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Thread: Soldering Help... Silver solder will NOT flow!

  1. #1
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    Nov 2020
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    Default Soldering Help... Silver solder will NOT flow!

    Hi, complete newbie here...I've made some lovely bracelets and necklaces with sterling silver recently and decided that I need to solder the jump rings. Did some research, watched some videos, ordered some silver solder paste and have given it a go. Complete fail! I'm not sure what the problem is but I think it must be to do with the heat. So they are 4 and 5mm jump rings, I am holding them with some pliers with the join at the top, applying a little bit of the soldering paste and then heating with a little torch (microtorch tuv nord) that says it's suitable for soldering silver jewellery. I have tried heating it slowly from far away moving it back and forth and getting closer, and i've tried going closer to it (where the flame is hottest) but to no avail. I've cleaned the ends and made sure it's closed properly and just have no idea what else to try. The ring heats up and turns kind of white, the chain that it's joined to seems to glow red (but the jump ring doesn't?) but the solder paste seems to just stay there and turns a bit white and hard.

    Strangely enough, I have managed to do two separate jump rings that weren't attached to anything, just held in the pliers. So i'm wondering if this is telling me something but I don't know what! Any help would be much appreciated as i've watched so many youtube videos and just can't see what i'm doing different! Hubby suggested doing on flat on a ceramic tile or something heatproof instead of holding it in the pliers, would that make any difference?

    TIA

  2. #2
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    Hi Tia,
    It looks as if your main problem is that your pliers are absorbing all the heat so that your jump ring cant get hot enough. It is also a mistake to get the chain red hot, because that will weaken it.

    You can do as your OH suggests and lay it flat on a heat proof tile (we would use a soldering block)https://www.cooksongold.com/Jeweller...prcode-1VP-028,
    Have the joint slightly over the edge and the chain stretched out.

    Alternatively you can hold the jump ring joint uppermost with fine self closing tweezers, either by hand, on a stand like this, the chain can hang down out of harms way and the solder should flow.

    https://www.cooksongold.com/Jeweller...rcode-999-AAA1

    Work in a darkened area to be warned when you are overheating things, and use a slightly soft flame (with the air hole slightly closed).
    Wave the flame around to start with and include heating the tips of the tweezers if used, so that the flux can melt before homing in on the solder. Dennis.
    Last edited by Dennis; 12-12-2020 at 08:11 PM.

  3. #3
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    Nov 2020
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    Thanks for your reply, that's really helpful! Also excuse the ignorance but how will I know if I'm overheating things? I don't have any fine tweezers like the ones in the link, do you thinking doing it on a flat surface would be any better?

  4. #4
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    I have now edited to include your husbands advice. You can use a heat proof tile, but you need to be careful not to set your table on fire. Hence my link to a set from Cookson.
    Only the jump ring should redden. The chain hardly at all. Dennis.

  5. #5
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    Nov 2020
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    This is great thank you. I actually found some fine tweezers and have given it another go with the above advice and voila...success!! Hopefully it's not a one off. As I haven't looked in as much detail about pickling and cleaning up the pieces afterwards, i'm not sure if you have any further advice about this? I made a pickling solution with vinegar, water and salt from a post I found online. It seems to work reasonably well but not every bit of black is completely gone, is this normal? And the bits that have cleaned up well obviously are now white and need polishing. The chain i'm using has very small links so I'm not sure what the best way to clean/polish it up would be? I read somewhere about using a brass brush but does this not produce a matt finish as I need it to be shiny.

    Thank you so much, amazing what a piece of advice from a stranger can do!!Click image for larger version. 

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  6. #6
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    Nov 2020
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    I've also just realised I've made another big error! I soldered a jump ring onto a clasp and put it in the pickle...little did I know you're not supposed to heat up or pickle clasps with springs. So now I have a perfectly soldered jump ring, on a totally broken clasp and my whole chain has turned black (I guess from a reaction of the spring in the pickle?). Have I totally screwed up or is it salvageable? No idea what to do with it now! And for future reference, how do you solder a jump ring onto a clasp without getting the clasp hot or getting it in the pickle? Really hope I can fix this as it was a really nice bracelet.

  7. #7
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    Well you're certainly learning, Tia.

    If you are going into jewellery making, you would do well to buy this out of date beginners book, which will teach you lots and show you all the tools:
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jewellery-T.../dp/1840921978

    Clasps with springs are best not heated, but attached with small but stout (about 0.8-0.9mm x4.0 mm ) jump rings perfectly closed, but not soldered.

    A good safety pickle is made from a strong solution of alum and used quite hot, in a Pyrex dish or jug. Alum can be bought on line, at a chemist, or in a Indian food shop.

    Once you have re-pickled your chain, it is quickly re- polished using a wet and soapy jewellers brass brush with the chain put down flat and rotated while you are doing it.
    You can also use a brass brush intended for suede shoes. Regards, Dennis.

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