Silver soldering is one of the most basic jewelry-making techniques. Useful for connecting separate pieces of metal by an invisible seam, soldering is most often used in the creation of linked chains and stone settings, projects that beginners must master before moving on to more complicated things. To begin learning how to solder silver, start with one basic project: the silver charm bracelet. Consisting of a linked chain ready for the attachment of dangling charms, this silver bracelet project is perfect for soldering practice. To complete the project, follow these guidelines.
Things You'll Need
- Silver solder
- 20-gauge silver wire
- Wire clippers
- Ring mandrel
- Jewelry pliers
- Pickle pot and solution
- Soldering clamps
- Silver clasp
- Polishing cloth
- Charms and beads
Measure the length of bracelet you would like to make. Since you will be creating chain links of 1/2 inch, determine how many links you will need to complete the distance.
Cut 1/2 inch long lengths of silver wire in the amount of links you need, using the wire clippers. File and sand the edges smooth. Holding 1 wire piece with the jewelry pliers, wrap the wire around the ring mandrel until the ends meet snugly. Use the mallet to bang the wire into a perfect circular loop shape. Remove the wire from the mandrel.
Add a little flux to the "seam" between the 2 wire ends of the loop, using a paintbrush. Only put flux where you want the solder to flow. Cut a few tiny pieces of silver solder and place them along the seam. You may need to do this with a pair of tweezers.
Fit the wire loop into the soldering clamps. Adjust the clamps over your fire bricks, so that your soldering area is well-protected. Turn the blowtorch to a low level or small flame and apply the flame directly to the seam. When the solder flows into the seam, remove the torch.
Pick up the wire loop with the tongs and drop it into the pickle pot. Let the loops sit there for a few minutes to cool, and then remove it. File and sand away any excess solder.
Repeat Step 2 with the next piece of silver wire. Using the pliers, carefully pull the edges of this loop apart by twisting them to the sides, maintaining the circle. Slide this loop through the first soldered loop. Close the edges with the pliers and solder them together, following Steps 3 to 5. This creates 2 linked loops.
Solder all remaining loops until you have one long, linked chain. Attach the premade clasp to each end loop, or make your own clasp out of spare silver wire. Polish the chain with a polishing cloth.
Attach all premade charms to the chain loops, or create your own out of twisted wire and beads. Attach these homemade charms the same way you made the chain, by stringing them through loops and soldering the loops closed. Then simply run the length of the chain through the loops of the charms.
Tips & Warnings
- Pickle pots are usually made from heated crockpots filled with a solution called "pickle." Older crock pots are best for this purpose.
- Do not put beads through any soldering process.
- Do not melt the wire. Watch carefully and hold the flame away slightly if it seems like the wire is burning. Never use a large flame.
- Do not touch hot metal. Let all metal sit in the pickle pot first.
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