Using Soldering for Making Jewelry

Master a Torch and Gas for Jewelry Making

soldiering jewelry
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Soldering, which uses heat in joining two metals together in metalsmithing, is one of the many approaches used for jewelry making. Soldering uses a torch and an alloy solution to make or enhance pieces of jewelry. 

How Does Soldering Work?

Soldering is when two pieces of metal are joined together using heat and a metal alloy. Basically, the metal alloy "glues" pieces of metal together. Examples of alloys that you would use would be a silver soldering alloy for silver, copper, and brass. A gold soldering alloy would work best for gold metal, which requires a higher temperature than silver. Soldering is similar to welding or brazing, both use heat to join pieces of metal together, however, soldering requires less heat.

A jewelry-making torch is used to solder. A jewelry-making torch is a scaled-down version of a welding torch. Regardless of its small size, it can be a little scary to use when you first get started because the process requires the combination of gas and a flame. If not handled properly or responsibly, it can be dangerous.

Common fuels for your torch are propane, gas-air, or MAPP gas. Do not try to use a butane cooking torch or soldering iron, because the tool will not reach the temperature you need for jewelry making. For making jewelry you will need to reach up to 1200 to 1800 degrees. 

Is It Hard to Do?

Learning how to solder is like learning how to drive a car. When you first start to learn the skill, it seems like you'll never get it right. 

You can probably still remember the first time you got behind the wheel of a car, almost as if the car is driving you. With some practice, soldering becomes automatic, like driving. 

Where to Learn

Learning how to solder is a jewelry-making skill that might be best learned in a classroom setting. The primary reason is safety.

It does not matter what type of gas you use, all are potentially dangerous. Regular maintenance and knowing when to replace parts of the torch and the fuel tank is crucial. It is best to get the full safety scoop from a trained professional. Check out community colleges and other schools in your area to find arts and crafts classes including those that focus on soldering.

Top Tips for Soldering

With a little practice, the right tools, and helpful tips, you can master the soldering process.

  • Keep your soldering equipment clean. The solder might not flow and your pieces of metal jewelry might not join together if dust, soot, or other scraps contaminate your work area, the metals being joined, or your soldering equipment
  • Get rid of gaps. Join the metal pieces you're soldering tightly together. Solder will not fill gaps in metal.
  • Solder flows towards heat. Never direct the flame from your torch directly at the solder. Heat the metal where you want the solder to flow (towards the pieces needing joining).

Soldering Supplies and Tools

In addition to a torch and appropriate gas supply, soldering requires bases to support your work, pokers to move the metal pieces while soldering, and tweezers to position your metal and solder. Tweezers are also used to hold metal pieces together while soldering. You will also need basic metalsmithing tools such as sanders, polishers, files, and cutters.

You might want to have some flux and pickle handy, too. Flux is a compound that helps the solder flow. Pickle is a solution used to clean the metal after soldering.