How to Solder a Post Onto an Earring
One of the most fulfilling, but also one of the most frustrating aspects of jewelry making is deciding to delve into the soldering world as a beginner. This opens up so many possibilities, but the unknown can be scary when you don’t have many soldering skills. So many questions, so many options, so many ideas……
One of the first tasks a jeweler will want to tackle when getting into soldering is to solder a post onto an earring, but they find out quickly that it can get a little frustrating because this is one of the more difficult things to do. Let me explain why…. Most people when soldering think that it is fairly simple, get two pieces of metal, add solder and fire….. simple. Not so fast. Like I said, soldering posts are not that easy because you are attempting to solder a very thin, small piece of metal to a much larger piece of metal.
First, let’s get our tools and metal lined up. I am using a Soldering Board made of Solderite. I do most of my soldering on a board like this. I am also using a pair of Insulated Spring Tweezers to hold the post in place as I solder. Clean the pieces good first, then dip (and swirl) the silver pieces in a mixture of Denatured Alcohol and Powdered Boric Acid to help prevent fire scale.
Next I add Handy Flux to both the spot on the piece I am going to be soldering, and the head of the post. I apply the flux with a piece of silver wire that I keep in the jar with the flux. I keep them in an old baby food jar with a good sealed lid when not in use.
I dip the head of the post into the flux and pick up a piece of Medium Silver Solder, it works like a magnet. The piece of solder I use is just larger than the flat part of the head of the post. You might be tempted to use more solder than you actually need, but less is better in most cases.
Now it’s time to “light your fire”. You will want a flame that is a small to medium flame, not to “sharp” and not too “bushy”. A sharp flame will be very blue and come to a small point, a bushy flame will be larger and have less blue color and more yellow color.
Before you actually add the post to the earring, you want to heat the earring up first. Here is the important lesson: Solder Follows Heat! If you add the post, which is much thinner, to the piece that is much thicker, then add heat…. the post will heat up much quicker than the base and the solder will flow all over the post and not to the base. You will add more and more heat to the base to get it hot enough to get the solder to flow onto it, and more than likely you will melt the post before you get the solder to flow.
So the way to solder thin pieces to thick pieces is to add the heat to the thick piece first, get it very hot, then add the post with the solder to the piece. Make sure you do NOT point the heat at the post, but at the thicker base. You want the HEAT to melt the solder, not the flame.
Once the solder flows, add the piece to your pickle, I use Sparex #2 for a pickle. I let it sit in the heated pickle for a few minutes, then take it out with copper tongs and add it to a mixture of water and Baking Soda. This will neutralize the acid from the pickle and keep it away from my hands, my tools, and my work area.
After the piece is cleaned and dried off, inspect the solder joint to make sure you have good flow and penetration. Finish as desired and enjoy!
Like I mentioned earlier, soldering is so fulfilling and exciting, but can be frustrating at times. I hope if you tried these techniques that it helps you be more successful and have a lot more enjoyable soldering experience.
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