Introduction: Solder Stamping

Picture of Solder Stamping

If I were a rich man,

Daidle daidle deedle daidle dum!

Sorry, I get that song stuck in my head a lot. Mostly because I would love to afford all the new crafty tools and toys, but, you know, adulthood. So instead I research all the cool things and then try to find ways to get similar results on the cheap. I really like the look of embossed metals and got an idea after finding some jewelry solder at an estate sale. After a little research I found out rubber stamping solder is an actual thing! Therefore, something I needed to try. It was surprisingly easy and a lot of fun!

Step 1: Suplies

Picture of Suplies

-Jewelry Blanks

-Lead free solder

-Something Pokey

-Fire! I used a mapp torch

-Steel wool

-Rubber stamps

-Fire Brick

-Metal/flame proof surface

-Goggles (not shown, but I promise I wore some!)

Step 2: Rubber Stamp

Picture of Rubber Stamp

When you are picking out your rubber stamp there are a few things you want to watch out for.

- You want a red rubber stamp. The kind attached to a thick wood block. DO NOT use the clear rubber stamps! I can promise you all they will do is melt and waste your money.

- Pick out a stamp with an easy to recognize pattern. You probably don't want a stamp of something, like a cat. Chances are you won't be able to get the whole image on, and it will just look messy and unfinished.

- Make sure your stamp has very crisp, defined lines. Inspect the rubber pad. I found that a shallow cut very detailed print worked best for me.

- Make sure the stamp is clean! In the last picture I have a stamp that is both dirty and has poor lines. The image showed a cool ivy pattern, but when I tried using it. it just looked like a bunch of blobs and the orange ink stuck to the metal.

**unless you want to play around with inky stamps and hot solder, which I am totally going to try at some point**

Step 3: Prepare Your Blank

Picture of Prepare Your Blank

I fully understand that in a perfect world you should know the material of your blank. Also you probably cleaned it really well. Made sure there were no finger prints or oils on the surface. You probably even put a thin lay of flux where you want your solder to go.

We do not live in a perfect world and I'm apparently lazy with all of these shortcuts.

To be perfectly honest I got some (what I was told was lead free) solder at an estate sale, aaaand a few blanks on clearance. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a good sale and like to try new things.

Anyway. Take your jewelry solder, cut off a small piece and wrap it into a flat circle. Place it on your blank, not too close to an edge.

Step 4: Playing With Fire

Picture of Playing With Fire

I tried using a soldering iron at first, but it was nearly impossible to melt enough solder at once to stamp.

Then I remembered that I got a mapp torch for Christmas.

They are really easy to use. Just turn the knob in the direction the arrow tells you to. Once you hear the gas, push the button. Voila! Fire!

Lower the gas so you have a shorter flame, but be careful not to turn it down too low. You don't want the flame sputtering.

In small circle heat up the whole blank, and then slowly start to concentrate on the solder. Once it melts it will ball up, if you keep the flame on it it will flatten back out in a couple seconds.

Step 5: Stamp It

Picture of Stamp It

Once your solder is hot, you have a little bit of time to stamp it. I waited between 5-10 seconds and it was still hot enough to stamp.

Firmly press your rubber stamp into the solder and let it sit there. Wait about 30 second before trying to move your stamp.

When you do, your blank and solder might be stuck to your stamp. That's okay. Just grab your pokey tool and gently pry your blank off. The rubber on your stamp will be a little soft, so try not to rip the piece off too fast. If you are worried, just let it cool on the stamp a little longer. Any extra bits stuck in the stamp can easily be picked out later.

Step 6: Cleaning Up

Picture of Cleaning Up

These cooled really quickly. I picked off some of the solder pieces on the edge just with my fingers. Then I lightly buffed the piece with some steel wool. I really like the color variation that came form the process so I wanted to keep that as much as possible. You could always sand if you wanted to get rid of some of that distortion.

I left my pieces raw, but you could always clean them up and then give then a clear coat.

I'm really digging the distressed look though.

Step 7: Things NOT to Do!

Picture of Things NOT to Do!

-Leave large gaps in your starting solder.

-Without flux, the solder won't move much, and won't really fill in. You could use this to your advantage, I suppose. If you have something you want to have little gaps in. I felt these pendants were too small for this to be really effective, but you do you.

-Choose a poor stamp.

-I sort of covered this earlier. So we know what to look for in a stamp, but I wanted to show you an example of a poor stamp too.

-I fount this adorable tiny little butterfly stamp. The lines weren't as sharp and I wanted, but were really good for the size of the overall image. I though surely this would work. After a few tries I gave up. It was a huge waste of supplies.

-The thicker lines don't really do well with this. Also, it's really difficult to get the molten metal's surface area big enough to be able to tell what it is a stamp of. Maybe you like the messy blob look. Maybe flux would help with this. Maybe you just call it a loss, like i did.

Step 8: Sometimes, It's Not You, It's Your Supplies.

Picture of Sometimes, It's Not You, It's Your Supplies.

I wanted to make these two heat halves match as much as possible. I was worried that if I did them broken edges together, the solder spillover would make them stick together. So I decided to do them back to back and have the pattern edges reaching towards the other. To make the solder even I made a swirly "s" and places it between the two. Thinking I could just cut the center piece out when I was done.

However, these blanks melted at the same temperature as the solder. I still tried to stamp it, but it didn't take. I guess this is why it's important to know your materials. I still think it's neat looking and will probably still use it for something. I'm counting this one as a happy accident. haha

Step 9: Finished Project!

Picture of Finished Project!

I used some steel wool to clean up some of the edges. I like them as is. If you wanted you could always clean them with rubbing alcohol and then give them a good coat of clear acrylic spray. Seeing it's something to be worn, I don't think it would really chip off. If you are worried about that, you could dip them in resin. You could add ink to bring out the design, or layer charms on top of these pendants. I really liked this project because I can see lots of variations that this project could be used for. I hope you can too!

Comments

jwescottrn (author)2016-09-19

Thank you for this tutorial! Instructions are great?! Haven't tried this but will soon! Love the effect & look?

NancyB132 (author)2016-09-11

Oh my! I love this idea, thank you so much for sharing it! :)

Dawsie (author)2016-02-29

thank you for such a great idea :-) I have some of those types of stamps which I bought to use for my polymer clay projects but :-/ they don't works so well too dense but if I use your trick and make a base metal template I can use that on my clay and get better results :-)

Now where did I put my silver solder gear :-) well once I find it all I will be making them :-) thank you again for sharing :-)

FakeCultMember (author)Dawsie2016-02-29

That is a great idea! I never thought about making reverse stamps like this. I hope it works out well for you!

Dawsie (author)FakeCultMember2016-03-05

Thanks :-) once I get all the things together and have some free space I will give it a go :-) as me Dad always keeps saying to me "you never know and till you try :-)"

clewis21 (author)2016-02-28

You just gave me an idea to try with glue sticks and a heat gun, lol! Putting corn starch on my stamp before I try and using a stamp I won't care if it gets ruined.

FakeCultMember (author)clewis212016-02-29

That is a great idea! I would love to see your results if you wouldn't mind posting them!

lazemaple (author)2016-02-28

just for clarification - the solder you are using looks like the kind purchased at the hardware stores as 'jewelry solder'. Its mainly tin which has a low melting point around 400'f and is used for soft soldering with an electric soldering iron usually. This solder should not be confused with actual jewelry solder used in hard soldering which has a melting point around 1100'f - 1550'f and requires a torch to do the job.

Your jewellery blanks look to be copper and you can use laundry borax mixed with a little water for your flux.

FakeCultMember (author)lazemaple2016-02-29

Yes, it is soft solder. It will melt with a solder iron, but I couldn't get a large enough area to melt at once. Using the torch made it easier to meal it all at once and kept it hot enough to get my rubber stamp ready. I do realize that a lot of what I did wasn't the "right" way and by using the torch i was using a lot more (thicker) solder then I wanted. It worked for what I needed at the time though. I didn't know about the borax and water though. Thank you for that! I'm excited to try these again with these tips, and someone else suggested beeswax for solder too. Thank you for the information!

lbyers (author)2016-02-28

Very interesting idea. And your presentation is easy to follow. I love your sense of humour.

FakeCultMember (author)lbyers2016-02-29

Thank you! I'm glad I come off funny to at least some people! haha

andrew.mead.1253 (author)2016-02-28

In a pinch, a fluxing agent is found in bees wax. If you don't have beeswax, think again and look for a candle. Not all candles are made of bees wax but many are. How do I know about the above? I take care of pipe organs for a living and I sometimes have to solder metal pipes or repair an electrical fault--sometimes I don't have flux with my tools--sometimes I don't have solder either--but if I have my soldering iron-- all is well--provided I'm in a church with a liturgical bent (like all Roman Catholic Churches, almost all Anglican (Episcopal) Lutheran and a few others). Roman Catholic Churches, btw, must use bees wax candles (for use in the Mass at least). There's stearic acid in bees wax and this becomes the flux I use when repairing organ pipes with solder. How How do I solder items if I forget my solder? Metal organ pipes are made from a number of soft metals but the greatest majority are made from either zinc (only used on the largest metal organ pipes) or an alloy of varying percentages of tin/lead and fractional percentages of other elements, which are used for all other metal organ pipes (sometimes the largest pipes too)-most of the time-. More often than not, pipe organ chambers are littered with cuttings of the tin/lead alloy from previous work to the organ pipes. Tin/lead alloys have varying names and one of them is "solder". That's right; most metal organ pipes are made out of sheets of what is otherwise known as solder. If there are no cuttings of this material to be found in the organ chamber one can cut-off some solder from an organ pipe-provided they cut it off from just the right place(s) on the organ pipe. I've been handling, soldering and making metal organ pipes for over 3 decades. Most pipes I encounter have between a 40/60 to 60/40 tin/lead ratio. Sometimes the lead/tin ratios are as extreme as 90/10 and 10/90--whatever the case, I've had long and frequent exposure to lead and lead alloys and there's been no change in lead levels in my blood over about a 20 year period of time between blood level tests that I elected to have for the sake of future reference. The levels are also "normal". Lead is poisonous when it's in the form of a chemical compound (like lead oxide) that's also easily dissolved in water. This being said, I see many disadvantages in the instructions regarding the use of solder composed of tin or tin and small percentages of other soft metals. Tin is usually 5 times more expensive than lead. Tin/lead alloys melt at a lower temperature than tin (the advantage here should be obvious). I also have good reason to think that many of the poor or failed detail issues written about in the instructible would be resolved with the use of at least a 33/67 lead/tin ratio.

Thank you for all this information. I had no clue beeswax could be used as flux, I just started a hive last summer and am excited about trying some of the beeswax for this. I understand that just touching lead won't really hurt you, I just wasn't sure if there were any laws against selling something made from it that is meant to be worn. I will give it a shot though and if it works out better I will post it on here. Maybe dipping it in a clear coat resin might just make people feel better about the "scary lead" aspect of it. I really appreciate your knowledge and advice. Sounds like you have a very interesting job and are an extremely resourceful person. Thank you again!

clewis21 (author)2016-02-28

I love your finished pieces. I don't think this is for me right now, but what a cool idea!

The Juliart (author)2016-02-20

Wonderful job! This would look great for making patterned nail and rivet heads. Love it! J

That's a great idea! And thank you! :D

nanaverm (author)2016-02-16

A beautiful stamp and nice funky end results!

Another thing you can do heat stamping with solid patterned rubber stamps is making impressions in thin craft foam. Use a heat gun (not the blowtorch!) to heat up the rubber, then quickly press it hard, flat into the foam. Looks like tooled leather, and really cool in tan or brown with animal images.

FakeCultMember (author)nanaverm2016-02-17

That's a really cool idea! Thank you for sharing. I definitely want to try that, do you have an instructable on it? Or plan on making one?

nanaverm (author)FakeCultMember2016-02-21

No on both ?s, but it's easy to do. Just follow my instructions above.

abraho (author)2016-02-17

This is cool! Love your results. Thanks for sharing.

FakeCultMember (author)abraho2016-02-18

Thank you!

DustBunny (author)2016-02-16

Thanks! This looks like it would be easy enough for someone who doesn't know much about soldering and it comes out looking so fancy.

The one you called a happy accident looks like a butterfly and looks like you did it on purpose. You could make a bracelet by attaching a chain to both loops. I would wear it.

FakeCultMember (author)DustBunny2016-02-17

Thank you! I really appreciate that. I think I just wanted to get the whole butterfly on there, but I think I'm going to get some flux and keep playing around with the larger images.

mickbead (author)2016-02-15

Thanks for sharing...I have seen some similar projects using this....Yours is unique and now I really want to try it!

FakeCultMember (author)mickbead2016-02-16

Thank you! I would love to see how yours turn out if you wouldn't mind sharing your creations!

alan joyce (author)2016-02-14

Thanks for the very clear instructions. I will be raiding the Wife's stamp box. Did the heat damage the stamps? Did you use a brush to apply the flux ? many thanks.

I didn't use any flux because I didn't have any at the time. The solder still adhered to the metal pretty well. Though, I think it just might have spread better if I did use some. If I were going to use it I would try to apply with a brush, just where i wanted it though.

The stamps had a little discoloration, but no permanent damage. They are a little bit tacky when you pull off the pendant but once completely cool, they were good as new. Just be careful, and if it feels too tacky wait until it cools more.

I hope that answered your questions. If not , let me know.

I hope you have fun with this project and I would love to see how yours turn out if you want to post pictures here!

Thanks for the info. I will try and keep you posted on my progress.

TheThinker (author)2016-02-14

Nice! Thanks for sharing.

No problem! :D

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