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Thread: Solding Nightmares! :-(

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    9

    Default Soldering Nightmares! :-(

    Evening everyone.

    I'm a complete beginner and need some advice on soldering a bezel strip to a flat sliver 1mm plate. (18x14) . Ive tried 5times now and the solder just isn't melting.
    Ive fluxed both pieces well.Put them on a charcoal brick. Cut small 1mm squares of hard solder.I'm using a butane mini torch that I bought of Cookson £20. I concentrated the heat on the outside of the silver sheet base. Its turned pink/red and still the solder doesn't melt.

    My question is how long should it normally take for the solder to melt?? Also im worried that i'll end up melting the silver. Is my torch to weak?
    Ive managed to solder the bezel strips fine, and also two d-shaped silver rings no problem.

    I would be VERY grateful for any tips. Im pulling out my hair :-)

    Thanks
    Joe
    Last edited by niceguyjoe; 27-07-2010 at 10:25 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    313

    Default

    Somewhere, somehow someone will have to tie all these soldering questions up in a mega soldering post!

    As one Joe to another.... Soldering is really hard! When you can do it confidently you will be a hero! It isn't even really soldering in the proper sense of the word: it's brazing. You are trying to melt one alloy of metal against another which melts at almost exactly the same temperature...blimey it's amazing it ever works!

    But it does. Honest.

    I keep sending people off to watch Andrew Berry's YouTube Videos because they are very complete YouTube - Silver Soldering by Andrew Berry - Final Part - Jewellery Repair Bench Tips Techniques

    But to be specific... the solder will melt when it is hot enough. When joining large pieces to small there is the problem that the solder tends to melt just before the small piece (bezel in this case), but I suspect that you're not quite getting there. In fact your torch may be a bit underpowered so you have to get the heat right in there quick and hot before the flux wanders off. Be bold! Practice with scrap! It is worth the trouble!

    And flux that solder too! Andrew (god I've pointed this out before now, as if I'm an expert... I'm a doer rather than teacher) places the solder pallions with his flux brush which fluxes the solder and gets it moving once it melts! With hard solder it is really quite liquid when it goes, you won't miss the melt point. Sadly it's not far from the melt point for your work-piece either so you have to be ready to pull the torch out.

    I started with a ratty kitchen blow-torch designed for making crème-brûlée (my kids like banana crème-brûlée) but didn't really get it until I moved to an oxy-propane torch. Now, frankly, I can solder most things with the ratty torch because I have the confidence and touch. Your little £20 torch can do it but extra skill will be needed. Don't expect miracles, do expect failures and practice. Get yourself soldering pieces that you don't mind melting into blobs.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    9

    Default

    I know, I bet all the beginners ask the same Q's!

    Ok thanks for you help Joe. Im just going to keep plugging away at it until I've got it ;-).
    Im just learning it from a book, and I dont know who else to ask.

    Thanks,
    Joe

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Central London
    Posts
    8,419

    Default

    Assuming everything has been cleaned with emery paper, or a Scotchbrite pad, then you are just not getting the base hot enough. See whether you can increase the flame size by adding more gas (it will flare if you overdo this). Preheat a place on your soldering block, gently move your piece onto the hot spot and continue. Alternatively solder on a raised piece of metal gauze so that you are heating from underneath.
    If none of this works, get a hotter torch. Hand held torches from DIY places work quite well, but check they are self-igniting and that it is a convenient place to get refills. The gas should be a butane/propane mix. This would solve your problem, but needs to be used cautiously so as not to melt your bezel. Hope this helps, Dennis.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    cotswolds
    Posts
    3,349

    Default

    I'd echo what's already been said - and reinforce what Joe says - your torch probably is hot enough (just) but it takes some guts to use a little torch to get a piece of thick sheet up to temperature.

    If you've used hard solder to make the bezel, though, you might want to step down to medium (or even easy if it's the final step) solder for this stage - the difference in melting temperature can make things a bit easier for you.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    127

    Default

    If your sure it's solder,you've used it on something else and it worked,then that's one thing eliminated.
    Maybe your torch isn't hot enough? If you haven't got extra heat,then it can be a pain,you might be just at the right temp and the phone rings,or you need to scratch something(you probably will with nerves).
    They do quite nice torches in B and Q that will be got enough to melt silver,propane or MAP gas(it's to expensive now though),but even a cheap one from a supermarket for plumbing will work.
    It will have a big/fat flame,but that doesn't really matter.You can heat the whole thing.
    The main thing your dealing with I'd guess is fear of melting the thing that took you so long to make.
    I don't think there is any jeweller who hasn't melted something and still does occasionally,although,not bad enough to get away with it.. It's like a chef burning themselves or a carpenter banging his finger,it's just life.
    So just keep that flame on there until you see the solder run( feel the fear,and do it anyway),move it away for a second,and then back on again,all wrist action.
    Let us know how you get on.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    313

    Default

    In a way, Joe, it's not that the questions are the same just the answers! There are always lots of circumstances but the advices are generally the same: clean it; flux it; get it hot enough; be quick.

    We all know how hard soldering is: we've all fretted over the flux foaming / doubted that the solder would ever melt / thought that quite clean was good enough / thought that the solder would fill that little gap...

    Just the other week I was asking for advice on joining chain 'cos I couldn't believe my results were normal! You never grow out of soldering problems so don't stop asking questions!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    9

    Default

    Thanks for the tips.Very much appreciated. I managed to solder my bezel strip to the backing plate! :-). Ive been watch Andrew Berry vids on You tube.Wow he makes it look soooooo easy.

    Joe

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