There is a lot of misinformation about soldering vs welding vs brazing, especially when it comes to jewelry. Most of the time, soldering is the best way to go. If you want to learn how to solder jewelry, then this article is what you need.
Whether you’re working with brass jewelry, iron jewelry, or copper jewelry, this is the best source of information about jewelry soldering. We cover hard and soft techniques to soldering jewelry, and go over the process step by step! By the time you finish out jewelry soldering guide, you will be an expert on how to solder jewelry and can start selling pieces for extra income.
How to Solder Jewelry
Soldering jewelry isn’t a difficult process, it’s just a very precise one. It allows you to get creative and artistic with chain work, but requires that you do a lot of work with very small joints using tweezers and a torch. Here are the basic steps.
Set Up Work Area and Prepare Metal
Make sure your area is safe for soldering. A safe work space should have a large ceramic tile, a fire brick, kiln, or heat resistant pad, and an overhead lamp. Put the brick on the tile.
Your area should also be well ventilated and clear of any flammable objects. Keep all of your tools nearby and very organized, but not so close than you knock them over while you’re working.
Prepare your metals so that they fit together well and are ready for soldering. This means you may have to file them down to fit them together tightly. You also want them to be perfectly clean – no grease or oils.
Once your pieces are cleaned and carefully arranged on the brick, you should cut the solder. This should be as clean as your metals. Try not to touch the solder with your fingers. Cut them and set them aside.
Next, flux your joints. Battern’s makes some nice light yellow flux. Use a thin paintbrush to apply it directly to your joint areas for soldering and place the solder onto the metal.
You can also use a Borax based flux. Mix it with water to make a paste and apply it with the thin brush, then heat your metal before adding the solder. When the flux area looks like glass, you can drop your solder into place.
Place the Solder
Use tweezers to drop your solder onto the metal. Put it between the areas that will join your metal. A little goes a long way if you have great technique.
Heat all of the metal so that everything solders at the same time. The solder follows the heat source, so make sure you don’t point it directly at the solder.
Let the flame move the solder through the joint you want to connect. Remove the flame as soon as the solder starts to run.
Quench the Metal
Use tweezers to pick the hot metal up and drop it into a jar of water. If a piece didn’t solder properly repeat these steps until you’re satisfied.
What Is Soft Solder?
Soft soldering is occasionally referred to as stained glass style soldering. It requires an iron and flux. This is tin based and melts at a low temperature. This lets you use electric guns and irons for work instead of torches.
This technique is great for making custom metal based jewelry, fusing components, and repairing your costume jewelry.
soldering costume jewelry
This jewelry technique can make beautiful artistic designs. Use it to make barrettes and fuse metal accessories to base metal backings. This also lets you add little filigrees and flourishes.
Soldering costume jewelry is not too difficult or complicated.
Moreover, you are also able to attach mixed metals together. For example, if you have a metal base and want to add a metal filigree or accessory to it to make it prettier or more artistic, this lets you fuse mixed metals together.
You can solder costume jewelry by creating custom frames and chains for your glass slides and necklaces. This allows you to create charm bracelets, lockets, pendants, and more.
What is Hard Solder?
Hard soldering alloys melt at higher temperatures. This soldering requires a torch instead of an electric gun. Silver and gold jewelry will usually require you to use hard soldering. This technique requires flux and pickling. You can learn how to solder gold jewelry by using some of the the tips below.
Making Jewelry with Hard Solder
Hard soldering makes really creative belt buckles. You can use this technique to fuse brass to a copper oval, then join that to the belt buckle.
It also makes beautiful metal earrings and accessories. You can fold and form the metal into custom artistic designs and then customize the ear wires.
A hard solder can also be used with self fluxing copper to make beautiful custom chains. Link them together to form artistic patterns and links for a unique but strong bond.
how to solder jewelry at home
As a wrap up, here are 5 quick and easy steps you can take to make your soldering job run swiftly and smoothly. Learning how to solder jewelry at home is straight forward as long as you use these tips below.
Following these steps will ensure that, with practice, you will end up with a gorgeous piece of jewelry you can give as a gift, sell, or wear yourself.
Step 1: Materials List
The first thing you need to do is ensure that you have all the tools and materials you will need to complete your job.
1. Jump rings or sterling silver wire
2. Torch: You can get a decent butane powered torch at Walmart for around $30, and the butane refills will cost $2 and fill these torches twice.
3. Soldering pick: Home Depot sells a set of these for around $5. You don’t need a set, though. Basically any long, thin steel rod will work as a pick for this.
4. Flux: Using Borax works best, so you may need to order this online.
5. Silver solder: This solder comes in hard, medium, and easy grade. Hard requires a much higher temperature to melt. The recommended torch won’t melt hard solder quickly, so if you plan to use this type of silver hunt around. Larger torches, on the other hand, will work well with hard solder but require much more practice not to ruin easy metals.
6. Wire cutters: These will snap your solder.
7. Tweezers: These are handy when you need something to stay in place as you solder. Make sure yours have wooden grips to prevent you from burning fingers!
8. Pickle: This is an acid that will dissolve the flux and oxides that stick to your metals when you finish soldering. This makes the metal clean, to give it a beautiful polished look. Citric acid also works well.
9. Plastic or ceramic container: Use this to contain your pickle. You definitely don’t want to use metal.
10. Short length of thin copper wire: This can be used to dip your silver in the pickle.
Step 2: Prepare to Solder!
You want to lay everything out and make sure it is organized and properly prepared before you begin. Cut your solder into small chips. Each chip should be roughly the same height as one of the date numbers on the penny.
Lay your silver rings or wire onto the kiln brick and push the parts together so they’re touching. Using tweezers will help you move them into place. Mix some water into your flux until it becomes a paste and use the paint brush to dab it to your joints.
Use tweezers to pick up the solder chips and put them on the fluxed seams. Make sure everything is in place exactly where you want it to be, then pick up your torch and make sure it is set to a high enough flame to melt the solder.
Step 3: Start soldering!
As long as your work space is clean and there’s nothing that could catch on fire, you can start the process by turning on your torch. Start heating the metal from farther away because you don’t want your wet flux to boil and create imperfections.
If your solder starts to roll off during the heating process, use your pick or tweezers to put it back into place and keep a low amount of heat on the piece. When the flux dries, it will become hard and crusty.
Next, the flux will turn clear and start to melt and liquefy. This means you’re getting close to the temperature you need for the solder to melt.
Keep the whole piece evenly heated because otherwise, with metal being a good conductor, you’re not going to get the entire piece hot enough to flow well. Use a circular motion to keep them heated evenly.
Gradually apply more heat by moving your flame closer, and watch for your solder to start slumping. It will melt very quickly when it melts, and spread onto any metal it’s close enough to touch.
Finally, when all the seams have been flowed together, turn off the torch and let them cool. Put them on the copper wire and drop them into the pickling solution.
Step 4: Check your work!
When your metal loses that flakiness and looks silver again, you can take it out and rinse it off then get a good look at your handiwork. If you have a joint that didn’t flow well, you can re-flux it and add more solder.
When you finish, if you want the joints even smoother, you can sand them or hammer the jewelry flat. When you have polished it, just attach it to a clasp and enjoy!
Step 5: A little more information.
If you’re making earrings, then you may want to put posts on them. If you do, solder them into place before you polish the jewelry by adding a piece of solder where you want your post to end up, holding the post with your tweezers, and heating the solder until it slumps enough to stick the post onto it. Then, continue heating the post with the rest of the piece.
You can create some really fun shapes to solder together by getting artsy with pliers. Soldered jewelry tends to be a mot sturdier than wire wrapping because it can’t be pulled apart unless it is broken. This comes in handy when you want to make beautiful chains for necklaces and bracelets.