Soldering sterling jump rings on necklaces...
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Hi Everybody- it's me again :)
I've been attempting to use different lengths of solid sterling cable chain to make necklaces of different lengths. I want to solder the jump rings (the one that hooks to the spring clasp, and the one the clasp hooks onto), but I'm having issues.
I tried using my torch with a teeny bit of soldering paste, but because the torch is so hot, it ruins the spring clasp. It doesn't glide open and shut like it should. I've also had issues with the torch melting the chain.
Anyone have advice on how to solder the jump rings without ruining the rest of the necklace???
Posted at 1:35 am Feb 23, 2010 EST
Hi CherryTree... I understand your frustration. I would make these suggestions: 1) see if you can buy your spring rings with pre-soldered closed rings so that you only need to solder the attaching ring, and not kill the spring ring. By heating so near the steel spring inside the clasp, you are taking out the spring temper of the steel, so they don't spring anymore because it's soft now.
2) take some fine sterling wire and, in your flex shaft, wrap it around the end of a very small drill bit to turn up a coil of jump rings. Cut them apart and link them together into a little length of chain. Use a tiny, tiny flame and solder each one of them closed without freezing them together. By the time you have soldered all of them closed, you will have mastered soldering tiny rings close together!
It really is practice, practice, and more practice using the tools, torch, solder, etc., you have to work with.
Posted at 1:56 am Feb 23, 2010 EST
Pick up some of this "stay brite silver solder" (www.hobbylinc.com/htm/sta/sta2000sbkit.htm). It melts at around 450 degrees, and can be used with a fine pointed soldering iron to close up jump rings. Make sure you use the stay bright flux - it won't work with your usually flux. And also, be sure to clean the flux off afterward with baking soda and soap and water.
This solder isn't as strong as regular silver solder, but it is much stronger than plumbing or electrical solder, and it also doesn't tarnish. You don't need the same kind of strength on a jump ring that you need on other parts of jewelry - essentially, all you need is something to hold the ring closed.
Posted at 6:10 am Feb 23, 2010 EST
I went to that link for the stay-brite solder kit and they no longer sell them. I contacted Stay-Brite directly (800-733-4533) and they gave me the telephone numbers of a couple of places locally that sell them (for even cheaper than the website was advertising).
I'll give it a try and let you guys know how it goes!
Posted at 1:45 pm Feb 23, 2010 EST
Okay so I bought the Stay-Brite kit with the flux and silver solder. I just spent the last hour trying it out with not great results. I don't know what it is that I'm doing wrong- the jump rings I'm testing it out on are for some keyrings. They are thick silver plated (copper in the center) jump rings that I purchased from Nunn Designs. So I put the liquid flux in between the joints and closed the jump ring. Then I put the soldering tip below the joint and the solder above the joint. The flux burns up (note: you need to wear a mask with this- the smoke is dangerous to your health) but then nothing. The solder won't melt. I sat there like that for several minutes and nothing! I was able to get it to flow on one, but that's it. The rest of them, the metal just turns a black color (firescale) and the solder tip also becomes a bit blackened.
Splendid Fish or anyone else that's used this product- ever run into this issue? Any suggestions? Seems really strange considering the low melting point. I know I'm using plenty of flux, so I don't understand why it's not flowing!
Posted at 11:59 pm Feb 23, 2010 EST
One thing you could try is to hold the clasp in a pair of self-locking tweezers. That will draw the heat away from the clasp, serving a heat sink. This will provide some protection to the clasp.
I am not sure though why you would solder the jumpring to the clasp though. The problem lies within the steel spring inside the clasp. Even a bit of heat will anneal it and render it useless. I would think it can be done though, just wonder if it is worth the effort.
One other thing you could try is use some of the gels that are used to protect gems while jewelry is repaired. Put it on the clasp to protect it. One brand name is CoolJool I believe.
I would just use extra easy silver solder for that. You will need an extra tiny flame. You can use an injection needle as torch tip to get that small flame.
Posted at 3:19 am Feb 24, 2010 EST
The trick to doing this is to remember that the flux works only at a low temp, and if it gets too hot, it will burn off and soldering becomes impossible. Here's the technique I use:
Squeeze some flux into a small container. Heat up the soldering iron, and, when it is hot, dip the tip into the flux. Immediately touch the tip to the solder, which will run and cover the tip (this is called "tinning"). The solder will spatter, so be sure that you've covered the work surface, and your eyes. Trust me on this, you don't want that flux in your eyes....
Paint some of the flux over the joint you want to solder. I generally hold the ring with a pair of "normally closed" pliers - the kind fly tiers use that stay shut until you manually open them.
Dip the tinned tip of the soldering iron into the flux. The solder on the tip will turn shiny, indicating that it is melted and free flowing. Immediately touch the tip of the soldering iron to the joint, and the solder should quickly flow to fill it. If it doesn't work right away, repaint the joint, re dip the tip, and try again.
I know this sounds complicated, but, once you get the feel of it, you can do a lot of rings in a minute or two. I generally do several pieces of jewelry at one time so that I save on set up time.
Posted at 6:13 am Feb 24, 2010 EST