Ever feel like it's time for a soldering torch tip tune-up? We asked Johanna Harold, one of our Halstead Preferred Teachers, to share her top three tips for working the torch. Her soldering torch tips found below will certainly help the beginner and advanced students.
1. Flame Size
Here's a great soldering tip: Get in, get out. You want the flame to be hot and big enough to heat the piece up as quickly as possible (without any danger of melting it) for your solder to flow.
Adjust the size and intensity of the flame for the size of the piece. If you are soldering only bezel wire or a jump ring together, and have a smaller tip available, put that on and get in close to the piece.
If you are working on a very large piece, put on your largest torch tip and adjust the intensity to high, to make sure the piece is getting even heat and heating up the piece quickly enough to flow the solder before oxidation happens.
2. Torch Distance
The distance of the torch from the piece to be soldered is crucial and must be adjusted depending on the flame size. When done correctly, this will achieve two objectives: soldering your piece and keeping it clean.
If it's too far away, the torch will only heat up your piece enough to make it dirty. Heat plus oxygen creates oxidation on metal. But the environment of the flame can combat it!
So, try to keep the environment of the flame covering the whole piece until the solder has flowed. The flame prevents oxygen from reaching the metal, keeping the piece clean while soldering.
3. Flame Direction
Here's another great tip when soldering: solder moves toward the heat source. Make sure to heat the jewelry metal evenly and use the flame to direct the solder where you want it to go.
If solder jumps to one side of the seam, that side is getting more heat than the other side of the piece. Move the flame back and forth between both sides to get an even flow.
Torch Tip Maintenance
It's important that you maintain your torch tips. In our employee studio at Halstead, we have an air/acetylene Smith set-up. Every 3-4 months the o-rings found in the torch tip become brittle, cracked or they break. I'm sure the hot dry air we have here in Arizona speeds up the process, but I make it a point to check on the o-rings and replace them if they are beginning to show any wear and tear. I keep a dozen o-rings on hand at a time, so that we never run out. Now you may not need to change out the o-rings as often, but you should still check on them regularly.
Beginner's Soldering Project
A great jewelry project to start with is simple bangles. Watch this video as Erica Stice walks you through the process of creating sterling silver bangles, from measuring and cutting the jewelry wire to finishing the bangle with a textured finish.
For additional information on soldering:
Erica Stice contributed to this article.
Halstead is one of North America's leading distributors of quality jewelry supplies. The firm is celebrating their 42nd anniversary this year. Halstead specializes in wholesale findings, chain, and metals for jewelry artists.
Got questions? Email our studio coordinator Erica Stice at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you. Sorry, studio support is not available by phone. Emails only, please.