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View Full Version : Soldering small thingy's to big thingy's, HELP!


Kerensamere
09-09-2004, 08:48 PM
OK, here's the deal. I make lovely pendants and such out of stained glass, wrap them in copper foil, solder them and then solder some sort of finding to them so that I can string them by themselves or with others. I've found that purchased bails work nicely on my single pendants but I don't like the look of them on my larger necklaces that are made up of multiple pendants (see photo). For now I either solder jumprings to the piece or bend a piece of wire with a loop (in the case of the photo it's a wire with a loop at each end that is soldered to the top of each piece). I've also found using a metal tube as a bail across the top of a pendant that has a flat top is nice, takes a steady soldering hand but it's nice. The tube concept won't work with round or unusually shaped pieces though. I use a soldering iron to do this, I've tried a pencil torch but the risk for thermal shock is just too great with my glass.

I'm looking for suggestions on how best to attatch the jump rings to my pieces or some alternative to jump rings. Right now the pendant sits on the work bench, I use bent nosed pliers to hold the ring and the other hand holds the soldering iron. I pick up a little solder with the hot iron and then apply. Problem is the pendant moves (I usally try to pin it to the work surface with push pins) or the hand holding the jump ring moves or after I let go the solder hasn't quite cooled and the stupid ring falls over and gets filled with solder. It's the most anoying step in my creative process and leads me to rants that would make a sailor blush (good thing I work in the basement after the kid is fast asleep!).

Any help or suggestions would be welcome!

-Jen

lauren1024kb
09-09-2004, 09:50 PM
Cut out a decorative metal bail. Put a bit of solder under bail. Put pen on top of bail over solder, and solder will melt. If it moves, it's "art" ;).

Kerensamere
09-09-2004, 09:54 PM
Cut out a decorative metal bail. Put a bit of solder under bail. Put pen on top of bail over solder, and solder will melt. If it moves, it's "art" ;).


I love your definition of "art" :D

TheBlueBetween
09-09-2004, 09:56 PM
wish I could help - have not done much soldering. Wonder though if one of those "extra hands" would help - you know those things that have little clippys and a magnifyer on it? maybe it's called a third hand...

yes, something like this: http://www.caldroncrafts.com/Tools-vises-and-clamps-HOL-164.htm

? Maybe?

Pam

lauren1024kb
09-09-2004, 10:03 PM
I forgot to add that you can even melt a blob of solder onto the bail, then just heat it again with the pen when in place. That way the little bit can't move out of place. I have had to do some pen soldering for my electronics classes and at least I learned something. Have you tried the tweezers that you don't have to grip to keep closed? Those are nice for holding stuff in place to solder too.

So many times I will mess something up, and sometimes if I don't rip up apart quick enough someone will come by and say how they like it that way. Not sure if they are feeling sorry for me or telling the truth, but it has turned into a joke around here.

Have to go do thermodynamics homework now. Wonder if I can convince the prof to give me extra points if he knew what I was doing instead :D?

Forgot #2: you can try putting a rock in a sock (or wrapping in a rag or something) to hold the pendant down. Another option is a fabric covered vise type grip.

GardensOnGlass
09-10-2004, 09:14 AM
Jen, I use a bench vise. I've mostly used a good size one that my dad gave me, but recently I bought a really small one on ebay:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=10323&item=4110692983:

I much prefer this size for smaller items like pendants. I, too, solder ss jump rings to the top of pendants and ornaments that I make. I never had much luck with the "extra hands" tweezers that Pam mentioned, but I know that my jeweler uses them constantly. I fold up a piece of paper towel & place it between the jaws of the bench vise & place my pendant/ornament between it & tighten the jaws (so the jaws don't scratch the glass or the solder).

Your soldering (as well as your jewelry), by the way, is terrific. I wish I could take a few soldering lessons from you. When I was taught, she didn't spend a whole lot of time on it. I use SilverGleem (I'm guessing you do too) & it behaves a bit differently than 60/40 & I don't have the control I'd like, especially soldering around the edges.

I like your idea of a piece of tubing to slide the chain through, I'll have to try that some time. Mostly I make pins, but occasionally I make a pendant. Do you use SS tubing or brass if you don't mind me asking?

Kerensamere
09-10-2004, 05:22 PM
Lori- I use brass tubing right now, but I am checking out SS tubes too. I have a "third hand" and find it difficult to get it to hold the way that I want it to. I have not tried the clamp concept, I have my grandfather's old workbench one and a smaller one with rubber grips that my DH picked up for me. I think I'll definately try that. For solder I'm using silver solder that is used for copper water pipes. I get it in the hardware store, it's cheaper than the lead free solder sold at the local glass store and I think it works/flows better, it has a little tin mixed in that helps it flow better. Glad to know I'm not the only one fighting with those silly little rings :wink2:

-Jen

GardensOnGlass
09-10-2004, 06:36 PM
Jen, have you tried the SilverGleem? It's a sterling silver based solder, tin & I don't know what else, but there's no lead in it. It can be cleaned with a polishing cloth just like SS. I really like & I've been using it on my pins for about 6 years now. It is a bit more expensive I think the most I've paid for is is about $10.50 a spool (& they're about half the size of a regular spool of solder) & as little as about $6, all at local stained glass shops. Haven't bought any in over a year 'cause when I found them for $6 I bought several & haven't done a whole lot with my jewelry for the past couple of years. It might be worth it to find a spool & try it out. Your jewelry is quite beautiful & unique, more "art" jewelry than "craft", you might be able to increase your prices justifiably if you indicate that you're using a SS based solder, especially if you decide to use SS tube instead of brass (not that there's a problem with brass, mind you).

My husband's a plumber & he uses SilverBrite (no lead). I'm presuming that or something quite similar is what you've been using.

Good luck with the bench vise, just remember to fold up a paper towel to insert your pieces between before closing the jaws.

lauren1024kb
09-10-2004, 07:52 PM
Jen, what do you do for flux? I am planning on teaching some friends how to solder jump rings, but my experience is with electronics. I was planning on just using the stuff that came with the silver pipe solder, but I would appreciate it if you could let me know what you use.

Kerensamere
09-10-2004, 11:48 PM
Jen, what do you do for flux? I am planning on teaching some friends how to solder jump rings, but my experience is with electronics. I was planning on just using the stuff that came with the silver pipe solder, but I would appreciate it if you could let me know what you use.

Lauren I use flux used for stained glass soldering, it's a liquid, most of the flux I've ever found elsewhere is a paste and is much more difficult to clean up. Check your local stained glass store and see what they have.

Thanks for the tips on the SilverGleem and the vice grip Lori. And thank you for your compliments, I'm really trying to move my work into the "art" realm so I'm truly flattered. :cool:

-Jen

lauren1024kb
09-10-2004, 11:55 PM
http://www.ptialaska.net/~sonafrnk/leadfree.html

This is an interesting page. Looks like Silvergleem and the pipe solder in my area are the same composition. 96% tin 4% silver. I'd like to try the Johnson solder he suggests, but 1lb of solder and 1lb of flux is a lot for a try (manufacturer has a special on their site).

GardensOnGlass
09-12-2004, 07:32 AM
Lauren, I'm not sure of the composition of the Silvergleem, I think Canfield keeps it a trade secret. I've looked for composition information for a number of years so I could indicate on my hangtags how much SS was in the solder, but I can't find it, not even on their site (http://www.solders.com/stained.htm). Can I ask where you found your info? Also, I don't think you'd want to use the same solder/flux we used for stained glass to solder jump rings. I don't think you'd get the nice smooth joint that you'd get with jewelers' flux and solder. Their solder is these fine metal sheets that you cut into little snippets to heat & flow into the crack of the joint. Barrie might chime in here as she's our metalsmithing queen!

Jen dear, you have certainly reached "art status" with your jewelry. It's fab!

lauren1024kb
09-12-2004, 10:31 AM
From the URL I posted:

"There's another kind called Silvergleem (aka Evergleem, 96% Sn & 4% Ag) from Canfield that's far stronger and shinier, but it commonly retails for about $20 per pound. That's not justified by its 4% silver content, though some folks want you to believe it so."

The problem with jewler's solder is that it takes a torch. Plumbing solder can be done with a pen. The hottest pen I can find gets to 1135F and the easiest hard solder melts at 1160 :(. At this point I am renting an apartment that doesn't have a place to set up a torch so my options are limited. I could only torch every few weeks when I went home and used my parent's workshop. Cost is another consideration. I can't find a microflame torch that will attach to a propane tank. At this point in my life I don't want to be hauling around an oxygen concentrator and other bulky and expensive equipment just to get a teeny lil flame ;). I'm a college student so cost and bulk are major drawbacks.

Nolita
08-17-2005, 06:50 PM
far from an expert, still a beginner really, but so I'll know whether or not to do it. What would happen if you measure the copper or silver(I'd prefer silver when I get good at the whole solderring/jewelry making thing). Anyway what would happen if you wrap the copper sheet around the piece of glass, then unwrap it, and solder the findings to an empty shell is it would sort of be, or maybe empty frame?

I haven't done anything with stained glass before, so I wouldn't have the foggiest what the thickness of the copper foil is. But I have seen different thicknesses of brass and copper sheets in the craft and hobby section at Ace. I'm currently quite fond of their metal tubes:D But what if you could use something nice and thick like those sheets? Because they're definitely thicker than foil. And maybe would be good for making non-precious metal bezel?

I'm asking, because a lot of stones don't react well to torching either. I have a terrific source for slices of agate(I can probably get them cheaper online, but locally buying per piece, well it's faster, and there's no minimum purchase), anyway, I have several ideas for using it, all requiring some form of bezel. I think I'd start with just a couple of slices of agate, which I can cut into different shapes(still experimenting), and I could totally use some copper sheeting to make bezels, but then of course they would need findings. I was thinking I could do what I explained earlier, with the forming the bezel first, so as to know where to place the findings, then "solderring" them together. This is going to sound nuts, but brass and also ss wire well, if I hold them in the flame of the torch, at just the right point in the flame, well they melt. So when I put two pieces together and let the silver wire melt onto it, well the wire melds the two pieces together. I've solderred, I'm positive it's not solderring, I mean, heck, my solderring iron won't melt any wire(that I've found, bet it would melt fine silver though), but the torch can melt so many things that a solderring iron can't.

So the using a piece of wire to meld two other pieces together, is that anything like welding or tacking?

Oh, and will it fall apart when I go to wrap it around a piece prior to sealing it shut? I reckon I could mask off anywhere I don't want the silver to land, and actually the melted silver cools pretty quickly(not sure how that would effect stones or glass, but will be fun to find out).

Kerensamere
08-18-2005, 01:22 AM
Well the copper foil used in stained glass is quite thin and has a peel and stick adhesive on th back of it. So sticking it on, then peeling it off would probably be catasrophic. BUT the idea of manufacturing a bezel from copper sheet purchase at a hardware store sounds rather interesting. I might have to give that a shot when I have some time to play.

Nolita
08-18-2005, 03:37 PM
Well there's different kinds of copper sheet at the hardware store. Some is quite thick. But there's a hobby section with metal-working hobby stuff and that's where you can find thin metal sheets and tubes. They're sturdier than foil to be sure, much sturdier, and thicker. But they're still pretty thin. I've cut the tubing using a ginsu type serrated edged steak knife, that should give you some idea of how thin the stuff is. You don't have to cut it straight through even. Just score it deeply really, and then bend a bit, and it breaks without bending.

I'm sure it can be cut even faster with power tools, but all I have is a rotary tool(dremel type), and it gets out of my control pretty easily when it comes to cutting straight lines. So I was thinking I could buy a couple of the long narrowish sheets(they're not narrow enough for bezel, but compared to the big squares, well then they're narrowish, not making sense here). Then I could use my stainless steel ruler as a guide and just score them with my steak knife. I have a saw, but believe it or not, like the steak knife better. Maybe it has something to do with little hands, I don't know.

claire.c
08-27-2005, 06:05 PM
Copper will work fine for bezels, if you use something fairly thin then you can cut it with tin snips. Silver solder will work on copper, it only needs a cheap canister butane torch, and some flux, or you can get ready mixed solder paste. The join will show a little because of the colour differrence in the two metals.
I'm probably saying stuff everyone knows anyway but to get a good hard solder join you need to make sure the edges to be joined are clean and well fitting, paint with flux and put small snippets (paillons) of solder along the join. Then heat up with the torch till the metal colour starts to change and glow dully - suddenly the solder will flow along your joint by capillary action. The great plus of hard soldering bezels is that it anneals them at the same time, so after you've cleaned the piece up and fitted it round your stone you can burnish the edges over quite easily.
Having made your bezel you can then solder on jump rings before you set the stone, if the ring isn't too close to the bezel join you'll probably get away with using the same grade of solder.
Hard soldering is lot easier than it sounds, you don't need a lot of expensive equipment, I just use a hand torch with a couple of firebricks for a hearth.
Claire

Kallistos
08-28-2005, 03:16 PM
The problem with jewler's solder is that it takes a torch. Plumbing solder can be done with a pen. The hottest pen I can find gets to 1135F and the easiest hard solder melts at 1160 :(. At this point I am renting an apartment that doesn't have a place to set up a torch so my options are limited. I could only torch every few weeks when I went home and used my parent's workshop. Cost is another consideration. I can't find a microflame torch that will attach to a propane tank. At this point in my life I don't want to be hauling around an oxygen concentrator and other bulky and expensive equipment just to get a teeny lil flame ;). I'm a college student so cost and bulk are major drawbacks.

Get a chefs torch! You know, the little ones for creme brulee? You fill them up with the same fuel that you put in cigarette lighters and they work really well with proper silver solder!

Chrlie.

Kerensamere
08-29-2005, 12:12 AM
Get a chefs torch! You know, the little ones for creme brulee? You fill them up with the same fuel that you put in cigarette lighters and they work really well with proper silver solder!

Chrlie.

Cool! I have one of those and I like playing with it too! FIRE!!! Hee, hee, hee! :evil:

-Jen