Sunday, February 3, 2013

Never Satisfied

It was finally time to solder my stained glass window for the transom.  Lee cut me some wood to hold the glass in place.  There are a whole bunch of little pieces and they can shift if not held in place.


I used finishing nails to hold the wood tight against the edges of the glass.  Then I brushed a section with the liquid flux.  This is necessary because of all the oil from my hands and other contaminants that might keep the solder from adhering to the copper foil.  If you put on too much it will pop and bubble and throw little bits of solder bubbles and leave holes in the line of solder.


I  haven't soldered any glass in quite some time.  Years.  I decided to tack the pieces by putting a blob of solder at some corners and then run a bead of solder along a line of foil.  On the first pass I just wanted to get some solder down.


Then I came back to clean up the run and add some more solder where the line was flat.  It is best to have a slightly rounded bead of solder.  You can user the soldering iron to run around the piece and pick up the loose bits of solder that popped away.  You can lay the edge of the iron on a lumpy spot and smooth it out to either side.  This takes practice and I am out of practice.  That is my excuse for taking a loooong time.


You can see the finished line of solder on the left and the first run on the right.

When you finish one side you have to flip the piece over.  This is delicate, because the piece is still a bit unstable.  I slid it part way off of the wood table I use for glass work and onto my other hand.  This is a good time to mention that you should wait until it has cooled sufficiently.


Lift the piece up and gently lay it down on the soldered side so you can do the next side.  Then start the whole flux, solder process over again.  By this time my back was hurting and I wanted to quit.  But you can't let it sit overnight with the flux on it so I had to get it finished.  I did a pretty good job and the took the MOSTLY finished piece over to the sink to wash it with soap and water.  By this time it is pretty stable, but you could probably bend it if you wanted.  So don't try it.

After I washed the whole thing, both sides, I returned it to the wooden board to wait for another day.  I want to do some touch up soldering when I am fresh.  That will entail more flux and soldering and then I will wash it again.


After that it will be time to do the copper patina and start to think about how I will install it.  Painting in the basement starts next week and I don't have to figure all that out until that is all done.

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