How to solder (for Jewelry purposes)

This instructable will demonstrate how to solder sterling silver rings using a torch, silver solder, and various other tools to create a pair of sterling silver earrings. How about making your friend or loved one a custom pair of sterling silver earrings!

**Warning, if you are reading this to try and learn how to solder for computer circuits, read no further. Soldering jewelry involves an open flame torch and temperatures up to 1700 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 930 degrees Celsius. This will very likely destroy any circuitry that you attempt to use this technique on. Unless, of course, you intend to destroy said circuits, then by all means, read on.***

The next page will include a list of tools and materials you will need for this project.
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Step 1: Materials list

Picture of Materials list
various silver findings.jpg
Various Jump Rings.jpg
Here is a list of tools and materials that you will need for this project:

  • Sterling silver wire or jump rings
  • A torch. The one I am using is a small butane powered plumbers torch by Ronson which I got for about $30 at Walmart. Butane refills are about $2 each and fill it up almost twice.
  • A soldering pick. I got mine in a set from Home Depot for about $5, but just about any kind of long thin steel rod will work.
  • Borax Flux. You may need to look for a specialty store or order this online.
  • Silver Solder. Silver solder is an alloy of silver, copper, and sometimes a little zinc. It comes in three main grades - Hard, Medium, and Easy. Hard melts at the highest temperature, Easy at the lowest. For this Instructable, I used Medium as my torch is a bit small to melt Hard very quickly. If you have a larger torch you might want to start with Hard, then use Medium on your second solder joints to prevent reflowing your Hard solder and loosing the connection. You will probably have to order this online or over the phone from a precious metals supplier.
  • Wire cutters. Use these to snip the silver solder into small pieces.
  • Tweezers. You may want these to hold something in place while soldering. Good ones have wooden grips so that they don't burn your fingers during extended soldering.
  • Pickle. No, not the food. Pickle is a weak acid that is used to dissolve oxides and flux from the metal after soldering. Basically it makes the metal really clean by eating away all the dirty stuff. Also, never put anything made of steel in the pickle. The steel reacts with the pickle, making it so that the pickle will copper plate your silver. It's a weak acid, but it's still an acid, so if it gets on your clothes it will bleach or eat holes though them, and you should wash it off if it gets on your skin, and be especially careful to keep it out of your eyes.  Update: I've heard some people use citric acid or a salt & vinegar solution instead of the acid pickle you can order from jewelry supply stores. I've never tried these methods myself, but they seem like cheap and easy options for beginners so I thought I'd list them.
  • Some kind of plastic/ceramic container to put the pickle in. I just used a old Tupperware container. You can't use metal, especially steel.
  • Earring hooks to attach to your earrings to make them dangly.
  • A short length of thin copper wire. Use this to dip your silver in the pickle. Never put steel in the pickle.

Optional tools or materials you may want:

  • Sandpaper - Use this to clean up your solder seams. I prefer 320 or 400 grit, but these will not leave a high polish.
  • A polished hammer and anvil. You can hammer the silver to flatten, harden, and planish it a little bit instead of sanding, saving a lot of time. Planished silver is shinier than sanded silver, but you can't use a regular hammer for this because if there are any marks in the hammer face, those marks will transfer to the silver. The same applies to the anvil.
  • If you're looking to save some money, or you want to practice with something less expensive than sterling silver, these techniques can also be applied to copper or brass wire and sheet as well. Just remember that if you use silver solder on copper or brass, the silver will show up against the brown or yellow of the other metals.

Most of these tools or materials can be ordered online, from companies such as the ones below: - Hauser and Miller supplies precious metal materials such as Sterling silver wire and silver solder. They have low minimum purchase requirements, and their shipping is fairly low too. Their selection is somewhat small though. - Another good site for raw silver materials such as wire and solder. - Rio Grande can supply you with pretty much everything you'll need for this project. The only problem with them is that they have some high minimum purchase requirements for raw materials, such as silver wire or solder, and they also have high fabrication fees. They do however, have an enormous selection. This would be a good place to find flux, pickle, sterling components such as ear posts or hooks, etc. You can also purchase tools from them such as hammers, small anvils, soldering tweezers, and torches. - I've never ordered from them before but I hear their prices are pretty good and they seem to have a decent selection of things like raw materials and findings.

While I am by no means saying you must order your materials from one of these sites, several of them I have used previously and not had any major problems with them. If you prefer to do your own research, these sites may be a good starting place to compare prices, although for most silver items the price fluctuates daily with the precious metals market, so the best way to check prices on silver items is to call the company and ask for a price check.

thank you I think I can do this now.

vinegrafted2 years ago
Thank you for your instructable - very helpful. I am wanting to solder together the settings that swarovski rhinestones come in or can be placed in - like the tiffany style metal pronged settings and then solder the settings together like the example shown in the image.

I was wondering if I might be able to use a soldering iron - if you know - possibly a low-temp? If so, do you know what type of flux and other material might be needed?

I would attempt to solder the metal together, first, then load the crystals in the prongs after cooling.

thank you.
rhinestone jewelry example.jpg
I am looking to do something similar ... I already have a soldering iron, but I'm unsure of the other materials I would need to join two of the curved turquoise pieces to the larger pendant finding. Both are constructed of brass.

What type of solder/flux and other supplies would I need?

I would greatly appreciate any help!
Brass Pendant Finding.jpgTurquoise in Brass Back.jpgTurquoise in Brass Front.jpg
I have been making jewelry for a long time now and I use a soldering iron that is made for jewelry. I recommend "simply swank" :)
thank you, Lysharianne, that helps. Have you ever made anything like what is in the picture? I'm also having a difficult time locating the settings for the crystal rhinestones to be set into. I've searched all over the internet for settings to fit Swarovski rhinestones and haven't had much luck.
Thanks again, though!
Yes, I have made something similar. You can find settings on or even good luck! I hope this helps!!
Nice tutorial. You can find all of this stuff if you are interested at:

wire jump rings silver solder and even a some gemstone beads if inclined to add some to the design.

dmann72 years ago
I need to make a minor inside repair to a silver tea-pot strainer basket and was thinking about using a dab of pure silver for my solder.
The mesh is stainless steel while the structure around the base, that needs repaired, is silver.
Is this the way to go?
Thanks in advance.
soundinnovation (author)  dmann72 years ago
Well, pure silver is going to have a higher melting point than sterling or any kind of silver solder. The problem with this is that if you are trying to heat the pure silver onto the silver of the strainer then unless you have a lot of practice you're more likely to end up melting the rest of the silver and possibly deforming it. If you decide to go with this method I'd recommend practicing it on some silver pieces that you don't mind accidentally damaging if it doesn't go well.

Now, the other consideration is that since the mesh part is stainless steel, if you try to use it with a Sparex type pickle solution, it will contaminate the pickle and make it copper-plate anything that is silver. This can be removed using an abrasive but that is usually a huge pain in the butt and can also damage the finish of the piece. You can try a vinegar/salt pickle or a citric acid pickle, but once again I'd test that on something you don't mind messing up. I've never worked with those pickles so I don't know if they contaminate with steel the same way Sparex pickles do.

Hopefully this advice helps!

Thanks I guess I was making it to much of a job. I just need to reattach the SS mesh to the bottom silver ring so the tea leaves stop leaking into the tea-pot.
Without poisoning the tea with bad metal.
Where is a pot tinker when you need one?
Lysharianne2 years ago
Btw simply swank makes everything you need :) you can buy the kit on amazon
Thank you - I'll look for it on amazon. I'm still having a difficult time finding the settings for swarovski crystal rhinestones but will keep looking. Thanks again!
I've been making jewelry for a long time now. I started with crochet craft wire necklaces which I look back on and laugh at now. Then I started doing basic beading, and then wire wrapping, and now hammering...And I think now I'm ready to start getting serious. Soldering seemed like the next logical step, especially as I've been hammering wire to make bangle-like bracelets but always have to improvise some kind of closure, and would love to make bangles. I'd really like to be able to do rings, as well, without having to design some flourish to mask the ends. This tutorial will be very helpful in making my decision as to whether soldering is right for me. It was very well written, easy to follow, and accessible. And now I know everything I need, where to get it, and what to expect. Thanks very much.
crowdinamin2 years ago
Thanks so much for this tutorial! its been really helpful. Now that Ive done a few easy pieces I wanted to do a more complex piece. I have a bunch of brass links that I soldered into a ring using the same methods you show here... my issue now is as I try to solder the last link to complete the circle, it melts the solder off previous links. Is there a handy way to keep this from happening?

any advice would be much appreciated
Sorry, I misunderstood your comment. I was thinking you were working on a chain. It would be easier to use a heat sink with a chain but you may still be able to use one. You might be able to affix the razor blade to your links with wire. You want to make sure the edge of the blade is in contact with the link you are trying to solder. As was said in another comment, solders in hard, medium and easy would also solve the problem. My suggestion is a possible fix that would not require additional solders of some sort of covering to protect the metal you're soldering. I hope it helps.
yea that could actually help also. I didnt even think of using some kind of heat sink and the blade should be pretty easy to place on the links i am soldering. Thanks for your help!
soundinnovation (author)  crowdinamin2 years ago
You're welcome!

The easiest way to do this would be to use solders with different flow temperatures, usually referred to as hard, medium, and easy. 'Hard' solder melts at the highest temperature, and 'easy' at the lowest. There is also a 'very easy' but it is usually only used for repair work. You should start with hard solder and progress downwards so that the first things you solder are at the highest melting temperature and you get progressively colder. If you are working on silver, you want to use the highest melting point solder you can on all visible seams because hard solder has a better color than medium or easy does. On brass it shouldn't matter too much.
The other alternative is to get your hands on some yellow ocher. If you make a paste of yellow ocher and water and paint that onto the solder seams you do not want to flow, the ocher will inhibit the flow of the solder. If you use yellow ocher you should be very careful to wash it all off before you place the piece in your pickle because the iron in the ocher will contaminate your pickle and cause it to copper plate your metal.
Hope this helps!
awesome. thanks so much for you thoughts on this. I will definitely try this!
Some years back when I worked in a jewelry store I did some chain repair. In order to keep the solder from going where I didn't want it I used a razor blade as a heat sink. I took a single edge razorblade and put a metal screw in the slot in the blade so it was stand up on its edge with the screw forming another leg. I then placed the edge of the blade on the link I was soldering, about half way back of the link. This prevented the heat from reaching the other parts of the chain. I think I got fairly good at soldering fine curb link chain using this technique. I think it could be applicable to your needs.
paqrat2 years ago
Thank you for a great tutorial. Its been years since I've done any jewelry soldering. Its good to know a small portable torch can be used for this. I didn't want to get into the large torch outfits, certainly not in my home.
mojobo12 years ago
I'm 17 and wanting to start a career in jewelry design. This should help a lot :) I have a lot of 1"-2" thick flat slabs of rock... Hoping to use one or more of those as a soldering pad. Also need to invest in a soldering torch... Hoping they aren't too expensive. Thanks for the 'ible! This will help a lot
scotto3 years ago
another good one is ...Contenti Jewelry Making Supplies
C.G.3 years ago
This was amazing, but way too much work for me. I want a bail to be soldered closed and trying to find a sterling silver jeweler is not easy. Apparently, Jewelers only like to work on gold.
I know it's been here a while, But I just wanted to say thanks for a useful tutorial on a technique that I've been wondering about for some time.
MommaD533 years ago
I got a welding mat at my local Harbor Freight store. They only carry a big one but I can cut it down to size and have a lot of little mats to solder onto. I am new at soldering as well but my husband has been doing it for at least 40 years so I have a personal instructor.
Hi there

I'm new at this (and very grateful for your tute) what do you recommend for a fireproof work surface?    I looked but couldn't find a source.

soundinnovation (author)  vintage53rose4 years ago
If you want something that's totally fireproof, start with a metal table and cover it in a layer of kiln bricks. Or, maybe just a metal table. Or, a wood table with a sheet of aluminum over it.
My current workspace is actually just an ancient wooden desk that has a 1 inch thick piece of wood for the top, and I solder on a ceramic soldering pad (Rio Grande) on top of a kiln brick. Some people will get a metal lazy susan pan and fill it with pumice pebbles, then put their soldering pad on that so that they can spin it as they work.  I believe this is the soldering pad I have:

Hope that helps!

Well made. Clear photos and video.
rosenred4 years ago
Excellent tutorial! I have read many more (I usually do that when I am about to start a project - putting it off by reading a ton of material) but yours is far more explanatory and simple to follow. One question though: When soldering copper do you use the same kind of flux and solder? Well maybe two questions... Can you use standard solder (the one used for circuits) if you are not making jewelry (I understand it is not healthy)?
soundinnovation (author)  rosenred4 years ago
Yes, the same kind of flux and silver solder will work. I've never tried standard solder, but it's my understanding that since it has a much lower melting point, if you overheat it it will just boil or vaporize off in the heat of the torch. If you do try it, I'd recommend doing it outside or somewhere with very good ventilation so that you don't inhale any fumes, especially if it's a leaded solder.
This was really informative. When people mention "soldering" my brain automatically jumps to electronics. It is great to see other uses, or in this case, an entirely new use for the technique! Thank you for sharing such a little known practice outside of the jewelry world.
don't u mean the old use? this is what they did before the had electronics lol
lunastyx4 years ago
This is a SUPER tutorial The pictures and video were wonderful but your written instructions were the best I have seen. Thank you!
quinee4 years ago
This is very helpful~! Thank you so much.
jinnypearce4 years ago
Really, fabulous tutorial, thorough and clear. I've been trying to find this info. You know, this is better presented than in some of the hard core books I've bought. Great job!
I am VERY interested in learning how to solder and out of all the tutorials I have found online this one is by far the most informative I have come across! Thank you so much! Now if I could only decided what and where to buy supplies... AH I'm still so confused and nervous but you never know until you try... Oh and BTW, I have bought from on many occasions and they are a good company. great prices, hard to beat deals, and relatively fast USPS shipping( but it depends on what kind of shipping you choose they offer UPS and FEDEX too). They have also added a bunch of stuff to their stock so there is more of a wider selection of things. Check it out sometime.
soundinnovation (author)  courtneygrobb5 years ago
If you have a university or community college that offers metalworking/jewelry classes nearby, try looking at art stores very close to campus to see if they have some stuff like solder and flux. You'll pay a little more for the amount, but you can buy smaller quantities so that you can test out some techniques rather than plunking down a whole bunch of money up front and getting more than you need. The art stores near my school offered small jars of flux and solder by the inch.
Can anyone give me some suggestions for solder and flux brands/suppliers? I've seen a million different things online, but I want to make sure I don't buy anything that won't work too well for a project like this and just waste my money. TIA!
You can use household borax from the grocery store mixed with water. It does the trick. I've made lots of pieces with it, and the local lapidary club uses it in all their silver smithing courses.
soundinnovation (author)  cryfreedom576 years ago
Any Borax based flux should work just fine. The brands I've seen are Handi-Flux and Dandix. Check Rio Grande or Otto Frei's websites to see what they carry, or for local sources look for jewelry supply or craft shops. If there's a school or university nearby that teachings some basic metalsmithing you can check to see where their students pick up their supplies. You might pay a slightly higher base price locally, but you wouldn't have to pay shipping or buy a jar that might be larger than you need. For solder you're looking for specifically silver solder. It can be found at the same places, and is usually sold by the ounce by online suppliers, but you might be able to buy a 3 inch section from local supplier. It's less expensive to practice with brass or copper wire instead of sterling silver, but you can still use silver solder with these metals. The only difference is that you can see the silver line where the solder joins the metals.
For the longest time, soldering silver made me think of two things; molten puddle of what used to be art and fire scale. Thank you for putting this video out there, it shows me that I really can do something like this. I always appreciate someone with experience helping out. 5 *
soundinnovation (author)  pistolpete35215 years ago
It seems silly to say it, but practice is what really makes a difference. Although, even with a few years under my belt, I still end up with a few molten puddles every now and then. Good luck on your future soldering adventures!
I have some experience in brazing. Would you recommend brazing for a more earthy feel when working with copper wire, that way ur dont have to worry about it not blending, color wise. I am thinking of making some earrings for a certain girl. =)
btw very clear and helpful instructable
I haven't had much experience with brazing, aside from watching a friend of mine. From what I saw the color would blend better, but it seemed a bit messier than soldering would be. (but that just have been my friend's technique) It probably would save a bit on cleanup, and if you're hammering the metal afterward for texture and hardening, that would help clean it up a bit. Just make sure that the brazing wire stuff doesn't have any ferrous metals in it because that will contaminate the pickle. (but then again, copper plating on copper wouldn't really matter)
Thanks for the great tutorial! I'm really new to this sort of thing, and I really appreciate folks like you who are kind enough to put helpful into out there :D

I have a question that's a bit specific, but considering your breadth of knowledge as you've shared here, I figured you could help me out.
I'm looking into incorporating sterling silver findings/bevel settings into a metal clay work before firing. I know I have to fire and pickle the sterling silver pieces several times to remove the copper oxidation on the surface so that they will bond to the metal clay while firing the two together, but I was wondering if an ultrasonic cleaner is a suitable replacement for using pickle to remove this oxidation. Using an acid, even a weak one like pickle, sounds like something I'd have to work up the courage to do ; I'm guessing it's not a suitable substitute from what I've read, but I'd like to know for sure :).

Thanks again for the extremely helpful and easy-to-understand tutorial!
soundinnovation (author)  MissMercurial5 years ago
The process you're referring to where you remove the copper oxidation from the surface of the sterling silver is actually called depletion gilding - you're basically heating the sterling, so that the copper within it oxidizes, and then pickle dissolves the copper oxides leaving a thin layer of fine silver. The reason why you need to do this is because PMC is fine silver, and you need to have fine silver findings to be able to bond properly with the PMC when it fires. I've never used an ultrasonic cleaner, so I don't know if it would remove the copper oxides, but it seems to me there are two easier solutions than buying a piece of equipment I'm not sure would work. One solution would be to buy citric acid instead of regular pickle, if you're worried about the dangers of the acid. Citric acid can be used as a pickle by mixing it with water. It's usually sold in a powdered form in the canning section of health food stores. Like a regular pickle, I'm sure it would work better if it was used warmed. The second option I see would be for you to simply buy fine silver bezel settings instead of sterling silver ones. They're a bit more expensive than sterling, but if it saves you time on the process of depletion gilding, then it might be worthwhile. I know Rio Grande sells stamped bezel settings in fine silver in a variety of sizes, but mostly just oval and circle shapes. Let me know if either of these work out! ~Kristin
Right! So that's what it's called. I've read about what must be done to sterling in order to use it with PMC and why, but never seen it named. Oh, I already have an ultrasonic cleaner - that's why I was asking :) Thanks so much for the first option you listed - I've looked for that before (for making bath bombs) and haven't had much success, but at least I think I could start out with that to begin with. It's a little safer, at least.. I'll be sure to try it out. As for the second option, I've looked around and haven't found bezel settings in the shapes/sizes I want (bigger-than-usual ovals and tiny hearts), so that option's out the window :( I didn't think bezel wire would be a great option, either, since I'm new to this whole thing, so I'm kind of stuck with sterling silver findings, unfortunately. Thanks for the quick and thorough response :D!
sfs5 years ago
Great tutorial! I am very new to jewelry and metal working, and I was wondering if any of you know what is the best way to put small holes into metal charms. I was thinking of adding holes to them to connect them together with wires and chains. Does a pencil torch work for this? Or do I have to get a drill or a puncher? Much thanks!
soundinnovation (author)  sfs5 years ago
The best way would be to use a dremel or a flexshaft and a super tiny drill bit to drill the hole. It's helpful to stamp an indentation into the surface of the metal first, to give the drill bit something to bite into (a gentle tap on a nail with a hammer would work) and then maybe use some household bar soap or candle-wax to lubricate the drill bit. You can find tiny drill bits at hobby stores, such as the kind that sell model trains and such. You'll probably want a size 55 or smaller (scale being 1 is the largest and around 85 the smallest). A torch would most likely melt your metal, but if your metal is particularly hard (such as brass) you may wish to use a torch to anneal it to make it softer.
This was a good tutorial. I would add that many people heat their pickle. This speeds up the reduction of the metal (it turns silver again). The down side here is that you MUST NOT heat your pickle over 140 degrees, because you will get toxic gas. A cold pickle works almost as well, but it takes longer and sometimes the extra time causes the solder spot to become pitted. I've only used a heated pickle, but I've read that it's about 10 hours to get serious pitting. Also, I would make sure than your pickling compound has a heat limit listed, because different compounds are available.
soundinnovation (author)  Alchemist43566 years ago
Yes, normally I use warm pickle, but when I made the instructable I had not yet bought a pickle pot (crockpot). I have one now and it does make things much faster. I've had friends leave work in cold pickle for several days before and not have problems with pitting, perhaps it depends on how old the pickle is. I have, however, had problems with pitting in peroxide/pickle solutions that I was using to remove the copper blush from brass. That reacted much more quickly, usually just within an hour or two.
collins6616 years ago
dear soundinnovation you are very generous to teach all the tricks of the trade. the concise way you explain it shows that you are very competent. sincerely thank you. collins661
WilderLust6 years ago
sweet instructable :-)

anyone interested in a micro torch (similar to the one here) can find one here:
cheaply... i use one almost exactly like it but i paid way too much for mine :-(

This is excellent for it has adjustment so you can pinpoint solder and control the temp for different metals. have solder with flux, (but good luck, sometimes shipping is not the fastest in the world), which I did get silver solder!
Yes this torch has adjustment for fine point soldering and also is refillable. Watch your "fliers", which you can go online and register to get monthly fliers, then they run them on sale for $5.95 about every other month. You can also purchase the pencil torches for 99cents on sale at harbor too! Great soldering and jewelry stuff too!
LinuxH4x0r6 years ago
Great instructable! Does anybody know a good source of metal working (copper/silver/tin) supplies in Santa Fe New Mexico? Where can you get cheap copper sheets?
I think Rio Grande is located in Santa Fe. Try them, they supply EVERYTHING you would need to so this type of stuff. Copper is no longer cheap, anywhere. But you may want to try art/craft stores, especially in the tech/model-making departments, or you could buy copper flashing in the roofing department of a hardware store.
Thanks, I'll look them up. I knew copper was expensive, but I thought maybe you could get cheap scrap or something like that for a little less.
soundinnovation (author)  LinuxH4x0r6 years ago
If you can find a place that sells copper sheet in custom cuts, sometimes you can ask to take a look at their drops - the left over pieces from a custom cut. They might sell them at a discount, or more likely they'll just sell them by weight. There's also a lot of places that sell copper and brass sheet online, but you'd have to pay shipping charges for that.
I'll try that- santa fe has lots of artsy metal shops. I would rather buy local than internet even if it is a little cheaper, but it probably isn't. Thanks!
I make jewelry from sheet copper and since most pieces are smallish I bought some 3/4 inch copper pipe and cut off a piece, then I cut a straight line down the side with a cutoff wheel on my dremel and open the pipe with two pairs of needle nosed pliers. Then just hammer it flat and you have sheet copper!
That would also work, but I want it to be wider. (I want to make lights for outside of my house.
if you cant find it locally or if you want to have an alternate location or just shopping for best price you may try this site:

i get most of my metals from them although i am closer to them (250mi) and shipping has been very reasonable for me but may be more for you.

Thanks. Their prices look very reasonable (theres no such thing as "cheap" copper anymore). I think if I look around I should be able to find some locally. I only asked because I have only been living here for about 3.5 months and though maybe someone else in santa fe would know.
awoodcarver6 years ago
I did this with some pre 64 dimes for earrings , didn't turn out as nice as yours maybe I will try again , any advice on soldering a gold nugget , I can just drill one and hang it from a neckless but I think it would look nicer with a ring and whatever that thing that holds the ring is called , I have 2 smaller ones that would make nice earrings but am afraid to try since I have never tried it with gold
soundinnovation (author)  awoodcarver6 years ago
The technical name for a ring on a pendant is the bail. You can solder gold with silver solder, but the silver will show up against the gold. If you're using a silver ring, then that might not be a problem as much as if you're using a gold ring. If it's pure gold you have to be careful because I think it melts at a different temperature than the silver does. I haven't worked with gold as much as I have silver, so if there was a local jeweler in your area you could call who does they would probably have more accurate advice. You can also order gold solder, in various karats, which is sold by the pennyweight. A pennyweight is 1/20th of a troy ounce, but with gold prices the way they are right now, and if you want a high karat solder, it will still be really expensive. I recently bought a pennyweight of 10K medium solder from Hauser and Miller for a little over $22.00, vs about $13 for a full troy ounce of silver solder.
These are nuggets my kids and I found panning the Mother Lode of Calif. I guess I could trade some of the other gold we have found over the years to a jeweler and have them mounted...Just not sure what a pennyweight or larger nugget is worth just that it is more then gold at oz price...not that we find many that big
hay_jumper6 years ago
Nice job on this instructable! If I could add my two cents as a bit of an addendum: I've done this type of stuff for years in my small metal shop, and in the beginning always used a propane torch to do my soldering/annealing. It's the type that most plumbers use, and is generally available at a hardware store for about $15. For this scale it is perfect and super cheap. An alternative to store bought flux is borax, or powdered boric acid, which is sometimes sold as rat poison. Mix some of the powder with water to get a paste to use as flux. It's not horrible to breathe, but you should try to avoid ANY fumes while soldering/welding, and that goes for electro-soldering too. (you'll know when you get a snoot-full of melted flux). Some people talk about using "Shock-It" as a pickle, which is used to balance ph in swimming pools. It's the exact same thing as store-bought pickle, and pound-for-pound is much cheaper as well. Also, I've seen shops that use varieties of citric acid as an "Eco friendly" pickle, which seems silly, because treating used pickle with baking soda yields salt and water, which can be poured down the drain with no ill effects. A note about pickle: New, freshly mixed pickle will not likely plate anything with copper. As pickle gets old/used, it starts to turn blue, which is the result of copper ions floating about in it. This is the stuff that you have to be careful about if you are worried about copper plating something. Copper, wood, or stainless tongs will negate this threat. I do a lot of copper fabrication using silver solder, and find benefit in having "charged" pickle around. When I am near done soldering a piece, I will intentionally plate it, erasing all the white solder seams on the piece. Also, since these earrings are small, it's probably not a big deal, but if you get into larger sterling pieces, it's a good idea to flux the entire piece to lessen the chances of getting firescale on a piece of jewelry. Firescale is copper oxides that develop below the surface and yield ugly, purple, blotchy spots that are a humongous pain to get rid of. Makes me bristle just thinking about it. Nice job! Now to start making your own findings!
most plumbers use MAPP gas, it burns hotter
soundinnovation (author)  hay_jumper6 years ago
If you're referring to this type of plumbers torch, I've used one of those before but I found that you couldn't get a very pointy flame with it, and thus it was hard to be precise with the heating. For large pieces, this wouldn't be a problem, but when I was working on my small brooch, I ended up re-flowing solder seams that I didn't intend to flow. That's why I prefer the smaller torch with the adjustable flame setting - it allows a lot more precision in heating, even if it is hard to use on larger pieces.

I can see why you'd be concerned about inhaling something originally intended as rat poison... :-) I've never tried that stuff, but perhaps sometime I will. I'm going to have to look into this 'shock-it' stuff too. Even the money saved on shipping the pickle would be worth it.

I've tried to plate copper pieces using steel-contaminated pickle before, but not with any real success. How long does it usually take?

I usually make my own clasps for necklaces and bracelets, but I can't ever bend two earring wires the same, and I just haven't gotten around to making a jig for them. Plus I usually consider it a reassuring point for customers with sensitive skin that the bought earring wires are actually stamped with '925,' proving they're solid sterling and not just plated.
Yep, that's the one. I used it for years before upgrading to a Smith torch acetylene rig. I had no problems with even tiny things. I guess it's a matter of personal preference. Have you tried yellow ochre as a flow-deterrent? Paint a little bit on a seam you don't want to flow and it "dirties" it, keeping the solder in place. You can also use white-out with the same effect.

Plating with pickle is generally instant. I usually add the piece to the pickle with some binding wire loosely wrapped around it and the plating happens right away. I save all my old pickle just for that purpose.

This is a great site with lots of tips and bench tricks:
theseans6 years ago
Very informative. I always appreciate new and interesting ways to burn myself, err solder =)
Palerider6 years ago
Humor and instruction. Excellent. Very informative and useful. If school had been taught this way.
Wow, very nice, I never knew that soldering was used for jewelry..

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