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?

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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