Get Started Soldering
Safety First, Of Course!
- Fireproof surface to protect your work area, such as a ceramic tile or metal sheet
- Fire extinguisher
- Safety glasses
- Well-ventilated room
- Clothing made of natural fibers, like a cotton apron
- Long hair? Tie it back
Answers To The Most Common Questions
Avoid frustration by learning from beginners who had the same questions you do. Read these common questions and their answers.
Beginner Soldering Shopping Guide
Our Starter Kit
We bundled everything you need to get started soldering into a kit. It's a steal at $99! Already have some of te items in the kit? Just pick and choose what you need from the categories below.
- Kiln Brick
- Max Flame Torch
- Cooling Cup with Tweezers
- Safety Glasses
- Soldering Pick
- Silver Solder Paste Soft, 1/4oz
- Penny Brite
You'll need a surface used specifically for soldering.
- Also known as fire brick
- Lightweight and insulating
- Carve into its surface to hold your pieces (i.e. links of chain)
Solder is the material that will bind the two piecesor ends together. It comes in a few different forms and flow temperatures. We recommend that beginners use soft solder paste.
- All-in-one solder and flux
- Easy to use, especially for small surfaces
- Titanium picks useful for applying solder
For this type of soldering, you need a torch, not a soldering iron. Butane fuel not included. Look for triple refined butane at hardware stores or cigar shops. It will burn cleaner and extend the life of your torch.
Max Temp. 2370°
Great for your small soldering projects.
Max Temp. 2500°
Its wider flame heats things up quickly. Great for soldering or annealing large pieces.
Max Temp. 2500°
Combines a precision flame with high temperature.
- Fill the cool cup with water to quench your metal after it has been fired.
- The locking tweezer holds your piece securely to move it from the brick into the cup and out again.
When you apply flame to most metal, it turns black with fire scale. It does not wipe off with a polish cloth but can be removed fairly easily with the right tools.
- No advance setup needed
- Requires manually rubbing it on the piece
- Great for use on a piece by piece basis
- Environmentally safe, no hazard concerns
- Great for cleaning several pieces at one time
- Once ready, the solution will do most of the work
- Sparex pickle requires attention to safe use, handling and disposal
- Citric acid is an environmentally safe form of pickle
SOLDERING FAQs: Read these if you are having trouble!
Do I want soft, medium or hard solder?Solder comes in soft, medium or hard. This simply indicates what temperature is required to get the solder to flow. Soft flows at a lower temperature than medium, and so on. This is important if you are going to be soldering multiple layers of metal on the same piece. You would solder with a harder (higher temp) solder the first time and a comparatively softer (lower temp) solder the second time. This will keep previous joints from re-flowing. If you only need to solder one time, you can use any level but you might as well use soft or medium to save time and fuel.
Do I need silver solder paste for silver and copper paste for copper?You can use either for soldering silver, copper, brass, nickel and gold filled -- it depends on the finished look you are trying to achieve. The silver solder paste is bright silver in color when it has flowed. Copper solder paste does not look like copper, but it is a darker gray color and less obvious than bright silver if it is showing a little on your copper metal. Ideally, the solder won't flow out and be visible. This takes lots of practice! Until then, refer to FAQ #6.
Can I solder on a house brick instead of a kiln brick?No - it will absorb the heat of your torch and your piece will never get up to temperature.
Why isn’t it working? The pieces fall apart when I put them in the cool cup.Don’t forget, the whole piece needs to be hot enough for the solder to flow. When soldering, "slow and steady wins the race." Heat the pieces evenly and slowly to bring the solder up to flow temperature. If you go in too quickly with your heat, there is a chance you could melt a portion of your piece. Clues it has flowed include a glow at the solder seam or, if you are soldering blanks together, watch for the top blank to “settle” onto the blank below.
I tried again and it still isn't working. Why?Was your metal clean before you started? Make sure you clean it well with Penny Brite, Sparex, or Citric Acid.
The solder flowed but now it is in places I didn’t want it. How can I fix it?In some cases, like jump ring closures for example, you can file/sand away some of the extra solder. If it flows out on a blank, you can use a rotary tool like a dremel or engraving tool with a silicon polishing bit. Click here for a quick demonstration. Joe Silvera covers this in his FREE Polishing with Power Tools online class.
Why does my brass look like copper after soldering?This happens because of the alloy mix in brass. The copper color you see is a result of the piece being fired. The heat depletes zinc on the surface layer, which means there is a higher percentage of copper remaining.If/when the copper coloring does happen, soak the piece in 2 parts hydrogen peroxide (the kind you get at the drug store) and 3 parts white vinegar to remove the copper color. Be patient, it takes 30-60 minutes for the metal to come back to a nice yellow brass. The piece will look hazy when you take it out. Polish it with a Pro Polish Pad and the smooth shine comes right back.NOTE: Do not store the peroxide and vinegar mixture in a closed container.
Your free class Beginners Soldering Tutorial has taught me so much. Now I am ready to learn more! What classes should I take next?Check out the rest of our Metalwork Free Classes.For further inspiration, browse through our Metalwork and Soldering DIY Design category.