Sweat Soldering - An Effective Way to Create Unique Handmade Jewelry Designs

Sweat Soldering. is a basic jewelry making technique to learn when you are manufacturing your own handmade jewelry designs.

This jewelry making technique is used when overlaying one piece of metal on another.

You can view this as similar to placing an appliqué on fabric. The difference is that you actually melt the solder onto the back of the top piece.

After cutting and checking that both surfaces fit together correctly, flux the underside of the top piece and the top of the bottom piece.

Jewelry Design Tips If the areas to be joined are large, say bigger than about a half inch square, paste flux is the better flux to use. If the areas are smaller, then liquid flux can effectively be used.

Place the solder snippets on the underside of the top piece. The amount of solder to use will depend on the size of the piece. An easy rule to follow is to cover approximately 20 percent of the area. Using too much solder will tend to flow out of the joint and flood into the bottom piece. Using a paste of yellow ochre will prevent solder from flowing over the extension. Using too little solder will result in a bad joint that will need to be re-soldered.

Because solder tends to move away from the edge, it is best to place solder as close to the edge of the joint as possible, this will ensure a clean soldered joint.

sweat soldering technique

Place the smaller piece of metal, with flux and solder side up, on a mesh screen on top of a tripod. This will give you the advantage that solder tend to draw towards heat, making it easier to cover the entire surface. You can use a titanium stick to spread the solder once it becomes liquid, “tinning” the surface with solder. At this point you have accomplished the sweat soldering process. Pickle the piece as usual.

sweat soldering

Begin to flux the top piece, and then position it on the bottom piece.

Place both pieces on the mesh screen on the tripod, and again, heat from beneath; the bottom piece is usually the larger one and will take longer to heat this happens when the pieces reach 1100º, the flux will melt, and the top piece may drop a bit.

You can add pressure to the piece with the pick and you may even have a couple of seconds to reposition the piece if necessary. Continue heating, and the solder will flow between the two pieces. Look for a liquid silver line where the two pieces are joined.

Once you see the liquid silver line, remove the torch, allow the piece to cool slightly, and then place in pickle.

WARNING: Control the torch to avoid overheating. Start slow and proceed carefully, you can always reheat the piece if necessary.

If the pieces get too hot they can warp, distort, or even melt.

Overheating will also cause “firescale” when the copper alloy oxidizes. Cleaning “firescale” is time consuming and not easy to clean.

Mastering this sweat soldering technique can facilitate you handcrafted jewelry designs.

From Sweat Soldering to Soldering Instructions


back to home page