Eventually, just about every jewelry maker thinks about trying his or her hand at metalwork, and with that comes the question about which torch to use.
The first time you use soldering torch can be scary. The open flame can be intimidating and something more from a construction site than a fine design workbench. But that doesn’t mean you should not solder or, worse still, try to use equipment that isn’t made for soldering jewelry. With proper safety and practice, you will become comfortable with the flame.
Learn why you need to use a flame torch versus a soldering iron, the importance of using correct fuel for your torch, and resources that will help you learn to make metal jewelry.
Why You Must Use a Flame Torch for Melting Jewelry Metal
Why can't you use a soldering gun, soldering iron, or cold heat soldering device rather than a torch with a flame when soldering jewelry? Here's why you need a soldering torch.
Part of soldering requires that you melt tiny bits of metal onto metal. If you can’t melt the metal, you will not be successful. Most of the soldering guns and irons are used for other work, like soldering electrical wires together, so they just don’t get hot enough to melt the metals you will be using in making jewelry. The melting point of sterling is 1640 F or 893 C. Copper melts at 1981 F or 1083 C. Gold has a melting point of 1945 F or 1063 C.
Fuel Issues for Soldering Metal Jewelry
The type of fuel you use is also an important element to consider when you select the proper type of torch to solder jewelry. A jewelry torch is fueled by clean fuels such as butane, propane, mapp, or a mixture of propane and oxygen.
If you are just starting out, get a small propane tank at your local hardware store. Then, purchase a torch tip. These are available at most jewelry supply companies (such as Rio Grande) and attach to the top of your tank. Basically, you just screw them onto the top of your fuel tank, so they are very easy to assemble. Examples are the basic torch tip or a pencil torch tip. Rio Grande has a Benzomatic tip for about $50.
Keeping your metal and solder clean is extremely important when soldering jewelry. You need a clean way of soldering and the type of fuel you use is an important element of this.
More on Metal Jewelry
Learn more about the elements of learning to solder, working with metal, and the best soldering torches with these guides to metal working.
Finding Classes – If you really want to learn and would like hands-on help, look around for a class in your area. Here are tips on how to find jewelry making classes in your local area.
Getting Started Metalsmithing – Learn the basics to get started with this type of jewelry making.
Soldering Setup - Here is some helpful information about how to setup a safe place to do your soldering.
Step-by-Step Soldering – Follow these steps and learn how to solder silver and copper.
Tips for Soldering – This feature describes what soldering is about and provides some tips for soldering silver.