I had read somewhere that you can use superglue to hold pieces
together prior to soldering and that the glue burns off to allow the
solder to flow. I have tried using a molding compound to hold pieces
together for soldering, but find that the paste gets into the solder
joint. I thought it would be good to use superglue to hold the piece
together prior to putting into the molding compound, then let dry and
then burn out the superglue, then solder. Anyone tried this?
I had read somewhere that you can use superglue to hold pieces
Yes, I have used superglue on many occasions to hold items in place
prior to soldering. I use it to hold my cloisnne wires in place
before fluxing my enamel pieces. And, I also use it to hold channel
wires in place for soldering inlay projects. It burns away cleanly
and does not interfere with either the soldering or enameling
process. A suggestion however. If you are using it to hold numerous
small items, it would be best to use a soldering clay or even plaster
of paris along with the glue. You can glue the pieces together then
stabilize them with the clay or plaster. Sometimes when the glue
evaporates, the force of the flame allows the pieces to move. Also,
do not fill the joins completely with the glue. Only spot glue them,
otherwise the flux will not cover the area of the join.
Experiment a bit…
Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2
I hold pieces together with superglue for soldering all the time;
often assemble the piece with superglue, then wire it. My own
observation is that the superglue tends to hinder the solder flow
somewhat. Your own mileage may vary. I use lots of flux, and look at
it as a trade-off. You have the convenience of instant holding
against the nuisance of less eager solder flow.
Hope that helps
Moncton, Canada; 8 degrees F
... I thought it would be good to use superglue to hold the piece together prior to putting into the molding compound, then let dry and then burn out the superglue, then solder. Anyone tried this?
Okay, here’s some free trade secrets.
In anser to your question, yes, more or less. What are you referring
to when you say “molding compound”? I have done this a couple of
ways. One way is to super glue the pieces together, then use a fast
setting investment plaster, sometimes called “number 2 plaster”. You
can get something like it from Rio Grande, but you can also get it
from C.R. Hill Co. 248-543-1555
C.R. Hill Co.
2734 Eleven Mile Rd.
Berkley MI 48072-3078
Super glue works fine, but epoxy won’t and it’s nasty when you burn
it. Other glues, well, you can experiment, but use ventilation.
You have to engineer the set up so that the plaster holds the pieces
in place, yet doesn’t cover the areas where you need to solder. Also,
the plaster will act as a heat sink, so try and set it up so that
there’s as much distance as possible between plaster and solder
joint, but still the pieces are stable in the plaster. A quicker
version I’ve discoverd is this. Glue the pieces together, then bury
them in fine wet sand. Again, the plan is to get them to stay
together after the glue burns off but not have them so deeply buried
in the sand that you can’t solder them. When you’ve got them placed,
touch the sand in a few places with tissue or paper towel. This will
"wick" off the water and the sand will lock in tight around the
David L. Huffman
I had read somewhere that you can use superglue to hold pieces together prior to soldering and that the glue burns off to allow the solder to flow... Anyone tried this?
Hi Todd, this is pulled from my post on the Orchid Archives May 18,
200. I rewrote it a bit for clarity.
After the ring and head are cast, clean up the castings and make
sure the setting fits well to the ring (with the heated head
technique it should fit perfectly). Then crazy glue the setting to
the ring. Use GOOD VENTILATION when using cyanoacrylate glues! I
talked with a technical expert at Loctite99 a manufacturer of
cyanoacrylate glues- he says that these glues are by far the most
toxic when wet!
Pack a small amount of Heat Shield Compound (I use Heat Shielding
Compound R-SO-FH6 from Small Parts Inc. 1(800)220-4242- Do not use
this on platinum, the minerals in it will contaminate platinum! )
around the top of the head and ring (not a lot, just enough to
support the ring and the head). Then flux up the inside of the
ring/head. With GOOD VENTILATION and a mini torch heat up the seam,
when the flux flows, put a chip of fluxed solder on the seam and it
flows beautifully. Crazy glue acts as a flux- works like a dream.
When the ring cools, dip in water, the heat shield compound washes
right off, now you can pickle and polish.
You may notice I said to use GOOD VENTILATION. Good ventilation does
NOT mean soldering with the window open somewhere in the studio. I use
a very good exhaust system and am known to be fanatical about safety
Yes, the crazy glue keeps the solder seam clean. I also use a bit of
flux on the piece as well. The crazy glue burns out very cleanly (it
fills in the slight gap between the pieces to be soldered and helps
keep oxides from forming in this gap). When the flux flows it sucks
into the seam where the crazy glue was. Keep in mind, you start out
with clean metal, the crazy glue holds the pieces together so you can
pack Heat Shield Compound or Place-it around the setting or prongs.
From Jewelry Concepts and Technology by Oppi Untracht Page 403
The word flux comes from the Latin fluxus, "flow", and the function of flux is to aid solder to flow. Flux is any substance, or combination of substances capable of promoting the fusion of metals joined by the use of heat and a solder or metal filler. "Flux is used in soldering mainly because the temperature necessary for solder to melt and flow causes unprotected metal surfaces to oxidize readily. If such oxides are allowed to be present during soldering, they will inhibit the flow of solder. By its presence, flux prevents the formation of oxides and dissolves or "fluxes" any oxides that may form.
I was taught to fabricate cluster settings using clay or utility wax
to temporarily hold the settings or prongs together and pour
soldering investment on top, then clean out the clay or wax. before
soldering. I found this to be less than accurate (you can’t see the
base of the settings to see if they are all level), dirty (you have
to clean out the wax or clay), messy and time consuming. I no longer
have to make a frame around the piece to pour the investment into,
and I don’t have to wait for the investment to set.
Here are some things I use crazy glue on. I had to solder 30
jumprings at a 90 degree angle around a larger ring. I made a grooves
with a burr where the jumprings are attached, glued them on at
exactly 90 degrees all around, packed a small amount of heat shield
compound supporting the big ring and smaller rings from the back, and
fluxed and soldered. Perfect soldering job, quick and accurate.
To make an eternity ring: Put some parchment or tracing paper on a
mandrel a tiny bit smaller than the finished size. Crazy glue the
settings and cast leaves all around the mandrel. Slide the ring off.
Pack Heat Shield Compound around the ring (also slide bits of old
broken saw blades to act as re-bar into the heat shield compound
around the ring). Burn or peel off the paper, flux and solder from
I use crazy glue (without the Heat Shield Compound) to sweat solder
geometric pieces, (a square within a circle with an equilateral
triangle when everything has to be lined up perfectly or it looks
awful). I flow solder on the back of the square and triangle. Sand
them flat, position them exactly where i want them to be, and put a
drop of crazy glue on so it wicks in between the pieces. Flux and heat
the piece until the solder flows. This works well for me. The crazy
glue keeps the pieces from dancing around when moisture in the flux is
I hope this helps!
Kate Wolf in Portland, Maine hosting wicked good workshops by the bay.
I remember this procedure being deadly! Someone talked about the
smoke coming from the superglue, inhaling it, and being in very bad
shape from so doing. The $10.00 word for superglue is cyanoacrylate.
“Cyano” means cyanide, a serious poison.
My own boo-boo in this area didn’t even involve heat. I was sealing
a long crack in the drone of a set of bagpipes. I thought gap-filling
superglue might be a good material. I thought it would be a good
thing to help the glue permeate by stopping one end of the drone, and
using suction, orally applied by me. The lung and throat burning was
enough to make me modify my approach after one puff.
Please stick to third-hands, binding wire, soldering investments, and
the like. Make jigs, do whatever it takes. NO SUPERGLUE.
I thought it would be good to use superglue to hold the piece together prior to putting into the molding compound, then let dry and then burn out the superglue, then solder. Anyone tried this?
Blaine Lewis’ taught us a neat little trick a few years back using
Super Glue and “Place It” at his New Approach School. I found his
excellent detailed description of the technique in the archives.
Here’s the link:
You might find it helpful… (He’s a great teacher, and the new
brochure describing the school is fantastic. If you’re reading this
Blaine, nice job!)
I searched several MSDS sites for several types of super glues, and
related glues. NO cyanide. Most MSDS sheets say there’s no known
toxins. The medical hazard for cyanoacrylate is related to it’s
rapid adhesion, especially in the presence of moisture. In fact many
veterinarians now use cyanoacrylates as less hazardous than
stitches, in Europe & Asia super glues are approved for human use,
internally and externally.
Two questions for the Chemists among us: This mention of
cynoacrylate and moisture accelerating the hardening, is that the
principle ingredient of the accelerators? And why soaking in water
over hardens the bond, causing the glue’s failure?
sorry for being so stupid, but is crazy glue, the same as super
glue? (are they both cyanoacrylate based). just that i’ve never
heard the term crazy glue
OTHER ACRYLATES: Many other efforts in wood impregnation exist.
Daniel Deitch, a Baroque woodwind maker in San Francisco, has
utilized cyanoacrylate impregnation for wood stabilization. MMA has
the structure H2C=C(CH3)COOCH3, while a typical cyanoacrylate has a
structure H2C=C(CN)COOCH3. They differ by the substitution of a -CN
group for a -CH3. This substitution makes it easier for the material
to polymerize into long carbon chains, much like a zipper closes. The
cyanoacrylates are used as rapid setting “glues”. Deitch swabs out
the finished bores with the cyanoacrylates, lets the material
polymerize, and then finishes the interior surface. Deitch also
reports that he has been pleased with a technique for finishing the
exterior learned from Rod Cameron, a flutemaker from Mendocino, CA. A
few drops of the cyanoacrylate are added to linseed oil, and the
mixture applied as a hardening finish to the exterior. The
cyanoacrylate accelerates the hardening of the mixture. Do not be
concerned about the presence of the -CN group in the molecule. It is
an organic nitrile or cyanide, not an inorganic cyanide. The latter
are toxic, but the organic -CN is not. Some artisans find the
cyanoacrylic bore finish beads water excessively.
Hopefully this eases your worries, it did mine! Marta
Yep, Super Glue and Crazy Glue are both brand names. Same stuff.
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay
"Cyano" means cyanide, a serious poison.
Sorry, Dan, but that’s not quite true. Almost, but misleading.
“Cyano” refers to the ion formed when a carbon atom is joined to a
nitrogen atom. This subunit in chemistry can then bond to many
things. If it bonds to a metal, then it is a cyanide. Among these is
hydrogen cyanide, HCN, (remember that chemcally, hydrogen is
considered a metal!) These are indeed toxic in many cases. But how
toxic depends on the metal, and what it then does in the body. The CN
ion is a problem chiefly because it can bond in many of the same
ways an oxygen molecule can, thus denying a reaction site that
expected oxygen, as in respiration, etc, of that oxygen. But there
are many other compounds that form use the CN complex, some of which
are non toxic, and some even essential parts of biochemistry. Even
cyanides, aren’t uniform in toxicity. Iron cyanide (ferrocyanides,
there are a couple versions if I recall), are less toxic than the
sodium or potassium or hydrogen versions, for example. And when
bonded to oxygen, you get a cyanate, which goes on to form building
blocks in many other compounds, with very different properties, yet
still a similar sounding name. And in the chemistry of super glues,
the CN complex is unavailable to the body, and thus inert. Burning
cyanoacrylates, like burning any organic compound, can produce acrid
unpleasant fumes, some of which might be toxic or irritating (I don’t
know the specifics). But super glue itself was actually originally
developed, I’ve been told, in research looking for surgical
adhesives. I don’t think it ever gained much use for that, for reasons
I don’t know, though I have a friend, a diamond setter, who swears by
it for closing up the occasional small cut.
The main point is to understand that similarities in a name can not
always be relied on to point to similarities in chemical behavior.
Consider oxygen, versus oxides. One clearly leads to the other, and
we’re all familier with both. But neither substitutes for the other.
Even slight differences are important. Consider the differences
between essentially inert carbon dioxide, and toxic carbon monoxide.
And so it goes. “Cyano” is indeed related to cyanides, and cyanides
are indeed serious toxins. But that does not mean “cyano” or
compounds who’s names include that syllable, should be assumed to be
toxic. Just isn’t so.
MMA has the structure H2C=C(CH3)COOCH3, while a typical cyanoacrylate has a structure H2C=C(CN)COOCH3. They differ by the substitution of a -CN group for a -CH3. This substitution makes it easier for the material to polymerize into long carbon chains, much like a zipper closes. OK, you aroused my curiosity! I found a link for the precise mechanism of the reaction: www.campoly.com/notes/001.PDF
It appears that the autoionization of water provides a weak base to
initiate the reaction. Of course, I had to experiment. I dipped a
dull burr in household ammonia and applied it to a bead of super
glue. As expected, it really speeds up cure time. I would expect more
polymer chains each with shorter length with using a surplus of
hydroxide ions since one ion is needed for each chain. The bond may
be weaker but it shouldn’t make much difference for temporary
As always, I make a practice of not inhaling anything that comes
from the soldering process.
Watching another beautiful sunrise in Eagle Idaho.
Of course, I had to experiment. I dipped a dull burr in household ammonia and applied it to a bead of super glue. As expected, it really speeds up cure time. I would expect more polymer chains each with shorter length with using a surplus of hydroxide ions since one ion is needed for each chain. The bond may be weaker but it shouldn't make much difference for temporary applications. As always, I make a practice of not inhaling anything that comes from the soldering process.
I feel obligated to reply to my own post. I highly recommend against
using ammonia to catalyze superglue polymerization. I have done a bit
more research on the various toxicities involved and will provide
excerpts and links below. But first, nitrile amines that could be
formed by a reaction of ammonia with a nitrile are toxic.
As jewelers, we avoid many toxic exposure risks because of the small
quantities of material we use. Also we hopefully use good sense by
avoiding inhalation of fumes and vapors. It is always a good idea to
avoid long term (chronic) risks, such as cancer, by avoidance rather
than dilution. I am not trying to discourage the use of
superglue…only to urge avoidance of inhalation of the vapors.
I want to discuss some ideas about the reactions involved before I
provide the excerpts and links.
First, the “acrylic” part of the superglue molecule is no longer
“acrylic” after polymerization. Acrylic referers to a two carbon
group with the groups separated by a double bond. The double bond is
used up during the polymerization process. However, one can expect
some of the “acrylic” to remain unpolymerized depending on cure time
etc. Acrylonitriles are toxic. A cyanoacrilic without the constituant
ester group (denoted by the “ate” suffix in cyanoacrylate) is an
acrylonitrile. (before polymerization). The good news is that
acrylonitrile is only a portion of the molecule before
polymerization and that any exposure to the unpolymerized product is
expected to be very small for jewelry work. Here is an excerpt from
what I found at www.ilo.org:
"Acrylonitrile. Acrylonitrile is a chemical asphyxiant like hydrogen cyanide. It is also an irritant, affecting the skin and mucous membranes; it may cause severe corneal damage in the eye if not rapidly washed away by copious irrigation. IARC has classified acrylonitrile as a Group 2A carcinogen: the agent is probably carcinogenic to humans. The classification is based on limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in animals. Acrylonitrile may be absorbed by inhalation or through the skin. In gradual exposures, victims may have significant levels of cyanide in the blood before symptoms appear. They derive from tissue anoxia and include, roughly in order of onset, limb weakness, dyspnoea, burning sensation in the throat, dizziness and impaired judgement, cyanosis and nausea. In the later stages, collapse, irregular breathing or convulsions and cardiac arrest may occur without warning. Some patients appear hysterical or may even be violent; any such deviations from normal behaviour should suggest acryonitrile poisoning. Repeated or prolonged skin contact with acrylonitrile may produce irritation after hours of no apparent effect. Since acrylonitrile is readily absorbed into leather or clothing, blistering may appear unless the contaminated articles are removed promptly and the underlying skin washed. Rubber clothing should be inspected and washed frequently because it will soften and swell."
Secondly, I further wondered how stable the nitrile (cyanide) triple
bond is when the compound is burned. I didn’t find anything specific
for acrylonitriles but did find that organic compounds containing
nitrogen could release hydrogen cyanide in a fire. The specific
findings were for polyurethane but there was suspicion that other
nitrogen containing polymers would release hydrogen cyanide gas. The
following link provided some
Toxicological Mechanisms Of Fire Smoke
"As only polyurethane of the examined construction materials released HCN (Table 2) it is probable that it and other nitrogen-containing polymers have caused the HCN concentrations in the fire atmospheres (Table 1) and sometimes fatal cyanide doses in fire victims (Baud et al., 1991). It should be remembered in this context that almost invariably the victims have also been exposed to CO and have an important amount of soot in the lungs (Shusterman, 1993). This necessitates special treatment facilities and strategies (Crapo and Nellis, 1980). Long-lasting branchial hyperreactivity may result from exposure to fire smoke (Kinsella et al., 1991; Moisan, 1991)."
I want to emphasize that I am not trying to rain on anyones parade
or discourage the use of superglue. My purpose is to provide what
facts I was able to find so that you can best decide on what level of
protection you wish to use. Personally, I don’t intend to avoid using
cyanoacrylate but do intend to avoid breathing it.
After searching “super glue” on Wikipedia, where you can find
everything you ever wanted to know about cyanoacrylate, I went out
and bought some Band-aid brand liquid bandage called Skin Crack Gel.
Its a 2-octyl cyanoacrylate (the kind used in medicine) and was
mentioned somewhere in the article. Its supposed to fill in and
protect painful skin cracks. I paid almost $8 dollars for it here in
Juneau but that’s Alaska for you. It also says it reduces minor pain
and is waterproof. I have not tried it yet as I still have a nice
coating of super glue on both thumbs.
After searching "super glue" on Wikipedia, where you can find everything you ever wanted to know about cyanoacrylate, I went out and bought some Band-aid brand liquid bandage called Skin Crack Gel.
Ah yes John…cyanoacrylate has great medical uses. I had an
operation last year (no need to gag anyone) and they used ‘super
glue’ to ‘stictch’ me up. It was great!!! Lasted about 3 weeks was
water proof and did a perfect job of sealing me up!!’ ’
Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2