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Just started using Argentium


#1

G’day all- I read what ya’ll had to say about working with
argentium, read the articles and jumped right in and got
some argentium sheet, wire, solder, and such. I made a couple of
pairs of earrings and a nice pendant necklace with no problems to
speak of. Today I was working on a large pendant about 3 inches X 2
inches with a gorgeous piece of smokey Bisbee turquoise. And all the
things you said could go wrong with argentium went wrong. I burned
holes in more bezels than I have in years and found out some things:

  1. Just like you said, argentium sags a lot when heated to soldering
    temperature.

  2. Like someone said, Arg. solder does not melt and flow like
    sterling silver solder. Do I need to use more ?

  3. The bezels melted funny, with holes on the top and bottom
    developing simutaneously, looks a bit like a bow tie.

  4. As you said, Argentium really does break very easily if moved
    while hot

  5. I had a terrible time trying to get the bezel to solder to the
    plate, see 1,2 and 3 above and quit in frustration. I intend to
    pickle,sand and try again tomorrow or the next day.

  6. I’m not sure if I got the Arg plate too hot or not hot enough to
    solder. The solder tended to ball up.

  7. Its starting to get humid here in KC, could higher humidity
    affect anything?

Questions-

  1. Would I be better off using regular sterling hard, easy solder
    rather than arg solder? It seems to flow much better

  2. What, if any flux should I be using? I used Cuprinol because I
    had some handy.

  3. What about polishing argentium?

  4. Do I need to pickle ?

Thanks Jim


#2
I've just started with Argentium too, and sharing experiences. I've
never cracked so much metal in my life. Some bezels cracked while
cooling down, others when quenching (that's probably my own fault,
it was pretty hot). 

The cracking was after repeated heatings and some hammering before
actually soldering anything, so I interpreted it as too much stress,
maybe not fully annealing. (In my head it made sense, but doesn’t
sound so good on paper).

The solder is a bit stubborn. I did use some of the argentium solder
on some sterling things (I assure you, out of pure laziness) and it
seemed to flow ok then, and also blended in well afterward. I am
using handy flux with all soldering. To answer Jim, I always need to
pickle, just to get the hardened flux off. I’m finding that it
polishes normally, like regular sterling would.

Jackie

Jacqueline Bell Johnson, dba.
Sylas Studios
www.sylasstudios.com


#3

Hi Jim,

Hang in there. I think it might be helpful to use regular silver
solders when you begin, as you get used to how AS conducts heat.
(Use Medium, and Easy solders. Hard melts at too high a temperature,
and Extra Easy is too yellow.) After you gain confidence with that,
you could move on to AS solders. Here is my handout for soldering
Argentium Silver. I hope it helps.

Cynthia Eid’s Tips For Soldering Argentium Silver
http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/200809/msg00406.htm