Have you ever?

...wanted to scold your metal project for simply not cooperating!!!!  I am in the midst of a war of sorts, the past few times I have approached my soldering bench to work on making bezels nothing will go as planned.  I have formed a few bezels and they refuse to solder to their base plates...this is beyond frustrating, as I've got some beautiful stones to work with and lovely ideas for designs for them. 

I've been practicing my patience, sanding the surfaces, checking for gaps, and nose to the grindstone, trying again...and IT'S NOT WORKING.  It feels like I've never done this before, like I don't know what I'm doing...but I have, and I do.  I suppose this is a good lesson, like most frustrations in the studio, this is giving me some pause to reflect on more than just a difficulty in the engineering of silver and stone...Perhaps I need to up my patience quota, breath deep, take my time, and look closer at the why's and how's, but I can't help feeling defeated.  I am insanely proud of how far I've come in such a short time, mostly being self taught at this craft.  I love each and every creation I have forged, and am trying like hell to not get so frustrated that I give up...but now it's been days since I have made an attempt to work with these bezels, and I hear them calling me from the studio...I need to get over this hump, to conquer my bezel creating demons and push through to a completed project.  Maybe I need to take another class to hone my skills, to get some feedback in person on what I'm doing wrong...but now, all I want to do is scold my materials and tell them they are bad little children, that they are not cooperating and will be put in a time out until they can just do what they are supposed to!!!!  

Ok, feeling a bit better just getting that off my chest...now to sip some greet tea, think peaceful thoughts, and dream up some more designs, I know I'll get it eventually even if it feels like an eternity!
Thanks for listening...



  1. are you heating from the bottom? either way, just get your base-plate nice and hot, evenly, by making a circular motion around and around ... you should be able to see the solder begin to flow, and you can pull it along the seam with the flame.

    hope this helps :)

  2. Maybe that's what it is...I've tried this a bit but maybe not enough circulation from the underneath. What do you use to prop your piece up on so you can access the underside? I have pan with soldering pumice grains in it and I can prop up one side, but not elevate the whole thing...do you heat the base plate first then place the bezel and solder? So many questions, I could keep going...thanks so much for taking the time to respond with such helpful info, I've been wanting to reach out to my sisters in metal on the interwebs for some advice but wasn't sure how the asking of questions would be received...Mahalo and Aloha!

  3. so, it sounds like you don't have a soldering tripod ... this is just a steel mesh square that rests atop 3 metal legs so you can heat from below, but -- that is not really necessary, and i rarely use mine. if you have a 'third hand', you could place the baseplate level with the cross-locking tweezers, and then heat from beneath. generally, i just hold the edge of the baseplate level with my tweezers in hand, and heat that way.

    also, make sure your solder is clean, and that you flux it before placing it down. i also evenly place my solder chips all the way around the bezel. this assures that you'll have enough solder (when it liquifies) to fill any little gaps that might be present.

    make the baseplate just bigger than you need it, that way there won't be too much metal sucking heat away from the solder joint. and NO, do not heat before you set the bezel down. actually, it is a good idea to let it sit until your flux dries, that way the solder chips won't pop all over the place as the flux dries.

    the idea with soldering is that both pieces you are connecting need to be the same heat for the solder to flow between them, thus making a nice solid connected seam. so, when you have one piece that is either bigger, or heavier, it will need a little more heat first, because it has more mass. this is why you heat the baseplate first. get it nice and evenly hot, and generally, the bezel wire is so thin, that just the heat from the baseplate is enough to heat it without directly putting the flame to it.

    the reason for heating evenly, is that the solder wants to go where there is more heat. so, if one side of the seam is hotter, the solder will hop over to that side. this is why i recommend heating all of the rest of the metal before you even get the flame close to the solder seam. this is one of the longest lessons i learned, and the one that later made so much sense.

    what i try to remember when soldering anything, is to heat the areas farther away from the seam first, and then zero in on the seam ... this way, the rest of the piece is nice and hot, and won't suck (or conduct) all of the heat you need to flow the solder away.

    i hope i have helped!

    also, i found this on Ganoskin:

    maybe it will help!
    have a lovely, and hopefully productive day!

  4. WOW!!! This is so fantastic! I see now how important heating from underneath is, it seems I wasn't getting the base plate hot enough to get them to the same temp. I had a few melted bezels along the way so I knew my heating was too much from the top and not even throughout the whole piece. Thank you thank you thank you for taking a moment (or 5), to write this and help me...it really means so much to me that you are willing to share your expertise~!!!!!! I can't wait to get in the studio and give all these tips a try-out...I am humbled by your willingness to share your experience and to offer up some assistance, I am continually amazed by the fabulous women I have met on the interwebs through ETSY and blogger...thanks for your sisterhood, your friendship and your advice, I treasure them all!!!!!
    Happy weekend~! Aloha!