I’m pretty new to working with silver and solder and I have recently
been experimenting with soldering wire to silver sheet. The problem
I’m having is finding a means of smoothing small awkward areas,
particularly where the wire joins the sheet, where there’s not
enough room for a dremel head and the wire bending around back on
Hope that makes sense
Are you forming the wire into a design and then attaching it to the
sheet with solder ? If so, you’d be better off fusing the wire to the
sheet rather than soldering, and save yourself the trouble of
cleaning up the mess.
Yes I am forming it before applying it to the sheet. Can you let me
know if there’s anywhere that I can find instructions for fusing this
sort of thing. I haven’t done that before and it’s not in my book.
One thing I do is to texture my sheet with a little round burr after
the wire is soldered in place. That way you can remove the extra
solder. I always prefer the look of textured metal compared to
smooth, highly polished. Sometimes I do have areas of high polish
next to contrasting areas of textured on the same piece.
J. S. (Sue) Ellington
If by awkward you mean excess solder that spills from the join… I
prefer a 3/4 inch soft white brush in the flexshaft with zam as the
polishing agent. keep the brush moving in different directions,
laterally. You will find polishing direction is the key. If you
polish only in one direction the metal will pull and pile up.
Changing directions frequently lets you blend the metal. Keeping the
brush oscillating side to side prevents drag marks. The brush lets
you get in tight to the join without rounding off your detail.
Compounds tend to load up on silver when using a brush so the right
pressure/temperature is important.
A way to minimize excess solder in the first place is to make very
small solder snippets, ball them up and dip in flux, apply to the
join. The smaller they are the closer in you can go, the neater the
job. Use the highest grade solder you dare, its much more responsive
to how you apply the heat. When it goes right you may grin as you
see the entire length of your joint flow in a nice progression. The
advancing bright line.
Can you let me know if there's anywhere that I can find
instructions for fusing this sort of thing. I haven't done that
before and it's not in my book.:-)
As someone who does a lot of silver fusing, I agree that,
ultimately, it might be a good solution for you, but it is not the
easiest thing to do (though I keep reading that it is much easier
with Argentium. Haven’t tried that yet.) Anyway, it takes
considerable practice to use fusing as a substitute for soldering. I
took a workshop (seven days at the Revere Academy) from Marnie Ryan
to learn it.
I did include a pictoral set of instructions for the basic technique
in the January 06 issue of Art Jewelry Magazine which might help if
you can get ahold of it. It is the cover article.
If I understand what you are trying to do, that is to solder a
decorative wire to a sheet, try this: Shape your wire the way you
want it. Turn it over, flux and apply bits of solder to the
underside, and melt it to the beginning, end, and one or two places
inbetween. Use fairly small bits of solder. Now flux your sheet, and
while the flux is wet (I’d use white paste flux for this) place your
wire on the sheet, gently pushing the wire into the flux. Let the
flux dry. Now, start heating the sheet with an adequately sized
flame, and before the flux is glassy, pick up the edge of your sheet
with a solder pic and heat the under side of the sheet. The sheet
will transfer heat to the wire with the solder, solder will flow and
capillary action will pull the solder along the wire and no place
else. Voila - no solder mess. The trick is to have the sheet be ever
so slightly hotter than the wire, thus pulling the solder to the
This technique requires that you learn how to manipulate your torch
with your non-dominate hand. That is, I’m very right handed, but my
torch is always in my left hand, leaving my right hand for fine motor
skills such as making the solder pic do my bidding.