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Trouble soldering


I have had problems in the past year doing simple soldering. Today, I am
having a time soldering a white gold bezel on a w.g. ring.I have a good
fit, pickeled,sandblasted, boric acid coated and fluxed the connection,
still the ring gets low red and the solder does everything but flow. I’m
even afraid of collapsing the ring before the solder melts! This is my
typical problem when it occurs.I have been a jeweler for 26 years and
don’t ever remember having this type of problem so frequently. One of my
associates stated that refining companies are now useing silicon in alloys
and solder, which makes for problems. Has anyone been experienceing a
change (for the worst ) in soldering techniques? Has anyone advise that may
help me? fuming and burned out!


Thomas ; I think your problem may be the solder . I have found Stuller
Settings in Lafayette, La . to be a source of very good solders. I have
had the same problem with Pink 14k solder and they solved my problem.
Rene’ Chapotel


I have this probelm from time to time and chalked it up to my
inexperience. Other times everything flows beautifully! It’s nice to know
from a beginners point of view that you all have frustrations, too. Gives
me hope that I’m going to make it! Lisa


Thomas, Obviously you are getting a tremendous amount of oxidation.
Broaden and use a more volume flame with Batterns flux with a lower melt
solder…wgeasy. Also chamfer the inside edge of the bezel for a runway
for the solder to flow. Use less flux rather than more.



Thomas, Try battern’s self pickeling flux on the ahite gold before you
solder. Warm the piece and then add a drop of flux then go ahead and solder
as usual. I found it helps the exact problem you are having. For some reason
the boric acid never seems to be quite enough for white gold.Also try a
high polish at the connection and then sand blast. I have found gold solder
prefers a polished surface to a matt finish. Hope this helps. Advice from
26years in the trenches to 26 years


Hi Tom,

Every time I have any type of solder adherence problems it has always
been a cleanliness problem. There is something buggering up your bezel or
your ring or both. Could be as simple as a residue from the steam

Have you tried ‘tinning’ the bezel on a charcoal block so that the solder
is stuck to the bezel but not completely spread?

Good Luck,

Skip Meister
Orchid Jewelry Listserve Member
N.R.A. Endowment
"No man’s life, liberty or fortune is safe…while our legislature is in session."
Benjamin Franklin


Dear Thomas—wow!, does your trouble with soldering your white gold
sound familiar. I have been having the same trouble with yellow gold
(14K). I fluxed, coated the piece with prips flux, had everything
imaculate—piece heated up–but solder just sat there and simply refused
to flow. Then the bezel collapsed. Great. Ordered new solder from
another company—same problem—no flow. Changed torch tips, was using
my trusty Prestolite. still no flow—but another bezel melt down. For
years I have worked with silver with no problems—but gold is new for me,
and I attributed my difficulties to my lack of familiarity with the
properties of gold, and blamed my torch. In fact, many Orchidians will
recognize my desperate SOS for help in selecting a new torch for working
on gold. Now, since you ,who are experienced in working with gold are
also have the same problems, I believe you are correct in your
assumption that the problem is with the solder. Mine is cadmium free???
Would that be contributing to the problem. Hope we can get some help
with this.–good luck- Alma --in gorgeous Portland, Oregon.,


Do you have the same problem if you use a moderate reducint flame?


thomas & lisa - we all have bad soldering experiences - ‘experience’ is
what you get when you can’t get what you were trying for. just remember my
first self-taught lesson on soldering: ‘never even think about trying to
stop a rolling ball of molten silver solder hellbent for the edge of the
worktable.’ ive


Sounds like you’re not using a torch hot enough to get the solder to flow.
Are you just directing the torch in one spot??? If so, you may want to
try heating more of the area which you want to solder (in other words,
move the torch a bit, so that the heat is distributed evenly, rather than
getting hot in one spot.) Good luck . .


When I first started hard soldering, in a school setting I occasionally ran
into problems with soldering. I finally deduced that one of the "community"
flux tubs had some mystery contaminants. Now, I bring my own small flux
container, and guard it and let NO one else use it (otherwise I share most
anything, one class referred to me as “the tool box man”). However, Flux
apparently is easily and invisibly contaminated!

Hope this will help a few, efw.


Thomas, Sometimes it is easy to overlook the very basic principles of
soldering… I know this because sometimes I get impatient and just want to
get it soldered and get it out… Remember the most important part of
soldering… cleanliness… make sure the points of contact are very clean, I
noticed you mentiones the piece was even sandblasted in preparing it for
soldering… I once thought that would be a good idea too… I found that it
was actually the reason the solder wouldn’t flow… think about it… the
solder will have a harder time flowin and adhearing to the surface if is
is sandblasted as opposed to being polished and clean… so try just taking
a deep breath, then clean and even poish the pieces being soldered, then
fire coat, a tiny bit of flux and solder away…Beleive me I have been
stressed out like this before… and it always helps when I go back to the
basics… clean clean clean… and Stuller does have great solder… good
luck. let us know if you cure the problem…
Marc Williams


HI, Putting your solder in place qwhile heating sometimes adds to the
problem. I have found that higher karat gold solders behave better than
their low karat counterparts. Heating the piece while the solder is in
place is not recommended by some schools of thought, but I have done it
for years as the pieces I do are of 26 or 28 ga 14 or18K. I the snippet is
in place while heating sometimes the “stuff” that makes it flow gets boiled
out and thus it just looks at you and does nothing. I often build pieces
that require me to solder 28 ga sheet to 14ga wire in , wire is .925 sheet
is 28 ga 14k. Watching for a change in color to pjlace the snippet while
heating can be a chalange so I put the snippet in place and go at it. I
find that heating from the side or under if possible will help. If you put
your heat directly over your piece and use an oxidizing flame, something
will cook before the solder. I feel the if the solder is a problem go to a
higher karat especially in white or pink gold . hope this
helps in some way…Ciao Rene’C.


Hi Folks,

I just had another thought. Many years ago in another lifetime dental
bridgework was made by using 5 separate ‘heats’ of gold solder. It was
very trickey and required a steady hand and plenty of skill and
knowledge. My mentor, 3 years older than dust, was a jeweler who
transitioned into dental technology. He taught me how to solder. When
the solder refused to flow, and he knew that everything was clean, he
taught me to - 1.) use a reducing flame - 2.) never take the torch off of
the work once the flame hit the work, and - 3.) to fill my lungs and
exhale open mouthed onto the work while soldering. He claimed that the
first two tips had to do with not oxydizing the solder or the parts to be
joined and that the third tip flooded the area with CO2 and aided the flow
by excluding the oxygen. While thinking about it and his instructions, I
went through the steps in my mind and realized that I do this without
really thinking about it. Maybe John B or Peter Rowe can comment on this.



Skip Meister
Orchid Jewelry Listserve Member
N.R.A. Endowment
"No man’s life, liberty or fortune is safe…while our legislature is in session."
Benjamin Franklin


You know Marc, you are exactly right! Running a store and getting work
done, one gets behind and you don’t think things through. Getting this
problem up on this forum and living witha few days has been intresting. Of
course the solder had a hard time, with going twice as far over a
sandblasted area. Wth me trying harder and hotter(and I don’t just mean
the flame) and closer. Re-thinking this has turned to anticipation of my
next soldering drama. As I mentiond earlier, I did finish the ring, but
did’t feel good how it all went, I know you know what I mean. Thanks ,Thomas


Been there,done that. Not to sound rude, but frustrated… here are some
details: have a 10mm wide, 3mm thick cast wg ring, soldering on three
bezels on top(of course) , with the ring in tweezers and bezel held down
with tweezers on top only , I heat with a med reducing flame from
underneath, and somtimes move it to the sides a bit,Not working …so move
to top without melting bezel. Ring is starting to get reddish,solder still
hasn"t flowed only balled, keep heating until I’m afaid of collapes, still
only minor melting of solder which is soft not hard.Welcome any advise or
hints. Thanks, Thomas


Alma, What are you soldering on? Try soldering on a charcoal block .And
don’t use a hot flame meaning a flame that is roaring or real pointed.Move
your flame in a circular motion around the piece.I aim the flame at the
outside of the bezel (solder will follow the heat) until I see the solder
flow and then I brush the whole piece until it has completely
flowed.Cleanliness IS next to Godliness when it comes to soldering
especially bezel to plates. A fingerprint can stop the solder from flowing
any oil or grease from your finger becomes carbonised when it is heated and
blocks the flow of solder.Cean in an ultrasonic or use a toothbrush with
some dish soap.I wrap the outside of my charcoal block with binding wire or
such and keep it in an old cast iron frying pan this keeps it less messy
and I store it away in a cabinet when not using it.

J Morley
Coyote Ridge Studio

He claimed that the first two tips had to do with not oxydizing the
solder or the parts to be joined and that the third tip flooded the area
with CO2 and aided the flow by excluding the oxygen.  

I understand the premise underlying tip #3, except that respiration
actually changes the oxygen/carbon-dioxide ratio very little. Otherwise
the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation portion of CPR wouldn’t work. On the
other hand, who knows, maybe that little bit of extra carbon-dioxide may
make a difference when compared to ambient atmospheric content. Any

Warm Regards,


Hi Thomas, It is possible that the solder balls up and “floats” on melted
borax or flux. It must be in actual contact with the metal. Flux melts to
form a glass-like coating on the metal. Push the solder thru this with a
poker or something. Good luck. Tom Arnold


I have had luck with stubborn solder joints by balling up a small piece of
metal, putting it in the solder that is being problematic and rolling it
around the joint. It seems to act as a bridge, and it rarely fails when
nothing else works. Good luck! Blondzilla