How to Get Nice Solder Lines

Lately, I have been spending a lot of time with fused glass. Today, however, I was working on a stained glass piece. While I was soldering I started thinking about what it is that makes solder lines look good. When teaching beginner stained glass classes, I find that soldering is the step that students find the most challenging. So I thought I’d share some thoughts on soldering.

Lighten Up

When I find my lines not coming out as smooth as I would like, the first thing I check is my grip on the iron. You don’t need a death grip, and you don’t have to push the iron. Let the weight of the iron and the heat do the work. Hold the iron lightly, pulling it slowly as the heat of the iron melts the solder. If the solder isn’t flowing, it could be because the iron is not hot enough.

Keep It Clean

Another common problem especially with beginners is not keeping the iron tip clean. Nothing will ruin the flow and look of a solder line like a dirty tip. I clean my tip off between every solder line I do.

Easy on the Flux

Too much flux can be a problem too. That often causes the solder to spit leaving bubble holes. I cut the bristles on my flux brush down to almost nothing. This prevents me from overloading my brush with flux.

And finally, practice, practice, practice! The more you do it, the better you get.

And if you are a buyer of stained glass, let the buyer beware! I see a lot of stained glass for sale on the sites I sell with really bad solder lines. When you look at a piece online, be sure to zoom in on the picture to see the quality of the work.

4 thoughts on “How to Get Nice Solder Lines

  1. Scott says:

    Thanks for the tips! I’m often guilty of too much flux. I’ll try your trimmed brush tip on my next piece.

  2. Ron west says:

    I have been working with wood for 25 years and decided to try my hand with stained glass in my cabinet doors. I went to U-Tube to learn as much as I could. I contacted a friend who has been doing stained glass for 30 years. I also read as much as I can on this trade. It has all paid off, but experience is still the best way to learn. I just finished my sixth cabinet door and it took me a long time to complete them. It was way more involved than I thought. I had a difficult time with the putty,

    • Margot says:

      Yes, there is nothing like experience. I once taught a beginner’s class and at the end of the class a student said, “Well now I know why stained glass is so expensive!”

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