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Soldering nickel silver


#1

Hi there, I am making a coronet in nickel silver. Having never
worked with the material before, I was wondering if I need to use
a specific solder (temperature) or if hard silver solder is ok.
I read that sulfuric acid is not good (causes some sort of
negative reaction). Any comments/tips gratefully accepted Thank
you Eileen (in a very overcast Canberra)


#2

eileen: if you don’t have to work in nickel silver - don’t.
nickel is a totally pain in the arse to bend, saw… if you do
still want to work in nickel, use silver solder. just remember
you will need a special nickle pickle because if you put
nickel in your gold/silver pickle it will turn a really nasty
green color.

DeDe


#3

Eileen, Silver soldering nickel silver is not a difficult task.
Being a base metal it oxidises quickly. Controlling oxidation can
be achieved by using borax as your flux or a commercially
prepared silver brazing flux available from BOC outlets or
hardware stores. Use a reducing or neutral flame and avoid
overheating. Hard grade silver solder is OK, but being a higher
melting solder care needs to be taken not to burn the flux.

Pickling in sulphuric acid is OK. A solution of 10 parts water
to 1 part acid will remove flux and oxide residues. Avoid using
steel tweezers in the pickle; this will cause a reaction between
the acid and the iron in the steel tweezers and leaves a pinkish
discolouration on the metal. Use brass or copper tongs.

I hope this helps.

Graham Farr (from rainy Sydney)


#4

Eileen, Yay! Something I can finally do some help with! Since I
was taught jewelry-making in a city high school, I did most of my
work in base metals, including nickel silver (which I used the
most since I love silver and it was the closest I was allowed to
use freely). Yes, you can use the same hard silver solder (or
anything from easy to IT solder) as you’d use with normal
(sterling) silver. As for the use of sulfuric acid, I have to
make myself sound unknowledgeable for a bit. We used a blue,
diluted acid to clean off pieces after soldering. The kind you
need to use copper tongs with. Gee, this makes me feel dumb now.
sheepish grin (I haven’t taken the time to re-learn what all
that stuff is since I only do casting for the time-being) I hope
I’ve been of some help. And if anyone cares to clue me in or
correct me, feel free. I’m on this list to learn afterall!

Glad to make a bit of contribution,

Cortney


#5

I use catalogue solders specifically for nickel silver (have not
gotten around to trying silver solders). My only question about
using silver solders is whether such solders would oxidize at
the same rate as the nickel silver (as one considers the
finished product over time). I had the experience of using 6K
gold repair solder on some brass I was soldering – it looked
great until the bracelet began slowly to oxidize and the seam
stayed a lovely bright gold! (I now use hammered pieces of
brazing rod, which are not perfect but match better than other
solders meant for brass.)

Nickel-Pickle works faster and better than Sparex, although
Sparex works OK, too, on nickel-silver. I bright-dip my
nickel-silver in 50:50 diluted nitric acid (probably the blue
solution that someone referred to), and that works fine. I’ve
never had any reaction to iron or steel tweezers (etc.) in any
of these solutions. Have fun! The only disadvantage to
nickel-silver that I have found is that it is stiffer to work
with. Of course it doesn’t have sterling’s wonderful glow, but
on some things, it’s hard to tell the difference, and the price
is right!

Judy Bjorkman
@JLBjorkman


#6

Nickel silver can be soldered using the usual silver solders,
fluxes and pickles. In my experience, it doesn’t pickle as clean
as silver or copper but I have never tired anything other than
Sparex. I seems to me to not anneal as well as silver and copper.
The finished color is not as warm as that as silver. Silver is
not expensive these days. Have you considered using it?

Marilyn smith


#7

Nickel silver is used extensively for models in Europe. It
actually has no silver and the name is very misleading, as is
another German silver, which is used. It is generally composed
of 65 Cu, 17 Zn and 18 Ni. with a spcific gravity of 8.5 (a
little lighter than brass) and a melting temp of 1750
Fahrenheit.

It is a great cheap metal, comes in all gauges of wire and
sheet. It forms and behaves in the range of other jewelry
metals, perhaps most like 14k yellow. It can be rolled, drawn,
formed, drilled, set, polished, etc. very nicely. One advantage
is that you can use sterling silver as the first solder level,
and then proceed with H, M, E silver solders. (Actually you can
begin with fine silver as the highest level if you have some
lying around.)

The downside is that it does not pickle as cleanly in standard
sulfuric or sparex, it is full of copper which makes it not
appropriate for most people to wear without leaving a dirty
smudge. However, contrary to what was stated, pickle does not
damage it.

Alan Revere
Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts
760 Market Street . Suite 900
San Francisco . California . 94960 . USA
tel: 415 . 391 . 4179
fax: 415 . 391 . 7570
email: alan@revereacademy.com
web site: www. revereacademy.com


#8

Nickel and silver solder do not oxidize at the same rate. That
can create a very nice effect if your design accommodates it.
I’ve also seen people do solder inlays with this combination.

Pauline