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Hints & Tips

Jewelry Tips

"Bench Tips for Jewelry Making" and "Broom Casting for Creative Jewelry" are available on Amazon

Identifying Unmarked Solders

There are plenty of ways to mark your sheet or wire solders, but suppose you forgot to mark them and have a couple that you can't identify. The answer is to compare the melting temperature of the unknowns with that of a known solder. What I do is take a thick scrap of copper or nickel and arrange several solders on it. Ideally, I would have a sample of easy, medium and hard known solders surrounding the unknown solder. Then I heat the plate from the bottom and watch the order in which the solders melt.

Inexpensive Electric Wax Pen

You can make your own wax pen from a small soldering iron plugged into a light dimmer switch for heat control. Both components are easily found at Radio Shack, a big hardware store or at Harbor Freight. As an example of the components, see items #43060 and #47887.

File the tip of the soldering iron into the shape you prefer or even better get a soldering iron with replaceable tips. Then you can make several tip shapes for different tasks. Set the dimmer control just hot enough to melt the wax without producing any smoke.

A tip design that I find ideal for some work is a length of small gauge wire that lets me reach in around the model to melt some wax. The wire is about 15mm long and 18 or 20 gauge. To conduct heat all the way to the tip, I use Sterling wire and silver solder it into a hole on the end of a copper or brass rod that will fit into the soldering iron.