Tinning Copper Foil

by Tammy Honaman, Author, Jewelry-Making Expert and Educator,
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

The "stained glass" technique adds a silver rim to the edge of your glass, and is often referred to as tinning. Tinning is the process of applying copper foil to the edge of a piece of glass then applying lead-free solder to the copper. This process accents the shape of the glass, protects the edges from breaking and from scratching the wearer. This technique can be used on any material that can withstand the heat of the soldering iron--up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Add a ring, loop or other finding in the soldering process and the glass is transformed into a component that can be used as a charm, pendant or link.
Note: Please follow all instructions and safety precautions that are provided with the soldering iron.
Measure a length of foil to fit around the perimeter of a slide, allowing a little overlap. Make an impression, remove the foil then trim at the impression.

Peel a little of the paper backing from the foil then center the slide on the sticky side of the foil. Continue to peel the backing away and wrap the slide neatly, keeping it centered as you go.

Note: If you do not keep the foil even on both sides, the copper will show through the glass from the other side. You can use this as a design element if you'd like.
Neatly press the foil against the slide. Using a burnisher, smooth the foil so it is pressed securely onto the slide as well as smooth.
Grasp the slide with tweezers held in a third hand so you can work hands-free. Using a flux brush, apply flux to the foil, making sure to apply it to all areas of foil. Solder will not stay on the foil if it isn't fluxed properly.
While working on a heatproof surface, using a soldering iron or working with the soldering tip in place on the soldering torch, ignite the torch and allow the tip to heat up. Press the tip to the solder so a little bit of solder is gathered. Apply the solder to the foil. Repeat until the foil is covered in solder--or "tinned."
If you will be hanging the tinned slide, add a ring. While holding a closed sterling silver jumpring in a pair of fiber-grip cross-locking tweezers, hold the ring in place on the edge of the slide. Apply a bit of flux to the area, making sure to get flux on the ring where it will be attached to the slide. Repeat Step 5 to apply solder to the area and capture the ring.
Allow the assembly to cool, then wash it with warm water and soap before using in a design.

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Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the how-to "Tinning Copper Foil," as featured in an email newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

"Excellent article on tinning copper foil!"
- Beck!

"I just want to say thank you for all the different ideas Fire Mountain shares with us, your customers, so that we can try different techniques. I am always looking for new things to try and so happy that you provide not only the ideas, but the photographs, the how to's and that we can find the supplies at Fire Mountain. Many thanks. Sincerely,"
- Nora

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