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Fusing: Sterling or Fine Silver?


#1

I was taught to fuse sheet metal using sterling silver (thanks
Noel!) but someone suggested that fine silver would be better. I’m
making a large pendant (over 1.5" in diameter) and I’m afraid fine
silver would be too malleable. What are the advantages/disadvantages
of sterling vs. fine silver when fusing sheet metal? (I understand
that I should use fine silver when fusing wire).

Thanks in advance for your help,
Stephanie


#2
What are the advantages/disadvantages of sterling vs. fine silver
when fusing sheet metal? 

I fuse al my fine silver bezels with 24 ga round wire. The way I do
it is once the bezel joint is as tight I place the bezel in my third
hand with the joint face up. I then make a small jump ring out of the
24 ga wire and place it across the joint. I flux it with a light dap
of paste flux. To fuse I turn my torch way down to where it’s almost
going out. I use an acetylene and air torch. I then carefully heat
the jump ring. I heat until the sterling jump ring melts. I remove
the heat at that point. Any further heating and the molten sterling
silver will spread out and not fuse properely. Of course you always
stand a chance of melting the bezel too. It takes practice and good
torch control. I melted a lot of bezels when I first tried this.

Now you have a fused bezel joint that will not melt when doing
subsequent soldering on the piece. I learned this technique from Boyd
Astemborski owner of Claim Jumpers rock shop in Manitou Springs, CO.
Boyd is an old time silversmith starting back in the 1970’s. He has
giving me a couple of tips. I call the bezel fusing as a million
dollar tip.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Colorado Springs, Colorado
rockymountainwonders.com


#3

Its been my experience that you can fused just about anything you
want :slight_smile: Argentium Sterling is my favorite for fusing in most cases,
strength, easy of fusing, no firescale :slight_smile: fine is good for something
things, but if it needs to be structural, i stay away from it.

happy fusing!!
beth cyr


#4
I fuse al my fine silver bezels with 24 ga round wire. 

Technically, I think this doesn’t count as fusing-- the sterling is
very-hard solder as compared to the fine silver.

I can’t say that I make a habit of this, but I learned in a
granulation workshop that it is possible to fuse a fine silver or
high-karat gold bezel just by itself. Whitney Abrams showed us-- you
start with a taller bezel than you need, and after getting a tight
fit, brush a bushy flame across the joint until the surface of the
metal liquifies and flows into the joint.

You start with extra width because you may melt the edge a little,
especially if you then fuse the bezel to its backing. This is
necessary if you’re going to granulate around the bezel, but not
generally called for in other applications. Heck, I only drain the
solder out of bezel joints about every 50th bezel-- now! ;>)

It takes considerable practice to do this reliably, but it
definately can be done. Fuse, that is, though I guess the same could
be said for draining the solder out of a bezel seam.

Noel


#5

So, are fusing a fine silver bezel to a sterling silver backing? I
was just wondering if that would work?

Barb
www.LouisesLeap.com


#6
So, are fusing a fine silver bezel to a sterling silver backing? I
was just wondering if that would work? 

No. I join the bezel ends by fusing them with sterling silver. I
solder the bezel to the sterling silver back plate using medium
solder. I do most of my soldering with medium solder saving the easy
solder for attaching bails and the like. I know a silversmith that
solders only with easy solder. He says it cuts down on the fire
scale. He has been silversmithing since the 70’s so he’s pretty good
at torch control to get away with it.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Colorado Springs, Colorado
rockymountainwonders.com


#7

Barb-

You will probably get a flood of answers to your question!

Anyway, the problem is that fine silver has a melting point of about
961 deg. Celsius, while sterling (alloyed with copper) has a MP of
893 deg. C. So by the time you got the sterling base hot enough to
"fuse," the whole thing would be melting! But you can fuse fine
silver to itself, as in making jump rings or bezels, then just use a
hard silver solder with a MP just under the MP of sterling to fasten
the piece of fine silver to sterling. That would offer less risk of
melting everything into a lump (assuming proper flame control).

Dick Davies
Occasional silver melter