Flux, Disposal, Sanding, and More!

Tips & Tricks


Handy Flux

Quick rescue for dried out paste flux
Revive white paste flux, ( Handy Flux, Dandix, etc.) by adding a small amount of water and gently warming in a microwave. Cover, but do not seal, the flux container with a plastic or glass lid. Microwave on high or 3/4 power, depending on the microwave, for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Carefully remove and stir. Repeat until the flux is smooth and the desired consistency. Remember that microwaves do not like metal, so use a plastic or glass container and lid. Also, remove any bits of solder or metal from your flux before heating.

– Val Link

Ferric Chloride Disposal
I love to etch copper, but I’ve often wondered about how to properly dispose of the ferric chloride etchant once it was exhausted. I am concerned about contaminating the water supply or other adverse environmental effects that my metal laden acid solution might cause. So I addressed my concerns to a friend who has spent his career in wastewater management and groundwater remediation. Here’s what he recommends:

  • Neutralize the acid with baking soda (wearing protective clothing and a chemical respirator)
  • Allow the fluid to evaporate off by setting the solution outside away from animals and children
  • Once the liquid has evaporated, the metal sludge that remains can be wrapped in newspaper and disposed of in a sanitary landfill.

The real problem with spent etchant from an environmental standpoint is not the acid itself but the metals that are suspended in the solution.

– Patty Scott

Handy Sanding and Finishing Sticks
Hard foam nail files or nail boards make excellent sanding and finishing sticks for metal. Sold under brand names such as “Tropical Shine,” they can be found at beauty supply houses. Sally Beauty Supply stocks a wide variety of boards in various grits, abrasive materials and sizes. As the board tips get worn out, they can be cut and trimmed with scissors.

– Diane Falkenhagen

Mini Scraper and Burnishing Tool
For this tool, begin with a traditional metal, not plastic, X-Acto #1 knife and the #11 fine point blade that comes with it. Insert the blade upside down so that the point is inside the knife handle. Look carefully at the butt of the blade that is now the tip of the knife. You should see that one side is beveled. This beveled side can be used as a tiny burnisher while the flat side is a miniature scraper. This very sharp scraper is useful for opening up bezels to remove stones. The beveled edge is thin enough to carefully slip between the bezel wire and the stone without overly distorting the metal.


X-Acto knife and blade





– Chris Hentz, Louisiana State University

2-Part Epoxy Application for Small Spaces

To mix 2-part epoxy, use an old broken saw blade rather than a wooden toothpick. The toothpick is porous and can introduce air bubbles into your epoxy mixture. The saw blade is useful for getting minute amounts of epoxy into a tiny area – without bubbles.

The right sized saw blade for the job
Not every sawing task can be accomplished with a 2/0 jeweler’s saw blade! But how do you know which blade works for a particular gauge of metal? Of course there are charts that will give you that information, but mine never seem to be at hand when I’m in the midst of a project. An easy method is to hold your saw blade 90 degrees against the metal edge that you are sawing and count the number of teeth that are touching the metal. It’s best to have at least 2 – 2.5 teeth in contact with the metal at all times.

– Tom Wright, Houston Gem and Mineral Society

Precision Layouts
When doing layout work, coat the surface with the largest permanent black Sharpie you can find – they go up to 1 inch! Let dry. Then scribe the design—very precise and easy to see.

-Jan Harrell

Large, Level Sanding Surfaces
Get 3 pieces of Masonite, Plexiglas, thin MDF board or other smooth surfaced material and cut to 9 x 11. Using 3M mounting spray, coat the entire backs of 220/320/400 grit sandpaper sheets with the spray. Mount each piece of sandpaper on a board. Let set. These are nice big surfaces for sanding larger projects and when they are pretty used up, they can be resurfaced with an-other sheet.

-Jan Harrell


Diamond nail file

Ultra Thin Diamond File
A lady’s diamond coated metal nail file can be repurposed as a small diamond file for metals. These files are surprisingly strong and are thin enough to fit into very tight spaces. They can be found in most drug stores among the manicure supplies.

– Tom Muir, Bowling Green State University


If you run across an interesting tip, trick, or online video, please share it with your fellow HMAGers. E-mail: hmagcomm@gmail.com (put ‘Tips and Tricks’ in the subject line) and indicate your source.