I want to learn how to solder rhinestone chain into letters to form names, logos, etc. I have the chain, but need to know about the type of solder, tools needed, and mold making. If I use plated chain, will it need to be replated when I am finished? If so, how do I go about this?
By Faye from Dallas, TX
I don't know a lot about soldering, but will tell you a little. You need a soldering iron. Can be bought at a hobby store, or home improvement stores. You use lead-free solder, which can also be purchased there or online. I don't think anything is usually replated after soldering, the idea is to solder it as "small" as possible so that it holds but hasn't got a gob of solder all over it. Soldering takes a good bit of practice, practice on "junk" first (don't for example begin to solder on sterling silver). You might check out youtube, I am sure there are numerous videos on soldering, there is on all kinds of other crafts (Lots of general jewelry making on there). Some of the jewelry websites (to buy stones, etc) have free videos you can watch also. I have a soldering iron myself, but haven't used it much. Your fellow Dallasite, Dallasian (?).
Oh, also hobby stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby, they might have classes on soldering.
I've only soldered with a torch. I've soldered copper and sterling silver. I don't know which kind of soldering would be best for your intended projects. Like thriftyvicki suggested, do an internet search for videos and instructions. That will help you in deciding which technique would be best for you. I started out soldering by taking a jewelry making class at a local arts center.
I do know that it's nicest if the color of the solder matches the metal you're using. Like it's fairly common to use silver solder when working on copper, but you end up with a little line of silver after filing/sanding/polishing the piece. So you can put it into your pickle and reach in with some steel tweezers or tongs (or whatever) and it will plate the silver solder with copper (if you've used your pickle long enough to have sufficient copper in it). But be very careful that you don't have anything in your pickle that you don't want plated! I've read that unintentional plating can be removed with more pickle and hydrogen peroxide, but I've never tried it. I've also read that there are now solders that look pretty good with copper (no need for plating), but I work mostly with sterling, so I haven't tried it.
So do plenty of research. I hope you enjoy soldering!
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