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Soldering Gold to Silver


#1

I am an amateur at fabrication-working in silver. I enjoy this forum,
and learn from it.

I want to solder 14K gold wire and spheres made from this wire as
embellishments onto my silver pieces. I have a few books on
fabrication, which I consulted… One told me that I can fuse
higher-karat gold to silver, and how to do this…but said I must
use solder on the lower-karat golds…but not how.

I had some 18-karat wire. What I wanted to do was twist this wire and
wrap it up the side of a high bezel. I tried to assemble this and
fuse it…and ended up with a mess. I still wanted to make this
ring, so I started over, and this time I twisted 18-karat wire with
fine silver wire and then wrapped it up the bezel, and tucked little
silver balls into the wire here and there for embellishment, and
soldered them with silver solder …which held the wire to the bezel
as well, resulted in a rather pleasing piece actually.

BUT it was a compromise. I would appreciate someone talking to me
about how to solder my 14-karat gold wire onto silver. I think I must
have to use gold solder and gold flux…but don’t know how to keep
the silver from melting during the soldering, and the gold from
pitting the silver. And there are probably other things about this
process that I don’t know either!!!

Thanks!
Catherine Schratt


#2

Hello Catherine,

I have done a lot of gold to silver and other mixed metals soldering.
The main thing you need to be careful of is not to overheat when
soldering gold to silver. That is why you got a mess on your first
try. Getting your reflexes down to know when to back off with the
torch is most important. What will happen is that as the solder
dissolves into the silver and gold in a liquid state that it causes
the two metals to mix together into a fairly lower melting new alloy
that behaves like solder and may actually melt at a lower temp than
the solder you start with. This can turn a nice joint into a glob in
a brief moment. The result will look like you used way too much
solder and the components sink into each other.

I have heard people say that you should only use gold solder when
joining silver to gold, but I never do. I use an easy or extra easy
silver solder. You can use the same flux for either silver or gold
solder.

Stephen Walker


#3

Hello Stephen,

Nice to hear from you on this forum. For those of you that are not
familiar with Stephen’s work he is a master of mixed metals
techniques including mokume. To see a true masterwork you must see
his “Children of Lir” bowl at http://www.celtarts.com/children.htm

Regards,

Jim
Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160


@James_Binnion
Member of the Better Business Bureau


#4

Thanks very much, Jim, for introducing us to this breathtaking
piece! Steven, could you please share more pictures of your
beautiful work?

Do you wish to share picture with Orchid?
Check out Orchid Help Desp at:

Linda in MA


#5

Thanks Jim for your introduction and Linda also for asking for more.
Several of the more interesting things I have done in the past
several years are illustrated at http://www.celtarts.com/new_work.htm
There are links that take you to more like that. I don’t have a whole
lot of mokume on my site because it tends not to sell very well for
me on the net, as compared to my Celtic designs. Most of my mokume is
sold at festivals or here at my shop. A lot more of the mokume tends
to be one-of-a-kind also.

I am finding Orchid a very useful and interesting forum. I appluad
those who set it up.

Stephen Walker


#6

Ralph,

There should be no problem soldering gold bezel to silver back. Try
paste solder. Paste solder contains flux already in the formula, so
you do not have to wonder if the solder in the correct place. When
ready to assemble, make sure the fit of the bezel to the back plate
is tight and that there is no daylight showing when you examine
before soldering. Place the paste solder inside at the very bottom
of the bezel, touching the lowest part of the bezel, but not on the
very bottom edge since you are doing two metals of different colors.
For a first time attempt with the two metals, place the object, with
the bezel having the paste solder applied, on a tripod stand with a
screen that is made for taking heat when soldering. With a torch
flame directed at the bottom of the object, heat up the whole entire
piece, being careful to move the torch flame so you do not get a hot
spot, heat slowly but deliberately and do not back off to dissipate
the flux in the paste solder. Remember, heat the silver all over.
You may see a little bit of smoke come up from the paste solder. Keep
heating evenly. Now that you see that the paste solder is
"activating", continue using your flame underneath and concentrating
these flames near the bezel from below. If things are going
according the plan, the solder will start to melt. Now it is time to
go to the top surface of the piece, using round strokes of the flame,
moving quickly so as not to build up heat in one place, keeping the
heat even and not backing off, pull the solder to the edges of the
bezel, using the flame to draw the solder to the edges. Solder flows
to heat. The quickly, go back underneath to finish pulling the solder
to the edges and down to meet the main piece. One very important
thing to remember, always keep the flame moving so you do not create
a hot spot on the metal or the bezel. By this time, the solder should
have run all around the inside of the bezel connecting the bezel to
the main piece. Make sure all the solder has flowed and that there
are no air spaces in your connection. You can always go back in and
flow the solder again to close any holes you may have left
un-soldered as long as you have not pickled the piece.

Beth Katz Unique Solutions, Inc.
Paste Solder and Powder Solder for Jewelers and Metalsmiths
http://www.myuniquesolutions.com


#7

Hi All:

I’m new in orchid and like to know about when soldering a major pice
of sterling silver to a 14 karat gold what kind of solder is beter to
use?.. gold or sterling?.. hard, medium or easy?

Thanks for your response.

Sincerly
Aurelio


#8

Ralph,

The best way I know to solder gold anything to silver is to “sweat
solder” by flowing the solder onto the gold, then after fluxing,
place the soldered area in contact with the silver part and heat the
silver. The solder flows to the silver and the joint is done. It’s a
2-step process, but has worked well for me.

Happy soldering,

Judy in Kansas, where the hills look mighty green after all the rainfall
recently.


#9

If you are soldering sterling silver onto gold sheet you will want
to use gold solder. You should match the karat weight of the gold and
depending on the number of tasks left in the piece such as
additional soldering you would use hard for most of the beginning
work, medium for the middle, and easy for the very last solder. I
rarely use medium and tend to use hard throughout the piece and easy
for the last solder but it’s up to you. The point of having hard,
med, and easy is so you can solder additional pieces on without the
previous solder reflowing.

Delias