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[Beginners' Corner] Soldering sterling silver


#1

hello to eveyone out there, my name is Kim Elmore.I am looking
for any info about soldering sterling silver jewelery.i am new to
soldering with silver,but not to the technique of soldering.what
i am looking for is,the type of “flux” that is used with silver
solder and if you can use a soldering iron or you have to use a
small jeweler’s torch? thank you for any that can be
provided. kim


#2

G’day. Kim; ‘Ordinary’ lead-based solder such as is used for
electronic equipment is very much a NO-NO!! so far as silver and
other precious metals are concerned. Sure, it does fasten such
metals together, but it has this nasty habit of dissolving and
degrading sterling and fine silver, etc. No jeweller will allow
any of the ‘soft’ or lead based solders anywhere near his working
bench for fear a tiny bit may contaminate his work. For once
lead solders contaminate silver, gold, etc, the job can never be
heated again as the solder will eat into it.

Solders used in the jewellery trade/hobby do not melt under
temperatures below about 530C, and so are always used with a
torch-flame. They can be bought in grades as Enamelling, Hard,
Medium, Easy, and Extra Easy, for they melt at various
temperatures according to the grade…

There are various fluxes available, and all seem to work well.
The flux used for thousands of years is common borax, ground and
made into a thin paste with water and painted on the work with a
brush. There are others, such as Battern’s, Prips, Easy-flo and
so on. I’ve used all of these and have come to prefer Easy-flo,
though many people don’t like it because it contains fluorides.
Cheers and happy soldering,

       / \
     /  /
   /  /                                
 /  /__| \      @John_Burgess2
(______ )       

At sunny Nelson NZ in late winter/early spring with lambs, daffs, tree
blossoms, cold starry nights, cold sunny days.


#3

hello to eveyone out there, my name is Kim Elmore.I am looking
for any info about soldering sterling silver jewelery.i am new to

The flux is normally borax based and is available under a few
different brand names. You can also buy paste solder which comes
in a flux carrier saving the need to buy seperate flux, although
I prefer to have both types available for different jobs. You
can’t, as far as I am aware, solder silver solder with an iron
and a torch is usually used. The size of torch or nozzle will
depend on the size of the piece you are soldering. Silver is a
very efficient conductor of heat and large pieces need a lot of
it.

Email me if you have any specifics or feed back into the group. There
are plenty more experienced people than I on the list.

Regards,

Kerry
Kerry McCandlish Jewellery - Celtic and Scottish styles
Commission/Custom Work undertaken…http://www.bennie.demon.co.uk
Katunayake, Creagorry, Isle of Benbecula, HS7 5PG SCOTLAND
Tel: +44 1870-602-677 Fax: +44 1870-602-956 Mobile: +44 850-059-162


#4

Kim: some tips…DON’T USE SILVER SOLDER FROM THE HARDWARE
STORE! Thats for plumbing pipes and will ruin silver. No you
can’t use a soldering iron. You need a plumber’s torch like a
Prestolite or you could use one of those cannister things you buy
at the hardware store but they’re hard to use. Silver solder
comes in different grades, hard, medium and easy. Hard melts the
slowest and is used on bezels or where there’s few soldering
operations. Medium nelts the next lowest temp and you use it
after hard soldering some other part of your jewelry so the
medium melts before your other soldering work does. You can use
fluxes from a welding place, like StaySilv or Dandix. These are
paste solders and don’t evaporate in high heat like Battens
does. I would suggest you find your local rock and gem club and
ask if they have silversmithing classes. You’ll learn alot and
prices are really cheap usually. Lacking that buy a book. Used
book stores are good places to find books on silversmithing and
jewelry making. There’s alot to learn but basic skills are
learned quickly and its alot of fun…Dave

Kickass Websites for the Corporate World http://www.kickassdesign.com
Crystalguy Jewelry http://www.opendoor.com/stephensdesign/crystalguy.html
Recumbent Cyclist’s Advocacy Group
http://www.opendoor.com/stephensdesign/bent/rcag.html


#5

Hi Kim.

You’ll probably get heaps of answers to your question and will
have to sift through a lot of different info… so I hope mine
will be useful. I’m not writing a totally complete description
of my method; just picking out a few important point where I
think I might have a useful trick or two.

Your soldering experience may just be a hindrance you know, as it
seems you’ve done ‘soft’ soldering, with an iron. Well silver
soldering is actually ‘hard’ soldering, or brazing, like the
plumbers do to copper water pipes and hot water cylinders. Now
if you had experience with THAT you’ll have no trouble at all
with silver soldering!

Flux? I’m very particular about fluxes, preferring to use
engineering grade flux (like the plumbers use) to the standard
borax-type flux often used by jewellers. In fact over here one
of the largest silver/gold suppliers, Johnson Matthey, actually
recommends the plumbers’ easiflo flux for their silver and gold.

So do I. I use a variant of easiflo flux for gold and silver
soldering, and I use it in powder form. I use a propane/oxygen
torch, and have ready a soldering pick (stainless steel rod on a
wooden handle) coated with powder flux (heat the tip of the
steel and dip it into the flux powder), stick solder coated also
with powder flux, and I first heat the silver parts up so when I
touch the hot metal with the soldering pick the flux immediately
melys and coats the joint. When the metal is heated up to the
right high temp (near red hot) I touch the joint with the stick
solder coated with flux powder and it runs into the joint towards
the flame.

If the solder doesn’t melt immediately, then the metal’s too
cool, I withdraw the solder (otherwise it balls up the end),
re-flux the solder stick, heat further, and try again.

Always keep the flame on the joint. Removing the flame for an
instant will promote the build-up of unwanted oxides.

Flux has a working temperature and time limit. After a short
while it loses its powers. My key to soldering success is being
able to RE-APPLY FRESH FLUX to the hot work - the powder flux is
great for this as it doesn’t cool the work down. It does however
contain flourides, and the fumes must not be inhaled.

Good luck.
Brian
B r i a n =A0 A d a m J e w e l l e r y E y e w e a r =A0
@Brian_Adam1 ph/fx +64 9 817 6816 NEW ZEALAND
http://www.adam.co.nz/eyewear/ eyewear
http://www.adam.co.nz/jewellery/ jewellery
http://www.adam.co.nz/workshop/ workshops


#6

hello to eveyone out there, my name is Kim Elmore.I am looking
for any info about soldering sterling silver jewelery.i am new to
soldering with silver,but not to the technique of soldering.what
i am looking for is,the type of “flux” that is used with silver
solder and if you can use a soldering iron or you have to use a
small jeweler’s torch? thank you for any that can be
provided. kim

Hi Kim,

In answer to your questions: You’ll be looking for a
"non-ferrous" type of flux, which jewelry suppliers carry (look
in Lapidary Journal–May issue for listings). Any non-ferrous
flux will do, but some have special applications for higher or
lower soldering temperatures. My preference is Battern’s, others
prefer Handi-Flux for general purpose.

The only “silver” solders which have a low melting point for a
soldering iron don’t contain any silver at all, are only
silver-colored, and are usually a tin alloy. These are not
suitable for most jewelry applications.

For many years, I used a propane torch, known as a Turner Torch.
Mine had a bottom which screwed off so you could refill the
barrel. A student of mine had a Turner Torch which had a hose
which was connected to a regular disposable propane tank. We
both liked the independent barrel better because it gave more
control. This little torch can accomplish quite a bit, but it
won’t do fine work, like soldering chain links. For about
double what this costs, you can get a mixed air and acetylene
torch setup which will give you much more flexibility.

Since you’re a beginner, avoid a lot of frustration and find
someone willing to teach you. If there are no classes near where
you live, impose upon a rockhound or a hobbyist smith. You’ll
gain lots of valuable figure out which tools you
really need and which ones you can do without for awhile.
Exchange your lessons for something useful they can use, such as
preforming cabs or polishing, and it will be copacetic.

Good luck in your venture, keep us posted as to your progress,
and visit your library for introductory books on silversmithing.

K.P.


#7
  he type of "flux" that is used with silver solder and if you
can use a soldering iron or you have to use a small jeweler's
torch? 

I’ve been using Batterns flux and haven’t encountered any
problems! Silver needs to be heated thoroughly before the solder
will run, depending on the item a SMALL jeweler’s torch may not
do the job at all and I wouldn’t bother trying the soldering
iron. Sparkie (maybe?) but for findings on small items only.

Good luck!


#8

Kim. silver solder flux is a matter of individual preference…
I use a batterns flux (liquid) which works well. It forms a
glassy coating that comes off in a good pickle solution. Your
heat source needs to be a flame type. I use an air breathing
acetylene torch with changeable tips for flame size. I also use
a hydro torch but they are very pricey. There are some
different melting temperature solders. they come in wire, sheet
and paste. Be very careful of old silver solders they sometimes
contain cadmium. try the Rio Grande catalog for your supplies.
Al


#9

Hi there,

I know that millions of replies will be flooding in, so I will
keep this brief… get your sterling soldering practice done on
brass and copper… Sterling is higher conductor of heat, so
practicing on these will help efficiency, not to mention cost
savings! Try the a whole gamut of approaches on these cheap
materials for the valuable experience… jump rings, sweat
soldering, long edges, etc., and my two most valuable tips…
Materials must be clean and flush!(no gaps) And don’t forget to
check out the article on soldering tips at the Ganoksin home
page… great info. Good Luck :slight_smile:

Terry Swift, Midwest US


#10

Probably the most important tip I could pass along is to let the
heat of the metal melt the solder. Too often the craftsman trys
to make the solder flow by directing the torch at the solder, and
since silver is such a good conductor of heat, the solder fails
to flow because the heat is “siphoned” away by the mass of
silver. I have found that this idea is kept in mind while
soldering, no difficulty is encounted. Good luck J.Z.Dule


#11

Hi, Kim!

For what it’s worth, I use stay-silv brazing flux, available at
welding supply stores. It works great and is inexpensive compared
with what I would pay if I bought flux made for silversmithing.

Soldering silver requires a different technique than electrical
soldering. Sterling oxidizes fast, and when it does, the solder
doesn’t flow, so it is good to have a torch which will generate
sufficient heat to get the job done timely. I started out with a
bernzomatic torch, but had a great deal of frustration with it.
If you have the cash, I would reccomend a PrestoLite torch.
Also, silver is an excellent conductor of heat, which means that
you can’t just heat the spot you are soldering- the whole piece
needs to be brought up to soldering temperature. Finally, the
melting temperature of hard solder is not alot lower than that
of silver, so don’t be upset if you melt a piece or two while you
are learning.

Hope this helps.

Lee
Dos Manos Jewelry


#12

I would like to add a few points to the discussion a bout
soldering silver. It is best to use silver bearing solders.
There are low melting point silver solders which are basically
designed for industrial use. There are also higher temperature
silver solders which contain higher proportions of silver. If
you can get a propane/air torch that would be the best. Try Rio
Grande for solder and flux. The basic principle is as follows:
Clean both the mating surfaces and make sure that there is no
gap. Apply flux; this is usually a powder which is mixed into a
paste. Apply this with a brush around the joint covering all the
areas that are to be soldered. Heat the silver until it glows a
dull red. Soldering should be done in a darkened space as it is
quite difficult to see the silver going red. Apply the solder
and allow it to run along the joint using the heat from the
torch to draw the solder along the joint. Allow the silver to
cool. Clean in Safety pickle or Sulphuric acid. Wash in clean
water. Sounds easy doesn’t it? I would recommend a short course
on silver soldering. There is a lot to learn.

Richard Whitehouse
Silversmith & Jeweller

http://home.clara.net/rw/
Email: @Richard_Whitehouse1
UK