bit.
Use a strip of titanium instead of silver, brass or whatever. It is
not a heat sink, you will never melt it, and you couldn’t solder it
to your workpiece if your life depended on it.

Noel


#13
There was actually something in the new Lapidary Journal Jewelry
Artist Magazine about using nickels to help weight down pieces
while soldering 

Nickels would make quite a heat sink requiring more heat to get the
solder to flow resulting in more fire scale.

- although in the example it was for keeping a bezel in place. They
put a strip of metal over the top of the bezel, and then placed
nickels on the ends of the strip of metal to hold it down. 

Is this in lieu of making sure the bezel is flat to the back plate?
If so it’s a bad habit to develop. I’ve soldered some very big bezels
and have had an unsoldered section lift up but a gentle push with a
solder pick will push it right back down. Remember, when silver
reaches soldering temperature it is very fragile. Too much pressure
will cause distortion, cause the bezel to collapse, or leave
indentations. Many years ago I had the bright idea of using locking
surgical forceps to hold two pieces of silver for soldering. That was
one of the many ways I identified how not to do something.

I have a selection of small titanium scraps from sheet and wire. I
use these all the time to prop up or hold something down. No heat
sink effect and solder doesn’t stick to titanium. I also have the
standard soldering picks and these gonzo sized ones that are made out
of 10 ga titanium wire with a wooden handle. I use this to hold the
ends of half round flat when soldering multiples together for
bracelets.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado
rockymountainwonders.com


#14

I’m getting a lot of good replies about how folks are handling the
slippage problem I posted about. Yes, I think my flux may be the
issue, at least in part, but I looked at that greenish yellow flux
(Batterns, My-T, depending on where you’re getting it) and it seems
to specify high heat applications and also that it was primarily
designed for work with gold. I never work in gold, I do work silver,
but I really work in copper and brass quite a lot, and usually it’s a
combination of the three. I might be soldering any of these three to
any of the others, depending on the project. Will this flux work well
for those metals as well?

Many thanks
Rachel


#15

Rachel

It does not matter which flux you use. It is in their nature to
bubble up and then get get glassy and sticky. So your piece will move
slightly and then you will try to move it back and your flame away as
you push it back into place but it does slide well because it has
dried and is now sticky.

Try one of the following… 1 Place both pieces side by side and
flux both pieces and then heat them till the flux dries white and
slightly glassy. While they are hot, gentley place them back
together.

  1. A previous entry by Paul explains stitches. This is usaully the
    best way to do it, no matter what kind of flux you are using. It
    guarantees perfect placement everytime.

Corrie


#16
It does not matter which flux you use. It is in their nature to
bubble up and then get get glassy and sticky. 

Actually, not quite true. Borax or boric acid mixed with denatured
alcohol doesn’t. I used it as my primary flux for years. Now I use
Magic Flame mixed with denatured alcohol (it comes as an almost-dry
paste you can mix with either water or alcohol). I do have at least
three other fluxes on hand for those days/situations when I need
extra help, but this is my “default”, and it doesn’t bubble or move.

Noel


#17
It does not matter which flux you use. It is in their nature to
bubble up and then get get glassy and sticky. 

In filigree, where flux movement is especially a problem, the
technique is to melt the borax into what we call borax glass and then
grind melted borax into powder. Wet the joint and sprinkle some of
that powder. It will melt without bubbling.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#18
In filigree, where flux movement is especially a problem, the
technique is to melt the borax into what we call borax glass and
then grind melted borax into powder. Wet the joint and sprinkle
some of that powder. It will melt without bubbling. 

Wow, Leonid, thanks. I have never heard that one before! It is so
nice to have a direct link through you to old masters.

M’lou


#19

Rachel, I’m catching up on the last several Digests & thought I’d
throw my 2 cents in for this one. Regarding your question about My-T,
I use that and I usually only work with silver. Sometimes gold, but
it certainly works well with silver. When I was in school in Germany,
we used an equally neon-green flux as the My-T, although the teacher
couldn’t tell me exactly what it was, but since this was the same
color, I went with the My-T when I got back here. Been quite happy
with it.

If I’m worried about something flowing away with the bubbles (which
is often), I do a few things. One is (as someone else suggested too,
I think), I either flux the pieces separately & then combine them
once the flux has settled down & dried, or I just try to use a low a
heat as possible & dry the flux very slowly, and that minimizes
bubbles. Also, unless the flux is completely dry before I start
heating the piece up, I usually make use of my solder pick (just
holding it in my hand) to hold it down for those few seconds while
the bubbling is happening. I must have a good pick, though, it seems
everyone is complaining theirs are flimsy and bend too easily under
heat and pressure. My first pick was such a pick, though, a
relatively thin wire in a wooden handle. I replaced that with a
really nice all metal one. Don’t know what it’s made of, although I
always assumed titanium. Now I wish I remembered where I got it (I
don’t recall if I bought it in the US, or after I moved to Germany,
though I’d have to guess it was in Germany timing-wise), as I
haven’t seen one like it when I’ve recently looked around a bit. It’s
not super thick but it’s very strong, and I have no fear of it
bending. It’s also thin enough to hold very easily and get into tight
areas while I’m soldering (I pick solder most of the time). It is
round, though, so if I put it down flat on my bench, it can roll.

There was an interesting snippet very recently, perhaps in the “Art
Jewelry” I just got the other day, about making a soldering weight.
Sort of like a recent suggestion I read here, using a steel bar, I
think. This other idea, though, seemed a little more simple, just
using an old candy tin filled with something for weight, and of
course a steel wire coming out from it & bending down.

Oh, sometimes instead of my solder pick, if I want to have that (or
even just my hands) free for other purposes, or I want to make sure
the pieces are held down before anything starts, I use my third hand
and a pair of insulated tweezers. I make sure that the tweezers would
sit a mm or so below the height of the thing I want to hold down,
then rest them on that thing, and they hold it nicely without too
much force. I hope that makes sense.

Lisa
Designs by Lisa Gallagher
www.lisagallagher.com