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Platinum questions


#1

Hi, I have a student whose son is getting married and wants him to
make a platinum band. I have never worked in Platinum and need some
help. Questions:

1) Can an oxygen/acetylene torch be used?
2) What polishing compounds? Same as gold?

I am sure there are things I don’t know that I should watch out for!!
Thanks, Sue


#2

Most people will tell you not to use oxy acetylene, but we do all the
time on platinum and it works fine. Yes you do need different
compounds for platinum polishing. The Platinum Guild International
has some good on working with platinum.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
@spirersomes
http://www.spirersomes.com


#3

Hello Sue;

I don’t want to discourage you,but you need some basic and
specialized equipment for platinum casting.

1.Platinum investment because normal investment will not do the job
(high temperature and different mixture).

2.Platinum polishing compound is needed for a nice finish.

3.Platinum crucibles preventing you from platinum contamination
during the melting and casting proces.

4.If you want to do some soldering,again you need specialized tools
to do so. There is a good basic video on platinum work on the market
sold by Rio Grande (I know for sure) and some other stores.I wouldn’t
be a bad idea to check it out before you run into troubles.

Regards Pedro
Palonso@t-online.de


#4

Sue,

Platinum has very different working needs than gold. I recommend
that you and your student do a lot more research. I don’t recommend
using acetylene for platinum. There is just too much carbon in the
flame. Carbon will fuse at the microscopic level with platinum when
fusing or soldering and contaminate the metal causing microfractures
that will ruin the piece. Even some bottled propane can be a
problem, though usually it is fine. The best fuel is natural gas.
If you can get it piped into your studio rather than getting it
bottled, all the better. Make sure you use an oxidizing flame. Of
course, you have to protect your vision and skin as soldering and
fusing platinum takes very high temperatures that produce a lot of
damaging UV radiation.

The polishing of platinum is also very different than gold. Platinum
is very scratch resistant and you’ll need to go through many filing,
sanding and polishing steps to get a high finish on the metal. I use
5 grits of sanding emery ending up with 4/0 grit emery, platinum
tripoli, 1500, 4000, sometimes 6000, 8000 grit and finally white
rouge or carrot to color the metal. As you can see it is a lot more
work and materials than gold.

I hope this helps! Good luck
Larry Seiger


#5

Hi Sue, I have never used acetylene to weld platinum, but maybe it is
possible if you use a very hot flame. Be sure to use a #9 goggle
lense or appropriate dark glasses to protect your eyes. For polishing,
Fabulustre works well.

Victor Gustas
Jeweler since 1984


#6

sue,oxy-acet can be used,but is the opposite of how you were taught
to use it with gold. because plat absorbs carbon,you need to turn up
your oxygen to the max.do not use flux.do use properly rated welding
glasses.if possible ,weld,don’t solder.polishing is roughly the
same,but each step must be completed before advancing to the
next.cross sanding,and cross-polishing is very effective.hope this
helps,n.w.leigh.


#7

Hi Sue, I think we’ll want to know whether you are casting or
fabricating the piece as to recommend a method. If fabricating,
you’ll want to fuse the band rather than soldering it. If casting,
you’ll probably want to send your wax to a platinum caster. As for
polishing, there are many platinum-specific compounds on the market,
but I for one change them with the alloys present in the platinum for
best results. This may well be a lengthy and informative thread for
all of us. You will most certainly wish to use fresh buffing wheels
for platinum, as it is easily contaminated. In addition, make sure
your soldering surface is excessively clean. Do not boric acid or
flux your platinum materials, either. This is just super-basic info -
as your needs become more clear, I know we’ll all weigh in with tons
of confusing Mike.


#8

Hi Sue, Ive been ‘doing’ platinum for a few years now, and it is
VERY different. Yes you can use oxy/acet. No you need different
polishing stuff. Are you planning on casting or constructing? If you
are casting, then make your wax ‘baby-bum’ smooth, I have yet to get a
porosity free cast, and since the polishing of plat is very time
consuming, you want to take away as little metal as possible. I
usually finish my clean up with a sandpaper twice as fine as I would
use on gold. Then go to the Drug store and buy a soft nail-buffing
board, the kind for polishing the tops of your nails. The finest side
does a good job on platinum. For the actual polishing I use a ‘carrot
coloured’ platinum tripoli, and a white rouge from Stuller. If you are
constructing, then you are going to have to put out $$$ for some
tools. A fresh crusible makes a clean soldering surface (use the
bottom), Precious Metals West makes the new plat solders, you will
need goggles of at least a #5 from the welding shop, or I got the
Opti-visor attachment from Rio Grande (very nice)…so unless you
are planning on doing more of this I think you should cast or order
it! karen in vancouver


#9

Here’s my little 2 cents on working with platinum.

Oxygen/acetylene will work, but it’s certainly not the preferred
fuel. If you must use it, keep the flame on the oxygen rich side (no
orange, a harsh flame with a sharp, small blue cone at the tip of the
torch). Oxygen/propane would be preferable. Make sure you have very
dark glasses. Best to get some designed to work with platinum. Your
solder area has to be meticulously clean. Don’t touch the hot
platinum with a steel pick, or tweezers. Only a clean, titanium
pick. As for polising, you need to go through each grade of sanding,
280, 320, 400, 600, 800 (if you have it, or 2/0). Then polishing
with tripoli formulated for platinum, then an intermediary polishing
compound (also designed for platinum), then your final polish. I get
a “kit” of different polishing compounds from Geisswien. They have a
little “sample” size kit perfect for a few jobs. Each abraission
should remove all scratches from the previous one. That’s as brief
as I can make it. You’d do well to contact the platinum guild for
and sources of materials. It’s a very different material
than gold or silver. There are shortcuts, which I use (unitized
wheels, burnishing, box-wood laps with carborundum/hide-glue mixture,
etc.) but for a first effort, stay to the book with it. Anyone got
the platinum guild’s web address, off-hand?

David L. Huffman


#10

The student wants to buy a stripe of platinum sheet, bend it around
and solder it to form a simple band ring. The son wants Dad to make
his ring. I have never worked with platinum but said I would find out
and we would give it a try. I have an oxygen/acetylene welding set up
and was wondering if that would work to solder one seam?? So want I do
need is the super basic ! This whole area is totally new to
me. Thanks for the so far. Will my set-up be hot enough to
fuse? What psi do you suggest? No flux? What alloy would you suggest?
And Thank you for the help so far…it is wonderful to have this
network!! Sue


#11

Hi all… our technical website is
http://www.pgi-platinum-tech.com …as to welding and soldering with
platinum, do NOT use acetylene/oxygen. Acetylene expells carbon in the
flame which will imbrittle your platinum. Use the water torch, or
natural gas/oxygen or propane /oxygen. Use an oxidizing flame to burn
all your fuel and do not use flux or fire-coat. If you need more help,
call me at 949 760 8279 Have a platinum day

Jurgen J. Maerz
Director of Technical Education
PLATINUM GUILD INTERNATIONAL USA


#12

Sue: While I admire your boldness in wanting to jump into platinum
fabrication, this is sort of like a doctor asking “How do I do
open-heart surgery?” I have been teaching my apprentice the fine
points of platinum work for several months now, and although he’s
starting to get the hang of it, I have a lot of platinum scrap that
was wasted along the way. There is so much to learn here that I
would really encourage you to work with an experienced platinum
fabricator for a while to learn the eccentricities of platinum. Plan
on sacrificing a lot of metal. I have seen so much shoddy platinum
work recently, most of it done by “self-taught” repair people who
think that platinum should respond like gold. It’s a very different
metal entirely. Bending a wire into a loop and welding it sounds like
a simple project, and it is…sort of. With platinum, you would
polish the metal first, since platinum (most alloys anyway) will not
oxidize like gold or silver. You will need buffs and compounds
specifically for platinum, and it is a step-by-step process that
cannot be shortcut. The seam is properly joined by welding a thin
sliver of the same metal into the joint at very high temperatures.
You will need welding glasses to protect your eyes, or you could
seriously damage them. I have special files and polished pliers that
are dedicated to platinum use only. I could write a lengthy
description of this process, but it is truly learned best in a
hands-on situation. If you don’t know anyone who can teach you, I
would recommend contacting Blaine Lewis at NEWAPPROACHSCHOOL.COM in
Virginia Beach. He offers excellent workshops on a regular basis. So
does Revere Academy in San Francisco. Many new discoveries have been
made, however, by those who were unaware of the limitations that
everyone else observed. Platinum is not cheap. Those of us who know
how to work in platinum love the metal…the rest find it to be a
PITA (pain in the ass).

Good luck.
Doug Zaruba


#13

Hello Everyone in OrchidLand!

So I am getting ambitious here and I got a six inch piece of 18ga
platinum/ruth wire. I actually have a small project with only two
solder points that I would like to use it for.

This is my first foray into platinum. I have been reading through
the Orchid posts on everything platinum.

Here’s my first question: based on having a swiss torch with an
oxy/propane setup, what head and gas settings should I use to get
adequate heat? I used my largest needle head with my tanks set to
5prop and 5oxy and only got the metal up to a bright cherry red
color. Not even a balling up. Major bummer. I have an acetyl tank if
I need to switch. I was told by Stuller that this metal will fuse to
itself so I am looking forward to trying that out as well.

I get the no flux thing and no mixing of tools to avoid
contamination.

I will be ordering the Gesswein platinum polishing set and buffs
soon.

I am sorry if this is so rudimentary but from everything I have read
about platinum I really think I can get the hang of it. as my budget
allows! :slight_smile:


#14

Some suggestions re: platinum work.

#1. You must use dark lens eye protection. No. 5 shade (in the US)
is quite common. Some people can go a bit less dark but not much
less. For melting platinum you need to go darker. The lens needs to
be glass, not plastic. Don’t use dark sun glasses!

#2. 18 gauge wire is easy to solder or melt using the correct flame.
Oxy / propane is fine as far as heat production if the flame is
correctly adjusted. For propane you need a Multi-Port Tip, not a
single hole “needle” Tip. Multi-Port Tips like produced by Paige
Tools. (sorry for the plug. Paige does not produce Tips for the
Swiss Torch though). Single hole Tips, regular or needle style are
for acetylene or hydrogen, not propane or natural gas. Gas pressure
is not as much an issue as setting the correct flame profile. For
platinum work you want an oxidizing flame profile. Less fuel gas
with excess oxygen. The correct flame will have a very sharp, inner
cone that’s almost white color. The more oxidizing the flame gets
the louder the flame sound or hiss. Platinum will get white hot
before melting and only a little less intense white in soldering.
The tip of the inner cone goes right on the metal, not slightly away
as in gold or silver work. Single hole Tips can also be adjusted to
oxidizing flames but the flames are not stable and are much harder
to use.

#3. If you use the correct, Multi-Port Tip and adjust it to a hard,
oxidizing flame soldering or balling up the end of 18 gauge platinum
wire is easy. You do not need a large (gas) volume Tip for the wire
size you indicated. The 5 psi of propane is fine but you need double
that psi of oxygen. Gas pressures depend a lot on Tip styles and
sizes. I can’t stress enough how much easier Torch work is using the
correct style Tip that’s matched to the fuel gas used.

#4. You might consider saving a few dollars and trying different
buffing / polishing materials. Try using a “bobbing” compound before
going to common Tripoli. There are also various platinum tripoli
compounds which work well. Brand is not too important. Even regular
tripoli does pretty well so platinum tripoli is not always needed.
Platinum rouge is almost a must. I use the green color platinum
rouge followed by red rouge. There are other compound options as
well. Stitched cotton buffs work O. K., stitched leather works
better and is what I’d use for the final polishing stages. Always a
different buff with each compound and only used for platinum work.

In summary: Do not neglect eye protection. You’re working with white
hot metal and correct shade protection is a must! If you use propane
(or natural gas) you need a Multi-Port Tip. Adjust the flame to a
hard oxidizing profile and put the tip of the central cone right on
the joint or wire end.

Richard Paille
Paige Tools


#15

Your fuel/oxy mix is off, oxy propane can readily melt platinum. I’m
sure someone else will chime in but I will go first, make sure you
were protective glasses when heating platinum!! It is a great metal
to work with and once youget the hang of it, much easier than any
other. Enjoy yourself, Tim


#16

I have used single port tips using both propane or natural gas, the
only time a multi port tip was used was back when we use to torch
melt cast (we are induction melt now). Not really sure why the multi
port tip suggestion. I started working with platinum at Tiffany in
NYC in 1980, I have a pretty good idea as to what I am talking
about. You most likely need more oxy in your mixcreating a very hot
flame. Make sure you finish you piece very thoroughly with Emory
paper (multiple grades progressing to at least 0, 3/0 is better,
rubber wheels etc. File and tool marks are all but impossible to
polish out so you need much better pre polish prep than what is
necessary for other metals. Keep you snips and scraps clean as it
can easily be re melted and used again. Lots to learn but it will be
fun. Ps. No steel tweezers or solder picks, this will be a very
costly mistake.