Tips from the Glass Academy: Soldering

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Soldering…I Didn’t Know That!

What is solder made of?

With the exception of lead-free solder, solder is made up of a combination of lead and tin. 60/40 solder is 60% tin and 40% lead.

There is some solder kicking around the house. Can I use it for stained glass?

If you have solder around the house, it is probably resin core solder. This solder is used in the electronics industry and is used when flux cannot be applied. If you try to use it for stained glass work, it turns into a slimy, gooey mess, and can be tough to clean off. If there is acid core kicking around that is used for plumbing. Acid core would eat through electronics.

Does it matter if my copper foil is uneven?

Yes, it matters. The solder follows the foil. Crooked foil = crooked solder line. You can either redo or use a craft knife to cut away.

Can I do stained glass without copper foil?

Solder will not adhere to glass. It will adhere to a number of metals but it adheres to copper the best.

I have black spots in the solder. What the heck?

The major reason for this is that the solder being used is not pure. Inexpensive solder sometimes leaves residue. Sometime you can clean the particles out but it is easier to buy quality solder to begin with.

My glass is breaking – Oh Man!

Soldering is a hot task! Applying too much heat to glass will break it. When you are beginning to learn stained glass, you tend to fiddle with your soldering for longer than needed. Try not to touch the glass as you apply the solder and keep moving. Don’t hold the tip on the soldering line for more than a few seconds in one spot. Even if your solder looks a little rough, you can cover it with black patina and it will not be noticed.

Soldering

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