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Soldering silver with propane only torch


#1

Hi

I am using propane torch and find that it is difficult to solder
silver. Let’s say i want to solder sterling silver wire 2 mm and it
is very hard. A bit easier with larger tip.

Apparently it doesn’t get hot enough for solder to flow. The only
solder I can use is extra easy. Can use easy but with difficulty.

I have tried different fluxes etc.

Anyone has success soldering silver with propane only torch? Am I
doing something wrong or do I have to get Propane/oxygen torch? Is
propane/oxygen hot enough to solder silver?

Thanks


#2

Hello Joe,

I used a Bernz-0-matic pencil torch for two years to solder all of my
silver jewelry. It was frustrating at times, as it seemed what worked
before would not necessarily work the next time, but eventually, I
did manage to do pieces larger than 2 mm. I used medium solder for
everything.

Be joyful!
Evalie


#3

If it is a typical hardware store type propane torch then it can be
difficult to get enough heat, but you can do it. You may need a
larger flame to get enough heat. Another method is to choke off a
small amount of the air for the flame by using some tape to cover a
part of the air holes on the barrel of the torch stem. These torches
are designed for soft solder so they are set for a neutral flame
which will bring a lot of air which is 70% nitrogen into the torch.
The huge amount of nitrogen will cool the flame temperature. So if
you cut off a small amount of air then the temperature of the flame
will go slightly down but the cooling action will be reduced so it
will be slightly easier to get the solder to flow.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#4

I think most hobbists start with a propane only torch. So do a lot
of beginners. That’s what I was taught on and I used one for years.
No problem getting enough heat for small or medium work.

RC


#5
Anyone has success soldering silver with propane only torch? Am I
doing something wrong or do I have to get Propane/oxygen torch? Is
propane/oxygen hot enough to solder silver? 

Propane only torch is hot enough for any jewellery soldering. Your
problem is not with the torch but probably in the way you doing it.
Silver is an excellent heat conductor and that should be taken into
account in heating pattern. If all you do is directing flame towards
the joint, the heat flows away to unheated parts and your joint never
reaches soldering temperature. With 2mm wire this effect is
especially prominent.

You must heat the whole piece evenly and concentrate on joint only in
the last few seconds. If you go to Orchid BenchTube or my website, I
have a short preview of my DVD “Eternity Ring”. It should give you an
idea of how it is done.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#6

In Nancy Howland’s free ebook, “Doming Silver Beads”, Chapter 8, p
42, she describes soldering using a propane only torch. Her book is
available as a free download from

https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/pdf-doming-silver-beads

Hopefully, this will help.


#7

Joe,

First using easy solder, propane produces an hot enough flame to
melt the solder. It is imperative that the work be absolutely clean
and joins filed to meet perfectly. If slumping (sometimes called
sweating) two pieces, of plate/sheet together they must be free of
greasey fingerprints, etc. as well and coated with a product like
Cupronil (Flux and firestain preventative in one) or Pripp’s type
flux applied in layers to the warmed metal to build up a coating
particularly if using a plumber’s type propane torch. Using a
charcoal block is what I would recommend as it reduces the oxygen
around the joins that would cause firescale/fire stain problems (you
want a a "reducing atmosphere when you have no control over the O2
as with a mixed fuel set up). A propane torch should work on any
silver solder except IT. Better though is to invest about 35 dollars
in a butane torch. The fuel is cheap, and widely available and
Bernzomatic makes a really good torch (the model with a removable
base and flame adjustment is the one to get. not the pencil or
cylinder types). they reach temperatures of 2400+ Fahrenheit- enough
to solder silver and gold and melt small amounts of silver if you
were to roll or draw your own raw materials from scrap, casting
grain, etc. If you check the Orchid Archives you will find lengthy
redundant discussions on the topic- the botom line in the discussions
is that some prefer the expensive Blazer, I personally always
recommend the Bernzomatic, and can tell you the HArbour Freight
models that are made to resemble them are left to the luck of the
draw and their quality varies from unit to unit, so you may have to
exchange one of theirs 3 or 4 times, unless you get a good one right
from the start…overall they are inferior in all ways to the other 2
brands. More and more novices and experienced jewelry makers are
using butane torches for small jobs, repairs and to learn on before
investing in a fuel/oxy set up or fuel/ambient air ( Prestolite brand
for instance) torch. The Bernzomatic and Blazers give the user a
small degree of control in the flame adjustment and flow rates- still
you will need to create a reducing atmosphere and coat the work with
flux or an all-in-one flux firescale preventative. Butane torches are
easier to handle than the standard cylinder and burner ( plumbers)
torches found at most hardware stores. I hope this has answered your
question. Oh, and another thing, using easy solder is not the best
choice to begin with. If you have to do more than one operation in
assembling a piece, it is likely you will melt a previous join and
solder begins to break down when repeatedly heated (the zinc burns
off). Starting with Hard and then applying succesively lower flow
point types is the best way to go and will help you create pieces
that will last far longer (permanence is what you are after!). If you
have any questions after reading through the archives, feel free to
contact me off the list… rer


#8

I use oxy-propane in a Smiths torch Its plenty hot enough to solder
silver from jump rings (melt them if I’m not careful) to large bezel
mounts or with a larger rosebud tip melt 30 grams of silver in a
crucible. I used to use a Primus plumbers torch on straight propane.
It had plenty of heat but was a bit awkward to use and didn’t have
much flame control.

All the best
Jenny


#9

Joe,

Most soldering problems are caused by not enough HEAT as in BTUs not
flame temp. I once worked with natural gas and air, lower temp than
propane air. No problems but a big bloody flame :slight_smile:

Try a larger tip. If the solder won’t flow your flame is too small.
Hell fire and brimstone required. Practice melting stuff… if you
can’t melt it you can’t solder it.

Propane/o2 is a delight to use, and will be fine for most all
soldering with the right tip. Care needed so as not to send your work
into the 4th dimension :slight_smile:

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#10

Joe,

This question of yours gets asked often, and it’s a good one. The
torch you are using has limitations. Most do. Being that it uses
only propane, it won’t generate as much heat as a propane and oxygen
torch. If you are only soldering small bits of silver, your torch
may be hot enough for you to melt silver solders. However,
remembering that silver is a highly heat conducting metal, it will be
sucking away your torch heat as you work. For this reason, you will
need to heat more of your silver and with a higher heat to get your
solder to melt.

For some reason, many people buying a torch for their studio will
buy the smallest (safest?), simplest (single gas?) easiest (portable,
hand-held?) and cheapest torch to do their soldering, annealing and
melting with. They will perform certain limited tasks, but not
everything you might want them to do.

I’d suggest buying a propane/oxygen torch, like a Meco Midget. By
changing out tips and adjusting pressure on the oxygen regulator, you
will then be able to solder the finest chain or even melt platinum
with it. In other words, there isn’t much you won’t be able to do
with a torch with that much heat potential and a variety of tips.

Many of us who make jewelry in a professional shop or teaching
facility have a number of different kinds of torches for different
jobs. So unless you have the money to buy a variety of torches to do
tiny repairs, solder large bracelets, or melt many ounces of silver,
I’d suggest a torch that has a wide potential of uses in the studio.
A propane/oxygen torch will fit the bill, I think.

Expect many different viewpoints on the subject of torches. Everyone
has their own personal take on what they prefer. Honestly, it’s what
works best for your particular needs and limitations.

Jay Whaley


#11

What torch are you using?. I’m using a propane only torch and have no
such trouble.
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/3f

Jakob


#12
What torch are you using?. I'm using a propane only torch and have
no such trouble. http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/3f 

I’d like to know more about that exhaust arrangement in the glass
beading pictures.


#13

Hi Joe, I too am using a plumber’s propane torch, and over the last
few months, have gotten to know it better (but still intensely
dislike it - I know that there is ‘better’ out there, but am waiting
for my new house insurance to be sorted out before assembling my
acetelyne/air torch). I’m working mainly with Argentium, and have
noticed a few things:- the torch’s flame may appear to be fine, when
if fact, the torch is running low on full. In fact, the cannister
still feels full, but when I change it out, the difference is
immediate. - very large pieces or very thick pieces are darn nearly
impossible for me to heat properly, so I will sometimes carefully use
my mapps gas torch (standing way back, trying desperately to avoid
melting everything). Certainly the mapps gas torch for annealing
metal for cuffs etc.- while I don’t want to linger in one spot so
long as to accidently melt a portion, I also don’t want to wave the
flame around too quickly, unless trying to heat up the piece first.-
I can’t change out the tip, so I have a huge, long flame. It took
some practice, but I can now melt hard Argentium solder without
ruining everything.- I try to minimize the size of the piece, for
example, trimming down the backplate of a bezel, etc- for a really
large piece, I often have to stop, clean the piece, try again, to
make sure that all of the solder has flowed.

Hope that helps!
Ros


#14

A propane flame is plenty hot enough to melt gold or silver solder; I
used nothing but for many years. The trouble with silver is that it
is the best heat conductor of any metal, and quickly sucks the heat
from where you want it and dissipates it into the surroundings, so
the joint doesn’t get hot enough to melt the solder.

You mention 2mm wire, but not the mass, what you are trying solder it
to, or the size of the flame. The first thing is to conserve what
heat you can generate by the use of fire bricks. These will reflect
the heat back into the joint rather than letting it dissipate into
the air. If this still doesn’t work then you probably need a bigger
tip.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#15

Hoi Joe, i use /used propane/butane/or mix of the 2. All worked well.
I think that the stuff you are soldering on is sucking heat instead
of reflecting it back to the piece.Try soldering pincers to hold the
piece in the air. Your flame is a blue cone ? Kiffer


#16

that’s all I use…a propane/air torch…I do filigree work. The
important thing is to heat a larger area around where you want to
solder and then move in and focus on the solder joint itself as
silver can be quite a heat sink. I use a pencil to brush sized flame
and either batterns flux or rio’s ready flux. you might want to look
at my filigree demo on youtube (or there is a copy on Orchid
somewhere)…

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/3s

to see how I move the torch when soldering silver.

jeanne
Jeannius.com


#17

Hi all

I am using same torch Norman is using.

When soldering nickel silver(copper) i use smaller tip and hard
silver solder with no problem. So, it is not flame temperature. I
couldn’t do same with silver. Apparently it is silver that
dissipates heat and I am forced to use larger tip.

The problem is it is too large. I need smaller flame. I got myself
regulator for disposable MAPP bottle to fit my torch hopping to use
smaller tip but the torch got too hot and plasic O-ring has melted,
although it is advertised for use with MAPP.

The only way out of it as I can see is to try fire brick as
suggested or get one of honycomb ceramic boards.

I expect marginal improvment.

Ros mentioned acetelyne/air torch. What torch is this? I am trying
to avoid using oxygen.

Joe


#18

I started soldering with a propane only torch. It does silver just
fine if you keep it’s limitations in mind. I used a plumbers (bernz o
matic) torch! The big flame can heat your silver piece hot enough to
solder (and I rarely use easy solder, mostly hard).

It is a little big for soldering gold and well, ya learn by melting
your work :slight_smile: eventually I bought a Hoke and am well pleased with it.

Ben Brauchler
www.BenzGemz.com


#19

I recently had trouble with my propane torch. The problem turned out
to be my flux.

John


#20

Jeanne

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/3s 

Just watched your demo on youtube. I can’t use this size flame -not
hot enough. I also work with little larger pieces.

Joe