Hi guys, for my very first instructable I have this fellow, a clockwork shark I made as my girlfriend's birthday gift. It's constructed from old mechanical watch movement pieces that have been fitted and soldered together. Obviously this requires soldering, but don't be discouraged if you haven't before...this is how I learned to solder as well :D
A little while back I stumbled upon zaro12345's clockwork heart pendant while looking for gift ideas for my girlfriend, too bad for me, there was only a few pictures but no real instructions; but I liked it so much, I figured I'd give it a shot anyways.
Oh, and because I've never soldered before there is a lot of trial and error, and corrections, as you will see, which is why we have solder wick.
Oh, and if you like this, please vote for me in the jewelry contest!!! I've got a bazillion ideas for 3D printing I'd love to try out! :D
Step 1: Materials!
So, to get started, here is everything you will need:
-a soldering iron (the smaller the tip the better, and as long as it can reach 400 degrees you should be alright)
-miscellaneous clockwork pieces (**IMPORTANT**- I've been able to find entire mechanical movements at flea markets and for even better prices online, but it is VERY important that you understand the scale of what you buy, especially if it is online and you can't see it. As you will see, many of the pieces I got online were too small to really use. Instead of finding and buying pieces separately, I found it best to buy large-ish wristwatch movements and then just disassemble them yourself.
-a few small/precision screwdrivers (if you don't have any, sets can be bought online for cheap)
-flux (appropriate to the solder)
-a small brush, or stick (for applying flux)
-a damp sponge or mass of wet paper towels to clean the iron on
-a wooden worksurface
And that's about it. In the pictures you can see that I have my little third hands, but it broke, so while it would have been EXTREMELY useful, its certainly possible to get by without one.
Step 2: Organize!
First of all, once you have disassembled your watch movements (if you had to) you need to figure out what kind of shape you want to make. I went through a few designs, but in the end I found that the shark was the best looking, and luckily my lady friend likes just about anything that swims, wiggles, flies, crawls, or slithers. Once you've figured out what you want to make, it's time to get to soldering, but I'll explain that too, so anyone who wants to can learn.
Oh, and remember in your design, that it makes the most sense to put the biggest pieces on the bottom (base) and build on top of these, this way you can see many of the intricacies of the smaller pieces AND the bigger ones underneath.
Now is also a good time to polish and clean the pieces, if they haven't been already. Just polish first, then wash them in alcohol. I wore gloves for this, but it isn't necessary.
Step 3: Soldering 101
Alright, so now that you know what you want to make, we're ready to solder. Organize your work space to that all of your tools and materials are easily accessible, and have the solder and flux within reach, you'll be using it a lot. Make sure you're soldering above a wooden or ceramic work space (like a tile)--anything metal will absorb heat. Now you can open up you can of flux, unwind a little bit of solder, and turn on your iron. Dampen your sponge or paper towel wad if you haven't already. If you have pieces you know you arent going to use, feel free to experiment; like I did.
Now, to solder your to base pieces together, take your brush and apply flux to anywhere you want the solder to stick to. Push your two pieces together as best you can (or use the third hand) and then pick up your soldering iron.
Push the (very**) hot soldering iron tip against the solder to make it melt and stick to the end until you have a small bead on the very tip. Now gently push this bead onto the fluxed area until it gets sucked off, it should sizzle and that's it! You can clean your tip now by rubbing it on the sponge or paper towel wad. I found that using anything heavy (pliars, etc.) to hold my pieces together worked fine in the absence of a third hand. If you have made a strong solder joint, it will be nice and shiny.
**IMPORTANT**- If ever your tip become so corroded that it can no longer properly melt solder, or solder won't stick to it, simply re-tin it, by waiting for it to cool, then removing and sanding the tip to metal, then re-attaching it, dipping it in flux, and then winding solder tightly around the tip. Now you can turn your iron on, as soon as it starts to melt the solder, turn it off, and use centrifugal motion to keep the liquid solder on the tip. After it cools, you can clean it off with the sponge, and you now have a nice, shiny, and more importantly, WORKING soldering iron tip.
Now as far as solder wick goes, I found it works best if you lay it on the solder joint you want removed, than kind of roll the length of the end of the tip on it until all of the solder simultaneously melts and is sucked onto the wick; which is when you pull it away before it hardens again.
Sorry for not having any in progress soldering pics, but I only had two hands :/
Step 4: Details.....and Complete!
Now that you have your base done, it gets much harder; from here on out you will be soldering much smaller pieces onto the base pieces with as little solder as you can (so its less noticeable) but still enough to make your piece strong and durable. Tweezers are especially handy for this, because the little pieces move around a lot, even when the iron bumps them, so this takes a little patience. I found that it looked best if I tried fitting gears and what not into old screw holes, so it was sort of set in place before I soldered. Once you're satisfied with your mechanical masterpiece, find a little brass ring or make a ring from wire, and solder it onto the back, for a chain to go through (if you made a pendant).
And that's it, feel free to ask any questions, and if you liked this please vote for me in the jewelry contest!!!
Step 5: Revisions!!!
Alright, so now that you've got you're masterpiece, you may have some giant globs of solder here and there, and maybe even some unsightly burn marks from using solder wick :( Have no fear! cleaning up your piece took some experimenting on my part, but it's not too hard to do.
If you have some globs to deal with, try "forming" them with the soldering iron to make them less noticeable. If you want to try and completely remove solder, try to use the solder wick, and once its heated up and sucking the solder off, press it hard against the piece and pull. This should remove at least the shape of the solder, and it will probably leave a shiny silver veneer on your piece, but it's much better looking than a glob of solder.
If you have burn marks left over from using solder wick, break out the acetone and some scrubbing supplies (I used a toothbrush and q-tips) and get to work. This will get most if not all of your burns off, and cleans the piece nice and shiny. Even if you don't have any burn marks, you should still clean your piece with acetone, it makes it much shinier.
And that's it, for real this time!