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Soldering metal sheet together


#1

Any one have any tips on soldering metal sheet together with out any
gaps? I am designing a mixed metal ring with layers of thin copper,
silver, brass and gold, then sculpting designs into it. However I
often encounter open seams which are impossible to get rid of with
out loosing the integrity of the design.

I am using sheet solder an high quality flux from Gesswein.

Thanks, Albert


#2

You are making mokume by soldering the layers together. I assume that
you are sweat soldering them. Time McCreight gives a good set of
directions in The Complete Metalsmith. Also check the archives for
James Binnion and Steve Midgett are names to be looked
for.

Marilyn Smith


#3

Albert,

It sounds like you are basically creating a mokume “stack” without
the subsequent distortions and rolling-mill steps.

You might want to take some tips from the different ways those
stacks are created, whether torch or kiln, as they will probably be
applicable to your use.

First off, sheet solder is a great choice. Flux each side well and
use lots of solder (more than you think you need). Pull the solder
"out" the sides of the stack as you heat.

Pickle, then boil or ultrasonic it in a baking soda solution to make
sure you’ve neutralized the pickle that will inevitably “seep” into
the little gaps. Dry and closely inspect.

Any visible gaps should be well-fluxed and have solder (sheet,
strip, or whatever will fit) pushed into them, and the process
repeated. You may find it helpful to ochre in areas where the solder
is “solid” to prevent gaps from forming from solder re-flowing.

NOTE: It will be a mess with solder when you start, but it seems to
be the only good way to get a really solid flow coverage.

Repeat this process until you’ve got solid solder flow with no
visible gaps. After pickle and baking soda, you will want to file the
edges down so they are “sharp” and clean, without solder drips. This
is the point where you would normally start rolling out the mokume
stack. A trip through the rolling mill might help you, or might not
– entirely up to you. Either way, you’ve got a stacked “ingot” to
work with.

Hope this helps!
Karen Goeller
@Karen_Goeller
Hand-crafted artisan jewelry


#4
    First off, sheet solder is a great choice.  Flux each side
well and use lots of solder (more than you think you need).  Pull
the solder "out" the sides of the stack as you heat. 

This will be way too much solder and will leave lots of voids. The
best way to do this is to take each sheet clean, flux and apply a
small amount of your favorite type of solder whether it be sheet,
wire or powder distributed over the whole sheet. Heat till the
solder flows then with a solder pick spread the molten solder over
the whole face of the sheet so that is is an even layer. Allow to
cool then pickle, dry,and sand or file the soldered surface to
reduce any unevenness. Clean flux and stack along with the other
sheets that you have prepared this way, Bind the stack with binding
wire to keep things from sliding all over the place and heat till
the solder melts on all the sheets. Tap the top of the stack with a
solder pick when the solder is molten to squeeze out excess solder,
flux and bubbles. Allow to cool and pickle, neutralize and begin
your carving.

This is the point where you would normally start rolling out the
mokume stack.  A trip through the rolling mill might help you, or
might not -- entirely up to you.  Either way, you've got a stacked
"ingot" to work with. 

Rolling the soldered sheet is best kept to a minimum ( actually best
not done at all), all solder alloys are more brittle than the metals
you have soldered and will tend to crack fairly rapidly due to the
high stresses applied in the rolling process. If you need a material
that will stand up to rolling then try diffusion bonding techniques.

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


#5

James,

OK, I’m confused. I certainly conceded the point on your wonderful
description of soldering the “stack” together. BUT… how on earth
do you make mokume and other laminations without rolling them? Am I
misunderstanding your post completely?

I was taught (and have read) that the process of rolling, annealing,
and thinning and then filing and continuing the rolling process was
how you achieve the patterning variations of mokume. It sounds like
you are saying that’s not the case???

Thanks,
Karen Goeller
@Karen_Goeller
Hand-crafted artisan jewelry


#6

I always thought it would be interesting to make a mokume stack by
explosive cladding (no solder needed). Here is a link to an article
that might be of interest:

http://www.gold.org/discover/sci_indu/GBull/1998_3/BLATTER.PDF

Ray


#7
 BUT... how on earth do you make mokume and other laminations
without rolling them? Am I misunderstanding your post completely?

Karen, Mokume was made long before rolling mills came along.
The patterned billets are forged flat with a hammer on an anvil.


#8

Hi Karen,

    OK, I'm confused.  I certainly conceded the point on your
wonderful description of soldering the "stack" together.  BUT...
how on earth do you make mokume and other laminations without
rolling them?  Am I misunderstanding your post completely? I was
taught (and have read) that the process of rolling, annealing, and
thinning and then filing and continuing the rolling process was how
you achieve the patterning variations of mokume.  It sounds like
you are saying that's not the case??? 
The materials added to make solders melt at lower temperatures than

the parent metals all tend to be more brittle than the parent
metals. There are huge shear stresses induced in the metal when
rolling. These stresses are concentrated in the areas where the
metal is least ductile, in other words right at the solder joints.
This leads to the cracking that occurs when rolling the soldered
laminate. Now it is certainly possible to make a form of mokume gane
via soldering, however it is difficult to work with due to the
cracking, de-lamination caused by rolling and forming it also
presents great problems in soldering it during fabrication due to
the massive amount of soldering done on the laminate. It would be
very unlikely that a vessel could be raised from soldered mokume.
None of the traditional Japanese mokume gane work I have seen is
soldered. The vast majority of modern mokume gane as well as the
traditional work is bonded via diffusion processes where no solder
is involved.

The idea that mokume gane is soldered dates back to the last half

of the 1800’s. However the people who put this idea forward never
made any mokume. There are two diffusion processes one called
transient liquid phase diffusion bonding and the other is solid
state diffusion bonding. In the transient liquid phase process the
stack is heated in a charcoal forge fire to the point where some of
the alloys in the stack just start to melt, it is then removed from
the fire and hot forged to to complete the bond. This molten or
liquid phase in a way is similar to solder in that it wets the
surfaces and aids in the fusing of the metals in the stack, but it
is the hot forging that really develops the strong bond between the
metal sheets. This is the way the traditional mokume laminates were
done the presence of a liquid phase in the process leaves an area at
the layer boundaries that looks somewhat like solder and this is
probably why the English scholar W. Chandler Roberts-Austin and the
American Raphael Pumpelly who first described mokume called it a
soldering process.

“Beautiful damask work is produced by soldering together, one over
the other in alternate order, thirty or forty sheets of gold,
shakdo, silver, rose copper, and gin shi bu ichi , and then cutting
into the thick plate thus formed with conical reamers, to produce
concentric circles, and making troughs of triangular section to
produce parallel, straight or contorted lines.”

Pumpelly, Raphael, “Notes on Japanese Alloys” American Journal of
Science vol. 42 1866

Comments by Pumpelly and Roberts-Austin are what led western smiths
who were trying to recerate the mokume gane process to attempt it via
soldering. It was not until the 1970’s when Hiriko and Gene
Pijanowski went to Japan and learned the traditional process from
Norio Tamagawa that western metalsmiths learned that solder was not
the answer. Upon returning Hiriko and Gene taught workshops in the
traditional technique and started the renaissance in mokume gane.

The solid state diffusion process is accomplished by bringing the

metals in the stack up to a point just below where the liquid phase
appears (hence the term solid state as no liquid phase is present)
and holding it there long enough for a bond to form due to crystal
growth in the heated alloys. It is also typically hot forged to
increase the bond strength. The solid state diffusion process is
typically a modern technique because it is much easier to accomplish
in a temperature controlled kiln rather than a open fire but can be
done either way.

For more info on making mokume gane check out

Books:

Both of these books are excellent resources for technical how to
(Disclaimer I wrote one of the chapters in Steve
Midgett’s book so am some what biased about it :-))

“Mokume Gane A Comprehensive Study” Midgett, Steve
"Mokume Gane" Furguson, Ian Krause; (June 15, 2004)

~ Mokume Gane - A Comprehensive Study
By Steve Midgett


price: $34.95

Product Information
Media: Hardcover
Manufacturer : Earthshine Press
Release data : 2000

~ Mokume Gane
By Ian Ferguson

http://www.ganoksin.com/jewelry-books/us/product/0873499018.htm
price: $16.97

Product Information
Media: Paperback
Manufacturer : Krause
Release data : 15 June, 2004

Online:

A PDF file of a paper I presented at the 2002 Santa Fe Symposium
that contains both historical and modern methods with a
list of references at the end.

http://mokume-gane.com/Pages/What_is_Mokume.html#Anchor-In-49575

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


#9
   Karen, Mokume was made long before rolling mills came along.
The patterned billets are forged flat with a hammer on an anvil. 

True, but isn’t that at least as much stress (if not more) than the
rolling mill applies? If the reason for not rolling is the
brittleness of the solder/alloy, wouldn’t forging be even worse?
(i.e., much more force applied to a specific small area, rather than
distributed more evenly over a wider area and over a wider period of
time?)

Karen
@Karen_Goeller
Hand-crafted artisan jewelry


#10

James,

Your reply is EXACTLY why I love Orchid so much. Now I understand
exactly why you said what you said, and have a much better
understanding of the techniques involved. Plus, I know where to go
to get the rest of the info I need to do it “the right way” (or at
least the traditional way).

Thank you!
Karen


#11

All,

It seems that many times when a thread starts, I’m looking into the
same subject at the same time (synchronicity amazes me). J B just
replied to this thread with the basic that explains some
of the differences between rolling and forging, and soldering vs.
diffusion bonding mokume gane, and mentions Steve Midgett’s book on
the subject.

Here’s where the synchronicity enters for me…I just received Steve
Midgett’s book on mokume gane yesterday afternoon. In the early
chapters, Mr. Midgett discusses the pertinent about
soldering and diffusion bonding, as well as forging your own sheet
and the techniques involved with properly forging the laminate stack
as opposed to rolling it. Anyone contemplating trying this extremely
cool technique will be well served by this book.

Mokume Gane - A Comprehensive Study
By Steve Midgett
http://www.ganoksin.com/jewelry-books/us/product/0965165078.htm
price: $34.95
Product Information
Media: Hardcover
Manufacturer : Earthshine Press
Release data : 2000

James in SoFl who never gets tired of looking around at


#12

You can find some in Chuck Evans book on “soldered
Mokume” lamination not the true diffusion bonded stuff but
something to look at:

Jewelry: Contemporary Design and Technique
By Chuck Evans

http://www.ganoksin.com/jewelry-books/us/product/0871921413.htm

Price: $34.95
Media: Hardcover
Manufacturer : Sterling Pub Co Inc
Release data : 01 May, 1983

jesse


#13

Hi Jim,

What a wonderful explanation of the process for Mokume. Thanks for
all that Karen,

One of the provisos of making any laminate is to have an even
spreading of the solder. If you have lumps of any kind, that will
cause problems no matter what type of laminate you are making
utilizing solder.

For those who do champleve enameling where one sheet is cut out in a
pattern and then laid over a backing sheet, the soldering process
is very important to the final product. This technique requires a
good lamination technique. When taking a class with Linda Darty,
January 2004, FSG workshop in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, we did
much experimentation with this type of laminate. We extensively
tested the powder solder with a heavy duty paste flux. Once the
correct temperatures were reached, the technique worked
wonderfully. We made sure the metal to be laminated was flat on
both sheets that were facing each other (bottom of top and top of
bottom), then we applied paste flux, in this case using Handy Flux.
We placed the fluxed metal on a clean sheet of paper. The powder
solder was dusted on over the paste flux using a sifter. The metal
was then transferred to the soldering surface. Torch heat was
applied going in fast and hot. The solder melted to a beautiful
even coating of the metal. You are now ready to use this for
"sweat soldering" to the other piece.

This technique of applying the powder solder should work for making
the laminate that you are interested in making. From what I have
read on your experiment, you were getting lumps and having the air
holes appear after working with the sheet for a bit. The powder
solder should eliminate the unevenness of the melted solder. You
must, however, have your sheets completely flat when attempting to
join them. If they are not flat, it can lead to air holes. You can
also do the lamination in one process when two sheets of metal are
to be joined. The paste flux and powder solder are in the middle
of the sandwich. The trick is to make sure the metals do not move
when applying the heat. We used heavy duty pins to hold the two
sheets in place. You can also have a forgiving edge and then saw
off the excess which is a much easier approach. As Jim mentioned,
sheet (the parent metal) is a lot more malleable than solder, so
keep this in mind when using the rolling mill. There is also no
guarantee that this process will work to your satisfaction for your
idea. Lamination of two or more sheets is a very valuable process
for use in many Metalsmithing projects. I feel the powder solder
makes it a lot easier to get a good laminated surface.

Beth Katz
http://www.myunqiesolutions.com
Unique Solutions Inc.
Paste and Powder solder for Jewelers and Metalsmiths.


#14

Hi Beth!

 For those who do champleve enameling where one sheet is cut out
in a pattern and then laid over a backing sheet, the soldering
process is very  important to the final product. This technique
requires a good lamination  technique. 

Perhaps I am missing something here, but I wouldn’t use any solder
except to tack around the edges. Maybe one small tack in the center.
I don’t believe a solid bonding of the two metal sheets is necessary
here, and in fact it is probably better to reduce stress by allowing
them to expand and contract more easily. In all my enameling, I tend
not to put solder anywhere near where it might come into contact
with the enamel. I basically use the enamel itself for ‘glue’. In
cloisonne, I never solder the wires in place. I do a thin layer of
basecoat (usually clear flux or opaque white). After fired, I place
the cloisonne wires with a weak solution of gum tragacanth and water
(or Klearfire) and fire again just until the wires settle into the
enamel base. This holds them in place nicely and prevents any
problems of inadvertant melting of the wires or solder contamination
of the enamel. This is particularly important if you work with
mostly transparents. For champleve with a cutout top sheet, you
could simply paint the touching surfaces of the two sheets with
Klearfire, sit the top piece on the bottom, pack the enamel in the
recesses, and fire away! The enamel tends to bind and hold
everything in place. The top surface of the bottom layer should of
course be roughened and surfaces very clean. You could also do the
piercing of the top layer beveled for an undercut to further insure
its staying in place over time. But I would probably edge-tack with
solder just to be extra safe.

Janet in Jerusalem