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Trouble soldering small pieces to large piece in sterling silver


Martha, there are many good welding supply companies that have excellent propane and air torches. It will run you $150 to $200 for a good set up. Google " propane and air torch". These torches will be properly made and safe. The weed burning torches Walmart has can literally drip flame after you turn them off. They also don’t last long. Not me but a neighbor burnt through several before he came over and borrowed my torch to clear weeds off his property. Who knew a jeweler/metalsmith would be better equipped to do landscaping work.

As you get better with soldering, you’ll end up with several torches. It will depend on the size and type of job you’re doing.


Robert, You might have accidentally sent this email to me but it was addressed to Martha. Ken


Your bracelet may not be getting hot enoughover all. The rest of the bracelet functions as a heat sink and you can correct for this with additional heat from a second torch. Use the second torch to mildly heat the other areas of the bracelet. Ask a friend to help if you are uncomfortable using two torches. It doesn’t need to heat until the other parts of the bracelet are getting red, just add a little heat to help out.


I agree with the comments that suggest a second torch for overall heat of the metal so the solder will flow.


Christmas Greetings Matha.
Wow, you have a tiger by the tail here.
Had to do a “dog and pony show” on Silver Soldering for a group of clockmakers and I think I tried all of the above comments. Now my go to torch for what you need to do may I suggest is in this country branded trade flame. There are two types of heads and the dearer one is the better. The cylinders are yellow and filled with Performance Gas _ MAPP Gas replacement. They claim (correctly) that it has “faster heat transfer than propane”. The cost for one is under $A100.00. The MAPP gas is the secret but heat up your “Job” to soldering temperature first then add the solder only when the soldering temperature is reached as the cadmium free solders just don’t have very much good stuff left in them. P.S. Don’t let the noise frighten you.


Anytime I am working on a large piece ( big bezel, bracelet, box, etc), I use 2 torches - one underneath, and one on top. I have multiple torches so I can cover just about every job I do. I also presolder the smaller pieces, so the solder is on the small piece where it will join, so that all I have to do is put the pieces in position on the larger piece, and then heat underneath with one torch and heat on top with second torch. On your bracelet, I would probably have used the rosebud tip on my Gentec torch ( or Little Torch), and my acetylene/air torch on top, to avoid burning the smaller pieces. You need to create a kiln like enviroment so that the solder can flow. Having done many very large metal pieces such as boxes and utensils. I learned early on, 2 torches are a must.
Hope that helps.


Heat the heavier piece on an ultralite kiln or preheat. Set up quickly and carefully for soldering. Titanium pick and medium solder are great tips. It’s counter intuitive, but when designing a piece, you can make the base a thinner gauge than the embellishments.


As an artisan working with the same issues, albeit further along, The thing that was an “aha” moment was… just how much heat you need. Build a little soldering cave out of firebrick,use your rosebud tip w/ oxy-propane, soft bushy flame but serious gas volume. have the setup to heat from underneath ( can use soldering screen, charcoal block) . As said, tin applique piece, keep torch moving and heat whole piece, avoid the applique piece with torch , when solder flows gently " lead" solder joint with torch, then back off. Last note … get it done ! if too long , things WILL go south on you. If Disoloration starts, stop, pickle clean and start again.
heavy silver soldering is a different beast . Work in dim light and watch your metal colors, observe whats happening and the metalworking gods will smile on you (or not)