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Any tricks to hiding platinum seams?


#1

I have been doing platinum work for about 15 years now and I just
accept the fact that you will see a seam on most work. I try to use
hard solder when I can. This week I was not at my shop with the
oxy-propane so I did a sizing with pt 1000 solder and boy did I see
it. I took this thing down to the finest emory paper I could find and
then charged a piece of tan folder paper with white rough and used
that too. then i went to the clean buffing wheel. whispered to the
ring that it was almost polished, touched it to the wheel and boom!!!
there was the seem again. I then went back through the whole process
and used a soft goat hair brush for the final polish…but it
still showed up.

I know why I see it, the metals are different hardnesses and the
solder ‘pulls out’ when polished. I am looking for a magic bullet. If
anyone can give it to me, i will give them my grandmothers recipe for
Maryland crab cakes… this means YOU MR. Binnion.

Wayne Werner ‘try’in to get platinum paid’


#2
I have been doing platinum work for about 15 years now and I just
accept the fact that you will see a seam on most work. I try to
use hard solder when I can. This week I was not at my shop with the
oxy-propane so I did a sizing with pt 1000 solder and boy did I
see it. 

Yeah, you would. That’s way too soft a solder for almost any sizing
job. Remember that classic platinum solders contain little if any
platinum (the highest melting ones, 1600 and 1700 have some platinum)
being instead, alloys of palladium, alloyed I think, with gold or
silver. The result is a much softer metal with a darker color. It
mechanically is OK with platinum (though your 1000 solder is not a
strong joint, especially for a butt joint like a sizing), but the
color and hardness is all wrong for any sort of decent appearance.

...I then went back through the whole process and used a soft goat
hair brush for the final polish...........but it still showed up. 

You might, if the original seam was really tight and well done, be
able to burnish the seam. Sometimes this will mush around the metal
enough so a seam doesn’t show so much. Same as closing up porosity.
But it’s not the best way.

I know why I see it, the metals are different hardnesses and the
solder 'pulls out' when polished. I am looking for a magic bullet.
If anyone can give it to me, i will give them my grandmothers
recipe for Maryland crab cakes... this means YOU MR. Binnion. 

You can share those cakes with Jim and me both, please (grin)

Two methods. One is to weld the seam. Not all sizing joints can be
done this way, but the classic weld for sizing is done by rolling a
bit of platinum very thin, cutting a bit of this that measures
slightly wider and longer than the width and thickness of the metal
of the shank. Close up the seam so it’s tight enough to hold this
shim in position, so the shim fills the seam and extends out a little
all around the seam. Using a sharp hot flame directed right at the
shim, you’ll find that platinum’s poor heat conductivity means you
can fuse that thin shim just a moment before the shank itself starts
to melt. When it’s edge melts, it continues down in a bit, welding
the two sides of the shank. Repeat this for all four surfaces (both
sides, inside, outside, etc.) With practice, this gives you a welded
joint that has no seams at all.

The other method is suitable even for those shanks that are not
going to be so easy to weld this way (thinner flatter shanks, or the
like). That method is simply a better type of solder.

For close to ten years now, you have been able to buy a "plumb"
platinum solder. At today’s platinum prices, this stuff isn’t cheap,
of course, since a pennyweight of the solder contains not just the
alloy constintuents, but as much platinum as your basic platinum
itself. it comes 90 - 95 percent pure, the remainder (what lowers the
melting point to make it a solder) is germanium and indium, if I
recall. PMWest is the company that developed it, and it’s sold by a
number of metals dealers in addition to them.

The plumb solders are a bit harder to use than traditional junky
solders. They don’t flow quite as easily, and tend to sometimes leave
a bit of a scar, the remainder of the solder piece, at the surface of
the joint where the paillon was placed (especially with the easy
grade). But color and hardness of the finished joint is a perfect
match, and even if it sometimes looks like it didn’t completely flow,
in fact, it will have done so. Just put the paillon where you can
clean up any residue afterwards.

The plumb solders are available in “easy”, which melts around 1300,
“medium,” which melts at 1400, and “hard” which melts at 1500. I find
the easy grade a bit difficult to use, since the solder sheet is
often very hard and brittle, and simply cutting up bits to use is
tricky. The medium and hard grades are more friendly that way, and
actually flow somewhat better than the easy, though at their
respective higher temps. I generally use the medium grade for most
work, as it’s the best color match for the 10 percent iridium
platinum I normally work with, and it’s generally suitable for almost
all my uses. Occasionally with a complex piece I’ll use the easy for
the final assembly, but I try to avoid it, as it’s just not quite as
nice to work with. The hard grade, even though higher melting, is
also nice to work with. Unlike gold solders, there is little
advantage to the higher melting solders for purposes of appearance
or strength. All three grades are “plumb”, and offer similar finished
strength and appearance. So use the stepped temperature grades only
for when you need a difference in flow point. This differs from gold
or silver solders where the higher melting solders also offer a
better quality joint.

While I do keep the traditional platinum solders around too, at this
point they’re reserved for those repair jobs where I really need that
low temperature solder, and this is rare, since mostly I do the
repair jobs with the laser welder anyway. But still, it sometimes is
still a valid choice, so long as you accept that you’re soldering
platinum with a palladium alloy that doesn’t match. The real main use
I now have for the palladium based platinum solders is much more
understandable, and that’s when I need to solder palladium itself…
Those solders work very well for that.

For platinum work, though, I pretty much have totally switched to
the plumb solders. They solve all sorts of problems.

PMWest’s links regarding this solder:
http://preciousmetalswest.com/platinum%20solders.php
http://preciousmetalswest.com/developing_plumb_platinum_solder.php

Cheers
Peter Rowe
Seattle


#3

Wayne the best way is to weld it.

Take a bit of the same material the shank’s made from and roll/hammer
it as thin as you can. Slip it into the joint with 0.5-1mm protruding
around and melt it into the shank with a small very sharp flame.
Invisible.


#4

Hi Wayne;

I appreciate the offer for the crab cakes recipe, but I’m a vegan.
My wife, on the other hand, is a carnivore and will gladly eat these
arachnid confections.

To the point. I’ll assume you’re using the 1000C platinum solder due
to the temperature constraints of the job, but if it’s a sizing, you
won’t avoid a seam with those types of solders until you get to a
1700C weld solder. BUT! you can use the newer "platinum plumb"
solders which range in temperatures from 1300C to 1500C. The lowest
temperature version may show a faint gray line, but it is a color
issue and minimal. These solders do not polish out of the seam.
They’re a bit pricey, but work great. I use the 1300C for sizing all
the time. The solders are available at Stuller, I think United
Precious Metals carries them also, as well as Precious Metals West.
Stuller will sell a 1/2 pennyweight of it at a time, don’t know
about the others.

David L. Huffman


#5

You can only use 1700 seamless which does not leave a mark. Try it
and let me now. I solder Platinum on a dailey basis.

Thanks Johneric


#6

Wayne,

The best piece of equipment to use in this case is a finely polished
burnisher, preferably carbide, but even steel will do in a pinch; the
broader the better. All your steps are fine, but stay away from the
polishing wheel. You’ll have to have a very light, fine touch but it
can be done. It’s best if you can burnish in the same direction of
the seam rather than in opposition to it. Burnishing the inside of
the ring will be a cinch, the outside will take more care.

Both Hoover and Stuller both carry platinum plumb solders now. I
prefer the Stuller solders but the Hoover ones are good too. No seam,
great color match once polished, and better flow than you’d expect
from a platinum solder. They are high melting point solders, so it
probably wouldn’t have helped a lot in your case, but it’s really the
only way to go.

Larry
Cary, NC


#7

Hi Wayne,

The only way to work with plat and not get a seam is to either weld
it with plat or use 1700 or above solder. 1000 plat solder I don’t
think contains any platinum. 1400 & 1500 will still leave a line.
Personally I prefer to weld everything until I have trouble with old
seams from previous work.

Now here’s a secret…PMW…Precious metals west sold by Daniel
Ballard makes plumb platinum solder that is amazing. It melts at red
hot not white hot and doesn’t leave a seam. It is very brittle metal
so cutting the plate must be done with cutters not scissors. All I
can say is if you don’t want to weld the shanks with plat wire then
the PMW solder is the way to go. I don’t know why these solders are
not more popular. It comes in 900 925 & 950 soft med hard
respectively.

Call him. He’s a nice guy & will explain the solders to you.
http://www.preciousmetalswest.com/14ky_ee.php

Mark


#8

Wayne-When we size platinum rings, we fuse it. No seams to deal
with. When we size down we take the metal that we cut out and roll it
out as thin as it will go and use that piece to fuse it together
with. I even fuse 18kt yellow rings if they are heavy enough. Also,
the old platinum solders were mostly silver and other stuff. Not much
platinum to speak of in them. The new stuff is much nicer. If you
want to use solder to size with, I’d recommend burnishing the seam by
hand.

Jo
www.timothywgreen.com


#9

Hi Wayne,

There are plumb platinum solders available from Precious Metals West
in LA that don’t show a seam.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
www.spirerjewelers.com


#10

Wayne- It may be the solder you are using? If it’s old solder it
will be


#11

Quite simple Wayne,

Your joint must be absolutely flush, after you cut the piece out,
place slight tension at the now seam, so they touch with slight
pressure, put two strips of fine sand paper back to back and draw it
through the slice and you should have a tight and absolutely flush
fit. Fuse the outside with a piece (Very small) of the sizing that
you removed. finish it off, clean, clean, clean and steam the weld,
then use the type of solder you want on the inside. Use a hard inside
buff and go easy on the polish.

Now you can charge what the big boys get for this job and you can
act shy about your profession and collect the $165.00 that you should
respectfully charge. And the ring should be finished to the infinite
detail. Please don’t make your customer cry with joy, she may tell a
lot of others just how wonderful you are. You can do-it, go for-it

Stephen Wyrick, CMBJ, Gemmoligest


#12
I am looking for a magic bullet. If anyone can give it to me, i
will give them my grandmothers recipe for Maryland crab cakes. 

Well, Wayne - I love a good crab cake. I know from reading here that
there’s more than a few here on Orchid who do, too. The magic bullet
is just as simple as can be: Don’t solder sizings, weld them. Put
your seam together, prop up the ring (I use self-locking tweezers on
the bottom), get a piece of platinum wire, also in self-locking
tweezers, and fuse the seam, using the wire as welding rod. It will
file out to look like nothing happened, if done properly, and it’s
actually easier than soldering. You need welding goggles, and it only
works on 10% iridium - it also works on pure platinum if you
encounter that (old work, usually), and use pure platinum rod. It
does not work on cobalt - yet another reason not to use it. It can
also be done on a good clean 18kt. yellow alloy, BTW. You also need
to protect any stones, and you need to be a certain distance away
from them no matter what - you can 1/2 shank that way, but if there’s
stones nearby you must solder - like usual.

If you are stuck with cobalt or for some reason you just had to
solder - what I do is polish the ring, retouch the seam as needed,
and lap it. I use greystar on the cutting lap, and then white rouge
on a medium lap. Then I’ll just touch up the seam and stop - no
buffing on a soft wheel. The finish will be good to great, and any
tiny difference is way better than having a seam showing…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#13

I used to go nuts with that. Then I started using plumb plat solder,
the old style plat solders aren’t really platinum. With the plumb
its pretty much like gold hard solder, no laborious sanding etc. Lap
it a little bit and polish across the seam, pretty forgiving stuff I
think.


#14

Greetings,

I love reading Ganoksin. It makes me feel like part of an amazing
community of craftshumans, even when I live in a place where
metalsmiths are few and far between. Wayne Louis Werner wrote that he
wa s looking for a way to hide the seamon a platinum ring. The answer
was cleverly hidden in your message- you said you like to use hard
solder when you can, and you used 1000( a bit soft for platinum) that
time. I find that 1500 platinum solder matches beautifully- I haven’t
had the problem you described. That’s as magic a bullet as this
peacemonger has up her sleeve.

Sue Aripotch
Southwest Harbor, ME


#15

Hi Wayne,

The only magic bullet I know (other than using a laser - which truly
is a magic bullet) is to fuse platinum instead of soldering it
whenever possible. I very seldom use platinum solder at all anymore
except for fabricating with wire where it doesn’t show anyway. When
sizing, I first fuse the seam slightly without adding any metal. This
makes it rounded and lumpy, but solid in the center. Then I fuse four
small pieces of the same kind of platinum on the seam, one on the
bottom, one on each side and one inside the shank to fill in the
melted areas. Even doing this you can get a visible joint if you pull
the heat straight off after it melts as a small shrinkage pit will
form in the center of the lump. I pull the heat to the side, across
the joint when removing it to get the pit off of center where it is
less of a problem.

You can use this process on a lot more things than you might think
is possible if you really crank up the heat with a very small,
extremely hot flame and get in and out quick (be sure to use good
welding goggles) and let it cool between steps. Platinum doesn’t
conduct heat very well and if you heat sink your work carefully,
don’t dawdle with the heat (or use too large a flame) and firecoat
any stones (don’t use flux, it can discolor platinum), you can get
away with it almost all the time.

Obviously there are times it’s not possible to fuse because of
delicate stones or whatever. In those cases, make sure the joint is
as tight and clean as possible, use the highest flow solder you can
get away with, and burnish the joint after filing, but before
sanding. I use an air graver or a hammer handpiece with a piece of
square graver stock rounded and polished at the tip, and hammer
lightly across the joint at an oblique angle to the surface in every
direction with the objective of pushing metal into and over the
joint. This will not eliminate the seam, but it will minimize it
with careful sanding and polishing. Of course you know to never
polish with the joint. That will pull the solder out fast. You can
also avoid polishing at all by going from fine sandpaper to a carbide
burnisher.

Dave


#16

Maryland crab cakes? Yum! You got my attention. I hope it doesn’t
matter I’m not in the same league with Mr. Binnion. A magic bullet
it’s not, but the only seamless way to work Pt that I have found is
fusion welding. (This is the reason I’m not sold on Co alloys.)
Oxygen propane, a lazar, or a TIG welder will all do it. Each has
it’s place. Hiding a seam made with any other filler, even.999 Pt,
can be tough, and can’t be thought of as a permanent solution. When
the object is worn, the seam will reappear. (This in my opinion is
huge.) Less noticeable joints are possible with perfect fit before
solder and burnishing to polish.

David Lee, CMBJ
http://www.davidleejeweler.com


#17

Wayne,

I hear your pain…

We use 1700 to size platinum rings with stones. Bury the stone in a
protective coat, size as usual, and you rarely see any seams.

Other alternative is to use a laser welder, if you are fortunate
enough to have access to one. No seam will show because you are
using platinum to fill the gap…if done properly.

I usually get a sizing seam when I work with 18kt white. The seam
always seems darker.

Laurie


#18

Wayne,

I think Peter deserves the Crab Cakes :slight_smile: He covered everything I
would suggest and then some. The only other thing would be welding
with a laser or PUK.

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#19

Laurie,

I usually get a sizing seam when I work with 18kt white. The seam
always seems darker. 

Try using 20K white weld grade solder for those 18K white seams. If
it’s well fitted first, pretty much no seam. The stuff I’ve got comes
from AAA metals, but I expect you’d get similar results from that
grade of solder from other sources too.

Or, as you note, the laser is another way around it.

And especially with palladium white golds, in typical thinner ladies
shanks, I’ve been able to torch weld the seams. Cut the sizing so
that it’s just a hair too large when fitted tightly together, and
adjust the shank so the two cut ends are pressing tightly together
with a bit of tension. Flux as usual, and use a fairly small hot
flame right at the seam. Takes practice, and is a lot easier with 14K
alloys, but you can get that type of seam to fuse. as it does, the
two ends push into each other creating a slight weld bulge, thus
avoiding melted in edges that make the joint end up thinner. If you
get it right, you can just clean it up and your good to go without
needing further adjustment. Sometimes the weld needs to be forged
just a little to get the size or shank shape right. If so, smooth out
the inside surface first so it sits cleanly against the ring mandrel.
That will keep the weld from cracking when you hammer it.

cheers
Peter


#20

Now this discussion has revealed a tremendous amount about the
participants in Orchid. A number of the old timers have said the
ONLY way to close a seam without it showing is to fuse it. Some of
the people have responded by saying use a higher melting solder. Some
have said you have to use a laser. And some of us have pointed out
how there is now plumb platinum solders that do the job. While none
of these answers are inacurate, all of them are partially right
(including my own suggestion to use plumb solder). Sure enough if
you fuse the seam with platinum you won’t see a seam when you’re
done, but it’s more difficult and definitely more risky when working
on jewelry you didn’t make (plus it’s just plain harder to do). Using
a higher melting solder (the 1000 solder guarantees you will see a
seam so I don’t understand why anyone would use it for somthing like
this) will help, but won’t necessarily entirely resolve the problem
(I’ve used 15-1700 solders and still had seam issues). Using the
plumb solders is definitely better than any of the other answers
(it’s easier and it doesn’t leave a seam) but it’s not the only
possibility. Using a laser is also a possibility but only available
to those who have the money to invest in the machine or who want to
send their work out so while it’s a good solution, it also isn’t the
only possibility. So, many of us have answered the question, but the
questioner is still going to have to make a decision. Which option
is best for him? There often is no simple answer. Fuse it, plumb
solder it, laser it??? Ultimately it’s all up to the individual and
depends on the individual job. That’s what I love about this trade.
There is no ONE answer about how to do anything. So each individual
has to make a judgement call and take a chance. What’s life like
without a little risk in it?

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambrige, MA 02140
617-234-4392