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Jewelry Soldering

I have experimented with a number of soldering mediums and techniques. The following tips are from my own personal preference. They are by no means the only way to accomplish the goal of joining two pieces of metal. I offer this information as a courtesy. You may find that you prefer other methods. This just happens to be what has worked best for me.

There are a several different forms of solder. Between solder wire and rosin, rosin core solder wire and solder paste the paste is my favorite and easiest to use.

It is easy to solder. All you need is some solder paste, a torch and a base to solder on. Your base needs to be something that will not burn. A brick or ceramic tile works well. You need to be in a well ventilated area. For safety precautions you should wear a mask and goggles. You will also find that you need some old pliers to handle your work. The pieces will get very hot and you can easily burn yourself.

If you want to join two pieces of metal together, for example: a filigree base with a pin back, you simply place a small amount of paste along the back of the pin that will be connected to the filigree. Place the pin on the filigree and slowly heat the top of the pin with the torch. The flame should be about six inches away from what you are soldering. When you apply the heat you will first see a little bit of flux run out, and the paste will turn a bright silver color. This generally takes only a few seconds.

TIP: Move the torch back and forth along the length of the pin back or piece that you are soldering. To get a good solder joint the metal must be hot enough for the solder to flow to it. At the correct temperature the solder will turn a bright silver and flow to the metal. Remove the flame and let cool.

The solder paste can be used in a syringe. However, I have found that the build up of air pressure causes you to waste a lot of solder. I generally put a little on a plastic lid and use a tooth pick or dental tool to dab the solder on.

Note: The solder paste can dry out. It is best to take out what you need and then replace the lid. Store the jar of solder paste in a sealed plastic bag.

If you want to join some metal pieces together at an angle you can use some Play-do or some off brand modeling compound. I use this method for making tiaras and similar items. Just place a little bit of dough on your base. Secure one of the pieces you are joining in the dough. Place the other piece of metal against the first piece and use a tiny bit of dough to hold it in place. Put some solder paste in the joints that you want soldered and apply some heat. I also use the clay to join settings together to make some interesting rhinestone brooches. Just lay the settings upside down in the dough. You have to be careful with these. Most cup settings are made so that the stone sits slightly above the settings. If you solder cup settings side by side with out any space you will not be able to set your stones.

Soldering may discolor your metal. Sometime the discoloration is permanent but, many times you can polish the metal back to its original color. Your soldered pieces will have an oily residue after they have been soldered. You can clean them with soap and water. Only thoroughly cleaned pieces should be sent out for plating. If you don't want to go to the expense of plating you can paint the entire piece with an enamel paint or if you like the color of the solder piece, you can hide the little bit of solder that shows by using a brass colored enamel paint along the edge of the solder.

Solder Paste and Torch

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E-Mail Comments or Questions to Janice Kostura at jan@jansjewels.com