Breaking your sterling silver ring is no fun. Luckily, there is no need to take it to a jeweller if you know how to solder a sterling silver large chunky ring.
That’s why I am here to guide you through the process from start to finish. I will list the necessary tools and materials, explain the dos and don’ts, and finish up with a step-by-step guide on how to solder your large ring.
Without further ado, let’s find out how you can make your ring as good as new.
What You Need to Solder a Sterling Silver Large Chunky Ring
Before I explain how to solder a sterling silver large chunky ring, you have to ensure that you have all the materials and tools to fix your ring. You don’t want to be in the middle of soldering and realize you are missing a pair of tweezers or flux.
Here is a checklist of materials and tools you will need to repair your ring:
- Soldering block
- Soldering torch
- Soldering pick
- Silver solder
- Wire cutter
- Pickle solution
- Container for the pickle solution
- Small paint brush
- Mandrel and rubber or rawhide hammer
You can buy each item online or in-store. Usually, you can find everything in the bigger supermarket chains or at a home improvement store.
Materials/tools to get and what to avoid
You don't want to lose thermal energy when soldering your large chunky sterling silver rings. Therefore, you will need a surface with low heat conduction. The best and most durable are charcoal, a magnesia soldering block, and kiln bricks.
Most think they can get the job done with a soldering iron. But that is not the case.
A soldering iron is usually used for materials with low melting points since they can reach a temperature of up to 900°F. A soldering iron typically melts small metal bits onto other pieces.
The melting point of silver is 1,763.24°F, meaning the soldering iron is unsuitable if you want to solder a sterling silver large chunky ring. It is best to use an acetylene torch with a flat chisel tip.
Another excellent option for sterling silver soldering is a butane torch. More often than not, butane torches are refillable and are especially handy because you can adjust the flame size.
Alternatively, you can use a propane/MAPP or oxy torch. These types of torches are more powerful and usually for people with previous soldering experience.
You can purchase pre-cut chips, sheets, or wire from solder silver. Each type will do the job perfectly.
Silver solders come in three purity levels: easy, medium, and hard. Easy silver solder is best for filling small cracks in your large ring. On the contrary, if your chunky ring is broken and you need to join the pieces together, you should use medium or hard silver solder.
You will use flux to clean the ring’s surface. The flux also makes the soldering process possible by removing oxides.
General purpose flux and brazing flux are excellent options for soldering a sterling silver large chunky ring. The difference between them is that the blazing flux (also known as soldering flux) is designed only for silver jewelry.
Aside from the different types of flux, you will also come across three product forms: solid, paste, and liquid. You can use either one to solder a sterling silver large chunky ring.
Pickle acid is used to remove flux and oxidation after soldering your ring. The pickle or acidic solution you use must be suitable for silver. You can check the label to determine whether the product can be used in soldering silver.
For the pickle, you will need a container. Don’t use something you plan to cook in because it leaves toxic materials.
Purchase various types of sanding paper for your soldering project. You should start with 400 grit and finish with the finest sandpaper for the best results.
Since the ring is curved, I recommend using flexible sandpaper sheets and buffing sticks to sand it to perfection easily.
How to Solder a Sterling Silver Large Chunky Ring
The steps for soldering a sterling silver large chunky ring are the following:
- Prepare the working area
- Cut the silver solder
- Prepare the ring for soldering
- Apply flux
- Place the solder pieces on the ring gap or crack
- Use a torch to melt the solder
- Quench the ring in water and put it in pickle solution
- Reshape the ring if needed
- Polish the ring
Preparing the working area for soldering
The first thing I do when I make my authentic large chunky sterling silver rings is setting up the working area. I ensure the table is clean and no flammable objects are nearby.
Also, you should remember that soldering a sterling silver large chunky ring should be done in a well-ventilated room. Ventilation is important because it removes dust, fumes, and noxious materials from the room, making it a safe working environment.
Most importantly, you should take precautions for your safety. You should at least wear eye protection and an apron. Avoid wearing long-sleeved shirts or any loose clothing.
Cut the silver solder
If you didn’t purchase pre-cut silver solder chips, you should cut them into little pieces. You can use either a wire cutter or sharp scissors. Ensure there is enough material to fill in the crack or to join the two pieces.
I recommend using 1x1mm pieces. Don’t cut too many silver solder pieces because you will have a lot of work after soldering the chunky ring. You will have to spend a lot time sanding and polishing the excess material to make the ring look good.
Preparing the ring for soldering
Before moving on to the soldering process, you must prepare the ring. If your chunky ring is broken, you have to straighten both sides to solder them, and for that, you can use a jeweler’s saw.
Take out only a little bit of material. Otherwise, you will make your ring much smaller, and it might not fit.
If it’s necessary, prepare the pickle acid. For instance, you should dissolve the powder pickle in water. Follow the instructions on the pickle package.
After the pickle solution is done, put the ring in and wait a few minutes. Take the ring out by using tweezers and put it on the clean soldering block.
Avoid touching the chunky ring with your hands after it is clean and ready for soldering. Instead, use tweezers to hold the ring in place. This way, you won’t put sweat or grease on the ring.
Prepare the flux accordingly. Using a small paintbrush, apply the flux to your sterling silver ring.
I prefer to add flux on a ring area a little wider than where the ring needs to be repaired. This way, you can be sure there won’t be any fire damage to the surface where solder won’t be present.
Another important thing is to use multiple flux containers. When you use the same container and dip the brush multiple times, you will probably add dirt to your ring, and the flux won’t do its job.
Place the solder pieces on the ring gap or crack
Use the tweezers to lay the solder on the ring’s crack or gap. The solder should be in contact with both ring sides if you are fixing a broken sterling silver ring.
Have in mind that you don’t need to put solder on the entire chunky ring gap. Another purpose of the flux is to give direction to the melted solder.
Use the torch to melt the solder
When learning how to solder a stealing silver large chunky ring, how you use the torch is really important.
First, turn on the torch heat to the highest setting and start warming up the ring from a four-inch distance. You want to start slowly by making circular movements with the torch to dry the flux and move the solder.
You should heat the entire chunky ring evenly. If you haven’t used a torch before, you should know that the tip of the flame, where the flame is the hottest, should be in contact with the ring.
Move the torch closer to the ring as the solder reaches the melting point. The solder will quickly melt and spread around the fluxed ring areas when it reaches the right temperature.
Then, turn off the torch.
Quench the ring in water and put it in pickle solution
When you are done soldering the sterling silver large chunky ring, you should put it in cool water. Leave it for a few minutes, take it out, and put it in the pickle solution shortly.
Take it out with tweezers and rinse it with water one more time. Wipe it down with a clean cloth.
Reshape the ring if needed
Your ring most likely won’t be a perfectly round shape when you finish repairing it. But you can easily knock it into shape with a mandrel and rubber or with a rawhide hammer.
Whichever you use, you should reshape it gradually so you don’t break the ring.
Polish the ring
The last step is polishing the ring. You can use sandpapers with different grit sizes to get the desired chunky ring finish.
Optionally, you can use a jeweler's polishing cloth and a brass bristle brush if you want a high shine on your sterling silver large chunky ring.
You can now roll up your sleeves and repair your sterling silver ring yourself. Ensure you follow my tips on how to solder a sterling silver large chunky ring, and you will fix it in no time.
Remember that picking the right tools and materials is just as important as knowing the steps for soldering a sterling silver large chunky ring.