Foundations in Metalsmithing: Bracelets

Lesson 2/25 - Prerequisite #2: Tools for Soldering


Foundations in Metalsmithing: Bracelets


Lesson Info

Prerequisite #2: Tools for Soldering

- Hello everyone. When it comes to metal smiting, no tool open up more possibilities than the torch. But I also know that no tool inspires more fear than the torch. So in this video, I want to talk about choosing the torch that's right for you, how to stay safe when you've got your torch set up at home, and I'm gonna introduce you to some of the tools that you need, to get started soldering. So if you've purchased or RSVP of my hands on classes here on Creative Live, you'll also have access to a PDF list, that shares links for where you can get all the tools I'll be showing you, in this video. So the first thing we have to talk about, is actually choosing your torch. Now there are lots and lots of different torches on the market, but, for the purposes of what we're doing here, especially if you're just starting out, you're probably going to be choosing between two different types of torches. One is an acetylene torch. That's the torch that I'm actually going to be using throughout thi...

s class, you can actually see if got our torch handle and everything, ready to go here. The other torch, that you may be considering, probably because you've seen it a lot online, is a butane micro torch, or a butane mini torch, and you can see that in the image as well. So there are pros and cons to each, and I wanna help you guys make the right decision in terms of which torch is for you. So a couple things to think about when you're deciding between the acetylene and the butane mini. There first one is; how committed are you? Because, lets be honest, and acetylene torch take up more room, and its more of a commitment. We've got an acetylene tank happening here, we've got a little bit more space, and it costs a little bit more. So if you're just starting out, and you're not even sure if you're gonna like this, you may want to stick with a butane torch. The other thing that you want to think about, is how much do you want to spend? And you want to think about that, both in terms of an upfront investment, and over time. Because heres the thing, our acetylene torch, definitely a more expensive set up, from the get go. You can get an acetylene torch for somewhere in the $100, $150 range, but your butane torch you're looking at about $40 or $50. Now that said, that butane torch runs through those mini butane canisters, pretty quickly, so over time, it actually could be more expensive, because acetylene is actually cheaper, and those big tank fills are going to last longer. You also want to think about; how much space you have. Do you have the space, to keep the bigger torch set up, or do you want something smaller, that you can just tuck away. And lastly; are there any zoning restrictions. There are places in the country were you literally cannot even have an acetylene tank, and if you're a renter, you definitely want to check with your landlord, and see what's ok, or at the very least, read your lease. I am not gonna be held responsible, for anything that breaks the lease, or upsets your landlord in any way. So you wanna look at those when your picking a torch as well. Now at the end of the day, I firmly believe, that your life is gonna be easier, with an acetylene torch. Part of the reason for that, is that with an acetylene torch, you can get tips in different sizes, and these different size torch tips are gonna give you such a bigger range when you're working with your torch. But again, I'm not gonna pressure you into something that your not ready for. So you can also do all of the lessons, that we're gonna be talking about, in the class, with that butane micro torch as well. So lets talk torch safety now, because I wanna make sure that if you guys are using a torch at home, you're using it safely. So first things first, if you're using the acetylene torch, you always need to secure your tank. Acetylene is a really safe and stable gas, but, bad things can happen, if your torch gets nocked over. So you always want to make sure that you've got a chain, and that you're chaining your acetylene tank, to a table leg, or some other place that's secure, you can also chain it to the wall. So once you've got your acetylene torch, you wanna make sure that you are chaining it to something where it can't fall over, whether that's your table leg, or a wall next to your workspace, but the most important thing is that we don't want to tip this tank over, because even though acetylene is relatively safe, bad things can happen, if that tank falls over. So I'm just gonna go ahead and take my chain here, and I want to get this as tight as possible, so I'm just gonna put this around, and then go ahead and secure my chain. And now, it should be good, not gonna fall over if something nocks into it. Regardless of the kind of torch you have, you should have a fire extinguisher handy. You guys can't see one in this shot, but I can actually see it in my line of sight. So I know that I've got a fire extinguisher handy just in case. You also want to remove anything flammable from your work surface, sp that seems really logical, but what I tend to see happen, is that we get like a paper towel over here, or maybe a towel cause you were drying things off, or you've got your notes from the class that you were taking, or your sketchbook as you're working, you wanna get all of that off of your work surface. And ideally, a metal table like we've got here. But if you don't have a metal table, you just wanna protect your work surface, in some way. So laying a sheet of metal down on a wood table, even a big cookie tray, or a tray for baking, or the other trick that I like is I like to go to, the hardware store, and buy patio pavers, and I'll lay out a couple of patio pavers on my table, and that'll save it as well. And the final thing in terms of safety, is that you wanna make sure that you have adequate ventilation. So, ideally, that means some kind of ventilation system or something like we've got here, which is just this little, bench top smoke absorber. But at the very least, you should work in a room that has a lot of airflow, and ideally open a or at least place a fan that can kind of, blow across your work. So I just want to take a minute and just show you guys the part of the acetylene torch, because if you buy a torch, its not going to come all assembled, like this, its gonna come in pieces, and so you may not know, what some of those pieces are. So, it will come separate, your tips won't be attached, what you'll haver is your handle, which is the silver part here, you'll have your hose, which is this big long guy here, you will have your regulator which is this piece here, with all the nobs and dials, and then that goes on your tank. Now, one of the things to know about acetylene, is that the tanks are not refillable, so every time your tank gets empty, you're gonna take it to a welding supply shop, and exchange it for a new one. What that means is, don't wast your money by buying a pretty, fancy tank from a company, just go buy one directly from the welding shop, cause if it's a little dinged up and battered, its fine, when that ones empty, you're gonna get a new one anyway. Now, to put this together, you're just gonna need an adjustable crescent wrench, and so you'll go ahead and you'll attach your hose to your handle, you'll attach your handle to your regulator, and then we'll thread our regulator here, onto our tank. Now, when you put this together for the first time you wanna get everything tight, and then you wanna take your torch key, which is just this little guy here, now acetylene tanks do come now, with nobs now here on the end, but ours is an old school tank, which means we need out torch key, so I'm gonna put my torch key on here, and the most important thing, when you turns this on is only turn it on, only turn it on a quarter of a turn. The reason that we wanna do that, is because in case of an emergency, if there's a fire and we need to turn this off, quarter of a turn, and I'm safe. If I open it up the whole way, really bad. So, once you've got this set up, the very first time you use it, you wanna take just a little bit of soapy water on a toothbrush, and rub it against all your joints. So here, and then where your regulator connects to your hose and then you're gonna open it up, and just make sure it'd not bubbling, because if it'd bubbled, you have a leak, take it apart, put it back together. Just one more thing, once you've turned it on here we have to go ahead and tighten our regulator, this is gonna allow pressure to come through here and so you can see this is gonna tell us that we've got some pressure, and from there, you are actually ready, to go ahead, turn your torch on at the handle, oh a little too much pressure on that one. Turn your torch on, and light our torch! So now that we have our torch set up, I want to show you guys just a few more tools that you'll need to start soldering. So the first of those is flux. And what flux does, it actually keeps your metal from oxidizing or getting dirty while you solder. So flux comes in a little container, and it looks like white paste that you used when you were a kid, except do not eat it, because it is highly poisonous. So, we'll need our flux, and then, you can get just a cheap little paintbrush, and that's what you're gonna use to apply your flux to your metal. Then you're also going to need sodder. So sodder is simply a lower melting temperature metal that you use to actually join your pieces of metal together. Sodder comes in a couple different forms, you can get it in wire, you can get it in sheet, or you can also get chip sodder which means its already cut up for you. Kind of makes your life a little bit easier, but if you get it in sheet or wire, you also want to get a few little containers, to keep it in, because what you're gonna do, is actually just go ahead and take some scissors and you can see, we're going to cut, our flux into tiny little strips, and then cut it into tiny little chips! And yes, when you cut these, half of these are gonna fly everywhere, its just part of the fun. Alright, once we have our flux and our sodder, you're also going to need a surface to solder on, Ideally, I like to use soldering board, or a solder brick, some people like to use a charcoal block as well, this is just personal preference. The other thing that's not necessary, but is nice to have, is an annealing pan. And the reason that I like an annealing pan, even when I'm working with a soldering board, is because I can spin it, to access my work from different angels, so if I've got my torch, and I need ti move this around, an annealing pan means I can move the pan, and keep the torch right there where its comfortable. Then you'll need a few tools, just to hold things. So, one of the things that you'll want is something called a third hand, because its pretty hard to hold your torch and move your sodder, so we use something called a third hand, we have a pair of cross locking tweezers, and they're called cross locking tweezers because they cross, and when they're closed, they're locked in place. You can see we've got cute little ones, more commonly, you tend to buy this size. So, we mount our cross locking tweezers into our third hand, and we do that ti hold pieces in place when we're soldering. So if you want to solder a vertical wall, onto a horizontal piece, like this guy here, we use our third hand to hold that in place while we're soldering. In addition to that you're going to want some tweezers, both for picking up and placing your sodder and for also moving parts around once they're hot. Cause we don't want to touch those with our bare hands. And you may also want to get a sodder pick, just basically a pick with a titanium end, which means you can get in there when you've got the torch, push your sodder around, move things, move parts if you need to. You may also want to get some binding wire. This is not necessary, but if you're doing more complicated forms, binding wire, which is really just mild steel wire, its called binding wire, you can use to wrap things together, hold parts together, until you actually get them soldered. Then we've got our multiple torch tips, so this is what makes our acetylene torch so great is we use multiple tip sizes, so the little tips are really great for things like jump rings, or soldering a post to an earing, and the big tips are great as you get up to bigger projects, like bracelets. And then finally the last thing you need when you solder is you need something called Pickle, and what pickle does is it cleans our metal, because once we solder, its going to get very dirty. So Pickle comes in a granular form, so I can show you guys here, it just looks like a little bit of grain, a lot of people also use Sparax, which is another type of Pickle, and so our Pickle come in a granular form, and it dissolves in water, and pickle is literally just a mild acid that you use to clean the metal. So what you wanna do is dissolve a little bit of this into some water. Now Pickle works best when it's warm, so that best thing to keep it in is a crock pot or a slow cooker, you can get a smaller size one, and just turn it on warm or low, never high because we don't want it to boil, and that'll actually make it work a little faster but in a pinch, really any kind of little ceramic container, even like an old glass jar, anything you have on hand you can use you hold your pickle. Just keep in mind that once you've used it for pickle, it is never food safe again, so do not use it for anything else. You may also wanna have a second one of these containers on your work bench, just for plain water, its great for quenching things so after you've soldered them, and they're hot, you can dip it in water, just to cool it off, because we don't want to quench in our pickle, because it's acid, and we don't want to splash it, and its also great for taking things out of your pickle and rinsing it off. And one last mote about that, we never want to use our steel tools in our pickle, because they'll contaminate. So instead you also want to get a set of copper tongs, and this is for taking things, in and out of our pickle! So that's it, that's all the tools you need ti get started soldering, if you can see, it does not have to be that intimidating. Now, be sure to watch my hands on classes, here on Creative Live so that you can see how to turn these tools into your own amazing metal smiting projects.

Class Description

Whether you’re just getting started in metalsmithing or have been experimenting for years, Foundations in Metalsmithing: Bracelets will help you deepen your skills while exploring the exciting world of bracelets. From torchless techniques (like forming and riveting) to more advanced concepts (like hinges), you’ll walk out of this class with a heap of new metalsmithing skills! (And a pile of new bracelets).

In this class, jewelry designer and metalsmith Megan Auman will help you build your metalsmithing skills in a way that’s completely approachable - no matter what level you’re currently at.

You will learn how to:

  • Create unique cuff bracelets by forming wire and sheet.
  • Join metal without a torch by riveting.
  • Solder wire and sheet into different shapes.
  • Make hinges (with or without a torch) to take your bracelet designs to the next level.
  • Finish your designs and experiment with color on metal through patinas.

Whether you’re looking to grow your existing jewelry making knowledge or for a new creative outlet that you can proudly wear (and show off!), you’ll leave Foundations in Metalsmithing: Bracelets with a series of bracelets you can call your own - and a new set of metalsmithing skills you can expand into even more jewelry ideas!



This is a great addition to Megan's metalsmithing series. She makes the topic really approachable. Bonus that metal patinas were added in to the class. I loved the class!

a Creativelive Student

I really enjoyed this class! It was very informative and gave me a lot of ideas for expanding a jewelry line to include a variety of bracelets and finishes.