Have you ever had a soldering ball up and refused to flow, or maybe not ball up at all? Your metal may have developed a blazing red color, but that small bit of jewelry solder remained the same. It simply refused to flow, no matter how hard you tried. It has occurred to all of us, believe me. Don’t become discouraged or give up. Troubleshooting provides you with information, which benefits you and anybody you want to share it with. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from my own soldering mishaps. SILVER SOLDER





Copper would turn practically black due to the heat, copper oxides, and air, and the soldering bit would just not flow. If you forget your flux, soak the entire piece in the pickle to remove the fire scale, then add the flux and try it again; it should perfectly flow this time. Keep in mind that flux is your ally. It helps the solder flow by reducing the fire scale. SILVER SOLDER


Before soldering, make sure your components are clean. The oil left behind by your fingerprints, as well as grease and grime, may be removed with a little sanding using 800 grit sandpaper. Just be careful not to touch the area where you’ve just sanded it, or you’ll have to start over. It’s amazing what one little fingerprint can accomplish! SILVER SOLDER


Make sure your torch tip is appropriate for the task. Smaller finds, such as jump rings, require a smaller torch tip, whereas bigger items, like pendants, require a larger torch tip. Just keep in mind that you want a flame that can get in there and finish the job swiftly. Because your solder should flow long before your metal melts, hit it with the heat hard and quickly. You’ll have the flame you need now that you’ve got the correct torch tip. SILVER SOLDER


This one is a bit of a toss-up. I’ve heard that the solder may become filthy, preventing it from flowing properly. It must be cleansed in a pickle if this is the case. We’ve left snippets in our office and been able to utilize them without cleaning them, but if all else fails, try a pickle bath. SILVER SOLDER


Solder flows for a variety of reasons, the most common of which being heat. You’ll waste a lot of time trying to solder a piece if you don’t have it. Heat may be difficult to master, especially if you’re just getting started. It’s time to look at your soldering set-up if you know the torch tip and flame size are correct, you remembered to flux, and you’ve removed the oil and dirt. SILVER SOLDER


There’s a strong probability something else is sucking your heat away from where it’s needed. A “heat sink” is something that draws heat away from your jewelry items, such as a steel tripod mesh or a third hand. As you heat up your component, the steel object absorbs the heat just as rapidly. So, in a nutshell, you’ll never get the solder to flow hot enough. SILVER SOLDER

Remove the tripod and place it on a soldering board if it’s on one. If you’re going to use a third hand, only put the corner of your piece in it. Just enough to keep it in place, but not enough to draw a lot of heat from it. If it still doesn’t work, try using a charcoal block, which reflects heat and makes soldering easier. While utilizing a heat sink is necessary in some soldering scenarios, it is not required in this case. When soldering an earring post to a finding, however, employing a heat sink approach is preferable. SILVER SOLDER

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