Now that we have covered the Basic Solder Station Setup and Essentials, we can begin to explore the technique.

In the last post we discussed how to prep and organize the Solder so we can be ready to go quickly when working on our projects. 

Today I am going to outline the key concepts and basic rules necessary for successful soldering everytime. 

Brazing ~ Soldering

The terms Soldering and Brazing can be used interchangeably in the Jewelry World.
They both describe the same act.
The act of joining of joining metal parts using heat and a fusible alloy (Solder). 

The Solder is an alloy that melts at a lower temperature than the metal parts you are joining together. 

The join or joint is the place where the metal parts you want to solder come together. It is where you place the flux and solder prior to applying the heat.

Flux is a chemical compound that helps the solder to flow by minimizing the firescale and oxidation on the metal from the heat of your torch. 
Flux also helps the metal parts of the join stay together and helps keep the solder in place until it flows. 

The metal joins or joints need to be clean and meet together as close to perfectly as possible for solder to flow,  (Solder does not fill gaps between the metal parts easily.)

The solder is pulled into the join by Capillary Action.
Capillary Action occurs when the heat from the torch cause the metal parts to expand, a vacuum is created that draws the solder into and through the join area. 

Key Concepts

Success in Soldering requires:

  • A complete join
  • A clean join
  • Flux
  • Solder
  • Heat

Basic Rules

Number 1 – The join or joint must be as close to perfect as you can get it. 

To achieve this goal, you will need to use some basic tools.  Flush cutters, piercing saws, files and sanding tools are all used to perfect the join area. 

A good clean cut is the first step in the process. 

(Read my recent post on Cutting Tools for more Cutters and Saws.)


A few basic measuring tools and markers will help you ensure to get a proper fitting and good straight cut. 

Measure and mark your cuts before hand to and use the correct cutting tool for the job. 

I like the Fine Tip Sharpies for making my marks. 

I have a variety of metal and plastic meauring tools …. very inexpensive but so useful. 

A miter vise is a good investment if you find you have trouble with getting the ends of your metals perfectly flush. 

My Miter vise has openings for 45, 60 and 90 degree angles for wire and sheet metals. 

This tool can be used with your Saw and Files effectively. 

If you have trouble getting your joins flush, I strongly urge you to save your pennies and get one as soon as you can. It alleviates a load of frustration. 


This is one of the best investments I have made since I began working with metals and solder. 


A good variety of good files are critical to refining the joins to perfection. 

Prior to soldering, use your files to remove metal burrs and nibs left behind from cutting or sawing your metal and make your joins more perfectly flush.

Files come in different grades defined by numbers. A Cut 1 file is coarser than a Cut 4 file. 

Watch for more in depth discussion on files in upcoming posts on Forming Metal and on Polishing and Finishing Metal projects. 

On the far left, you can see the handle I bought to gain more control when using my needle files. 

Sanding tools such as sanding sticks and wet/dry sandpapers can help you fully refine your joins.

I use sandpaper in different grits. I make sure to clearly mark the grit number on the back of each piece.

Start with the coarser grit, which has a smaller number and work up to the finer grit (higher numbered.)

Sandpapers are indispensable for smoothing bezel settings before soldering them to the backplate. 


Sandpaper can also be used to clean metal bringing us to the next basic rule.

Number 2 – The Join or joint must be Clean for the solder to flow

All the cutting, filing and sanding are usually enough to clean the join sufficiently for the solder to flow.

But there will be many times that you will need to clean the metal again. 

For example, the project has multiple soldering steps and the metal is dirty with firescale from the previous join. 

Pickling the metal is the fastest and easiest way to clean the metal when needed. 

Pickle is a acidic solution used clean flux and firescale form metal. 

I use Sparex #2 for my copper and silver.  

Remember to use only copper tongs to add or remove your pieces from the crock pot. 


Read more about Pickle in my post Solder Station Essentials

Penny Brite is another option for cleaning your metal before soldering. 

I love this cleaner for times when there isn’t much firescale to clean and for cleaning tarnish from wire solder and projects that have been laying around unfinished. 

All you need to use Penny Brite is running water, an old toothbrush and some elbow grease.

Once your Joins are complete and clean, try not to handle them too much as even the oils from your skin can interfere with the flow of the solder. 

That brings us to flux. 

We talked about Flux briefly in Solder Essentials.

In terms of the soldering process, you apply the flux to the join area. This will protect help reduce firescale from building up on the join before the solder has a chance to flow.

So essentially Flux keeps the metal clean during the heating process and allows the solder to flow throughout the join.



Flux can be used on the entire project to prevent buildup of firescale and cut down on finishing time later on. 

This brings the Introductory Series on Basic Solder Station Set-Up and  Solder Essentials to a close

I hope I have helped you grasp the Key Concepts, basic tools and terminology needed to be successful in your soldering projects. 

Make sure to dive into my new Introductory series on Basic Metalsmithing Task and Tools.