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Soldering argentium and copper mokume gane


#1

Hi there! While it was pretty neat to see the mokume gane
expand/move when heated and then move back to its original position
when the flame i s off, I’m now getting pretty annoyed with trying to
hard solder a bezel strip together. For a ring, I confined it by
binding it like crazy, with binding wire, but I rolled out some sheet
thin enough to be a bezel strip and am having a heck of a time.
Binding doesn’t seem to work b ec the bezel strip is too thin. I
tried grabbing one side of the seam with my third hand tweezers,
soldering the other side. Pretty rough looking results. Help would be
very much appreciated.

Cheers,
Ros


#2

Welcome to one of the joys of working with mokume :slight_smile: The difference
in thermal expansion of the metals in the laminate can often cause
this kind of problem. The best solution is a laser or pulse arc
welder to tack the joint before soldering. If you don’t have access
to such tools you must use wire, tweezers clamps etc to hold the
area to be soldered in alignment which is often a messy business.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#3

Hello Roz,

IF I understand your problem correctly, try this: get a stainless
steel hose clamp at the hardware store. Place the shaped bezel in the
clamp and tighten to hold the ring ends together while you solder.
I’m not sure it will work on a bezel, but the concept is the same. If
the bezel is not round, I’m outta’ ideas.

Judy in Kansas


#4

Hi,

You may try copper colored solder to connect the two metals. The
copper colored soldering rod has the flux included and makes a
strong bond. I have used the solder with sterling and copper, but I
have not used the argentium. I hope this helps.

Linda


#5

Oooh, very interesting idea! Alas, the stone is a very large oval,
but your suggestion, Judy, has given me some ideas - I tried placing
some Extra Hands on either side (dried), but the bezel pushed the
lumps away - ha!


#6

Hi Ros,

Try setting the bezel on it’s edge on a heat-reflective soldering
surface—that’s how I solder rings, tubes, bezels, etc. It allows
for expansion without sagging or pulling apart, with no need for
binding. If there is difficulty keeping the ends lined up, then I use
steel pins to keep the seam lined up. (I use soft solderite, but you
could use firebrick or anything else that you can pin into.) One
other thought–what gauge are you using? Maybe try a thicker gauge?
Also, try fusing the bezel—take advantage of the fact that
Argentium Sterling does that so well.

Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com


#7

Hi Cynthia - I rolled out 18 ga to something thin, most likely around
26 ga. It was for (past tense, as I destroyed this version of the
bezel) a very large oval shaped, low domed cabochon. I normally
solder (or fuse) with the bezel on its side (is that what you mean
by edge?), with the seam near the front (seam is perpendicular to the
heating surface). I had the same problem with expansion, when trying
18 ga mokume gane for a ring, but the ring was easier to bind. Will
try pinning. For the bezel, I gave up at one point and overlapped the
sheet, then filed it down. BUT, when I tried soldering it onto 24 ga
Argentium sheet, I either couldn’t get the solder to flow (it is a
big piece), or had it flowup the bezel. I overheated, everything
turned a terrible charcoal colour and bumped/slumped/made a mess.
Could it be my flame too? Oxidizing the copper before it gets hot
enough to flow the solder?

Cheers and thanks!
Ros


#8
If there is difficulty keeping the ends lined up, then I use steel
pins to keep the seam lined up. (I use soft solderite, but you
could use firebrick or anything else that you can pin into.) 

The problem is that it is not just argentium, it is both argentium
and copper and due to the differences in thermal expansion between
the metals and the pattern it is carved in it will move and be very
hard to restrain. It is one of the frustrating issues of working
mokume. Before I got a PUL08K welder I used to use pairs of long
nosed vise grips that I modified to hold the items I was soldering in
thais type of situation. It can be very maddening.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#9

I tried again, same thickness of bezel wire (I rolled out some 18 ga,
endedup with something around 26 ga), different stone, using the
advice given. And I had success! What I did differently:- I pinned
(using sewing T-pins, thanks Cynthia for suggesting this) the bezel
wire, on its side, with some hard solder under the seam. After about
the tenth attempt, the seam was soldered shut. - I kept the bezel
well fluxed (Neil A’s suggestion), and went in with a mapps gas
torch, for adequate heat. Amazingly, I didn’t melt the whole thing.
Once I thought that the piece was somewhat stuck, I went back with my
darn plumber’s torch and focused on places where the solder hadn’t
flowed. If I build up enough confidence to try again, I’ll look into
also using vice grips (as per James B’s suggestion) or a hose clamp
(that is such a cool suggestion!!). Here’s an odd question - is it
possible that I have cooked off the copper? Or raised the silver in
the mokume gane such that it is more prominent? Gentle buffing seems
to help bring back the pattern (I bought the sheet with a cool
pattern in it), but it doesn’t quite lookas nice as it did before I
attacked it.

Thanks!
Ros


#10
Here's an odd question - is it possible that I have cooked off the
copper? Or raised the silver in the mokume gane such that it is
more prominent? Gentle buffing seems to help bring back the pattern
(I bought the sheet with a cool pattern in it), but it doesn't
quite lookas nice as it did before I attacked it. 

You can easily overheat the copper silver mokume laminates and end
up with localized melting that makes a mess of the pattern. I rarely
use even medium solder on copper silver laminates as it can be so
tricky to not inadvertently overheat it.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#11

I have never worked with Mokume Gane but saw a short video (either
here on Orchid - or following a video link elsewhere - youtube??). I
recall that it was a Rio Grande instruction video on Mokume Gane
where they ended the process up by using a patina fluid to bring the
cool look back to the piece after working the piece (and thus loose
some of the original look). It was a patina that affected the copper
only and not the silver.

Perhaps worth trying??
R G D S Lars


#12

Hi Jim, Ros, and everyone,

I think that Ros was commenting on the movement of the mokume, but
that her question was mostly about soldering the bezel—that being
the way I understood her post, that is what I have been responding
to.

when I tried soldering it onto 24 ga Argentium sheet, I either
couldn't get the solder to flow (it is a big piece), or had it flow
up the bezel. 

That sounds like you did not have enough heat to get the larger
piece of metal hot enough.

I overheated, everything turned a terrible charcoal colour and
bumped/slumped/made a mess. Could it be my flame too? Oxidizing the
copper before it gets hot enough to flow the solder? 

The charcoal color makes it sound like the flux burned out, due to
over heating, and/or due to an oxidizing flame, with too much oxygen.
These things can also happen if the solder is dirty or
oxidized—things to be avoided by cleaning and fluxing the solder.

Good luck!
Cindy
http://www.cynthiaeid.com