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Powdered solder


Need assistance from anyone; I am in need of help from anyone
on a formula and advice for making powdered solder for use on
filigree. Thanks in advance,John Barton


Dear John: Maybe Rio Grande could help you. What metal are you
using for the filigree? we make several styles of filigree,
available in brass(inventory), or sterling silver (special
order). If you have any interest in seeing some of what we
make, e-mail me directly

at @Andrea_Twombly.
Andrea Guyot
Guyot Brothers Co., Inc.
Attleboro, MASS


John: Native Americans do this by filing your solder with a
coarse file. You can make your own solder ingot and file or just
file whatever you have in anyway you can. The easier method is
paste solder that all suppliers carry. It has its own flux and
comes in 3 grades. Dave


John, One way to create “powdered solder” is to place a clean
sheet of paper on a table or bench-top and working over this
sheet, file, using a coarse file (oo or bastard ) and collect
the filings that fall onto the paper. You can also use a rotary
file in the flex shaft for a more rapid accumulation. J.Z. Dule


From what little I know about filigree, the solder is "filed"
with a coarse file. I would think you’d make your own using
fine silver and adding brass to lower the melting temperature,
then pour an ingot and start filing over a clean tray to collect
it. I’m sure some others will help you on this, but you could
experiment. David L. Huffman


Hi, One of Oscar Branson’s books recommends that you file the
solder, then go over it with a magnet to remove any iron
filings from the file. Presto you are ready to go. By the way
Oscar Branson is a nuclear physicist from the 1930’s at Los
Alamos working with Albert Einstein. He is truly a wonderful man
with a great sense of humor.
Susan Chastain


Dear John Barton, Valeri Timofeev (a well regarded plique-a-jour
artist from Moscow now living in Pennsylvania) makes ingots of
IT solder and then uses a bit in his flexshaft or drill to grind
little flakes that he catches in a container. It is a heavier
than dust or powder but not much. He then sprinkles it over the
filigree. It works like a charm. Hope that this is helpful. Let
me know if I can clarify. Deborah Ringhaver Lane


Some kind of formula exists, with this little caveat.

It was “pitched” for use as a solder for Hopi Overlay. Big
sheets of perforated silver over big solid sheets, a far cry
from Filigree.

Oscar Branson’s book(s), INDIAN JEWELRY MAKING Volume 1 or 2, I
forget which, lists the formula, which you pour into an ingot,
and harvest filings from to put in a salt-shaker arrangement.

Books are part numbers 200-B07 and 200-B072 respectively, Indian
Jewelers Supply Company,

Dan Woodard


I’m sorry that I probably did not make myself more clear. What
I’m looking for is the formula for silver to brass ratio for
making my own solder in the form of an ingot,so that I might
then file it easier than trying to file a thin sheet. I have
also used paste solder for several years;however,it’s not as
accurate to use on filigree as fluxing it,then sprinkling powder
solder . A number of years ago a native brother gave me the
formula and told me to use good clock brass;however, I have lost
it,and was hoping someone out there in indian country could
remember it and send it to me.Thanks and sorry for not being
more clear. John Barton Images By JJ


Hi John, This is interesting. John & I just started making our
own powdered solder by chucking up a diamond sanding drum (Harbor
freight & salvage $6-$8.00 SKU#P32159 Package of two (one 3/4
inch & 1 11/4 inch) in a drill press & grinding it up. Be sure
to have a container to catch the powder. It works pretty well,
just takes a little time, but would depend on how much you needed
to make.

Just a quick note. If you are making granulation, you might find
the solder cutting pliers from Stuller (#46-4035 about $17.00)
an easy way to clip sheet for making grans. John drilled a hole
in plastic cap of a small gold vial & glued it to the pliers
bottom to catch the pieces. For larger projects, an old style
guillotine paper cutter does a pretty good job on sheet. (keep
the blade sharp & tight) If anyone has other suggestions, we
would appreciate them. Just getting into granulation & really
enjoying it.


Dear Susan, Good for you! You brought up the subject of Oscar
Branson. His books on Indian Jewelry Making are quite probably
the best jewelry instructional books ever published. I don’t
think they have been as much appreciated as they might have been
were it not for the fact that they convey the idea that they are
confined to Indian style jewelry making. Actually they are
comprehensive and definitive guides for the aspiring silversmith
and, of course, anyone who wants to become a competent hand
fabricator. I don’t know of any instructional books which do a
better job of conveying techniques. Virtually no text is
used…instead each step in making a given type of jewelry is
photographed sequentially. It would be possible to teach just
about anybody, regardless of his native tongue, how to become a
proficient craftsman simply using the photos as a guide. If I
were going to conduct a course in jewelry fabrication no other
text would be necessary! Ron at Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, CA


Dear John Barton Here are the recipes for silver solderers:

			Ag	Cu	Zn	others	melts at   C: Floats at C: Color:

IT 80 16 4 721 810 white
Hard: 75 22 3 740 787 white
Medium: 70 20 10 690 738 white
Soft: 65 20 15 671 718 grayish
Extra soft: 56 22 17 5 Sn 629 665 grayish
"Sunshine": 50 15,5 15,5 16 Cd 3 Ni 615 687 yellowish

I’ve made my own solder (hard, medium, and soft) for years and
they work fine for me. Start melting the metal with the highest
melting point and go downwards. Do not wait long before pouring
into ingot mold after adding Zink.

Best regards
Betty & Niels L�vschal, Jyllinge, Denmark
phone (+45) 46 78 89 94


Hi–I wonder whether anyone has used powdered solder and if so,
where you get it. I would like to try to do some unusual patterns in
granulation, and thought that the powdered solder might be an
interesting way of doing it. I also would like to try filigree. I
found some ads for black powdered solder for stained glass
inlays–it didn’t sound the same to me as silver solder. I checked
Rio and asked around at several supply places here in NYC and had no
luck. No one seemed to know where or how to locate it.Anyone? Sandra


I get my powdered solder from. KROHN INDUSTRIES INC., 303 Veterans
Blvd. Carlstadt, NJ 07072, Phone 201-933-9696, Fax 201-933-9684. The
powder I bought is 325 mesh. @TwoSunsTrd Lloyd.


granulation is done by fusing, not soldering. soldering introduces
metal to the surface of the granules and it looks sloppy. fusing uses
a solution that when heated allows the granules to alloy together
where they touch another metal. clean and crisp. granulation takes
skill and patience.


Dear Sandra, I have done some larger filigree things and used filed
solder. True Granulation is not soldered and is actually a fusion
process requiring skill and practice. There are some great teachers
out there, Stark for one. I visited her school in the 80’s but was
unable to return for classes. The Indonesians seem to have silver
granulation down to mass production proportions, so it can be done
consistently and well if one gets a method working.

One of the most unpretensious and superlative sources for
fabrication is INDIAN JEWELRY MAKING by Oscar T. Branson in 2 spiral
ring volumes. Vol 2 gives a recipe for solder and shows a "sprinkler"
for granular solder for filigree. This unimpressive spiral ring set
is up there for me with Uptracht and McCreights books. I almost will
try nothing new without instruction from someone, because there
always seems to be a step missing or something I should already know,
however Branson is explicit. I have NO idea how hard it is to find
these books. Mine were printed in '79, but I bought them new in the
early 90’s at a gem and mineral show!


    Hi--I wonder whether anyone has used powdered solder and if
so, where you get it. 

Sandra, you can make your own powdered solder, but it’s a royal pain
in the patootie, but OK for small amounts needed. There is a silver
solder supplier, but the minimum is 10 oz. at $25 USD/oz. I don’t
need the whole 10 oz. and will be willing to split an order with
someone or two. If you’re wondering what else you can use powdered
solder for, it’s the absolute best way to do sweat soldering or
laminations, and for making your own paste solder. The usual type for
jewelry is #70 (hard, 70% silver content), because powdered solder
flows much easier than paillions. Contact me off-list if you’re interested.


Hi Sandra, Powdered Solder is available from Stan Rubinstein Co. In
N. Attleboro Ma. Tel.508-222-8173 it’s been a while since I called
there, so the phone number may be different. Daniel Grandi

We do casting/finishing for designers and people in the trade.
contact off list at

 I wonder whether anyone has used powdered solder and if so, where
you get it. 

Hi Sandra, I’ve read about powdered solder being used in the old,
classic filigree. My recollection is that they would take a piece of
conventional solder and reduce it into a powder by using a file. A
magnet could be helpful to remove any stray steel fragments. Back
then they were probably alloying their own solder anyway, so they
would probably file from an ingot or bar form, rather then rolling
down to sheet or drawing to wire. Probably about the same amount of
work! :wink:

All the best,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)


Hi,Sandra I know how the powdered solder get it. But I didn’t use
it. At first ,you should filed your solder due to obtain dust of
solder. And than, you should pick up the dust of iron helping a
magnet. Now you can use the powdered solder.May be you have tried
this method, I don’t know. In Turkey, this method is used to solder
on granulation and fligree since ancient times. T=FClin.