I've been working with the new product this week and have some
observations and questions I don't recall in the I've
been able to read. - Spent paillons often have rounded corners but
look as though they have not really melted at all while the joint
has been soldered. They do seem to melt better if I actually hit
them with the torch about the time they're ready to go, just as
Trevor said. I'm using Rio's Argentium sheet solder.
Pam, try this: don’t wait until the solder is ready to melt before
putting the torch on it. After a quick overall heating of the metal,
concentrate the heat on the seam, just as you would if it were gold,
or the way you wanted to heat the metal when you were a beginner.
Argentium Sterling does not conduct heat as well as traditional
sterling (germanium is a semi-conductor, like silicon, remember?).
So, heat the area adjacent to the solder. Don’t try to have all the
solder flow at once. Start at one end of the seam, and move the heat
along, as the solder melts.
- An average paillon of solder travels much farther in a seam than
the standard alloys did, even while the paillon appears still
intact! This also leads me to want to snip the paillons much
smaller than I did with the regular silver solders.
That sounds like a reasonable idea — at least for now, while you
are getting accustomed to things.
- The soldered seams do not show the fillet I'm used to with
regular sterling and the joints are more obvious - almost
porous/pitted. I must be doing something wrong here but it
certainly isn't a lack of available solder (see above). Could it be
that I'm OVER-heating the solders by keeping the flame on the area
too long, expecting the solder to visibly melt and flow? I've
worked with very low light as well but don't see the flash in the
seam I'm used to with regular sterling solders.
Pam, I almost wonder if what is actually happening is that the metal
is fusing, rather than the solder flowing. It seems to me that this
could happen if the entire piece of metal is heated, rather than just
the areas adjacent to the seam.
I find that the condition of the flux is the best indicator of heat
when I am soldering any metal, but especially when I solder Argentium
Sterling, which has such a dim glow. Try soldering with the lights
on, and be a bit more lavish with the flux, so that you can see when
the flux on the metal on each side of the seam looks the same
What flux are you using? I really like the way that Rio’s My-T-Flux
works with Argentium Sterling.
- When fabricating something with a bit of size, say an inch 1/2
or more in one dimension, is it reasonable to think a Meco Midget's
flame will properly expose the Argentium Sterling to enough oxygen
to develop its protective oxide layer? I am just beginning to use
the Oxy/Propane Meco and am not proficient with it at all. Using a
more oxidizing flame increases the danger of my seriously
over-heating or even melting the stuff. I am instead relying more
on my dirty old acetylene/air torch to be sure the metals get
plenty of heat and oxygen without spot-burning. Maybe I have too
many variables going here and should stick with the acetylene until
I get the Argentium quirks figured out then switch torches?
I agree about reducing the number of variables. Use the torch that
you are most comfortable with. In fact, why not try keeping
everything the same as you are accustomed to except for the metal?
Use the torch, flux, and even the silver solder (med, easy, or extra
easy) that you are accustomed to. Then, when you have soldered
successfully with that situation, change ONE variable. When you’ve
got that situation under control, then change another variable. Too
many changes at once can be totally disorienting.
Don’t worry too much about covering the surface with flux, or what
fuel you use. The germanium migrates to the surface at room
temperature and creates the germanium oxide surface—this will
happen no matter what you do.
It seems the Argentium is not as forgiving as regular sterling in
that a freshly filed/sanded surface doesn't seem clean enough to
allow solder to flow - even the flux seems to bead up as on a
dirty surface unless I degrease these freshly abraded areas. I
notice this with either fuel.
This is surprising to me. I’m not sure what’s going on here, except
I wonder whether you are being too careful about not using too much
flux, out of concern for making sure that the germanium oxide forms?
Most of the other features have been "as advertised" and so far I
love not having to coat with firescale preventative and that it
polishes up so nicely. I agree with Trevor that the finish process
seems to go more smoothly after heat precipitation. I'm using my
(just cleaned) toaster oven.
I am glad that there are some bright spots! What a list of woes! I
find it interesting that you and Trevor find that finishing is better
after heat hardening. I don’t notice any difference whether I harden
I don’t heat treat everything I make–only things that seem like
they need it.
I'm looking forward to great happiness with the Argentium
Sterling. However, if anyone can shed some light on my difficulties
and shorten my learning curve in the meantime, I'll be much
I hope these ideas help!