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Sparex/sterling


#1

Hi!
a couple quick questions… I am in need of ordering more sterling silver
but I got my last bunch from a dealer at a show and I have no idea what
kind it was. In Rio they offer different kinds of sheet silver like dead
soft, spring hardened and I have no idea what one to get! Also I got a
small can of Sparex, it was to make one quart of pickle. I only wanted a
cup so I measued out 2.5oz of the 10oz can. However the pickle doesn’t work
at all! I do heat it up and everything but it does absolutly nothing !
Please, what have I done wrong??? Sarah


#2

In Rio they offer different kinds of sheet silver like dead
soft, spring hardened and I have no idea what one to get!

Hi Sarah, I’d guess the hardened kinds are work hardened, so you couldn’t
work them cold too much or they will break. These are only useful when you
don’t want to solder, do any chasing, wire drawing, bending, forging…,
you can use them for springs, brooch needles and so on. When you heat
(anneal or solder) them, they will be soft. About the Sparex, I can’t help
you. Regards, Markus


#3

< I have no idea what one to get!

Dear Sarah The type of silver you need to order depends upon the type of
job to which you will be using it for. Spring silver is work hardened so
that it is usefull for money clips and items needing tension. Reticulation
silver has a layer of fine silver on the surface so that it can be heated
to cause special surface effects. Soft silver is annealed and is usefull
for raising and forming. As a personal opinion I would never order silver
from Rio. They do not produce the product and you are paying them a fee to
act as a middel man. Go directly to a refiner. Hoover and Strong, Handy and
Harmon, David H. Fell are just a few that I have found to be reliable. The
problem with your pickel might be several things. One is you might not have
mixed it up strong enough. I have never found the enclosed directions to be
of potent proportions. You might try doubling the mix. Also you might be
expecting to much of the pickel. All it really will do is strip flux and
fire scale away after a bit of a wait. If that is not happening it is
probably a weak solution. RED


#4

Sarah: maybe its not hot enough. Go to Kmart or any cheapo chain store get
a regular crockpot, mix up the whole quart of sparex and use copper tongs
for grabbing things out. I use the crockpot on high to get it up to heat
and then turn it down after it gets nice and hot. It should be hot enough
to be painful if you stick your finger in it but not boiling. …Dave

Art Jewelry for Conscious People
http://www.opendoor.com/stephensdesign/crystalguy.html


#5

Sarah said,

 In Rio they offer different kinds of sheet silver like dead
 soft, spring hardened and I have no idea what one to get! 

The hardness of the silver (any metal for that matter) depends on what
you’re going to do with it. It you’re going to solder it, getting spring
hard makes no sense because you’ll draw the temper when you heat it to
solder & you’ll end up with something that’s close to dead soft anyway.
However the entire piece may possibly be at several different hardnesses
from dead soft to spring hard depending on the size of the piece & the
amount of heat applied while soldering.

If you need a hardened metal there are a couple of ways to harden soft
metals; 1, work harden it, twist, bend or hammer it until it’s the
hardness you want; 2, heat harden it, sterling can be hardened by putting
it in an oven or kiln for about 2 hours at 560 deg.

I make a lot of chain & when I used unsoldered links I usually make them
from hardened wire. It takes about 10 times more force to open a ring made
from hardened wire than 1 made from 1/2 hard wire. To harden wire all that
is required is a stationary point to tie 1 end of the wire to & a
rotateable device (a portable electric drill works well) with a hook in
the chuck to attach the other end to. To harden stretch the wire taunt &
start the drill. The wire will be twisted about its’ own axis & get hard.
The longer you twist it the harder it gets, it may break once or twice were
it’s connected at either end. I’ve hardened wires from 1 ft to over 30 ft
this way.

For comparison twist about 1 ft of any guage wire, Then hold it horizontal
from 1 end & pull the other end down & release it, see how much force it
takes to bend or how far down it bends. Now do the same with an unhardened
piece the same length. Compare the results.

A lot of catches require a ‘springy’ sheet metal to keep them closed.
Sterling (other metals too) can be hardenened by hammering the area to be
hardened on an anvil or other suitable surface with a metal hammer. You
may have to start with a thicker guage metal if it thins to much due to the
hammering.

Generally you’ll be better off getting 1/2 hard silver for you’re stock
unless of course you have a requirement for some other hardness.

Also I got a small can of Sparex, it was to make one quart of pickle. I
only wanted a cup so I measued out 2.5oz of the 10oz can. However the
pickle doesn’t work at all! I do heat it up and everything but it does
absolutly nothing ! Please, what have I done wrong???

Should work, especially hot (120-150 degF). Just what are you expecting
it to do? It’s intended to remove the flux residue & some of the
discoloration from silver that’s been soldered. If you got the metal too
hot during soldering you may have a bad case of fire scale & pickle
(Sparex) won’t take that off. Only a stronger acid or mechanical polishing
will work. When correctly heated (not to hot) sterling comes out of a warm
pickle it’s usually sort of a milky white. The pickle actually disolves
some of the copper in the sterling, leaving a thin skin of fine silver.

Dave


#6

United metals and refining has a patented, fire scale resistant sterling
silver casting grain #57 and a newer version also. This also resists
oxidation. We really don’t do much in silver but have had good results
with this. It is not available in milled products. We use their UA1 alloy
for 14k yellow, very high fluidity, Stuller also uses it. They have
excellent tech support. I have the phone number at my shop if anyone is
interested please post a message.

Mark P.