So it’s been a while since I talked about my experiments with copper paste solder (previous bumblings here and here). A couple months ago, I put together some discs I made from assorted roll-milled or stamped scraps in the hopes that I could make a fun sampler of sorts from them:
So here was my test this time around: could I sweat solder these tiny discs with the stuff? Would they stay on when I domed the large disc afterward? Could I get a half-round wire border around the edge? I should note that this would all be a test of my abilities as much as a test of the solder. And in both cases, the results were a bit meh.
Sweating on the discs was easy . . . perhaps a bit too easy. I set the first one quickly, without having placed it just right, and so threw off my ability to fit the rest properly. Well, I figured, screw it. Jam the rest on anyway and call it practice.* I ended up overlapping a few, and I had to file off a bit of overhang from two of them. After that, the doming went fine. Nothing popped off, although the center piece wasn’t thoroughly stuck on with solder and didn’t curve as much as it should have anyway (it’s a touch thicker than the others, too.) Getting the border on presented an issue I hadn’t anticipated: paste solder fumes. Until now I’d only used a small smudge or two at a time, and now I was spreading it all around the border of something. Torching it did not smell good or even remotely healthy (and the exhaust fan in the studio isn’t really near the soldering station, unfortunately). I put the ring on in two operations, and while it’s secure enough, it’s not totally joined in a neat, professional way. I believe I could do a much better job with a wire solder than a paste one, and so I’ll probably buy some next time I order supplies. And–if what I’ve read is correct–fumes will be much less of an issue.
Still, for all its faults, I like my little sampler charm. The next time I get around to whipping up some liver of sulfur, I’ll give it a dip and polish up the highlights. If I can find another nine bits of patterned metal, I might even make another one.
*Had I been thinking properly, I’d have stopped right there and maybe melted it off to try again. This is one thing I need to learn over and over: just Stop. Think. Take my time. At least I’ve learned to stop soldering fifteen minutes before the end of class, because I always end up getting nervous, rushing, and making mistakes that way–so there’s hope for me yet.