Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New Skills in Soldering

As I have said before, I just love to learn new skills.  This time I took a class to learn soldering in jewelry.  Specifically, I learned to create a bezel setting for a cabochon.  We cut a back plate of sterling silver and soldered a bezel and a bail to it.  The best part - we used a butane torch, often called a creme brulee torch.  

This is an inexpensive option that will work for small projects and is less intimidating than an acetylene setup.  Another option is a plumber's torch with a propane tank for a little more power and heat.  For me it was also harder to hold and aim.  There is a larger butane torch that I plan to buy that I think will work for most of my projects. 

After much filing and polishing, I set the stone and smoothed the bezel over the edge.  Here is the result:

This class was so much fun and I was very excited to be there.  We had the most patient instructor, Rick Swartzwelder, and he was great at explaining and showing each step.  He was also available later by email to answer questions.  

Rick offered another class just last weekend to make a ring with a bezel setting.  To start this project we put a texture on the silver band before shaping the ring.  I learned that you need to be aggressive in adding texture because most of mine disappeared with all the work that was done on the ring.  Another student had textured her band with two different hammers.  She thought perhaps she had done too much but it was just right when she finished.  I chose a black onyx cabochon and followed Rick's instruction to another great result.  Well, I still have a little polishing to do. 

The tricky part of this project was setting the bezel on a curved base.  Since solder will not fill gaps and the surfaces must touch with no space between, we had to do a lot of filing to create the same curve on the bottom of the bezel without distorting the shape.  Patience was definitely required.  

Of course, learning a new skill usually means acquiring new tools.  Oh gee, I have to buy new tools?  So I have my order ready to go.  I wonder what my practice projects will be.  Stay tuned and I will share them.  

And if you have been thinking about learning to solder, go for it.  A good place to start would be the free class on Craftsy by Kate Richbourg, Micro Torch Basics.

Keep learning and creating,


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