Connecting and soldering stained glass pieces using the copper foil method can be both exciting and frustrating. The process is fairly straightforward once you have learned all the steps and have taken the time to practice. However, whether you are a beginner or an expert, there are some steps to follow that can make soldering copper foil for stained glass easier.
Below are 6 steps to help you learn how to solder stained glass much more easily:
1. Have your supplies ready before you start
Before you even start to solder your copper foil for stained glass, get your supplies ready.
You will need the following: Solid Solder Wire, liquid flux, your soldering iron, a flux applicator or q- tips, damp rag or sponge, gloves if you are using leaded-solder.
2. Get your glass pieces positioned for soldering
First, cut the glass pieces from the pattern using a glass cutter. If the cutting is accurate, the pieces will fit together tightly. After cutting the entire pattern out, the edges that you want to solder should be wrapped in copper foil.
After foiling the pieces, assemble and stake them together which will hold them together tightly during soldering.
3. Apply Flux to the Joints and Seams
With a flux brush, apply a small amount of flux to all of the joints and seams. Try not to add too much flux otherwise it could splatter during heating and create bubbles in your seams.
4. Heat Iron to a temperature that melts the solder
Turn on your soldering iron and heat it to a temperature that will flow the molten solder into the seams down towards the back side. Common soldering tip temperatures are 700°-850°F for leaded solder and 800°-1,000°F for lead-free solder. While soldering, periodically wipe the iron tip with a slightly damp rag or sponge and re-tin the tip with fresh solder.
Place the solder along the flat side of the iron tip and lightly touch your iron to the copper foil seam. You might hear a sizzle and then you will see a very small solder puddle just under the tip. Move the soldering iron smoothly across the copper foil seam (try not to stop and start) while you feed solder along the tip.
If you hold the soldering iron in your left hand, it is easier to work left to right and vice versa.
5. Keep an eye on your solder seam
Keep an eye on your solder seam. If it is flat, try to slow down and use a little more solder. If the solder is pouring out too quickly, speed up. If you want to use a U-channel came to edge the piece, leave a little space of your foil free from the solder at the edge of the panel. If you just want to tin your edges, finish up the seams up to the edge.
Once you have finished one side of the piece, turn it over. This side just needs a little flux at the seams and then solder just as you did on the other side.
6. Touching up
If you have different spots or areas that need to be touched up, try using the touch and lift method. Take your iron and touch down until your tip touches the glass. You can then see the solder melting on either side of the iron tip. When this occurs, lift the iron right up. You can even do this along the seam.
Then, of course, before turning your soldering iron off wipe and re-tin the tip. Unplug it and put it away until you want to use it again. Periodically remove the soldering tip to avoid flux corroding it permanently into place.
Soldering copper foil for stained glass takes time and practice. Once you get the hang of it, you will have the process down in no time!
If you have any questions about soldering copper foil or any other questions, please contact our technical support team. They would be happy to help and provide you with additional stained glass soldering tips!