----Cradle of the Sun Tips

Glass Cutting - Soldering - Leading - Glass Creation/Selection - Tools Supplies/Equipment - Puttying - Misc


Solder is used to join the metals surrounding the glass. It is a combination of tin and lead. Personally I use 50/50 solder for almost all applications. Other possible solders would be 60/40 and 63/37. Those have a lower melting point and would be used when decorative soldering is desired. Flux is necessary to make the solder stick to the metal. Flux acts as an anti-oxidant (cleaning the metal and keeping it clean while heating) and as a wetting agent (breaking down the surface tension of the solder so it can spread). When soldering lead I prefer oleic acid flux. This is an oil based flux and therefore won't dry out too quickly. You can flux an entire panel side and then solder it. To solder copper foil I use zinc chloride flux (Novican's Old Master's). It is a water based flux and needs to be wet to be effective. Therefore, don't flux too far ahead when using a water based flux.

The soldering iron used to solder must be of a high enough wattage to readily melt the solder and be able to reheat fast enough to maintain the necessary melting temperature. The tip can't be so small it can't maintain the heat and not so big it covers more area than wanted. For lead soldering I used a Weller 100w with a 3/8" temperature controlled tip that maintains a constant 700° F. The lead needs to be clean and bright to start with. If it's fairly new lead it should be solderable without further preparation. However, if the lead is dull and oxidized, you should scrap the lead in the area to be soldered with the blade of a lead knife. Some recommend brushing the lead with a wire brush but I don't find that a satisfactory method. The iron is held over-handed (as you would a bread knife) in order to get the handle low enough to have the tip flat on the lead. You will want to press against the lead firmly to transfer the heat into the lead. The solder is unwound from its roll and extended between the iron tip and the lead so as to melt a 1/8" or so piece . In order to heat both pieces of lead you may have to rock the tip slightly to contact all leads being soldered. Move the roll of solder away (so it doesn't become attached) and as soon as the solder melts and spreads, lift the iron straight up. Avoid "painting" or dragging the iron. The object is to have a shiny, smooth, slightly rounded solder joint. There should be no points sticking up from the solder joint. If a solder joint is not satisfactory you can reflux and resolder. Don't apply too much solder. It's easier to add more solder than to remove excess. Return to top:

Soldering foil is ideally done with a smaller tip. I prefer a 3/16" long taper tip. I use the tip on edge rather than the flat side in order to minimize the iron's contact with the glass. Foil heats up very fast and too much heat can crack the glass so the narrower the iron contact is the lower the risk. The solder is applied in one of two ways. The quickest method is to feed solder in on the thicker part of the shiny tip and let it flow down to the foil. The iron is held firmly against the foil and pulled along the foil (which has been fluxed) at the proper rate with the solder being fed at the correct rate in order to produce a slightly rounded, shiny solder bead. Don't try and "float" the iron on top of the solder, be firmly down against the foil. Alternatively, you can do the Bunny-Hop method. This is easier to control and is done by soldering one tip-length, lifting the iron and soldering the next tip-length, barely reheating the section just soldered. Return to top: