How to Create Simple Decorative Solder
If you've ever wondered how to add extra details to your stained glass pieces, consider decorative solder. There are many styles to use and some are easier than others.
Creating a simple decorative solder could take your piece from "Nice" to "Wow." And once you get the hang of it, you'll start looking for places to jazz up your stained glass with your fancy soldering!
Some folks dread soldering because it can be a bit of a challenge. Just remember not to get too hung up and stressed out about it. It can be a relaxing exercise if you just try to go with the flow. (Haha Did you catch the pun there? )
When soldering, if something doesn't go quite as planned, keep the following in mind:
If you don't like where the solder landed, you can move it.
In case you didn't add enough solder, you can easily add some more.
Put too much? You can always remove some of the excess.
It may take a little fiddling to get the solder just the way you want but the nice thing about working with it is that nothing is permanent!
Here's a little video demonstrating a simple decorative solder technique you can use to get started. It will add an interesting finish to the edges of your suncatchers and you'll be surprised at how much you'll learn from doing this, that you may find your smooth soldering getting easier. It's all about learning how to control the solder.
Remember, practice will make things become almost second nature. So what are you waiting for? Heat up that soldering iron and practice, practice, practice! And don't forget to let me know how it goes in the comments.
Want to know more about which soldering irons I use? You can find a complete list of my favourite tools and supplies here: Stained Glass Tools - Getting Started
Can I put decorative solder on lead came edging ?
Great question Diane! I’ve never actually tried doing that. I suppose it would be possible but there would be 2 things to watch out for. Firstly, make sure your iron isn’t too hot (especially if you’re using hobby came) as you could potentially melt right through it. And secondly, if a mistake is made when working on adding decorative edges on solder, it’s easy to remove. If something didn’t go exactly as planned on the lead came, you wouldn’t be able to “erase” it per se. It would end up marking the lead and you’d have to be happy living with that.
merci pour cette vidéo,
C’est mon plaisir Nadine.
Would like to know if that’s what they are doing around edges of agate stone edges for jewelry and I’m doing jewelry would like to try my hand it seems fun .I’ve seen it or what appears to be silver around edges of arrow heads flat stones etc. And broken China for jewelry
Hello Eileen. Yes you can solder the edges of agate slice or broken ceramics, I’ve done both in the past. Make sure your foil is well adhered and be careful when working with the china. Once you break it into pieces the edges will be porous and absorb water. It’s best to grind it and clean it, then let it dry thoroughly. I’d look into putting the pieces into the oven at the lowest setting to drive out any moisture before foiling or let them sit out for a couple of days before proceeding. Good luck!
Do you have any videos of other decorative soldering techniques. I cannot find any good ones on youtube. I enjoyed the one that you did showing how to ridge the edge of suncatchers. Would love to see more!
I’m glad you enjoyed this one Elin and it’s great to hear you’d like more like this. I don’t have any other videos at the moment but there are plans to cover more decorative solder techniques in the future. Please feel free to join my email list if you like to ensure you get all the updates on new posts and videos. Happy soldering!
Enjoyed video, I am just starting back up and appreciate the tips! Thanks
It’s wonderful to hear that you’re diving back in! And I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the video 🙂
What do you have your solder iron set at?
What kind of gloves are you wearing?
Hello Laurie, I usually use the iron in the 310 – 350 degree range. It just depends on the day! As for the gloves, they’re nitrile (also known as mechanics gloves). They’re very similar to latex gloves but since I have a lot of allergies and don’t want to develop a latex allergy, I use the nitrile. Plus, the nitrile is a little thicker than the latex and I can re-use them a few times before I need to dispose of them.
Thank you for the video. I’ve been unsure while doing decorative soldering and your demonstration really helps! I will try it this afternoon.
Also looking at the other comments you replied that you have your iron set at 110-150. My mentor told me I should have my iron set at 400. Perhaps the higher temp could be the cause of my actions. Is it possible that your temps stated are in Celsius?
This was the first video of yours that I have watched. Anxious to look at the others on your web site.
Thanks for your question Jean. I’ve gone back and found the original comment where I made a typo and corrected it, my apologies. It should have read 310-350 (not 110-150). If you’re soldering a large project and moving through it quickly, having the iron set at a higher temperature allows it to keep up with you, but more heat is really only helpful if you’re quite proficient and moving right along. I don’t usually pay attention to the exact numbers I’m working at temperature wise. I judge it based on what I’m doing and how the solder is behaving. If it’s too hot for doing edge work, you’ll see more spills happen where the solder falls off. I hope this help.
Thank you very much for your reply!
I’m anxious to give it a try.
Obrigada pela dica, amei!
Seria possivel decorar peças de biscuit?
Hello Mary. Glad you found this helpful. 🙂 I’m sorry but I don’t understand your question. Google translate isn’t making sense. What do you want to decorate?
Enjoyed watching your video. I am new at this, and am old to boot (75), but am learning. So far, you would think my regular soldering is like your decorative edge soldering. But am wondering, if you do it all around, then you decide it is not good enough, can you just use the iron to smooth all the bumps down, or would it be too thick and heavy around the outside?
Hi Ramona, You may find that there will be too much to just smooth it out. I’d take off the odd bump here and there first and then smooth out the rest to see what you’ve got to work with. It’s easier to intentionally remove it first than to spill it off one side or the other…and potentially on your fingers! OUCH! Glad to hear you’re giving stained glass a try – it can be so rewarding. 🙂
Found you on Pintrest and watched your video on soldering edges. You used a soldering irin (blue) with a built-in reastat. Where would I be able to purchase one – hope you say Amazon ?. I really enjoyed the video and hope to see more from you. I am fairly to stained glass and need good help. Thanks again.
Hi Linda. There are a lot more blog posts, videos and courses planned for 2019! The soldering iron I use is the Hakko FX601 and yes, it’s available on Amazon. 🙂 Here’s a link to help you find it: https://amzn.to/2LOzYgA
I just begin with stained glass projet. I would like to know, since we solder with lead, is this harmfull for our health. And can we used non lead solder in doing stained glass projet?
Hello Francine and thank you for your question. Lead can cause potential health risks so you’ll want to doy our research and take precautions when working with it. Here are a few of the bigger ones…Never work in an area that you will prepare or eat food. Wash your hands after touching anything with lead. Don’t smoke or eat with lead residue on your hands. Have good ventilation when soldering (althought this is usually more to do with fumes from the flux.) As a precaution I have my lead levels checked by a doctor every year or two to make sure there is no increase. This can be done through bloodwork.
You can always use lead free solder in your work. Just keep in mind that it may not take patina the same as the leaded variety. I’d test it out first if you want to use patina. Sometimes lead-free can be harder to work with as it may not smooth out and flow as nicely.
What surface is under your work?
That is actually a piece of cork. I bought a set of 4 twelve-inch square pieces that are sold as stand-alone cork boards for office use. They are solid cork about 1/4″ thick and they’re perfect for using push pins to hold work together and soldering small projects!