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How to Solder Jewelry

Learn how to solder jewelry from jewelry designer Courtney Gray in this Howcast video.

Transcript

Courtney Gray: Welcome to Creative Side Jewelry Academy of Austin, online at creativeside.org. I'm Courtney Gray. I started my school here, Creative Side Jewelry Academy, four years ago. I'm here in Austin, and I'm going to tell you about jewelry making today.

Jewelry Making: How to Solder Jewelry

So today I'm going to show you some basics on soldering. This is how you would solder a silver jump ring. What I'm using is a propane and oxygen torch. Propane's a nice solution, especially for a home studio.

A lot of jewelers, when they solder, use a boric acid slurry. I'm going to dip my piece in there. This is going to create a nice shield around the piece, so when I go to solder, it's less likely to get contaminated.

I'm going to light my torch. So once you have your gas lit, you're going to bring in the oxygen really slowly and get kind of what we call a reduced flame. Depending on what you're soldering depends on how hot you want your torch. We're just soldering a small piece of silver today, but when you're soldering silver, you need the whole piece of silver needs to be hot.

So I'm going to go ahead and burn off my boric acid slurry. I'm using a charcoal block here to hold my piece. You don't want it to be on the tabletop because it's flammable. And then what we're going to use is something called flux. Really, without flux, your solder is not going to want to flow. The solder comes in different forms. You can get wire solder, sheet solder. This is a wire solder, this is an easy. There's probably four different types of solder out there. Easy, there's a super easy, medium, and a hard.

You want to cut little snippets. This solder goes a long way. I'm going to pick it up with a pick—now this is called pick soldering. I'm going to put a little flux on that solder.

There's a lot of steps to this. Keep practicing. If you get a chance, take a class somewhere, and let a professional walk you through this. We have a class here called "Soldering 101." It walks you through all the steps.

I'm heating up my whole silver piece. Some of that solder, it may bubble up and kind of create a paste. That's going to burn off, don't worry. You want to get your silver nice and hot. Not so hot as to where it's going to melt. You don't want it glowing red, but you do need it pretty close. I'm going to go ahead and put...oh, and it flowed. Did you see that? It should really just be like butter. It should go really, really nice. If it's not going that quick, something's not right. Either your metal's dirty, or the joint is not flush. You want to make sure that that joint is nice, and clean, and smooth, and that things are touching. You want to make sure it flowed all the way through, from back to front.

I'm now going to drop it in something called "pickle." Leave it in there, it's in a heated crockpot, and it will basically clean any of the blackening or contamination surface things that have happened from the soldering.

And...that is how your solder jewelry.

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