Soldering with Confidence and Lexi Erickson’s 5 Rules

If you’re a little daunted by the idea of soldering, you’re not alone. Would it make you feel better to know that even Lexi Erickson was once afraid to light the torch? (She used to make the cute guy in her class do it for her, which worked great . . . until he was absent.)

ABOVE: There’s a good reason Lexi Erickson is known as the “Queen of Soldering.”

The hottest part of the torch’s flame is 1/4" outside the blue cone.

The hottest part of the torch’s flame is 1/4″ outside the blue cone.

Before learning from Lexi’s videos, my soldering experience could be taken as a classic What-Not-To-Do scenario. Don’t buy a suspiciously cheap solder iron online. Don’t attempt to fix the broken bail of your favorite owl necklace as your trial run. And definitely don’t melt gray solder all over your caramel-colored charm, all while utterly failing to reattach the bail.

Observe what happens to flux when heated, changing from a fluffy white to dark to clear, and, if overheated, to red. Lexi’s workshop is full of demos, details, and direction.

Observe what happens to flux when heated, changing from a fluffy white to dark to clear, and, if overheated, to red. Lexi’s workshop is full of demos, details, and direction.

Lexi is not only a master metalsmith but an expert teacher, and learning from her advice and demonstrations gives me hope that I could actually learn to solder properly. Her video Metalsmith Essentials: How to Solder Jewelry is now available as an online workshop, which can be accessed either individually or through Interweave’s workshop subscription to dozens of jewelry-making and beading courses.

From left to right: Some of Lexi's favorite bezel wires are 3mm, quarter-inch, and scalloped or serrated.

From left to right: Some of Lexi’s favorite bezel wires are 3mm, quarter-inch, and scalloped or serrated.

Lexi’s 5 Rules of Soldering

There is so much good advice in Lexi’s workshop, especially for a beginner like me. In her reassuring manner, Lexi encourages us by sharing her five rules of soldering. If you follow these rules in the proper order, you’ll achieve successful joins.

Countable on one hand and easy to remember, these rules are the first step toward soldering confidence. Click on each image to learn more.

Click to Flip

Click to Flip

Click to Flip

Click to Flip

Click to Flip

Torch Set-up and Safety

Right off the bat, Lexi covers what you’ll need for a safe and effective set-up, including a fireproof metal table, essential tools, and various types of solder you’ll want to have on hand.

Pliers, tweezers, solder storage containers, a fire brick, and a metal table are all part of Lexi’s soldering station.

Pliers, tweezers, solder storage containers, a fire brick, and a metal table are all part of Lexi’s soldering station.

She also shows you exactly how to set up a torch and how to attach the gas tank securely to the leg of your work station. To ensure that your tank isn’t leaking, brush soapy water over all the joins around the nozzles of your torch. If you see large bubbles appear, tighten the joins before turning on your torch.

It’s very important to secure your gas tank to a table leg. If it tips over, it could shoot across the room.

It’s very important to secure your gas tank to a table leg. If it tips over, it could shoot across the room.

Fear of the torch is common, but as Lexi says: “You CAN overcome your fear.” With this thorough video section on set-up and safety, you’ll be in a position to know you’re starting off on the right foot.

Clockwise from top left: Pick, direct, stick, and sweat soldering.

Clockwise from top left: Pick, direct, stick, and sweat soldering.

Types of Soldering

I had no idea there were so many methods of soldering! In this workshop, you’ll get a good introduction to these four methods:

Pick soldering involves using the solder pick to place the solder. Lexi demonstrates this method for securing jump rings closed.

Direct soldering involves placing solder under the seam and using the heat from the torch to draw the solder up the join. Lexi shows us this method for making ring bands.

Stick soldering, or “soldering from the stick,” involves melting solder in stick form onto a surface. We’ll watch Lexi heat a small piece of metal and touch the stick to the surface.

Sweat soldering is used for creating an overlay with two flat pieces of metal. Lexi shows us how to melt solder onto one piece, then place it onto the second piece like a sandwich and heat the metal. The solder will flow again between the two pieces.

Look at the creative designs you can make by preparing wire and soldering it to a surface.

Look at the creative designs you can make by preparing wire and soldering it to a surface.

In addition to different types of soldering methods, you’ll also see how these techniques work on different types of jewelry projects. From jump rings, band rings, and overlays, Lexi moves into earring posts, wire designs onto flat backgrounds, and even bezels. Get ready to learn tons of tips and tricks for all kinds of jewelry designs!

Lexi gives tips on choosing an appropriate cabochon, fitting the bezel, and soldering and finishing it. “You never know how large a millimeter is until you go to make a piece of jewelry,” she says.

Lexi gives tips on choosing an appropriate cabochon, fitting the bezel, and soldering and finishing it. “You never know how large a millimeter is until you go to make a piece of jewelry,” she says.

Take a Sneak Peek at What You’ll Learn with Lexi

Learn More With Lexi

To dive into more Interweave blog posts about soldering, don’t miss these informative articles:

Jewelry Soldering Basics: Using Solders, Flux, Tools & Creating a Safe Soldering Space

How to Solder Jewelry: 4 Soldering and Pickling Questions Answered by Lexi Erickson

Sawing and Soldering: Make Your Own Sterling Silver Flower Ring

Still Learning from Lexi: 6 Tips on Soldering, Metal Etching & More, Plus a Sugar Skull Pendant

Once you learn the basics of soldering, you’ll be ready to practice your skills as many times as it takes to become comfortable. Lexi promises no shortcuts, but she assures us that, just like anything, practice is the key to mastery. By adding soldering to your skill set, you’ll be able to open new avenues in your jewelry making.

Go be creative!
Tamara Kula
Producer, Bead & Jewelry Group


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