Archive | Soldering

How to Solder Thin Pieces to Thicker Pieces

In a few of the entries before I have mentioned the fact that when soldering, solder follows the heat and you need to pay attention to the position of the torch. This is especially important when soldering thin pieces to thicker ones. Today we will dive into this a little more.

Soldering Thin to Thick Header

 If you do any soldering, you will be confronted with this task of soldering a small loop or an earring post to a larger, thicker piece. Here’s what happens:

You add the flame to melt the solder and the solder will melt all over the smaller piece and you have a hard time getting the solder to flow to the larger piece. You add more solder, and more solder, and eventually you either melt the small piece, or you get it soldered, but have way more solder than you need and it looks “Messy”

Well, here are a couple of quick tips to help you with this task:

First, make sure there is good contact area between the two pieces you want to solder. Here, I have a small loop that I want to solder in place. I take my loop and file a flat area on it so there is more contact area. I used a #4 Barrette Needle File.

Soldering Thin to Thick (1) Soldering Thin to Thick (2)

Then add flux, and I make sure there is a good coating on both pieces I am soldering. I use Handy Flux to solder silver, but it also works great on brass, copper, and other non-ferrous metals. I add a small piece of solder to the joint and the flux helps to hold it into place.

ISoldering Thin to Thick (3) Soldering Thin to Thick (4)

Next I use my Mini Torch to solder the two pieces. On this task, I use a fairly small flame, since both pieces are somewhat light. Make sure you point the flame at the thicker piece. You want the solder to melt to the thicker piece before it melts to the small loop. You do not want the flame to melt the solder, you want the heat to melt the solder. Another way to do this is to melt the solder to the thicker piece first, then add the small loop to the solder while it is hot.

Soldering Thin to Thick (5)

Soldering Thin to Thick (6) Soldering Thin to Thick (7)

There you have it. If you are new to soldering, I would suggest getting some scrap pieces and experimenting with soldering different thicknesses to one another. Once you get the hang of this, you will never be intimidated with soldering again.

Thanks for following along, and if you find value in this content, or if you like to keep up to date on the goings-on here, make sure to Subscribe to this Blog Via Email (link in the upper right corner at www.JewelryMonk.com) You can also follow all the “Monkery” on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Have a great day and go make someone smile with your abilities!

Doug

Day 59 Soldering a Bezel to a Shank

Today let’s put the final touch on all the pieces I have been working on and get them into one piece. I wanted to get it all finished, stone set and polished today, but I ran out of time, so I will have to finish later. Today we will just finish soldering.

Soldering Head to Shank Header

The shank I am getting ready to use has been soldered together, so I need to find where the solder joint is. How I do this is take a nice “bushy” flame from my Mini Torch and slowly heat the ring, not too much to melt the solder, but just enough to make the ring discolored. You can either let air cool or you can cool in regular water. Once the piece has cooled, look closely and you can tell where the solder joint is.

Soldering Head to Shank (1) Soldering Head to Shank (2)

Soldering Head to Shank (3)

Once you identify the solder seam, mark the shank using a set of Dividers the same width of the bezel you are using so you cut out the solder seam. Cut out the shank using a Saw Frame, I use a 3/0 Saw Blade along the inside of the marked line.

Soldering Head to Shank (4) Soldering Head to Shank (5)

Soldering Head to Shank (6)

File the inside of the shank flat to match the bezel. Pinch the shank a bit to add tension so it will hold the bezel in place when soldering. Add just a little solder on one side, to tack in place so you can adjust the other side, then solder the other side. Remember that solder follows heat, so add the majority of the heat to the shank, which is the thicker area, therefore will require more heat.

Soldering Head to Shank (7) Soldering Head to Shank (8)

Soldering Head to Shank (9)

Now that you have the bezel soldered into place, clean up the solder joint on the inside of the shank with a #4 Crossing Needle File. After you get the excess solder and the seam blended, finish with 400 Grit Sandpaper, then 600 Grit Sandpaper.

Soldering Head to Shank (10) Soldering Head to Shank (11)

Last, clean up the excess solder from the solder seam on the top and sides of the bezel. The less solder you use, the less you have to clean up. Files, rubber wheels, and sandpaper, are what I used to clean this up and get it ready to set and polish.

Soldering Head to Shank (12) Soldering Head to Shank (13)

On the next post, I will finish this project. Thanks for following along, and if you find value in this content, or if you like to keep up to date on the goings-on here, make sure to Subscribe to this Blog Via Email (link in the upper right corner at www.JewelryMonk.com)

Now, go make someone smile with your abilities!

Doug

Day 55 Bezel Making Project

I was digging through my bins of stuff I haven’t looked in for a while, and I found a rectangle shaped Tiger Eye stone, so I said to myself, “Self, let’s make something with this stone”. So that is what I will do for the next project, try to turn this stone into a project.

Bezel Making Header

The first thing I am going to do is build a bezel for the stone. I have some sterling that I want to use for the stone setting, so I first roll it out to .8mm thick. I have a Digital Caliper that I usually use, but the battery quit working, so I will use my old stand-by Dial Caliper. It is a good idea to have backups for stuff like that, because if you are dependent on technology, at times it will fail you, you don’t want to be stuck not be able to work. On a bezel, it is not as important because you can always judge by eye the thickness you like, but there are times when exact measurements are required.

Bezel Making (1) Bezel Making (2)

I anneal the silver I just rolled out for the bezel with my Mini Torch and quench it in my heated pickle, I use Sparex. (If you want an explanation of annealing, See my post at www.JewelryMonk.com/anneal) I anneal the setting base as well, but I let this air cool because I want the dark color to remain because this shows my scribe lines better when I layout the stone shape. Next I file one of the edges flat with a #4 Flat Hand File, add a small piece of soft wax to the base and press the stone into the wax. This will hold the stone firmly in place to allow me to scribe a line around the stone.

Bezel Making (3) Bezel Making (4)

Bezel Making (5) Bezel Making (6)

Bezel Making (7) Bezel Making (8)

Bezel Making (9)

Next I grab my Saw Frame with a # 3/0 Saw blade. Here is how I load a saw blade into my frame. I first put about 1/2″ of the saw blade into the clamp that is closest to the handle. I make sure the teeth of the blade are pointing towards the handle and tighten. I place the handle against my chest and the other end against my Bench Pin. I add a little pressure to the frame, line up the blade in the other clamp and tighten. I have the frame length set about 1 inch shorter than the saw blade length and seldom adjust this screw since all saw blades are the same length.

Bezel Making (10) Bezel Making (11)

Now I start to cut the piece on the outside of the scribed lines. Here are a couple of tricks to doing this, first I have a small piece of Bees Wax that I run my saw blade through to make cutting easier. What this does is adds a little wax in between the teeth of the saw blade and lubricates the cutting process. I also have an old tooth brush that I have handy all the time on my bench. As I am cutting, sometimes I need to clean the area I am cutting so I can see the scribed line. I want to get as close to the line without touching it. This makes for less filing to get the stone base to shape.

Bezel Making (12) Bezel Making (13)

Bezel Making (14) Bezel Making (15)

Bezel Making (16)

Now I use my #4 Flat Hand File to file to the scribed lines. I now have the base for my bezel setting. Come back and we will see what we can make out of this stuff I have found.

Bezel Making (17)  Bezel Making (19)

Thanks again for stopping by, again, if you find value in this content, or if you like to keep up to date on the eBook, tutorials, podcast, and video lessons coming soon, make sure to Subscribe to this Blog Via Email (link in the upper right corner at www.JewelryMonk.com)

Have an Awesome day!

Doug

Day 38 Making Round Beads or Balls

Soldering Balls Header 1

At some point in your soldering, you will want to make little silver beads or balls. This isn’t as easy as you might think. If you have tried this before, you might have gotten frustrated with deformed balls with flat sides and pits.

Soldering Balls Header 2

Well, I will try to help you get less frustrated. Start with silver wires cut the same length. You will have to experiment with different lengths to get different size balls. If you have Pure Silver as opposed to Sterling Silver this will work much better and give you less pits. (I used Sterling here) Melt the wires into balls on a Soldering Block. Use a little Handy Flux to help in this first stage. After this, the balls are not round and are fairly deformed.

Soldering Balls (1) Soldering Balls (3)

Soldering Balls (4) Soldering Balls (5)

Now you will want to make little “Divots” in your soldering board, or better yet, if you can find a Honeycomb Soldering Board made for melting balls. Use a bushy flame and melt the balls slowly, you don’t want to use flux this time. Once the ball starts to melt, slowly move the flame away and let it solidify slowly. (again, Pure Silver works better for this) I use my Mini Torch for this.

Soldering Balls (8) Soldering Balls (9)

Soldering Balls (10) Soldering Balls (11)

In this instance I am going to solder a post onto the balls and make earrings. I dip all the parts in a mixture of Denatured Alcohol and Powdered Boric Acid. I mix about a tablespoon of powdered boric acid to about 1 ounce of denatured alcohol. Then I solder a post onto the balls.

Soldering Balls (13) Soldering Balls (14)

Soldering Balls (15)

Next, polish and enjoy!

Have an awesome day and make sure to pause and enjoy it!

Doug

Day 31 Back to Soldering Basics

The great thing about putting together this JewelryMonk site is all the people who have visited it in the past month, over 12,000 visits! This blows me away and truly humbles me.  I have had comments from some you and so far I seem to have hit a note with quite a few of you, and all different levels of jewelers from beginners to experienced masters. Yeah, that’s right, I have been doing this “Blog-Thing” for a month now. I am amazed because I have never blogged before and I have realized what I have been missing all these years. I have been making jewelry for close to 30 years and I have accumulated a whole bunch of jewelry tips, tricks, and nuggets of knowledge, and it is a joy to share some of them.

THANK YOU ALL for pushing me forward, and I promise I will keep it up and make this site better and bigger. Ok on with today’s lesson.

Soldering Basics Header

Today let’s talk about some basic soldering techniques. Like I said earlier, there are all levels of jewelers visiting this site, and some of you have never soldered, or have done some very limited soldering. I want help you get over your hesitation of getting into the soldering world, and assure you that you can do it. First if you haven’t read Day 5 on Safety and Torch Setup, I suggest you start there.

Here are some tools I can’t solder without:

Mini Torch and Tanks, Tungsten Soldering Pick, Soldering Tweezers, Soldering Spring Tweezers, Third Hand, Soldering Board.

Soldering Basics (18) Soldering Basics (17)

For starters, I learned a “trick” very early in my soldering that I notice not many people do. I am right handed, and I learned early that it is easier to hold the torch in my LEFT hand, so I can use my soldering tweezers and soldering pick in my right (dominant) hand. This just made sense to me, because I need a steadier hand to hold pieces in place, to adjust solder, and control the piece I am soldering. I would suggest learning this way if you are new to soldering, or if you haven’t gotten a soldering habit formed. (if you have a habit formed already, keep refining your skill) Also always try to steady your right hand on your bench pin, or bench, or something to steady it or you will be shaking like crazy.

I will go through this lesson kind of quick, so follow along, or ask questions in the comments section.

First I cut a piece of sterling silver stock 4mm X 1.5mm and a little over 60mm long for a size 10 ring. I anneal the shank (see Day 9 for annealing tutorial)

Soldering Basics (1) Soldering Basics (2)

I use a “Stepped Mandrel” to round the shank because it keeps the inside of the shank straight, not tapered like if you rounded it on a regular tapered mandrel, but this can be worked around if you don’t have a step mandrel.

Soldering Basics (3) Soldering Basics (4)

I cut the shank, round the ends with a pair of Flat/Half Round Pliers, tap the shank with a Rawhide Mallet,  and file the ends of the shank with a Equalling Needle File #4, then a Escapement Equalling File #6.

Soldering Basics (5) Soldering Basics (6)

Soldering Basics (7)

Soldering Basics (8) Soldering Basics (9)

I bend the shank past center to reverse the spring in the shank, (so the tension forces the ends together instead of away from each other), then bend the shank until it matches as close as I can get it.

Soldering Basics (10) Soldering Basics (11)

Next I coat the entire soldering joint with Handy Flux and add a piece of silver solder to the top of the joint.

Soldering Basics (12)

Now, light your torch and get a good flame, not too sharp (pointy blue) and not too bushy (fluffy yellow) and point the torch UNDER the soldering area. You want the flame to be under the shank, to allow the heat to melt the solder, not the flame. Solder follows heat, and if you heat from the underside of the shank, the solder will be pulled “Through” the solder joint. This will make a strong solder joint with less chance for pits. Always remember that solder follows heat, and you want heat to melt the solder, not the flame. If you melt the solder with the flame, you are adding oxygen to the melting solder, adding more chance for pits.

Soldering Basics (13) Soldering Basics (14)

Soldering Basics (15)

We will get more into soldering in future posts, but I want you to get comfortable with the idea of being someone who can tackle this hurdle if you have never soldered, or get into good soldering habits if you are new.

Thanks for making my first month of blogging an enjoyable experience.

Have a good day!

Doug