Simple Way to Solder Jewelry?

by Becky.

Simple Way to Solder Jewelry?  - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

I was wondering is there a simple way to solder just to join items that would not involve so many tools?

I design pendants, rings and bracelets and have been using the E6000 glue. No problem with it so far.

But I am going to be doing a sterling on bronze piece and since it is not costume wondered is there a small soldering device or gun that would be capable of adhering the two together?

Thanks!

Becky
Vintage Jewelry Lover

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  • Blanche Nonken says:

    Hi!
    First, you’ll want a microtorch, and a can of butane. You can get one cheap at Harbor Freight (you risk that it won’t work right, but by my experience “Horrid Fright” tools are fabulous about 3/4 of the time, and the one I got from there was good enough for gaining experience until I invested in a better one.)

    To start, you’ll want to practice with scrap. Read or watch some soldering tutorials, pay attention to cleanliness.

    For basic stuff where I don’t need to worry about extra layers at different soldering temps, I use a 4% silver electrical (lead free) solder. I also use a product called “Ruby Flux,” it looks like raspberry spread and works best with that lower temp solder. However, it’s a bit caustic to the copper alloys, so be delicate with its use.

    And practice! That’s more important than anything. Work in a well-ventilated room, like with any soldering work the fumes can be toxic- that’s anther good reason to be spare as you can with the flux. Air flow, a microtorch, solder, and the flux. Flux “tells” the solder where to go, solder needs a very close join between metals, and heat “pulls” the solder where you want it to go. That’s what the practice is for. 🙂

  • Karen Escalera says:

    There are inexpensive soldering irons, which I’m planning on acquiring myself. There are tons of how to DIYs on YouTube. I found it really easy to pick up when I was in school many decades ago and actually worked in a factory for a couple of summers. Simple joints are pretty basic. In creating bezels a little practice may be required. Hope you find the techniques that fit you as it will open up a whole new area of possibilities.

  • Gay says:

    soldering irons don’t get hot enough for silver

  • Blanche is spot on here. You can get butane micro torches from HF or spend a little more and get one from Home Depot or Lowes for around $25. Irons won’t get hot enough for silver. You can get silver solder through many suppliers. I use Rio Grande. I use Rio’s flux and it works well. You’ll also want a fire brick or charcoal block to solder on so you don’t burn down the house (spouses frown on this, lol)

    YouTube videos will help to actually see how it’s done. The main thing is get your join to fit with no gaps etc first, then your join will come out great. To get the fire scale off after, I use a pickle made from white vinegar and salt warmed in the microwave. Just use an old coffee mug, you can upgrade to a heated pot and better pickle solutions later.

    And last, post some pics of your progress for us.

  • You also may want to consider doing cold connections instead of solder. There are a ton of tutorials for making your own rivets or for using existing ones of copper or brass to join mixed metals pieces together. There is a learning curve for soldering with silver and brass and you really do need to have a basic kit with:
    Torch
    Fire brick (Charcoal block)
    A fire proof table/counter on which to work
    Pickle (Can mix citric acid with water for a gentle pickle)
    Copper Tongs
    Solder
    Flux (can make your own using borax google for recipes.
    Snips to cut very tiny pieces of solder.
    And spend some time (as mentioned above) with some you tube videos or photographic tutorials learning how to work with heat, solder and mixed metals.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your expertise here – Blanche, Karen, Gay, Duane, and Lady Mockingbird!

  • BarbJ says:

    What hasn’t been said here is that the quality of your piece will be dependent on the quality of your soldering. Watch the videos and pay very close attention to fitting the pieces together and to cleanliness. Some of my best designs have ended up in the re-cycle jar because of soldering mistakes and/or lack of planning.

    One “hack” I have found to be very successful is using resin. I solder everything, but there are occasionally elements that are too fragile or aren’t attached before the stone is set……. Resin, applied sparingly with a toothpick can produce strong results, which will withstand water and wear. The down-side is that resin takes a day or so to set and may need clean-up with a little acetone to make it invisible. Also, I only use resin to supplement–not as the major connection technique.

  • Barb, thank you for sharing your hack of using resin – great tip! 🙂

  • Elizabeth Trail says:

    You can pick up a good enough butane torch at any auto supply store or at Walmart. You will also need some type of soldering block to protect your work surface, and a Dremel or some other tool to get your soldering surfaces level and bright, You’ll also appreciate having a “third hand” — a weighted base with one or more jointed arms that hold either alligator clips or locking tweezers. You use this to hold your piece and your finding together while you maneuver the torch and the solder. You will also want a pickle pot to drop the peace in as soon as you’ve finished soldering it. As someone else mentioned, all you need is a ceramic dish and some vinegar and salt. Heat the vinegar and salt mixture and keep it warm, ready to drop your soldered piece into.

    Assuming you already own a Dremel and can scrounge your pickle pot, you will need to spend around $25 for your torch, and $10 for a third hand.

    Now, as to choice of solder. I totally disagree with the suggestion of buying plumbing solder, even the one that is called Silver Solder at the hardware store. First, it has low tensile strength, so it may pop off. You’re going to all the trouble to do this, it only takes an extra minute to heat the piece to the correct temperature for real jewelry solder. The other problem that I have with the hardware store’s solder is that over time, it turns black where it is exposed to air. That doesn’t look good on the back of your piece. As someone else said, the perceived quality of your jewelry has a lot to do with the quality of your solder job. If there are gaps, if it’s discolored, or worst of all if it fails, it looks unprofessional.

    I recommend starting with a paste solder. You can buy it in syringes from riogrande. com . Rio Grande paste solder comes in extra easy, easy, medium, and hard. Again, it’s only a matter of a few degrees to use a higher temperature solder. Don’t let it scare you.

    Things to bear in mind, one is that if you use the hard solder, you may be getting very close to the melting temperature of your metal. So maybe start with medium. The other thing is that if you are putting multiple solder joints on a piece, you make your first soldering joint with medium, your second soldering joint with easy, and your last soldering joint with extra easy. That way you don’t destroy the work that you’ve just done. Experience will tell you what color your metal will be when you reach the correct temperature.

    Paste solder has the flux included, so that’s one less thing that you have to be juggling with your hands. But again, there are caveats. The flux will burn off before you reach soldering temperature if you’re not careful. What I do is heat the piece almost to soldering temperature, turn off my torch, quickly add the flux -solder combination, then turn my torch back on and raise the temperature to the melting point of the solder. You can watch videos on YouTube.

    It’s important to heat the whole piece, so you don’t get what’s called a cold weld. That means a joint where the finding and the solder were hot enough, but the piece of jewelry itself was not as hot. Then the solder melts the peace finding sort of sticks, but it comes off very easily.

    So here is my handy-dandy tip, particularly if your work is large and heavy, like some of my pieces. Silver is a real heat sink.. Use your gas stove top in addition to your torch! I use the third hand to position the piece face down in the flame. Turn on the gas stove and heat the piece until it’s red. Then turn off the flame, apply the solder and finding (holding and positioning the finding with another third hand. ) Then kick on the burner and turn on your torch. Torch down from the top, near but not directly on the joint, until you see the solder melt. That avoids a cold weld.

    That’s it! Good luck!

  • I took a beginner soldering course for working with silver and would recommend you take a hands on course with an instructor rather than just watching online instructions. It may be best to have an experience person with you for your first time especially for safety reasons. Good luck!

  • Karen Escalera says:

    I had no problems soldering silver with the iron I used years ago.

  • Karen white says:

    How sweet of you guys to take the time to address this question so thoroughly. Thank you for all the helpful info!

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