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How do you support your work for soldering? Protect from heat?

The other day at work the new “apprentice” remarked about me using
tweezers only to place parts together while soldering. He uses a
third and even fourth hand. I explained that was faster for me and
came from years of practice. I also immerse sensitive stones in water
since this is quicker and less messy than “cook jool” or similar
stuff. Both methods amazed the new guy. This was pretty much the way
I learned it years ago. Works for me but might not work for someone

So, how do you hold little things to be soldered to other things? How
do you prefer protecting sensitive stones from soldering heat?


Note From Ganoksin Staff:
Looking for a third hand tool for your jewelry projects? We recommend:


How do you support your work for soldering? Protect from heat? 

Tweezers for soldering, I hate setting up 3rd or 4th arms. Sensitive
stones go in water (distilled not required :slight_smile: or get pulled. Bloody
hot and fast soldering. Maybe years of practice helps some.


Tweezers and water seem about right to me. I will switch to heat
shield with sterling if I just can’t seem to get the piece hot
enough. The heat shield doesn’t absorb heat as fast as the water but
still protects the stone. I have also been known to set a multipiece
construct in investment to hold the pieces for multiple solders or
very difficult placement.

Frank Goss

I also immerse sensitive stones in water since this is quicker and
less messy than "cook jool" or similar stuff. 

It’s also far safer and more reliable protection. Immersed in
liquid, the stone must remain in contact with the liquid. With the
pastes and similar, as the metal heats up, steam can force the gel or
other protectant slightly away from the metal, or can dry the surface
contact layer. Either way, heat sinking is then lost, and heat can be
transferred to the stone, which is what you’re trying to avoid. When
the heat sink is liquid, like water, this cannot happen, and the only
problem is that sometimes the water is sizzling where the metal
enters it, and spatters from that can get in the way of keeping the
torch lit or otherwise be an annoyance. But that can be dealt with,
and is only an annoyance, rather than a danger to the stones.

One common variation on just water is to use wet sand or carborundum
soldering grain in a shallow cup. If the amount of water is more than
just to wet the grain, but actually covers it, then the heat sinking
is almost the same as completely liquid filled, and the sand or grain
can be used to support or hold the underwater portion of the item, so
you then don’t need the tweezers. Just be sure that you actually do
have, and maintain, this excess of water, since merely wet or damp
sand, etc, can have the same problems as the gels, drying out at the
contact point with the metal.

Peter Rowe

1 Like

No third hands here. They take waaay too long and never really line
up right. We free hand. It takes practice, but such a time saver.
When I worked in busy trade shops I would just hold the stone with my
fingers while soldering. I’d keep a flask of water on my bench while
doing this to quickly dunk it in when it got too hot. If it’s too hot
for my fingers, it’s too hot for a heat sensitive stone like oh say
an Opal or Lapis. I love Kool Jewel etc. for protecting stuff. In the
old days we used powdered asbestos soaked in water. If I’m in a
hurry, it just the fingers.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry
Jo Haemer

1 Like


I agree with you. I also have used a small metal container of water
to suspend heat-sensitive stones into while soldering. Quite
effective, fast, and no clean-up.

Positioning parts to be soldered by hand, holding a tweezers, takes
a steady hand, well braced, but it is much faster than spending time
with extra third hands, etc. If your parts fit well, and you have
carefully put a small scratch mark where your part is to be soldered,
I think precision alignment of certain soldered parts can be done
quickly and effectively, with practice. Control of torch flame is
important. I use my torch in my dominant hand, my right, which feels
best to control the torch flame, and have trained my left hand to do
the bracing, holding and positioning. My left hand has also become
quite adept at moving solder balls into position with a solder pick,
while my right hand, with torch, does the tricky stuff.

At the workbench, techniques must be learned which permit speed
without compromising accuracy. Time is money.

Jay Whaley

So, how do you hold little things to be soldered to other things? 

Funny that you should ask this question as I spent a considerable
amount of time this week fumbling around with a piece, trying to get
everything to balance in place so I could fuse. Since I hold the
torch in my right hand and the left can be shaky holding the tweezers
wouldn’t help with this one. The tweezers that fit the third hand are
in very poor shape and weren’t up to the task. So my next effort was
to try binding wire - very time consuming and just couldn’t get it
right for this piece, but it often works.

The end result? I was trying to fuse onto a ring made of wire - so I
annealed the wire thoroughly, flattened it, fused, then reshaped it
(yes I know that’s cheating and won’t work for many situations, but
it got THIS JOB done so I could move on. Meanwhile I’m planning to
order a second third hand and new tweezers for the first one.

Mary Partlan
White Branch Designs

One common variation on just water is to use wet sand or
carborundum soldering grain in a shallow cup. 

Just be aware that sand and especially carborundum grain are,
themselves, abrasive…

I have found one of the most difficult things for new students to
learn is setting up!! As a result, the third hand can be very useful
for newer jewelers. However, what the others of you have said about
it being slow and not always effective is very true. But again, not
everyone is aiming at doing 15-20 jobs a day. Personally I hold
pieces in tweezers and position them that way when possible but I’ve
been at it for 40 years! Again, we must remember not all Orchid
members have the experience (or torch control) needed to hand hold
parts for soldering. So, for those new to the process, don’t feel bad
if you must use a third hand. But, as you gain experience, do look
for other methods. For example, investment, plaster of Paris, binding
wire, soft magnesium blocks and, of course, the venerable third hand.
My Chinese instructors taught me to use the plaster of Paris to good
advantage for complex jobs. Otherwise, practice, practice, practice.

Cheers from Don in SOFL.