Soldering In A Nutshell

  Nancy LT Hamilton

Updated:  4/25/22, 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.  Some are affiliate links – this is one of the only ways I can get paid my $.10 an hour!  I know nothing about your purchases.  They attach a little code to the end of the link that says it originated with me but, your information is not shared with me. Thanks for supporting this website by using these links when you shop.

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

    1. 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 melting points of various metals.

Also, see my Wire & Sheet Metal page for information on metals.

2. 4 Basic Soldering Surface

  1. 3 basic methods for lifting metal up for soldering from below

    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 
      1. Pepe Tools Smart Flux Pripp’s
      2. AquiFlux at Amazon
      3. My-T-Flux Rio Grande part #504076 (1 quart)
      4. Rhonda’s Purple Flux Rio Grande part #504078
    2. Paste
  3. 5 basic brands of anti-fire scale/stain

    1. Prip’s Flux – See my recipe on this site.  Used as both a fire scale 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 it with my torch, pickle, brass brush, and dry it.  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 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 (or silver soldering) – not soldering with a soldering iron.
  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. Requires the hottest temperature to flow.  Find at Thompson Enamels, item # SLD
    2. Hard – Use for your first solder joins.  Use most of the time.  Pepe Tools
    3. Medium – Also a good solder to use most of the time. Pepe Tools
    4. Easy – Good for settings, last minute, small add-ons. Pepe Tools
    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. Pepe Tools
  6. 2 basic types of pickle

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

    1. Baking soda
  8. 4 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 the soldering area or put out.
    4. Pencil Butane Torch – especially helpful for using with a micro torch.
  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. 6 basic soldering hand tools

    1. Bent and Cross-lock tweezers – having a fiber-grip will protect your fingers from burns!
    2. Fine-tipped tweezers – They are great for dropping small pieces of solder onto your work and for picking up anything too small for human hands.  You can get them curved/bent too.
    3. Copper Tongs for pickle
    4. Solder Pick (my favorite:  Pepe Tool’s Cabide Stay-Cool Pick
    5. Lions Claw Soldering Tool Hold-Down
    6. Renee Ford’s Hold-It Soldering Clay
  13. 2 basic pickle pot

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

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

    1. Durock

    2. Firebrick

    3. Steel sheet or a steel bench

  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 web pages: 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 that moves the fumes away from you!!!!
  17. 1 fire extinguisher!

Images

 

  1.   Soft charcoal block with binding wire.  At Rio Grande #502039
  2.   Round charcoal block at Rio Grande #502030 and Otto Frei Part # 154.148 and Rio Grande #502033 (7-7/8″ x 5-1/2″ x 1-1/8″ (200 x 140 x 29mm)
  3.   Medium Charcoal Block Pepe Tools – 5.5″W x x 2.8″D x 1.1″H (140x70x29mm)
  4.   Large Charcoal Block Pepe Tools 7.9″ x 5.5″ x 1.1″ (200 x 140 x 29mm)
  5.   Magnesia block
  6.   Honeycomb ceramic block
  7.   Solderite Soldering Board with a grid for aligning parts while soldering.
  8.   Smart Flux Pepe Tools
  9.   Hold-It for holding items while soldering
  10.   Lions Claw Soldering Tool for holding down work during soldering
  11.   Tripod with a thin screen for soldering from beneath.
  12.   Enameling trivet for soldering from beneath.  Rio Grande 119306
  13.   Kiln posts for soldering from beneath.
  14.   Soldering hand tools.  From top: copper tongs, bent, and straight cross lock tweezers, tweezers, bent tweezers.  Note the fiber-grip on both cross-locks. These tools get hot and the fiber-grip keeps your fingers from frying!