I am new to soldering and would appreciate any advice possible. I would like to join a nickel silver belt buckle face (18 gauge C770 Half Hard) to a purchased buckle back that is nickel plated zinc. My questions are as follow:
1 - Can this be done?
2 - Any preferred solder and/or flux:
3 - Should plating be sanded off the buckle back before soldering or might the pieces join as is?
4 - Any other advice?
Thank you all in advance. I truly appreciate your advice.
Bob A. DeMarcki
Zinc melts at under 800* F. You would have to use a solder that flows at a lower temeprature. Some kind of lead solder perhaps. Definitely not a silver solder.
What about using rivets? Or using a backing made of copper, brass, nickel silver?
Neil…You beat me to it. Rivets sound like a great option. I have been doing a lot of rivetting lately and I am very happy with the finished product. I do use my PUK 5.1 to do the heading as it does a great job with no flame to metal contact, but there are ways to do this with a torch too. While I have done it, soldering on nickle silver and plated objects with a torch is not something that I ever want to do again. If there are others with ideas based on experience, I hope that they chime in…Rob
Soft solder would be safe for zinc, but it has little mechanical strength. Some kind of mechanical join is necessary for soft solder to be of any utility, where it merely serves to firm up the mechanical join, removing any wiggle if the joint can not be made firm on its own.
Rivets or screws are a better idea. The rivets or screws wouldn’t have to show on the front. You could hard solder posts or screw posts to the back of the nickel silver face and then peen them, or screw on nuts, after passing through holes drilled in the zinc buckle back. A touch of soft solder or epoxy would serve to keep the nuts from loosening, if you went with screw posts.
and welcome in.
If you are new to soldering you may have not yet discovered the horror of a nanosecond too long with the heat and the whole thing is a puddle on the bench. Thirty five years later and I still do it from time to time.
Zinc has a very low melting point (…and has nasty neurological health issues). I would heat the buckle (biggest heart sink- piece hopefully) first getting it near the temperature for a low or medium temp solder. Then I would position the back/ burned off flux …and be ready to go. Maybe make up a jig ahead of time.
If you overheat the zinc buckle back you will have a mess. I don’t know how or if the nickel plating will survive.
Can you rivet the two pieces?
Many thanks to Neil A; Rob Meixner; Elliot Nesterman; Don Meixner and Eileen for your advice. Riveting or similar methods of fastening are all possible and under consideration. As a hobbyist, I may need a few weeks before I can come to a conclusion but I will definitely report back. Thank you again for taking time to respond to my inquiry…
I’d put the zinc stuff aside and get buckle hardware that’s made from the same kind of metal as the front of the piece. It will be stronger, and you’ll be able to use silver solder to attach it, which will work better than soft solder. Here’s a link to a source of supply: Western Belt Buckle Backs & Hardware | USbind
Andrew - many thanks for the link. I do appreciate you help.