Soldering In A Nutshell

  Nancy LT Hamilton

Updated:  08/21/18, 08/09/18

The Basics – A List

Below is my list of Basics for soldering.  There are different types, methods, and tools.  I’m only listing what I use/like/think works.  If you disagree, that’s fine with me!  Everyone has their favorites – if it works for you it’s right – for you!  There are other suppliers than the ones I’ve linked to.

Please see my page: Soldering for more detailed information, links to my videos and all related web pages and videos.

  1. Basic Torch gases types

  • Numbers are the highest temperatures under ideal conditions.
    1. Acetylene/Air –  4532°F/2500°C
    2. Acetylene/Oxygen –  6296°F/3480°C
    3. Butane/Air –  3578°F/1970°C
    4. Hydrogen/Air –  4010°F/2210°C
    5. Hydrogen/Oxygen –  5792°F/3200°C
    6. Mapp Gas/Air –  3650°F/2010°C
    7. Mapp Gas/Oxygen –  5300.6°F/2927°C
    8. Natural Gas/Air –  3560°F/1960°C
    9. Natural Gas/ Oxygen – No information found.
    10. Propane –  3572.6°F/1967°C
    11. Propane/Oxygen –  4578.8°F/2526°C

Take these temperature ranges into consideration when you are contemplating soldering.  Metals commonly used by jewelers are Copper, Brass (red brass, nu-gold), Bronze, Fine Silver, Sterling Silver, Argentium Silver, Golds.  Check out my chart:  Melting Points for information on your specific metal.

2. 4 Basic Soldering Surface

  • Soft – Solderite Board
  • Hard – Solderite Board
  • Honeycomb ceramic soldering block*See Image 4 below.
  • Hard Charcoal – Long lasting, general soldering
  • Soft Charcoal – Good for drilling into, using pins, etc.  Needs binding wire around outside edge. * Image 1, at the end of this page.
  • Round Charcoal Block – Hard block, large.  I like it because the circular shape allows for more soldering area.  *Image 2 below. Sold by Rio Grande and Cookson gold in the UK.
  • Magnesia Block – Great for pushing things into.  Otherwise, not long lasting and VERY messy – lots of powder but, it has its place.  *Image 3 below.
  1. 3 basic methods for raising metal for soldering

    1. Tripod with a thin screen. *Image 6 below.
    2. Enameling trivets.  *Image 7 below.
    3. Kiln posts.  *Image 8 below.
  2. 2 basic types of flux:

    1. Liquid
    2. Paste
  3. 5 basic brands of anti-firescale/stain

    1. Prip’s Flux – See my recipe on this site.  Used as both a firescale prohibitor and a flux.
    2. Griffith’s Prip’s Flux.  Firescale prohibitor and flux.
    3. Cupronil – Works great, less pricey than Firescoff. Otto Frei, Rio Grande, Thunderbird Supply carry it. Cupronil is also a flux so, additional flux is not necessary.
    4. Firescoff Ceramic Flux – My favorite but expensive!  Firescoff is also a flux so, additional flux is not necessary.
    5. Stop-Ox – Rio Grande.  This is used before flux.These products are not all the same.  The chemical formulation of each one is different.
  4. 3 basic kinds of solder

    1. Sheet
      1. Mark with color or stamp what type of solder it is.  Easy to get confused as to type, if not marked in some manner.  This is my favorite type of solder.  If the sheet gets dirty, over time, I gently heat with my torch, pickle, brass brush and dry.  Store in a plastic bag or snap-lock plastic container.
    2. Wire
      1. Same as for sheet – bend the ends or color to differentiate – some use nail polish.  See my page on solder for bends.
    3. Paste
      1. I have only used paste solder a few times so, I am by no means an expert.  What I didn’t like about it was that it was harder to judge how much to use. Perhaps, with more practice, I could have figured it out!  Others state that it isn’t as easy to use when soldering larger pieces or items that require more heat.  Solder paste now comes in 3 types:  hard, medium and easy (it used to only come in easy).  There is also a copper solder called Phosphorus-Copper Solder. It melts at about the same temperature as easy silver solder.  It has a light brass color.
      2. Most paste solders contain flux.  Make sure that the paste solder is for hard soldering.
  5. 5 basic types of solder:

    1. IT (aka Eutectic). IT is used, generally for pieces that will be enameled (so that the solder seams don’t fall apart from the high heat of the kiln.) Almost all silver. Hottest temp needed to flow.
    2. Hard – Use for your first solder joins.  Use most of the time.
    3. Medium – Also a good solder to use most of the time.
    4. Easy – Good for settings, last minute, small add-ons.
    5. Extra-Easy.   Extra-Easy is not recommended because it is very yellow and doesn’t contain much silver so, it’s weak.  Contains a lot of zinc, proportionally. Use for repairs. Easiest to flow.
  6. 2 basic types of pickle

    1. Sodium Bisulfate
    2. Citric Acid
  7. 1 pickle neutralizer

    1. Baking soda
  8. 3 basic types of strikers

    1. Electronic
    2. Torch Striker – Flints for the striker.
    3. Alcohol lamp or candle helps in lighting the Smith Little Torch. After lighting, remove from soldering area or put out.
  9. 3 basic products to block solder flow on metal

    1. White Out
    2. Yellow Ochre
    3. Red Rouge Powder
  10. 4 basic methods for cleaning metal

    1. Torch and pickle.
    2. Sanding.
    3. Scrubbing with a paste made from Bon Ami powder.
    4. Wiping with denatured alcohol. (I’d also sand).
  11. 3 best fusing metals

    1. Fine silver.
    2. Argentium silver.
    3. 18k and 24k gold.
  12. 4 basic soldering hand tools

    (*See Image 9 below)

    1. Cross-lock tweezers – having a fiber-grip will protect your fingers from burns!
    2. Regular tweezers. Link to all 4 types
    3. Solder pick
    4. Copper Tongs for pickle
  13. 2 basic pickle pot

    1. A used, jewelry dedicated crockpot.
    2. A Jeweler’s pickle pot.
  14. 3 ovenproof glass bowls

    1. quenching
    2. neutralizing
    3. rinsing – if there’s no sink handy. Quench and rinsing bowls can be the same bowl.
  15. 3 fireproof soldering surfaces

    1. Durock
    2. Firebrick
    3. Steel
  16. Many ventilation systems:

    1. An in-line system like mine. See my video: Youtube – DIY Fume Extractor for the Small Jewelry Studio or Shop.  Also, my webpages: Ventilation and Safety in the Jewelry Studio
    2. Benchtop Fume Extractor
    3. Hakko Fume Extraction System
    4. Fan pulling air out and not past your face
    5. Two open windows, across from each other
    6. Open garage door
    7. Hood – placed back from your face and over your soldering area.
    8. Bottom fume vent – sucks fumes down and away from your face
    9. Anything!!!!
  17. 1 fire extinguisher!

Images

  1.   Soft charcoal block with binding wire.
  2.   Round charcoal block.
  3.   Magnesia block.
  4.   Honeycomb ceramic block.
  5.   Solderite Pad with a grid for aligning parts while soldering.
  6.   Tripod with a thin screen for soldering from beneath.
  7.   Enameling trivet for soldering from beneath.
  8.   Kiln posts for soldering from beneath.
  9.   Soldering hand tools.  From top: copper tongs, bent cross-lock, straight cross-lock, tweezers, bent tweezers (Link to 4 types tweezers).  Note the fiber-grip on both cross-locks. These tools get hot and the fiber-grip keeps your fingers from frying!