……or rather are they getting in the way of your soldering? (Sneaky? Yeah, I know. It’s a jewellery tutorial in disguise as a self-help blog…. 😛 )
In a word. No. No they aren’t. Your nerves aren’t getting in the way of anything.
Not in an insurmountable way anyway. There’s a trick to it and I’m going to share it with you (and not in a “click on this to download my webinar and free ebook, give me your email address and THEN I’ll share it with you” kind of a way either [– although it you’d like to subscribe, share and all that stuff, I’d love you for it!])
I’ll tell you right now that there is a trick to soldering and it’s very, very simple.
1999 was the year I started smithing and jewellery design. It was also the year
a – I was introduced to the blowtorch
b – I burnt myself for the first time
c – I melted my first piece of precious metal jewellery
d – I realised that I couldn’t solder because my hands shook too much, I didn’t like getting burnt and I didn’t like melting expensive stuff that had had a lot of time spent on it.
I now solder regularly – I have a family of torches, from the almost entirely useless pencil torch that sort of coughs a tiny cough then gives up, to a massive thing that would look more at home in a garage somewhere. That one, my main one, spews snarls of flamey derision. I love her very much. (She should have a name. Suggestions?)
What I don’t have is a normal jewellers’ torch, oddly enough – either one of those ones that you spit into or a tap-controlled one. That’s after over 16 years of making and goes to prove (sorry) that you really don’t need all of the fancy kit if you have enough control.
The way to get control, eliminate nerves and virtually knock errors on the head is to prepare far more than you think you need to and definitely much more than you are going to want to.
Soldering is mainly setting up and hardly any burny hot-hot flamey fun.
Sadly “setting up” doesn’t involve merely wrapping anything you are going to join in metres of binding wire and crossing your fingers (again, I am sorry).
It means that if you are soldering, make sure your joins are absolutely flush. You want your molten solder to flow down that join? Make it physically possible!! Capillarity requires a capillary.
If you want to solder a half jump onto the back of a unit to thread a chain through then… OK … look…. This might seem stupid. But why not make sure it stands up by itself on a tabletop first? If it doesn’t, file it, sand it – do whatever you need to do to stabilise it!
Of course there are other ways. You could hold the half ring onto the piece with a pair of tweezers.
And then… I would guess the nerves would come back and things might get a little tricky again.
As a rule, I would say that for every 30 second solder, you should be spending at least 15 minutes lining up your pieces and making sure that come the time, you can just use the torch and not have to manipulate red hot metal by prodding it with tweezers (or screaming at it)
OK, I know. I am sounding like a very jaded teacher here so I have another hint. You know those pallions of solder you’ve been using? And that flux/borax?
Use pre-fluxed solder in a syringe.
Cookson’s (UK) stock it and it will make you very happy indeed.
£1,790 – mybestbrands.de
£12,195 – farfetch.com
£45 – casetify.com