Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How to Solder Jewelry Using a Soldering Iron

By on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 7 Comments

This post is inspired by reader Peggy Barnette who emailed me ages ago asking if I had done any research on the cordless (butane powered) Dremel Versatip. The promo video certainly shows a very versatile 6 in 1 tool with many applications including soldering. 

solder wire, liquid flux, soldering iron

At that time I hadn't done any research and I don't own the tool. What I do know is some artisans like using soldering irons. Others prefer using a torch. The latter certainly offers higher temperature soldering.  So here is some background and instructional videos to help you decide if soldering irons are in your future!

How to Solder Basics
This great video by Coldstart covers the basics of electronics soldering. Note that the instructor is using rosin cored solder wire which includes a flux. Flux is necessary to clean the area of the join and facilitate the smooth flowing of the melted solder. Paste or liquid flux is not suitable for electronics.

Some important points to note :
  • Tinning - Covering the tip of the iron before soldering and at the end before storage protects the tip from oxidation.  If oxidized, the iron won't work anymore.
  • Wet Sponge - Don't flick off the excess and hot solder! Wipe the tip on a wet sponge as most people do.
  • Third Hand - Really handy tool to help you hold the piece because it will get hot.  It's not an expensive item and worth having for other uses.
  • Hot Metal Joint - The instructor first heats up the metal to be joined before solder is added.  This makes a stronger join than if you did a cold joint.
  • Do not use the soldering iron for long periods of time (over an hour) nor leave it unattended.
Jewelry soldering is not like electronics soldering as you will see from the other videos below.  Other points to note :
  • Clean your metal before soldering with some rubbing alcohol to remove grease and dirt.
  • Remember not everything will survive the heat. Nearby gemstones may be damaged.
  • Ventilation is recommended because of the fumes.
How to Solder Jump Rings Closed
Check out the video from the Crafts Channel where instructor Corinne Bradd demos and uses the Dremel Versatip to solder close some jump rings very quickly and easily. She makes a cold joint which results in weaker joint.  So try preheating the metal first.

It is rather laborious to solder one ring at a time. So using a proper torch is quicker.  Check out this video where the instructor uses a charcoal block to hold a number of jump rings.

How to Solder Pendants and Bails
Anyone who has done stained glass work will know about the use of copper tape. Vanessa Spencer from the Stampington company demonstrates in this video how to solder beautiful glass pendants and attach a hand made wire bail. You can certainly use the same technique to make your own broken china jewelry.

Tammy Honaman's amazing wire pendant with soldered dichroic glass tutorial over on Fire Mountain Gems is truly inspirational!

So would you be soldering soon?

Before You Go:
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 



  1. I have a Versatip, though I must say that I'm mostly using it as a micro torch (to melt hard solder among other things) and have only used it as a soldering iron once (not used to using round solder iron tips and it didn't come with a flat one) and same with the heat gun function: used it once to melt embossing powder on brass tags. Still one of my favourite tools as it's the better of my two micro torches.

    I don't really solder: when using solder it's actually just been in order to create a cool surface with silver or tin solder on copper pendants. But, yes, both soft soldering with a solder iron (not least to make soldered glass pendants and do some pewtersmithing) and hard soldering for working with copper, brass, silver etc would be something I'd want to explore more some day.

  2. Soldering is something I've longed to do but just have not gotten the courage (not to mention the money to invest in the equipment) to do it.

    I'll have to look into the Versatip as it sounds interesting and might actually propel me into doing some soldering.

  3. Hi!! I really love your blog and read your posts daily. It´s amazing how you always choose interesting subjects to write about.
    I have a question... would you recommend the Versatip to solder silver and/or gold? or would it be necessary to get a torch for that?

  4. I would use a torch for silver or gold.

  5. PS Thanks Ligia for liking my blog! I love sharing all the fun stuff I come across!

  6. Hello there, i saw that it is an old post but i will try, i want to buy the versatip to melt only silver, coper, and gold wire 0,3 mm, it would be inlay for wood so if it isn necesary i would prefer to use soldering without the torch alternative. Thank you very much

    1. I'm not sure the tool will be hot enough to melt those metals. But you are working with thin wire, so who knows. Let us know how you make out.