How to Solder a Post Onto an Earring

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……

Post Soldering Header

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.

Post Soldering (1)

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.

Post Soldering (2) Post Soldering (3)

Post Soldering (4)

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.

Post Soldering (5) Post Soldering (6)

Post Soldering (7) Post Soldering (8)

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.

Post Soldering (9)

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.

Post Soldering (10)

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.

Post Soldering (11) Post Soldering (12)

Post Soldering (13)

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.

Post Soldering (14) Post Soldering (15)

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!

Post Soldering (16) Post Soldering (17)

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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9 Responses to How to Solder a Post Onto an Earring

  1. Adele October 30, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

    Hi Doug! Thank you for all you have shared with us on your site. I have learned a lot from you.

    I have not attempted earring posts yet. Are you using pre-made posts or did you put the little notch near the end? Are they necessary in your opinion? If you make them what gauge wire do you use & how long should they be?

    Thank you!


  2. JewelryMonk October 30, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

    Adele, I buy the posts in bulk, 100 at a time. The notches are there to keep the back from falling off. If you make your own posts, I would make them between 3/8 of an inch to 1/2 of an inch, or approx 10-12mm.

  3. Marsha October 31, 2014 at 1:28 am #

    Thank you for the great tutorual, Doug!! I have one more question….. how do you harden the wire so that it doesn’t bend once it is soldered to the earring?

    • JewelryMonk October 31, 2014 at 7:02 am #

      The wire can be pre-hardened with a drawplate. The soldering shouldnt soften the wire if not overheated. Use the tweezers as a heat sink.

      • Harry September 14, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

        Twist the post a half turn or so with your chain nose pliers and it will work harden nicely.

  4. Jen Hollywood-Showell October 31, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    Great tutorial, as always! 🙂 I use a third hand to hold earring posts while soldering. My hands get a temporary case of the shakes when placing solder(drives me nuts), so I don’t know how I’d hold the post straight and true while soldering. I’d end up with a wonky crooked post every time.

    • JewelryMonk October 31, 2014 at 7:32 am #

      Hey Jen, whatever works. That’s great.

  5. Susan snyder December 18, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

    Might I add one suggestion? Two pieces of solder. One is slightly melted and infused on the larger piece of the earring. Then melt the second piece and quickly place the post down on it so it attaches. Reheat the earring and quickly place the post down two heat both. The tweezers are a heat sink and the solder binds both together in no time. Since I started using this approach I have not melted one post!!!

    • JewelryMonk December 19, 2014 at 6:10 am #

      Susan, thanks. One of the things I appreciate about this craft is there are so many ways of doing tasks that one can cater to one’s own style. Many times there is no right or wrong, just what works best for you. I have never tried this way, but will give it a try.
      Thanks for the input.