When making jewelry, soldering is one of the approaches used. The process of soldering involves using heat to join two metals together. In this process, you will use a torch and an alloy solution to enhance the jewelry and make it pop. So, what basically happens is that the alloy glues the pieces of jewelry together.
For instance, if you are making a silver, brass or copper jewelry, you will use silver soldering alloy. On the other hand, if you are working on gold jewelry, it is best to use a gold soldering alloy.
Soldering is pretty much like brazing or welding, the only difference being that soldering will need less heat to get the job done. In this article, we shall look into the step by step process on how to solder jewelry. But first, let us look at the tools you will require for this.
Tools Required for Soldering Jewelry
- Torch: Here, you can choose from butane to propane or acetylene torch. However, the cheapest option is a butane torch.
- Solder block: They can be either ceramic, charcoal, honeycomb or solderite. What you choose is based on your preference.
- Solder: You can get different types such as copper, silver or other metals. Silver is, however, the best. It is mostly available in hard, medium, easy or extra easy.
- Borax flux: This can be purchased at a specialty store or online.
- Pickle: This is a weak acid that is mostly used to dissolve oxides and flux from the metal you are working on after soldering. It cleans up the metal by cleaning out all the impurities. Remember not to insert anything made of steel in the pickle as they react.
Other materials you may need include:
- Flat pliers or tweezers
- A file
- Sandpaper (320,400,600 grit) to clean up the solder seams.
- Plastic or ceramic container to store the pickle
- A pair of scissors or wire cutters
Lastly, you will have to choose the metal to work on. This depends on the type of jewelry you would like. If you would like the cheaper options, copper and brass are your best bet. Silver is slightly more expensive than copper and brass while gold and platinum are even more expensive.
Safety precautions when Soldering
- Always ensure that you wear the safety glasses to protect your eyes in case the solder splashes
- Do not touch the Soldering gun tip when soldering because it is hot
- Do not solder near flammable materials such as near gas cylinders or near petrol
- Ensure you work outdoors or in a very well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling the smoke
- If you use solder that has a lead, ensure you thoroughly wash your hands as well as the workstation you are working on to avoid ingesting the lead
The following are easy steps you need to take to solder jewelry:
#1. Preparing the Metal for Soldering
After setting up your work-space and assembling all the tools you will require, it is time to prepare the metal. The first thing to do is to ensure the metal you intend to work with can easily fit together when soldering.
Thereafter, it is good to ensure that the metal is clean and free from impurities such as grease and other oils that come through handling of the metal. Take every piece of jewelry that needs to be soldered and insert them in the pickle for a few minutes.
Next, take them out of the pickle and use a pair of flat pliers to handle the metal. Arrange them on a soldering block in preparation for the next step.
#2. Preparing the Solder and Adding Flux
Once the pieces of metal are cleaned and assembled on the soldering block, it is time to prepare the solder as well. This will not involve inserting them in a pickle, but it is important not to handle them too much. In this step, you should cut the solder into tiny little pieces using a pair of scissors or wire cutters, and set them aside to be used later.
After that, you can now add flux. They are two different types of flux, Battern’s and Borax based flux. In this article, however, we shall talk about the Borax based flux. This type of flux is like a paste. It is applied using a thin brush.
Before application though, you should heat the metal first until the area with flux resembles glass. After that, you can apply the solder to the metal. In my opinion, this approach is preferable because it grants you time to arrange your solder. In addition, the soldered area is made slightly stickier.
#3. Positioning the Solder
To put the small pieces of solder into the metal, it is better to use tweezers. In this step, it is vital to place the solder in the areas where the metals will be joined. You will notice that putting the solder correctly does go a long way in ensuring the jewelry lasts longer. For a beginner, this may be a bit of a task, but as they say, practice makes perfect. It is definitely all about the technique.
#4. Use the Torch
When the solder is in place, this is where you pick up the torch. Firstly, the temperature needed for soldering should be reached in the same period the metal is being heated. Be keen not to position the flame directly at the solder because it tends to follow the heat.
What you want to achieve here is to ensure the flame draws the solder through the joint being connected. Keep the flame on until it reaches a point you see the solder run. Thereafter, you can immediately remove the flame directed at the solder and let the pieces of jewelry cool.
#5. Checking the Soldered Jewelry
The next step is to insert the jewelry in the pickle using the tweezers. Once the metal inserted in the pickle appears silver again, take it out and rinse off the acid. Afterward, examine the solder seams. If you notice your solder did not flow well into a joint, you can re flux and add more solder to re-flow it again and correct it. There is no need to worry though, this is a common problem during this process.
Once you are satisfied with the results, you can take the sandpaper and smoothen out the solder seams. After sanding and polishing, you can design the jewelry to your liking and there you have it! You have got yourself some pretty jewelry for yourself, for gifting or for selling.
Photo Credit: Instructables.com