Friday, 13 February 2009

Soldering Copper Foil

Tip sizeSoldering copper foil is ideally done with a smaller tip than for leaded glass. A 3/16" long taper tip is useful. Use the tip on edge rather than the flat side in order to minimize the iron's contact with the glass. Thus, the iron is held almost vertical. Foil heats up very fast and too much heat can crack the glass so the narrower the iron contact is the lower the risk.

Solder applicationThe solder is applied in one of two ways. The quickest method is to feed solder in on the thicker part of the shiny tip and let it flow down to the foil. The iron is held firmly against the foil and pulled along the foil (which has been fluxed) at the proper rate with the solder being fed at the correct rate in order to produce a slightly rounded, shiny solder bead. Don't try and "float" the iron on top of the solder, be firmly down against the foil. This requires practice to match the speed of movement and the amount of solder fed to the iron.

Alternatively, you can do the Bunny-Hop method. This is easier to control and is done by soldering one tip-length, lifting the iron and soldering the next tip-length, barely re-heating the section just soldered. A variation on this is to place blobs of solder at regular intervals along the foiled and fluxed joint and then move the iron along the joint melting the blobs as you go. This avoids the tide marks at the cooling ends of the solder bead.