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Soldering non-precious metal to silver


I have a question about soldering a non-precious metal to sterling
silver. I have a client who wants the “Indian Head” cut out of an
"Indian Head" nickel and soldered on to a bolo made of sterling. My
question is, will the torch damage the “Indian Head” and what type of
solder is best for this type of metal? I have Batterns which I use
almost exclusively, Handy paste and black flux.

My next qestion is, what will happen when I drop this into my pickle,
will it copper coat the sterling? (I don’t know what the old nickels
alloy is)

Any help is greatly appreciated,
God bless,
John Barton


Hi John,

Composition of Indian head nickel is 5 grams: .750 copper, .250
nickel. You can safely use Batterns. Black flux is used for attaching
stainless steel, or other difficult to solder compositions. Silver
solder is fine. There shouldn’t be any problem with copper plating in
pickle, because there is no iron, but to be safe, you can always use
a citric acid pickle. For ease of soldering, it will be necessary to
sand the back of the nickel flat first. Powdered solder will work the
best for this type of application and you won’t have to worry about
excess solder creeping up the nickel and obscuring details. An
alternative is to preserve the intrinsic value of the nickel and
bezel set it to the sterling plate, or make a mold of the nickel,
cast it and do whatever he wants with the resulting model. Those
Indian head nickels are worth considerably more as collectibles, and
some are worth $3,000 and up, but only if they’re intact.


Hi John…

Just recently I tried soldering a Japanese coin to sterling silver,
and it worked. I don’t know what metal the coin was, but it had a
similar weight and appearance to American nickles.

I used regular silver solder, liquid flux, and a propane torch (my
attempt at keeping the temperature low to prevent the coin from
melting, since I still don’t know exactly what type of metal it is).
I sweat-soldered the whole thing, and came out looking quite nice
for an experimental attempt.

For pickling, I used an old coffee mug to scoop up some hot pickle
for the coin/sterling silver to sit in all by itself (no worries
about contamination, and a good way to recycle coffee mugs that one
would otherwise throw away). The coin did become slightly
discolored, quite similar to a coating that nickle-silver can get,
but it came off without much work at all.

Good Luck!


Buffalo nickel alloy is 75% copper 25 % nickel. No problem in a



Seems to me this is a good application for low temp- Tix- solder. Or
else bezel set the nickel.

Janet Kofoed


Hi, John, I don’t have the answers to your questions (in fact, they
may already have been answered-- I’m behind on my reading) but I
thought I’d suggest that you risk five cents or so by trying to
solder an ordinary nickel to a scrap of silver and pickle it.
Myself, I love experimenting in this way, especially if it is not
costly. You’ll learn stuff for sure! If the coin is of any value, it
may be better to make/buy a sterling coin setting and solder that.
Have fun! Noel

–Noel Yovovich