soldering wire at edges

by Barbara
(Kalamazoo, MI)

I am in the process of making a pool table lamp with lead came. The stained glass supply store told me to solder turned wire around the bottom and up the inside of the lamp to strengthen it and keep the came from stretching and the lamp from falling apart. My question is, the bottom is scalloped - if I put the wire around the scalloped edges, will it still strengthen the came? Also, I have two plates to put on the top of the lamp for the light fixtures to mount. I am having trouble getting the solder to stick. Do I need a higher heat for them?


Please send me a picture of the lampshade. It's difficult to give you advice without seeing the shade. Also, is the bottom lead, around the scallops, one continuous piece, or individual pieces, one per panel? You can use the contact me info on the left side, near the top, of this page.

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Soldering Frustrations Galore

by Molly
(Tucson, AZ)

First of all, thank you for your great information. I read over the steps you gave for soldering lead came. It is very helpful - thank you!
However, no matter how many articles I've read, the classes I've taken, or times I've spent practicing soldering, I just can't seem to get the hang of it!
This is a very frustrating situation for me. Every other step of stained glass construction I'm able to do very well, then it comes down to the last step and I feel like it has been a complete waste of time because my solder joints are atrocious! I seem to end up with globby joints or, the worst, melted through came. It seems my soldering iron is too hot or too cold and rarely just right.
So, my question is, I think, how long and/or how many projects should it reallistically take to master the art of soldering? I have several projects waiting to be soldered but I can't stand the thought of ruining them.
Thank you for any suggesitons and for lending an ear, so to speak.


Hi Molly,

I'm so sorry you're having problems with soldering lead came. I understand your frustration. I wish you lived closer to me so I could show you what to do. It would be so much easier than writing about it: are a few things that might help:

1. Use paste flux instead of liquid.

2. If you're using a rheostat, have it set a little hotter

3. Hold the iron down on the solder to the count of 2, then gently lift the iron straight up (in other words, don't yank the iron up).

4. Hold just enough solder on the lead to cover the area you are soldering (don't have it hanging over the edges of the lead).

5. Flux all of the joints you are going to solder before you start soldering.

6. Get a rhythm going as you solder...keep moving along. If you stop and think about each joint, your iron has a chance to get hotter, thus burning the lead. (this might be the most important hint).

7. Don't press down so hard.

8. Make sure you use plenty of flux. The flux helps to keep the soldering iron at a consistent temperature as long as you keep up that rhythm.

9. Don't put your soldering iron in the stand while you're doing something else, then pick it up and keep soldering. It will have gotten hotter and you will certainly burn your lead. A rheostat will not keep a soldering iron at a constant temperature when the iron sits for a long time.

10. Practice on some scrap glass and lead. Be sure you put glass in the lead, as lead on its own will melt much quicker than it will with glass in the channel.

11. Last but not least, go to a stained glass studio and ask if someone there would watch you solder and critique your technique.

That's all I can think of Molly. Try the ones, that you think might pertain to your problem, and see if you have a better soldering experience. Let us know how you make out.


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accidently melted a small hole in the caming

by Carol D
(Barrington, NH)

my iron was too hot and I accidently melted a hole in the lead came. It is an old piece I was repairing for a friend. The hole is 1/2 the size of a dime. Is there any way to repair it?


You could try cutting out the lead and replacing it with another piece. You will only be cutting out the face of the lead on the side where it is burned. The new piece will again only be the face, not the whole piece of lead. Make sure the new piece is stuck in place tightly, otherwise it will come loose and stick to your soldering iron when you attempt to solder it in place.

If you find doing the repair too difficult (and it can end up being very difficult and frustrating)I'd suggest taking the panel apart and replacing the entire piece of lead. It will probably be quicker in the long run.

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Staged Soldering

by Keith Robinson
(Cottingham, UK)



Hello Sue,

I am leading up a door panel that has three seperate sections and I would like to lead up one third and then solder it. Add the next third and solder that finishing off with the last third. This way I can control the construction and any unnoticed movement of the glass or came. can you foresee any flaws with my suggestion?



Hi Keith,

The only flaw in your suggestion is that you are taking an awfully long way around to get a panel made, as well as runing into problems keeping the 2 sides symetrical. You're making hard work out of something that should be fairly easy.

If you build your panel per my instuctions on the Lead Tutorial, it would go together accurately, faster and easier. However, since you have already constructed the center part, you'll have to continue adding each side separately.

We have corresponded via email several times and I have seen pictures of your work, so I'm fairly certain this panel will go together and look just fine, but I can see a lot of extra work involved doing it that way.

I wouldn't recommend this method to anyone else, nor would I want to do it myself. I do hope you construct your next panel the traditional way and see how much easier it is.


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Trouble Getting Solder to Stick

by Judy

I am trying to solder a nice leaded panel. I haven't worked with lead came in awhile, and I'm really having issues with it. The solder doesn't want to stick to the came, instead beading up and bouncing to one side or the other of the joint - not wanting to stick to the joint or the fluxed area at all. I've tried lowering the rheostat, a different type of flux, changing from 50/50 to 60/40 - so far, no luck. What else can I try?


Your lead could be oxidized enough to prevent the solder form sticking. Try scrubbing the joints with a brass wire brush before you apply the flux. Also, try Nokorode flux. I have found it to be the best flux for lead.

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Which Solder to Use on Lead Came??

by Gigi

Hi... just wondering which solder to use for a leaded panel? And, does lead-free solder perform the same as 60/40, or 50/50?

Hi Gigi,

Use either one. It doesn't much matter. We use 60/40 for everything.

As for lead free solder, I have not used it, but I understand that there is a learning curve involved. It does not behave the same way leaded solder does.

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Inconsistent Solder Joints

by Keith Robinson
(Cottingham, UK)

I have already sent an email requesting your help with my terrible soldering. I attach a couple of pictures to help with your diagnosis
many thanks in advance for your comments.
Keith (Robinson)

Hi Keith,

I'm going to put a copy of your email here so that everyone can read about your problem. I will also put in my reply as well as replying to this picture.

Original email message:

Having problems getting neat joints. I can weld neatly and am accomplished in many mechanical areas, but find soldering came quite frustrating. I am presently trying to build a gas soldering iron to see if that will help, as all the old professionals seem to prefer them. What are your thoughts please?

My reply to the email:

Hi Keith,

I'm definitely an old professional, as is my husband. We have been working in stained
glass for 33+ years and have never used a gas soldering iron. Actually, I've never seen
one and I don't know any professionals that use one. I assume the old professionals
used one because the type we use now wasn't available then. However, it's up to you
what you want to do.

Here are a few ideas to help you solder better.

First of all, don't solder like you weld. Solder like you've never done it before. In other words, try
to get rid of your preconceived ideas about welding/soldering.

Try using a cooler iron (an 80 watt instead of a 100 watt) until you get the hang of it. Use
plenty of flux and, don't try to put on a big glob of solder. Use a bit of solder about 1/2 the width of the tip of your soldering iron.

Once you start soldering, don't stop and hold the iron in your hand while you look over what
you have just done. The iron will get hotter the longer it sits, even if you have it on a temperature controller. Flux as much as you think you'll solder in one session, then solder stopping.
You'll find a rhythm to it once you get started.

Touch down through the solder, count to 2, lift the iron straight up and go on to the next joint.
Wipe the iron on a paper wet towel frequently. That will clean the tip and cool it at the same time.

I hope this will help you. Believe me, if I could learn to solder, anyone can.:-)

Reply to your picture:

A picture is worth a thousand words! Thanks for submitting it.

I would say your soldering iron isn't hot enough and/or you're not holding the iron down long enough. The solder hasn't had a chance to melt on the lead. It should be fairly flat, but, at the same time, just slightly rounded. You should be using at least an 80 watt soldering iron. Use a paste flux (for lead, not welding) and try my suggestions above. Let me know how you do.


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Trouble Soldering

by Lyn Schneider
(Bakersfield CA)

When I solder with the 20/60 lead it does not flow on the came, just ball up and slides off. What am I doing wrong?


Are you really using 20/60 solder?? You should be using 60/40 or 50/50 solder. If you are using 20/60, that's the problem.

If you're using the correct solder, it sounds like you're not using any flux. If you are working with lead came, go to your local hardware store and get a small container of Nokorode flux. Also, if you're working with old lead that might be oxidized, scrub the joints with a small brass bristle brush before you apply the flux and solder.

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Soldering Old lead Came

by Debra
(Somerset KY)

We need to repair some broken pieces of lead came but nothing will stick to real old fashioned lead and this is a big 14' transom with stained glass we cant afford to have it re-worked


Scrub the areas of the lead that you want to solder with a brass wire brush, use a paste flux such as Nokorode, then solder it.

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Ozidizing lead came

by John

I bought a spool of lead came and use strips from it.
The came has ozidized and I take a brass brush and brush the joints before soldering. I use liquid flux and a hot iron. I use 60/40 solder.

I have trouble getting the solder to stick or I have a really poor joint.

What am I doing wrong?

You have mentioned paste solder. Can I use the type sold at hardware stores? IF not where can I get the paste flux?



Hi John,

Yes, you can get Nokorode Paste Flux at most hardware stores. Most stained glass retail stores carry it as well. I do think the flux will solve your problem. You could also try brushing the joints more agressively with your brass brush.

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Lead Soldering Problem

Hi Sue,

I am working on a leaded piece and for some reason, out of the blue, my solder will not stick to the lead.

I threw out the flux I was using, cleaned the container, and poured some new flux. (Canfield brand) I STILL can't get the solder to stick. Any ideas??

This has me totally confused.

Thanks for your help!
Trish Christiansen


Hi Trish,

Four things come to mind...

1. Are you using lead that you've had around for a while? If so, it could be oxidized enough to make soldering very difficult. Get a wire brush and scrub all of the joints before you start to solder.

2. Your solder could be oxidized. Run some fine steel wool down the length of solder before you use it. Wipe it off after you steel wool it to be sure you get rid of the steel wool residue.

3. Your flux could be old. I couldn't be sure if you bought new flux or just threw out what was in the container and refilled it. Also, flux can get contaminated by repleatedly dipping your flux brush into it. You should always pour out just enough (into a separate container) to use for one session, then dispose of what's left.

4. Your soldering iron could be too cool. If you use a temp controller, turn it up to a higher temperature.

Hopefully, one of the above will solve your problem. Let us know how it goes. You can tell us about it by clicking on the comments section at the bottom of this page, and adding a comment.

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