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Soldering glass together tutorial


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Soldering is the fun part!..... however it's also a little toxic because solder is half lead half tin.
The flux gives off strong fumes. So, if you've got delicate skin, wearing disposable rubber gloves is wise. Good ventilation is a must for this task.

The right tools and solder for an excellent job

Tools required for the job include:
A quality soldering iron. I've tried many types of iron over the years and settled on a thermal controlled weller. It is 100 watts with a temperature regulated tip. It doesn't over heat but delivers a generous volume of heat on demand.

Youtube video
Choice of Iron

Quality iron tips. These tips feature a trick thermal controller. On the back of the tip is a magnetic contact. When it gets to a specific temperature, it looses magnetism and disconnects from the heat source inside the iron. Therefore these tips can not over heat....
The photos below shows a wedge and a fine pointed tip. A lot of heat goes into forming running beads; use the wedge.
Sometimes however I'm soldering small jobs and the wedge is just too powerful. Switch it out for the pointed tip. This tip can also have a lower temperature setting, so it is great for little details.

soldering iron tips

An iron stand. Is not just a holder for your expensive iron, it keeps everything else safe from it's heat. It also protects the iron from leaking heat onto things it may be accidently be touching. An iron that is transferring heat is using up the tips life. Your iron's tip will last longer within it's proper iron stand.

Flux brush and damp sponge. Brushes do not last too long wet with flux so, when not in use, you can rinse the brush with water and then store it without getting flux onto other objects.
Buy hard bristled brushes from your stained glass supply store or hardware store, they are cheap.
The sponge is for cleaning the hot iron tip with. Use it soggy wet with water.
If your iron is not temperature regulated, it'll over heat so the sponge is also an effective but savage way to get the tip temperature down.

soldering iron flux and solder

Stick solder
Never use flux cored solder. Choose sticks or bars like those in the photo above. If they are old and tarnished, scrub it down with steel wool in soapy water until they become shinny . Doing so will make solder melting easier and your tip will stay clean longer.
Collect all leftover solder into a stash, one day you'll run out of sticks and can use all those wee bits.

Wax flux is like a candle stick and best used on lead canes. It can be used on copper foil however it is not so flash. I prefer to use a neutralized acid flux like liquid Duzall. Keep in mind it is very corrosive, spills must be cleaned up immediately!
It is brushed onto your work just before soldering, and your work must be washed with soapy water as soon as it's finished!
Do not get flux in your eyes or cut fingers, you'll be very sorry! Do not roll or smoke cellarettes either, it'll taste like shit!!

How to solder

Soldering is essentially working with a liquid metal. Just as water puddles into a smooth surface and it always runs down hill, so does hot solder. Smooth, rounded beads of joining work is our goal, so learning how to control this hot liquid is the skill you need to achieve.

These are the important bits:
* Before soldering, assemble all pieces over the layout sheet. Flux all of the copper foil, then line up all the pieces nice and tidy. Spot solder all intersections. This will hold everything together.
* The part you are working on must sit level. This is particularly relevant on 3D items.
* On 3D items, solder may fall through joins. A slightly damp sponge on the underside will stop it.
* While running a bead, keep the solder stick close to the iron tip and add in more stick onto the tip before the liquid puddle is all gone.
* Move slow and steady with the iron tip. No sudden movements or juggling about of the tip.
* Try to get a rounded bead of solder on all the work.
* If you flood an area, remove it by sliding the iron's tip off to the side, keep the tip resting on the glass. Liquid solder will stay with the tip.
* When you want to stop a bead and leave what liquid solder is there, lift the iron's tip upwards. Liquid solder will stay on the bead.
* To pick up small amounts of solder onto the iron tip, position the tip's wedge horizontal then wipe it downwards over the very end of the stick.
* To remove solder off the tip, a small downward flick of the iron does the trick.
* If solder will not melt on your hot iron tip, the solder stick is dirty or your iron tip needs a clean. Clean solder by scrubbing it with steel wool and soapy water. Clean a hot iron tip with your soggy wet sponge.

Youtube video
Soldering glass together

Save and recycle solder

scrap solder

Save all those little bits of solder into a vessel. Over time this stash will build into a significant volume. One day you'll be happy to melt it all down and make your own bars of new solder.... :-)
The follow video shows you how to make bars with DIY simple molds.

Youtube Video
Melt scrap solder to bars

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