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Clean solder?


#1

Hello Orchidians,

Several recent postings have commented on solder being “clean” in
order to flow. I have open containers of solder bits that have sat
out on my bench for years. The little bits get tarnished and have
Prip’s overspray on them, but they work just fine.

Have I simply been lucky or what? Please tell me what makes solder
dirty.

Judy in Kansas, whose inquiring mind wants to know


#2
Please tell me what makes solder dirty.

Judy,

Grease and oil are the worst culprits. Anything that leaves carbon
residue after the bulk burns away isn’t good. Tarnish on solder
will usually be absorbed by the flux when it’s heated so it’s not
so much a problem.

Larry Seiger


#3
    Please tell me what makes solder dirty. 

Being handled a lot. Skin oils, whatnot.

I always used wire solder so this chip solder stuff is all new to
me. I don’t think I like it…

Sojourner


#4
Please tell me what makes solder dirty. 

Oh, the usual things: alcohol, drugs, jacuzzi parties. It’s sad to
watch good solder go bad.

Or it could be oxidization. :slight_smile:

Cheers,
Trevor F.
in Paris, The City of Light and very few jacuzzis
www.touchmetal.com


#5

Easiest method in our shops - Purchase ALL solders in wire form. (Or
as many as possible:) Simple to clean with a wipe of a ScotchBrite
pad. Hammer the wire flat or run a short section through the rolling
mill when you need paillons/“chips”…

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School
Stockton, CA USA
209-477-0550
instructor@jewelryartschool.com
jewelryartschool@aol.com


#6
   Several recent postings have commented on solder being "clean"
in order to flow. I have open containers of solder bits that have
sat out on my bench for years. The little bits get tarnished and
have Prip's overspray on them, but they work just fine. Have I
simply been lucky or what?  Please tell me what makes solder dirty. 

Based on experiences similar to yours, Judy, I can add that, when I
first taught myself how to do hard-soldering, it took me almost 6
months to get solders to flow. I got fanatic about cleaning it –
abrading the sheet solder gently before cutting it in paillons,
wiping it with alcohol, etc., etc. Nothing worked consistently,
except soaking the sheet solder in liquid flux(!). Then I found
that the basic problem was not enough heat (especially since I was
usually trying to solder larger pieces of jewelry). I moved to Mapp
gas (from my propane torch) and tried to “insulate” my pieces
better.

Since then, I never clean my solder and it always flows just fine!
Going to air-acetylene helped even more.

All the best,
Judy Bjorkman


#7

Judy, I am convinced the studio fairies are responsible for making
solder “dirty”. You know, the same little guys who snitch stones off
your bench and shift your tools around overnight so you can’t find
that file you just knew you’d placed right there. My impression is
that they mostly use oily dirt, like finger oils, to nix the even
flow of solder. Heavy oxidation seems to interfere, too.

Susannah Ravenswing, who is feeling entirely too frisky this
morning…


#8
    Easiest method in our shops - Purchase ALL solders in wire
form. (Or as  many as possible:) Simple to clean with a wipe of a
ScotchBrite pad. Hammer the wire flat or  run a short section
through the rolling mill when you need paillons/"chips".. 

Well, now, and this is the info I’ve been looking for. I was taught
to wire-solder, but apparently that’s unusual. I don’t know anyone
else (for sure, I’m sure there are some on this list) who does it
this way, and I’ve come across no printed info about wire-soldering.

Here’s how I remember it - you heat your piece. Then you touch the
end of the wire solder to your join. If you’ve done it properly, it
runs like wax and you get a nice, clean, virtually invisible join.
If you HAVEN’T done it properly, you just heat it a little more.

That’s what I remember. It seemed easy at the time, I sure hope its
going to be easy coming back to it. (I think the only time we used
chips was when joining two large flat surfaces, not for joints).

If there’s more to it than what I can dredge up out of my memory,
I’m all ears.

BTW, I don’t suppose you ever taught in Alabama? My instructor
there (about 16 or 17 years ago now I think) was named Brian…

Sojourner


#9
        Based on experiences similar to yours, Judy, I can add
that, when I first taught myself how to do hard-soldering, it took
me almost 6 months to get solders to flow. 

I learned to hard-solder using wire solder, and it worked the very
first time.

I’ve only used pallions a couple of times, and I don’t like it!
We’ll see how the wire-solder method works for me once I get my newly
donated Smith Little Torch refurbed and running. Hope it’s as easy
the second time around as I recall it being the first…

Sojourner


#10

I too was taught to solder using wire, albeit initially electrical
connections. But I also learned how to braze steel using brazing
rods, and jewellery soldering is actually brazing. I haven’t tried
pallions - I find the thought of estimating how big they should be a
bit worrisome. At least with the wire/rod method, you can whip the
solder away when you have enough.

Pat


#11
    Here's how I remember it - you heat your piece. Then you touch
the end of the wire solder to your join. If you've done it
properly, it runs like wax and you get a nice, clean, virtually
invisible join. If you HAVEN'T done it properly, you just heat it a
little more. 

Yep

But if you linger with the solder too long you flood the joint, and
have to take time to remove the solder.

That said, wire soldering is a much quicker technique in production
situations.

Bill Bedford


#12

Hi

I sell jewelry solders and even got to help work up a few. I have
always wondered why jewelers use small clips of sheet solder rather
than wire solder. I just assumed that it was a temperature thing and
about lead solder. Until you reminded me about welding and brazing
steel. Brass brazing wire flows near gold temperatures. Perhaps its
just tradition that has me shipping sheet solder instead of wire?
Wire is easier to make than rolled thin/polished and stamped sheets.
Could even be less costly.

Would 24ga solder wire be better than clipped pieces? Or would we
just clip little pieces of wire instead?

Daniel Ballard
Precious Metals West


#13
I have always wondered why jewelers use small clips of sheet
solder rather than wire solder. I just assumed that it was a
temperature thing and about lead solder. 

Hi Daniel,

Not sure how lead solder would fit in, or temperature, as a reason.
i’ve never seen any lead or tin based wire solder that I would
mistake for a moment, for any precious metal solder. In those, I’ve
used both wire and sheet solder. The sheet has the big advantage of
being really easy to cut lots of snippets at the same time, rather
than one snip at a time (cut several paralell snips into the sheet,
then cut across the resulting fringe of strips to cut of multiples.
In addition, it’s really easy to control the size of the snippet,
what with thin sheet guages, and two dimensions to the cuts that
determine the size of the snip.

'With wire, only one direction defines the amount of solder, and
most wire solder I’ve seen tends to be supplied in heavy enough
guages that cutting uniform tiny snippets is a bit trickier. In
addition, round wire snippets roll around more. It’s easier to loose
them while cutting, and in many cases, harder to get them to stay put
while heating the solder joint. When I use wire solder, it’s
generally in two places. One is drawn down very fine for use in the
laser (I laser “weld” silver using hard silver solder as the filler
wire in some cases as it takes a lot lower power settings on the
laser.) The other is when I’m soldering larger longer seams, like on
larger silver work where many many tiny snippets of solder would be a
slow pain in the rear. then, rather than clipping the wire at all, I
simply feed it into the joint. Much faster, though one needs to be
careful not to feed in too much.

And while you’re here, let me again voice thanks for PMW’s wonderful
plumb platinum solders. A revolutionary product compared to what we
had before.

Thanks.
Peter Rowe


#14

Hi, Daniel,

I am a Jewelry student in L.A. area, and usually I have no problem
getting supplies; however, getting gold solder, especially 18K and
22-24K is tricky. I’d love to buy some solder wire. Do you have a
catalog I could get from you? Or another way to order from your
company?

Please let me know.

My name is Ayalla Dollinger
My e-mail address is: @Ayalla_Dollinger

Thank you.


#15

Round wire vs pallion is a good question. Personally, I’ve found that
pallions i.e. tiny squares are better suited for some situations.
Round wire can have the tendency to roll off where a square will not.
Wire, inside a bezel works well however I have difficulty using it
when I’m soldering two halves a shank together.

jerry (soon to be in Zig Zag, Oregon)


#16
    most wire solder I've seen  tends to be supplied in heavy
enough guages that cutting uniform tiny snippets is a bit trickier.
In addition, round wire snippets roll around more. It's easier to
loose them while cutting, and in many cases, harder to get them to
stay put while heating the solder joint. 

I don’t understand why you would cut snippets off the wire? I was
taught to touch a long pieced of wire to the pre-heated join, and it
just runs into the join. No extra blobs, no popping off as the flux
dries, no mucking about with solder picks.

Have I forgotten something in the 15 years since I last did this?

Sojourner


#17
       I don't understand why you would cut snippets off the wire?
 I was taught to touch a long pieced of wire to the pre-heated
join, and it just runs into the join. No extra blobs, no popping
off as the flux dries, no mucking about with solder picks. 

Feeding wire solder is fine for longer joints where the solder will
flow a ways into a substantial joint, or other places where more
solder might be needed. But it’s difficult to feed only a tiny
amount this way, so for fine construction with small parts, feeding
wire in will tend to flood the joint with too much solder. Using a
solder pic to pick up and place small balls of solder is the closest
thing to feeding in wire, and you’ve got the ability to then control
the amount of solder more precisely. But solder pics mean the solder
is already melted once, to be picked up by the pick, and it tends in
the process to get heated slightly more than would be needed to
actually flow in the joint, which both raises it’s melting point if
more volatile componants of the solder burn off, and can contribute
to pits in the solder, for the same reason. So traditionally, the
best joints will be obtained if unmelted solder, either small
snippets of wire in the amount needed for the joint, or similar small
snippets (called paillons) from sheet solder, are precisely placed so
that upon even beginning to melt, they slump towards and flow into,
the joint without becoming overheated. Done well, there should not be
blobs or significant scars with most solders, though there are
exceptions (the plumb platinum solders, for example, tend to leave a
raised unflowed bit, so one needs to place the solder either where it
won’t be seen, or where it can be easily cleaned up later.)

Peter


#18

Hi Zen,

I do not think you have forgotten a thing. I can imagine wire just
flowing into a hot joint, or alternatively, a piece of solder onto a
joint, and then the heat being brought to bear. Situational on the
work I think. We at PMWest do not stock wire solder. we can make it
on special order but the minimum is four to five ounces of material.
Most folks have wanted 22 ga. wire solder, some thinner like 28 ga.
then we have the few laser folks who use solder wire with the laser.

I’m not a bench jeweler and I can barely solder at all so I just
defer to the calls that come in for what people want. Now I’m
curious as to why gold solder did not wind up being wire
traditionally to begin with.

I am curious-In Germany and other international places who do true
apprentice programs or enjoy a different jewelry tradition–Are the
solders flat sheet or wire?

Daniel Ballard


#19

This is a great post!

When I was starting out about 20 years ago I did the “feeding wire
solder into the joint” thing and my experience was not so good, it
was to messy and I personally had a hard time steadying my hand and
feeding the wire solder (gotta have my coffee in the morning). Too
many times I would melt the wire above my work and it would blob or
run into areas I didn’t want it to, or I would bump my work with the
wire and I’d have to stop and reposition everything. Personally this
technique did not work for me. However, for sometime I did continue
to use wire solder almost exclusively. I would cut it and lay it in
the joint then heat and pull the flow through the joint of my larger
work. As I started to use sheet or paillons I found my soldering
skills actually got much better, less is more type of thing. One of
the great things about sheet solder is you can place your paillons,
“or sandwich it”, between metal such as ring shanks, this minimizes
cleanup if done properly.

One other consideration is solder is precious metal and can get
expensive, you certainly don’t want to run 18k or even 14k plumb
wire solder if you can avoid it. Basically there is a purpose for
all the different solders and everyone is different and has their
own comfort zones, what works for me my not work for anyone else,
kinda the cool thing about the jewelry trade as a whole.

Least likely to be used by me, in order is, powder (never used it)
paste, wire then sheet.

Thanks for the great post.

Thackeray Taylor
Rio Grande Technical Support
800-545-6566 ex 13903


#20

Continue from:
https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/clean-solder

I did mention that you can hammer the wire as thin as you might need
to cut tiny snippets - or roll it if you have a mill?

Then if you want uniform/equal snippets, you can simply solder
(using one of the 400 degree silver-bearing solders) a length of
copper sheet (roughly 22 ga. x 6mm x 25mm) to the side of your
sidecutters. Then bend it to act as a “stop” for the solder. This
will give you uniform snippets at wherever you set the stop. Cut
off the excess copper.

Do NOT do this with silver solder, you will take all of the temper
out of your cutters. Do NOT try this with shear (bypass) style
cutters. Gotta be side cutters - blades meet each other when
closed…

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School
Stockton, CA USA
209-477-0550
instructor@jewelryartschool.com
jewelryartschool@aol.com