How to Solder Stones

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Many metal craft projects, especially sculpture and jewelry designs, incorporate stones along with the sheet metal or wire workings. It's challenging to try to secure these stones in place via soldering, because many stones are non-porous and don't bond with the solder in the manner that metal does. To create a secure soldered joint, the metal around the stone needs to be secure.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal craft project
  • Stone
  • Desk vice
  • Soldering iron
  • Soldering iron stand
  • Solder wire
  • Leather scraps

Shape the metal or wire pieces around the stone to wrap it as securely in place as you can. Position some of the metal or wire pieces so that they're touching or overlapping across the stone; this will be your soldered joint.

Secure the stone and metal wrap in the desk vice.

Plug in the soldering iron and let it heat in its stand for at least three minutes, or as directed by the manufacturer.

Pull the end of the solder wire away from the spool and extend it outward. Make it stick out at least 3 inches from the rest of the spool.

Press the tip of the soldering iron to the outstretched end of the soldering wire. Let some solder melt onto the tip of the iron; estimate how much you'll need for the project and let that quantity bead and stick. You'll be able to correct this later if it isn't quite right.

Place the iron tip against the metal on the stone that you want to join. Roll and rub the iron tip to smear the solder in place across the two metal pieces. On this first pass, err on the side of applying more solder than you need to ensure a secure joint. If need be, add more solder to the iron tip from the spool.

Let the solder cool for 30 seconds. Wipe the iron tip on a scrap of wet leather to remove excess solder.

Run the clean, hot soldering iron tip over the solder joint to smooth out imperfections and remove excess solder, cleaning up the appearance of the joint. The topmost layer of the solder will melt, but the solder beneath this will only melt if you hold the iron in place rather than running it quickly over the surface. Wipe the iron as you work to get rid of excess solder.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some types of stone will scorch if they come into direct contact with a hot soldering iron, or if they stay in contact with it for too long. If possible, do a test burn on a spare piece of stone or a portion of your project that won't be seen; if the stone scorches, exercise caution when soldering to avoid leaving scorch marks.
  • Making an attractive solder joint takes practice; if necessary, wipe the joint free of solder with the hot iron and start again until you get the look you want.

References

  • "The Big-Ass Book of Crafts;" Mark Montano and Auxy Espinoza; 2008
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