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Cross metal file contamination?

Hello,

Beginner jeweler here.

A silversmith once told me that you need to have separate files for different metals, otherwise the files will end up becoming cross-contaminated. Is this true?

I’ve had some training working with silver, but I would eventually like to work with gold-- maybe even platinum someday.

Thank you.

I use the same files for all metals. I have read that you should keep a separate set of tools for platinum, but I don’t work in it. Buy good files and store them in such a way that they don’t touch each other. I have a piece of wood with holes drilled into it allowing me to store my files upright putting the tang into the hole. I don’t put handles on my files. I never saw the need to. Keep them away from any liquids, especially pickle. Learn to clean them and they should last a long time. I always keep a couple new 6" #2 flat files in storage as that is the file that I use the most. Write the size on the base of the file with a sharpie and the date that you put it into service. I do this with a lot of my tools as I am a bit obsessive. Try to keep your filing separate especially gold and silver so that you know what you have when it is time to send it to the refinery to be recycled. Others will have different ideas and I hope that they share them. Good luck…Rob

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Cross contamination is not a problem going from silver to gold and vise versa. I’ve done in all my career (45 years). I will run a file cleaner across my files before using on a different metal, but that is about it. It is another story when working with platinum. Best solution: separate bench with a completely different set of hand tools and solder picks. Next best solution: completely and thoroughly clean your bench before starting in on platinum work, and you still need a separate set of files just for platinum work. Oh, and be sure to get some welder’s glasses with at least a grade 5 shaded glass if you are going to be soldering/welding on platinum. Good luck. both gold and platinum are great metals to work with - just way more expensive.

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I use the same files, sandpaper, rubber wheels, etc. on silver, gold, and platinum without any problems.

The potential for cross contamination is only a real problem with it comes to working with platinum when it is hot. When the metal is cool, any dust, dirt, filings, etc aren’t going to magically incorporate themselves into the metal/alloy. Metals are only going to combine under high temperatures (what temp depends on the metal). If you’re cleaning your pieces before soldering and your solder is clean/uncontaminated then you shouldn’t have any problems with any metals.

A full ‘platinum only’ set of tools is not needed, don’t waste your money; only buy platinum specific tools for working with platinum when it is hot. Platinum fuses to itself, no solder needed, so there is no need for a separate soldering pick though if you want one, they’re cheap. If you’re using a third hand, then the jaws need to be tungsten and not tool steel. You can’t use any binding wires; they can’t take the heat required to work platinum and will contaminate the piece. If you’re melting platinum, a platinum only crucible (of appropriate material) is needed.

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Thank you everyone for your responses. It’s very helpful information and a welcome introduction to the Ganoskin community. :slight_smile:

I agree with everything said above but would add an however. There will be times you will need/want to modify steel tools. I think you should have separate tools for modifying steel tools. I keep separate files from the hardware store for that work.