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Stabilizing an item while soldering

Hello all.

I read my Orchid digest every day. The posts are a true treasure
trove. I learned about Bruce Baker here, and got his 3 CD’s. They
are great! I hope to be in a show by next summer.

My question is based on a soldering problem I have been having. Is
there a tried and true method of keeping an object in the spot you
place it while it gets hot? Often, my bezel or ornament will start
sliding when the heat gets right to its crucial level. It acts like
it’s suddenly on a Slip-n-Slide (does everyone know what that is?!)

I tried binding wire, which worked great for a box shaped clasp,
although it left little depressions and it melted. I guess it wasn’t
that great come to think of it.

The thing I wish I could do is glue my item in place so that even
when it gets hot it will not move, then of course once the solder
has flowed it’s too late for any more movement.

I hope this isn’t something that has been covered in the recent
past, but if it has, I don’t know what to search under.

Today I was soldering an oval bezel onto the front of a domed piece.
The bezel stayed in place until the solder flowed, then I used my
pick to move a little pool of solder closer to the edge, then the
whole bezel jumped about 6 mm and attached very well in its new

It’s still centered vertically, but now it’s below the horizontal
horizon (crap!!) But maybe it’ll look nice if I just leave it and
decorate the other 2 pieces the same way. Or, I can un-solder it.
Then the thin FS bezel might melt, etc - you get the picture.

Thanks in advance for ideas.

Connie L.

Hi Connie,

the traditional thing to do is to hold it down gently with your
soldering tweezers, I prefer titanium ones because they do not
conduct the heat well, so you do not burn your fingers so much. One
other way, more useful for bigger bezels is to raise small spikes
with a graver starting inside the bezel and stopping at the outside
edge. One on each side should do, they can be filed off afterwards,
and the groove you made is under the bezel. They just need to be big
enough to stop the bezel sliding, so,to stick up about 1/2mm.

regards Tim.

I have not tried it, but I have read somewhere that you can use a
cement like Aron Alpha to hold pieces in place, but as this is
intended to burn away as you heat to flow point things may still
"float".These days I tack many pieces into place with the laser, and
then solder, but unless you have access to a laser this won’t help.
Binding wire works, but go easy on the heat, it should not be burning


Setting up for soldering is an art in itself. Many people tend to
use soldering clay available from various suppliers or, I learned
from the Chinese to just use plaster or Paris. These are only good
for certain things however. You can often get by with a third hand or
two by placing the tip of the tweezers on the top of the bezel very
lightly. That keeps it from moving. You can also use Krazy Glue but
don’t expect it to hold for the entire operation…it tends to
evaporate as it heats up. Binding wire (as you mentioned), cotter
pins, bent pins of various shapes, even paper clips work to certain
degrees but be careful not to solder them to your piece!

One possible reason why your piece ‘jumped’ might be a heat
difference between the metals. If you have a smaller piece on top of
a larger one, you have to heat the larger first (the sink). As it
heats, sometimes the smaller piece heats at a different rate and so
it ‘jumps’. This can be stopped by first playing your flame over the
top (i.e. smaller pieces) then go to the back. Try it.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! For South Floridians, I will be back
teaching Mon and Tues at the Boca Raton Museum of Art School, in
Boca starting 2 July after recovering from two operations. Feeling
pretty good and rarin to go!

Have you tried an engravers spitstick to raise a small bumps on the
inside a bezel to locate it ? see Tim McCreight’ s “Complete
Metalsmith” … The job calls for a “spitstick” but any appropriate
graver will do. Heat from the bottom…


Hi Connie,

The pieces of metal peform their antics when they float on the
molten flux, and as you say they do their greatest acts at the
crucial moment!

I find ‘stitches’ are very useful in keeping parts located; they are
small slivers raised up from the surface of the base by cutting with
a square graver. Scribe a line on the base around the bezel, then
make small cuts in the base, from the inside at right angle to the
line, so that the raised stitches stand up with their faces on the
line. They are easy to do; start about 1 or 2mm from the line, and
cut deeper and deeper until you reach the line. If you get too deep
and can’t get to the line, cut the stitch off and try again next to
it. Four or more stitches will be required. See that the bezel fits
inside all the stitches, then flux, heat to melt the flux, reposition
the bezel if it floats over the stitches, and see that all is well
before introducing any solder. The cut-out’s of the stitches are
under the bezel edge and will be filled with solder; the raised up
stitches finish up in the solder meniscus.

Stiches can be positioned on the inside, but then the cuts in the
base may be visible on the outside if they are too long. I find they
do their job of locating the part better if on the outside, and they
are very easy to clean up - just little bumps in the solder line.

Regards, Alastair

My suggestion, or what I do for stabilizing - I use some medical
items like press-studs, or other surgical equipment that could stand
stable and don’t move, sadly I don’t have a photo, but I gues You
get the idea. Just go to the flea market or anywhere You think You
could get such things and buy what suits for You it’s just a few

I found some links - this may not exact what You could find, but
something like that.

Other thing that came in my mind, that if You have a time and
desire, form stainless stell You could make something like “peg” for
clother - the main idea that it should tightly hold an ithem on Your
desk by presing it in the jaws.

Good Luck.

soldering clay
orange flake shellac
setters cement…all topmost

secondarily - for quick fix: crazy glue,avoid the fumes when it burns
off, but it does that well- you must use a respirator though

equal- though no respirator required: small raised slivers of metal (
stitches,star set fingers) created with gravers to small tabs
depending on the size of the work…trick here is to keep larger tabs
from being soldered to your work by coating first with yellow ochre
and alcohol or water, correction fluid, silaquar etc… then there
are mechanical holders…and if doing production /repeatative
soldering impressionite liquid over a board is a great tool though
pricey- but worth it if each piece is exactly the same