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Author Topic: What solder to use for jewelry  (Read 12650 times)
« on: April 04, 2005, 07:23:58 am »


I took a class on stained glass and really enjoyed it. Now I'd like to make jewelry and mirrors with the same sort of tools.

I have a soldering iron, foil tape, flux. I tried one lead free solder and it's awful. It seems to be burning and leaving chunks of black in the solder.

What solder should I use that will be next to the skin? Will the flux work or do I need a different kind? Is patina ok to use on something near the skin?

I've searched the web and all they say is "lead free" solder. I've searched ebay and have no clue what is good for this

Looking through here I see staybrite and tix. Is that what I should be looking for? Does the flux I have work with it as well as my solder iron?

Thank you,

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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2005, 08:58:12 am »

I did a search of our forum for "soldering"
here are some discussion threads regarding you question which will be worth your while to read through

[Editor's note: Sorry - a forum upgrade broke these links ... I'm adding some new links at the end of this thread. ~Polly]

The question then arises as to the character and quality of your work.  If you are making costume grade jewelry for occasional wear - you may do fine with some method of gluing or 'soft' soldering.
If you are heading toward the "Fine Jewelry" end of the scale, you may want to investigate 'hard' soldering. This will involve you more in the metalsmithing and jewelrysmithing aspects of our craft.
I would recommend the Tim McCreight book The Complete Metalsmith for your growing studio either way.  The R&T # is 62-010.
Regarding skin contact - the patinas and the 'Soft' solders both have the potential to be skin irritants.  It also depends on the contact.  A ring can cause problems because of the continuous contact, a pendant on a sterling chain is much less of a problem.
I would bet that the solder you mention was an electrical solder which would have a rosin core to flux it - this would give the effect that you describe.
Staybrite comes with a flux although it is much the same as what you are using with your stained glass.
Send us your further questions as they arise.</font>
« Last Edit: April 10, 2013, 07:14:38 am by Polly » Logged

AKA: Kurt Madison
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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2005, 11:17:29 pm »

For stained glass work, including jewelry, the best solder is IA-423 from Johnson Manufacturing.  Do a google search for the company and you'll find their website.  You'll probably have to order five pounds or more, though.  It's a wonderfully shiny solder containing 5 percent silver.  I'm glad you're using lead-free.  I see people still selling stained glass jewelery, and other often-handled items, using leaded solder.  Most stained glass people will tell you lead-free won't work, but they haven't used the right solder. (Plus they are committed to the idea that noone's health is endangered by the cheap solder they are used to.)  My last few years doing stained glass I used IA-423 exclusively, and its a great solder.

(I hope this post is still in the same thread -- I guess I wasn't automatically logged in and had to go do it.)
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« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2005, 07:58:32 am »

It's covered in the other threads that Kurt pointed you to.... but I wanted to verify that both Tix and StaBrite come complete with their own fluxes. You don't need to buy flux separately tho I suppose some other fluxes might work as well.

They both work very well for small jewelry "soft" soldering.

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« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2013, 07:12:50 am »

Wow, a post from 2005 was bumped back up to the top!

And, it's still a very relevant question. As Kurt pointed out, the first choice to make is hard solder vs. soft solder.
If sandwiching paper between layers of microscope glass -- then soft solder is definitely the answer!!

Soft solder is a tin-based solder, and melts at a low temperature. You normally use it with a soldering iron. Some ways to avoid the burnt/blackened spots:
* Make sure the items to be soldered are clean. If the foil tape is old and gunky, you may need to clean it with a little alcohol before you apply the flux.
* Clean the tip of your soldering iron -- you might even need to replace the tip (not all are replaceable; sometimes the entire soldering iron must be replaced).  To clean the tip of your soldering iron, turn it on, wait until it is hot, wipe it a few times on a damp sponge, and then lightly but thoroughly coat the tip with fresh clean solder. Usually you do this at the beginning and end of each soldering session, perhaps using a small scrap of metal with a blob of solder on it.
* Use plenty of flux (but not so much that it is bubbling and spattering)
* Use good solder. We like all our brands of soft solder, but some are more silvery than others and some are more gray, depending on what they are alloyed with.

For more information on soldering jewelry, check out Cindy's article on our blog, for great tips on soft soldering glass / memory jewelry, and our updated soldering information guide.

Polly Nobbs-LaRue
Systems Manager -- Rings & Things
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