Clarification and update of about soldering Argentium
Because of the lower melting temperature, hard solder is not
recommended. Medium, easy or extra-easy solders are safest Currently,
Argentium is supplied annealed, which is wonderful for me, since I
rarely use a piece of metal without forming it a bit first; straight
planes of metal are rare in my visual vocabulary. I love being able
to get right to work, without needing to anneal first. And, I love it
that I can move the metal farther before it needs annealing. So, for
me, the only problem I’ve had with soldering is remembering that
Argentium does not conduct heat as quickly as regular sterling does.
This means that I approach it similar to the way that I do when
soldering gold. After giving the entire piece a general heating, I
concentrate the heat on the solder joint.
Metalsmiths who like to make soldered constructions of flat sheet
may find that they need to prepare the metal a bit beforehand, to
prevent the metal from sagging during soldering. Lay the Argentium
on a flat soldering surface, bring it to annealing temperature (dull
red) with a torch flame, keep it at that temperature for about 15
seconds, and then allow it to air cool. (Though it is still annealed,
the crystalline structures have grown = a bit larger, and make it
stiff enough for most soldering operations.—at least, this is my
theory about why this works!) Note that the lower the temperature of
the solder, the less that sagging is a problem, and that sagging is
only a problem with unsupported flat metal.
I did some experimenting, and found that hardening in the oven makes
the silver hard, but does not prevent a flat, unsupported piece of
metal from sagging when soldered, as I had theorized that it would.
It is interesting that the above method works better!