I was told about a trick to prevent heat from melting a previous join and wanted to ask about it here. I was told you can use whiteout on a prior join and it’ll prevent it from melting. Once your new join is made, can you pickle it with the whiteout on there? I intend to use this on bezels to backplates since I often run into problems with my bezel joins melting. (I’m new to silversmithing and still learning). Can anyone offer some insight before I just jump into a purchase of chil gel or similar product if this is an adequate alternative? Thank you so much!
As someone who’s melted his own share of bezels not so long ago, I’d suggest practicing a lot first. Heat sinks may help in tricky situations, but aren’t a substitute for good technique.
Heat from the backside of your new joint. Keep the flame moving. Watch the color of the metal and the solder. It can be awfully frustrating as you’re starting out, but eventually you’ll get the hang of it, and won’t feel like you need Wite-Out, or chill gel, etc.
Looking forward to seeing what you create.
White out is used as an anti-flux, as is yellow ochre. It helps to prevent your solder from flowing away from your join because it burns and makes the area dirty. So, it will work to prevent your solder from flowing, but it won’t prevent it from melting, only proper torch control will do that.
I agree that learning to solder correctly is best, but I have recently completed a couple complicated pieces with limited material that couldn’t be replaced. Hard silver solder was used throughout because the color matches the sterling best. Even though the solder becomes harder with each heating, I wanted to be sure there would be no oopses when soldering numerous elements to both the front and back of the base plate of a reversible pendent.
Soldering as many elements as possible at a time, I used witeout covering each joint and drying it before moving on to the next combination. Water-based whitout doesn’t flare-up when torched. I found that it cleans up best on a large piece when all the whiteout is evenly hot hot. It brushes off in water using a toothbrush. Whiteout in the pickle eventually contaminates the pickle, so get as much off before using the pickle.
This ‘heating from behind’ even has a name to it…For Your Information,
it’s called 'Sweat-Soldering" (as in not being sweet, but sweat)
*Gerry Lewy *
- (905) 886-5961 *
What Pam said I always heard. It’s not a heat sink but a solder inhibitor.
Thank you all for the very valuable information! I’ve come to the conclusion that I may not be using enough solder. I know you shouldn’t use too much, but I’m thinking that’s my problem.
Speaking of problems, I was trying to solder a ring shank and attempted about 3 times and my solder simply refused to flow. I made every effort to make my joint as flush as possible with no gaps (previous pieces joined with no problems despite not having a perfect join.) But no matter how even I tried to heat it, my solder just blackened. I usually apply my flux and my solder and then heat because I can’t just use a solder pick and put it on the joint as I’m heating. My hands shake too much and I’m not Coordinated enough. If I heat the piece for a few seconds first then stop and apply solder, I sometimes run into problems there too.
So when doing a ring, should I heat slightly, then add my solder or try again the way I was before? (Flux, solder then heat?)
Things to check if your solder turns black and doesn’t melt:
- Not only the piece must be clean–the solder itself must also be totally clean and grease-free!
- The piece of solder itself must be fully covered with flux.
- The type of flux used must be suitable for the job. Liquid flux is often not strong enough for a large piece or extensive heating.
- Torch might not be hot/bushy enough. Needs to be able to bring the entire piece up to the melting point of the solder relatively quickly.
Janet in Jerusalem
- Melting solder over a surface to be joined to form a very thin layer of solder over the entire surface (‘tinning’);
- placing the tinned piece face down on top of the piece to which it is to be joined, preferably under slight pressure;
- heating the assembled unit until the tinned solder remelts and gravity/pressure and capillarity bring the two pieces together into a flush join.
The reheating in sweat soldering is not necessarily done with a torch–it can be done in an oven. And one can ‘heat from behind’ with a torch without sweat soldering.
Janet in Jerusalem
I think 1 or 4 might have been my issue. I use a micro torch. It’s rated up to 2000°. I’ve been thinking of getting a oxy acetylene torch cause I like how you can control the flame better. A lot of times I file my solder wire before I cut my pallions. Funny enough, I didn’t with my ring
Oxygen-propane preferable to oxyacetylene for jewelers.
Janet in Jerusalem
For temp purposes? I’d be looking for an inexpensive one that’s on the lightweight side
Well, I must have heated too much and melted the inside of my shank, so I ruined an entire band
The best “inexpensive”, “temporary” torch for jewelry would be a simple propane torch from a hardware store.
Janet in Jerusalem
Aren’t they quite bulky? I have small hands issues with heavy items.
I haven’t been in the States for many years, but they used to be quite compact and light. You could use them attached to a small propane canister (which is a bit bulky) or attach it to the canister by a hose. They used to come with a couple of heads–one for a larger flame and one for smaller. They are nice and portable. There is one kind that comes with several heads. I’m abroad now, so I don’t really have time to look, but if you google “propane torches” and click on Images when the search comes up, you should see lots…
Janet in Jerusalem
Look at the EZ-Torch. It is a simple inexpensive propane torch that you can use with either a 1 lb. camp stove cylinder or larger 5 or 20 lb. grill type cylinders. They come with three tips, hose, handle and a connection for whatever type of cylinder you want to use. The flame is not precise as it is a naturally aspirated torch, but it works well as a starter torch and for doing smaller work. Adjustment can be tricky. I would compare the flame to a plumbers torch like the old Presto-Lite acetylene torch that I used for years. Acetylene was of course a lot hotter. I keep an EZ Torch on my bench along with my Meco and Little Torch as it is quick to get going. I use it especially for annealing as it is not as hot as my propane and O2 torches. You can get used to any torch, but the type of work you do will drive what is the best choice. There is a lot of information in the archives about torches. Good luck…Rob
Another option for an inexpensive jewelry torch is one of the small butane “creme brule” torches. The fuel/air ratio adjusts, and it is a handy size. Fuel is easily obtained for refilling the tank. Harbor Freight sells a small model for about $8, but evidently they tend to break easily and a local jewelry school in Nashville recommends the Bernzomatic, which retails at $26 at the big box home improvement stores. It fits the hand well and has a spark igniter to light it instantly, so what’s not to like? It is a little small in heat output, so there might be a size limitation in working with big silver pieces, But aside from that it’s a good torch to start out with.
Yeah, my sister bought me the Harbour Freight one you mentioned. I’ve noticed the flame sort of spits? Not sure if that’s a good word for it but it doesn’t stay steady sometimes.