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Soldering silver clay cufflinks (backs falling off)

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  • Soldering silver clay cufflinks (backs falling off)

    Hi
    I recently started a silver fingerprint jewellery business and sold alot of pieces in the lead up to Christmas. However three customers returned their cufflinks as one cufflink back in each pair had broken off. I'm not sure where I've been going wrong and don't want to sell any more until I can be confident that it won't keep happening!
    I've been using sterling silver cufflink backs with a 9mm disc from Palmers Metals. I've been soldering them onto the cufflink charms (made from silver clay) using a blowtorch with Silverflo 67E Brazepaste. I place the cufflink charm face down on a fireblock, apply the solder paste generously to the disc of the cufflink back, press it down firmly onto the charm and then heat the charm in circular motions until the solder paste melts into a silver pool. I sand down both surfaces before soldering, and give them a good tug afterwards to make sure they're properly fixed, but somewhere along the line afterwards they are breaking off.
    One thing I've noticed is that the discs on the cufflink backs are slightly convex, hence the whole disc cannot be in contact with the charm, only the centre, but I spoke to Palmers Metals and they said that this is how they are designed.
    Would be very grateful for any help!
    Many thanks!

  • #2
    Both parts need to be properly hot for the solder to flow. You don't need generous amounts of solder, less is more in solder world. It sounds as if the solder is melting onto the fingerprint half and forming a shaped vacuum between it and the finding and the joint fails when the vacuum fails. It happens to the best of us, but with three joints failing it does sound like a technique failure. The solder is not melting onto the surface of the finding because that surface is not quite hot enough.
    The two halfs don't need sanding. As with gluing they need to be in smooth contact (contact is the important element)
    Are you pickling?
    Does this analysis fit with what you can see on the returned cuff links?
    You might be able to use a finding without the big disc (no or a smaller disc)since that isn't really needed..cheaper and probably easier to solder too. (I'd don't have this in stock but I could get if you wanted)

    Comment


    • #3
      It sounds like you're trying to use the solder as glue rather than actually attaching the cufflink back.

      Discs are not ideal as a fixing for this type of piece- they're really designed for use with epoxy resin, and as you've discovered, you can only solder pieces that are making good surface contact.

      The usual fitting for this type of piece would be to use a standard cufflink pin fitting. The two part versions are safer for this as they aren't sprung and are less vulnerable to heat damage. Cookson Gold have a good selection.

      You simply solder the 'pin' or U fitting to the charm, and then fit the bar. You will need slightly more solder than you would for sterling, as metal clays are porous and soak up a lot of the solder. Burnishing the point of contact on the charm before you start will help with this to an extent. Some people also like to file away the little locating bump on the base of the fitting to be sure of getting a good contact - though the alternative (making a matching depression in the charm) is a good way of maintaining accuracy in placement.

      If you search the board, there are a lot of posts covering this, and I think there may even be some tutorial links posted a couple of years ago.
      george
      www.mizgeorge.co.uk
      www.etsy.com/shop/mizgeorge
      www.flickr.com/mizgeorge

      Comment


      • #4
        I think we are saying the same thing George - but very differently
        Solder is not glue
        Not ideal finding - need one without disc really
        need good surface contact
        Need right heat on both elements

        Comment


        • #5
          I'd agree with George. I use Cooksons made up cufflink fittings and file off the bump. I then put paste onto the fitting and hold it with locking tweezers onto the cufflink. The locking tweezers protect the swivel joint by taking some of the heat away from it. I'd also agree with burnishing the back of the pmc to make it less porous.
          Carole x
          www.caroleallenjewellery.co.uk

          Comment


          • #6
            Thank-you all so much for replying so quickly and in such detail! It seems that the type of finding may have been contributing to the problem then. Pearlescence, it's hard to say as I don't have the returned cufflinks here (I repaired them) but I do remember that there was solder residue on both surfaces. As for pickling, I was told to do that after soldering to remove the firescale. Is this what you would recommend?
            I'd seen the findings that you all recommended but had assumed they'd be more difficult to solder (as a relative novice!) because of the reduced surface area, but I'll try them instead. Might be worth mentioning that one of the customers said that when her husband opened the gift box, the affected cufflink was already broken in the box, so it separated without even being touched.
            Thanks again

            Comment


            • #7
              That sounds like the solder isn't flowing properly onto the finding. a properly soldered joint doesn't have to be huge to be strong. Judging when a joint has 'gone' properly isn't always easy - I had a pearl cup fall off a ring only a couple of days ago in the pickle (yes you should pickle after soldering)
              Traces of grease and old solder (without a pickling) will stop flow too.

              Comment


              • #8
                Thank-you very much Soldering obviously isn't as easy as it looks! I'd thought that as long as it melted into a silver pool, then it had soldered, but there's clearly alot more to it than that!

                Comment


                • #9
                  No, it's not that at all! the silver solder has to be molten but the two pieces to be joined have to be about cherry red - small video of me doing a very quick soldering operation on my website http://www.pearlescence.co.uk/extra_...php?pages_id=5
                  Don't feel bad ..I was praying as I filmed that that the whole thing didn't just melt on me!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thank-you again, and going back to what you said previously about heating both elements, I was originally taught to direct the flame (medium flame) only at the cufflink base and not at the solder paste or finding, and that the heat would then transfer to the paste. Would you not agree with this method then?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by KJS View Post
                      Thank-you again, and going back to what you said previously about heating both elements, I was originally taught to direct the flame (medium flame) only at the cufflink base and not at the solder paste or finding, and that the heat would then transfer to the paste. Would you not agree with this method then?
                      Sorry but you were taught wrongly as demonstrated by the fact that the join failed. As mentioned by Pearlescence both pieces to be soldered need to be hot. Out of interest who taught you that - did you go on a silver clay course?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thank-you very much for your reply Pennywise, yes I took a course with the Craft Ecademy. I have copied and pasted the instructions that I received when I asked for technical support below.

                        "ensure that you use your blow torch to heat the 'whole' of the cufflink charm. i.e. when soldering, you are not aiming to heat the actual cufflink post itself, or the solder. You should aim your torch at the actual cufflink charm, and work your torch in circular motions around the entire charm, then as the heat rises it will then reach the paste and the soldering process will take place. So, ensure you use your blow torch in circular motions, heating up the charm, which will in turn heat up the solder. Do not aim it directly at the cufflink post."

                        So would you recommend directing the flame at both elements?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Are you using a post with a swivel or chain (which is easier)?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Pearlescence View Post
                            Are you using a post with a swivel or chain (which is easier)?
                            The posts I've been using don't have a chain, they're listed as "Sterling Silver Cufflink Fitting Round Bar with U Arm and 9mm Disc" from Palmers Metals (couldn't post the link).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If you've still got some of them left, you can easily remove the disc (which I think is the main cause of your problems) and just use the remainder of the fitting. You'll need to protect the spring with a third hand or crosslock tweezers, and you may find it easier to bring the fitting down onto the charm after the solder has started to melt - but this in itself is another technique.

                              You might find it worth having a tuition day with someone to really understand soldering techniques if you're going to be doing it on a regular basis.

                              You're not alone by any means
                              http://www.craftsforum.co.uk/showthr...ks-please-help!
                              http://www.craftsforum.co.uk/showthr...ufflinks-aargh!
                              (and many more!)
                              george
                              www.mizgeorge.co.uk
                              www.etsy.com/shop/mizgeorge
                              www.flickr.com/mizgeorge

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