How to Do Decorative Soldering

Written by nikki cash
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How to Do Decorative Soldering
Glass and jewellery utilise decorative soldering. (box for jewellery image by Lucy Cherniak from Fotolia.com)

Decorative soldering is commonly used in glasswork to add a decorative border along the glass sections. This can be seen on stained glass in glass lamps, jewellery boxes, glass pictures, etc. The end result is an exquisite work of art and craftsmanship, but the skill is honed with practice and time. But once perfected, decorative soldering can be utilised in all aspects of home decor and jewellery-making.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Wood pad
  • Flux
  • Flat-tipped soldering iron
  • Flux cleaner
  • Scrub brush
  • Sponge

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Clean the area with a steel wool pad to remove residual flux, grime, and grease.

  2. 2

    Flux all intersecting glass sections. Flux is a chemical that facilitates the soldering process by removing oxidation from the metals.

  3. 3

    "Flat-tack" the intersections. Apply small portions of solder into the intersecting areas and solder them with a flat-face tip soldering iron, levelling them with the glass. These small solders will help hold the glass sections in place while you solder the rest of the areas. Fill in the rest of the gaps by melting solder into them with the soldering iron and level it evenly with the glass.

  4. 4

    "Tin" the copper perimeters of the glass sections by melting very thin amounts of solder onto the surface. This will be just enough solder to cover the copper with a silver coating.

  5. 5

    Flux the area that can be soldered before it evaporates. Flux small sections at a time from the top to avoid dragging your sleeves through the flux.

  6. 6

    Run the solder bead along the seams and hold the flat-tipped soldering iron in the writing hand with the flat tip perpendicular to the seam. Then feed enough solder along the seams to allow the solder to flow evenly onto to seams. This process creates a distinct border built upon the level solder from before. The seam is meant to stand out and protrude a little. So if there is too little solder, apply more solder once the previous solder has cooled. If there is too much solder, clean the iron tip and remove the old solder by pulling off when heated.

  7. 7

    Pull off the iron in the direction of the seam to end a bead, rather than pulling it straight up.

  8. 8

    Clean the excess flux. Apply a flux cleaner and scrub away with warm water and a soft scrub brush.

Tips and warnings

  • Decorative soldering takes time and practice, so work slowly in small sections. Frequently clean the tip of the soldering iron with a damp sponge during the soldering process. Do not use a painting motion when soldering.
  • Solder on a flame-retardant surface and away from any combustible substances. Wear safety goggles and work in a well-ventilated area.

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