Ever feel like it’s time for a soldering tune-up? We asked Johanna Harold, one of our Halstead Preferred Teachers, to share her top three tips for working the torch. Johanna runs Harold Studio, a jewelry making studio with classes in Phoenix, Arizona.
1. FLAME SIZE
Get in, get out. You want the flame to be hot and big enough to heat the piece up as quickly as possible (without any danger of melting it) for your solder to flow.
Adjust the size and intensity of the flame for the size of the piece. If you are soldering only bezel wire or a jump ring together, and have a smaller tip available, put that on and get in close to the piece.
If you are working on a very large piece, put on your largest torch tip and adjust the intensity to high, to make sure the piece is getting even heat and heating up the piece quickly enough to flow the solder before oxidation happens.
2. TORCH DISTANCE
Distance of the torch from the piece to be soldered is crucial and must be adjusted depending on the flame size. When done correctly, this will achieve two objectives: soldering your piece and keeping it clean.
If it’s too far away, the torch will only heat up your piece enough to make it dirty. Heat plus oxygen creates oxidation on metal. But the environment of the flame can combat it!
So, try to keep the environment of the flame covering the whole piece until the solder has flowed. The flame prevents oxygen from reaching the metal, keeping the piece clean while soldering.
3. FLAME DIRECTION
Solder moves toward the heat source. Make sure to heat the metal evenly and use the flame to direct the solder where you want it to go.
If solder jumps to one side of the seam, that side is getting more heat than the other side of the piece. Move the flame back and forth between both sides to get an even flow.