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Soldering silver with lead free solder


#1

Is it possible to solder silver with lead free solder, like that used
in plumbing? If yes, would it be as strong as brazed ot torch
soldered silver?

Liz


#2

Sure you can use plumber’s solder, but it won’t hold and you would
contaminate your silver. Seriously, not good idea.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#3
Is it possible to solder silver with lead free solder, like that
used in plumbing? If yes, would it be as strong as brazed ot torch
soldered silver? 

Yes you can and no it is no where near as strong as a brazed joint.
Don’t do it jewelry is not plumbing.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#4
Is it possible to solder silver with lead free solder, like that
used in plumbing? If yes, would it be as strong as brazed ot torch
soldered silver? 

Possible? Yes.
As Strong? No.
Desirable? Definitely not.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#5

Liz, I think that would be really wrong. From a purely aesthetic
POV, the solder would discolour differently to the silver, over time

  • I’ve encountered lots of jewellery done with soft solder, and it’s
    invariably visible from a foot away, or more.

Secondly, check that the solder is rated for skin contact - just
because it is lead-free and suitable for slight contact with water
doesn’t mean that it is good for the skin. It might contain a wide
range of different metals and chemicals, any of which could cause
allergic reactions for different customers.

From a more technical perspective, soft solder is usually intended
for connecting large surfaces together -when I’ve encountered
soft-soldered items, the joins were very weak, and you can sometimes
almost “tear” the solder by bending the join - the result is
granular, and clearly not very strong.

Someone else might be able to correct me here, but I think that
there may also be some fusing of silver solder and the silver itself,
which gives the join a great deal of strength. Soft solder is
unlikely to have that property, except by luck or coincidence.

(Note: When I say “soft”, I mean low melting temp. solder, not
"easy" solder.)

Jamie
http://primitive.ganoksin.com


#6
I think that would be really wrong. From a purely aesthetic POV,
the solder would discolour differently to the silver, over time -
I've encountered lots of jewellery done with soft solder, and it's
invariably visible from a foot away, or more. Secondly, check that
the solder is rated for skin contact - just because it is lead-free
and suitable for slight contact with water doesn't mean that it is
good for the skin. It might contain a wide range of different
metals and chemicals, any of which could cause allergic reactions
for different customers. 

Not to worry. Tin and silver are OK for skin contact. The tin/silver
solders I’ve come across are tin 96% silver 4%. Or similar… I
believe the eutectic is Sn96.5/Ag3.5.

The other comment I’d like to make is this tin-based soft solder may
have some justifiable uses in modern jewellery-making, and we are
not to condemn it as plumbers’ solder not worthy of us. I distinctly
remember (some years ago) reading of it being used in silversmithing
to join the parts of a raised sterling teapot. The 220degC required
did not anneal the stg, so the tin solder was used after all raising
etc was completed, but separate parts were to be hot-joined.

So-o-o, couldn’t there be a use for this tin-sil solder? I can think
of attaching findings to forged stg. And I use it for attaching the
sprue to a casting master pattern. Easily removed and altered if
required.

Please don’t immediately condemn a product unless you are sure of
the intended application.

Brian
Auckland
New Zealand
www.adam.co.nz


#7

True horror story : back in my jewelry making days I was given a
fancy silver watch bracelet to repair, and of course the kosher way
we had been taught silversmithing was to alwyas solder silver with
silver solder, none of that low-temp bs. but there were and are
people who, for whatever reason, (speed, in the case at hand; a
shortcut in production, as time is money) use the soft stuff on
sterling. So there I was, torching this bracelet, and it started
acting and looking a little funny, and by the time it was clear what
was going on, it was too late. The original smith had added the
leaves and shots and bezel cups using low temp solder, and it
alloyed with the silver components as it heated up, and a whole
section of the bracelet sort of sunk in on itself and started to form
an amorphous blob. Needless to say, I was mega p.o-ed…

Dar
http://www.sheltech.net


#8

I agree with Brian! Pure tin, or 96/4 tin/sil, 96/4 tin/cu are
non-toxic and have many uses in jewelery…but more in the fashion
jewellery and specially in the repairs to fashion jewellery. How
else can we solder a post onto an enamelled silver motif, or onto a
gold plated rhinestone cluster ear-ring? (OK this was before the
pulse-arc or lazer but the method remains valid). To replace a broken
pewter eye with a silver eye onto a cast pewter item is easy to do
with tin solder. I never add lead. If the original item contains lead
then it’s not my doing as I will only add tin, or re-melt the
existing lead.

The difference between a plumber and a jeweller is the plumber is
accustomed to monster items and soldering irons, and the jeweller
will use a miniture iron with barely enough solder to fill the joint.
Electronics technicians/artists will know this. Sweat soldering with
tin is easy and predictable with practise.

If the item is stamped with a hallmark then be sure to tell the
customer that adding tin will devalue the item. Most often the
customer will value practical usage above the inherent value of the 1
or 2 grams of silver or gold that the hallmark refers to.

Alastair


#9

Brian

So-o-o, couldn't there be a use for this tin-sil solder? 

In addition to the other points I made, it would actually be illegal
to sell the resulting items as silver in the UK. I know that not
every country has the same assaying rules as we do. It’s our fine
tradition of valuing property over human life :wink: