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Soldering question


#1

Hi all,

I am basically new to working with sterling silver, been doing up to
3 stones, with bezels on 1 ring shank.

I started out using 3 grades of solder, hard, med & easy. Recently,
I began using easy for every thing. Seems to be working out fine so
far. I’ve been surprised to not having stuff falling off or moving
with multiple soldering.

The question: is there any disadvantage to doing it this way that
I’m not aware of ? Just want to bounce this off you guys, always good
to get input from others with more experience.

Thanks,
Mike B


#2

Hi Mike!

When you perform multiple solders, you actually burn away a little
of the alloy each time raising the melting temperature each time.
There is nothing wrong with what you are doing while you are
learning. There will be a time thowhen everything will shift and
move. Thats when the different temps will come into play. Have fun.
Explore. Learn from mistakes and celebrate happy accidents.

Karen
Karenchristians.com


#3

Its not super horrible although it would be less horrible if you
would use hard instead if easy. Most serious jewelry would respect
you more using hard. Depending on the situation you can get away
with step soldering with the same solder. And in reality if you tried
to pull off those bezels with hard or easy the seams would still
hold, you would most likely tear the metal before you break the
solder joint so no worries. Do what you can and use what you have,
right!


#4
The question: is there any disadvantage to doing it this way that
I'm not aware of ? 

Easy solder will discolor or tarnish a lot faster, and joints are
slightly less strong. Instead, try doing everything with hard solder.
The temperature difference between hard solder and sterling’s melting
point is still more than enough to be fairly easy to avoid melting
things, and the resulting joints will be cleaner (hard solder flows
better), stronger, and a perfect color match. When you melt the
solder the first time, a little of the alloying metal diffuses into
the metal of the joined pieces, so essentially, every time you melt
the solder, it’s melting point goes up a little. In essence, the next
soldering won’t melt the prior one because the prior one becomes a
slightly harder solder. You’re doing some of this with easy solder
too, but not as much, and easy solder just tends to give you messier
work, harder to clean up, and not as good a joint. When you must use
it, it’s very useful stuff to have. But if you’re doing everything
with easy, then you could also do everything with hard, and get
better results.

Peter


#5

Hello Mike B.

I think you have become adept enough with your torch that you don’t
need thedifferent solders. That said, try using just hard solder -
you might just be successful there. Your joints will be stronger and
future repairs could be less problematic.

Good on you for acquiring this skill!

Judy in Kansas, where a brief rain storm would make those new
seedlings ‘happy’. Irrigation with city water is NOT the same as
nature’s rain. Makes the dandelions grow too (Grr-r-r-!).


#6

Hi Mike-

I am by no means a soldering expert, but I only use one type of
solder. Hard solder. With a little bit of good torch control it is a
very nice option. It does not oxidize differently than the piece it
is adhered to, so those unsightly solder seams are minimal. This
comment is not meant to start any “solder wars” it is just what I
do.

Jean


#7

Perhaps not for you as you’ve developed a method of work, but
certainly in the future for the jeweler making repairs.

Mike


#8

MIke et all,

The question: is there any disadvantage to doing it this way that I’m
not aware of ? Just want to bounce this off you guys, always good to
get input from others with more Using three grades of solder was how
I was taught, too. When I unsoldered apart that was soldered with
easy, I had huge pitting issues and had to re-make the piece anyway.
So went to all hard solder even if there are going to be more joints
later. As others have said, I have had no troubles like that since.
The joint of a bezel holds even when I have enameled the piece. Hard
solder color matches the sterling much better and tarnishes less,
too.

Jean Vormelker


#9

Mike,

All this means is that you have the right torch good technique and a
knack for knowing where and when to apply heat and when to back off.
If I were tochange one thing it may be to use medium or hard when
putting the bezel joint together.

Hard solder is 75% silver so you will have a little better color
match and the solder joint will be more malleable when setting the
stone. Plus no fear of that solder moving if you do overheat.

Sessin Durgham
Rio Grande


#10

I can’t prove scientifically that I am right, but it seems to me
that easy solder eats into silver in a way that harder solders don’t.
What that means is that in areas where solder has flowed that I don’t
want it, it may actually end up flowing back out and leaving a low,
“etched” area.

I use the three-solder method, with most seams in medium. Making a
bezel (soldering the ends of the bezel strip together) should always
be done in hard because, since the bezel is so thin and sticks up
from the heavier back plate, it is pretty easy to melt the solder out
of the seam. This can be fixed, but what a PITA!

Bezel to back plate, and nearly all other seams, I use medium. Last
fiddly things after the bulk of the work has been done, I use easy
because I really don’t want to waste all that work!

That’s my method-- YMMV!
Noel


#11

Thank you all, for your feedback. I did not realize hard was
stronger, less likely to tarnish and sounds as though it might flow a
little differently too. Will give hard solder a try.

Mike B


#12

Hi Mike,

Be sure to check varying temps melting temps from different
manufacturers. It makes a difference.

Karen Christians
Karenchristians.com


#13

The one thing that I have found about hard solders–some golds
included-- is that seams can be a bit brittle.

Please excuse any typos-- curse my clumsy digits…