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Stainless vs iron binding wire

I’ve only used binding wire a bit in the past, but can see where it
could be very useful in some of my current projects. Can someone
explain the pros and cons of using iron binding wire vs. stainless
steel binding wire when soldering sterling silver?

Linda in central FL

Well, stainless steel binding wire can go into the pickle, and iron
wire cannot.

Guess which one I use…

Jay Whaley

Hi Linda:

The biggest advantage of stainless is it won’t cause your pickle to
plate out on your piece if a bit of it accidentally gets stuck
somewhere. You can also pickle with it in place, but that’s a bad

(Steel and silver have different heat shrinkage rates: you always
want to cut your wires before you quench your piece, or they’ll
’print’ little lines on your piece, or leave notches where they go
around an edge. So there’s no point in pickling with the wires in
place, as they should already have been cut free to avoid notching.)

One thing to remember about the thin stainless wire is that it’s
almost always a better idea to take a long length of it, bend it,
and twist it double so that you’ve got two strands instead of one.
Holds much better, and it’s much harder to burn through. (Same
technique as making long lengths of twisted precious metal wire:
Hand drill with a hook.)


Can someone explain the pros and cons of using iron binding wire
vs. stainless steel binding wire when soldering sterling silver? 

I’d be interested in this too.

Recently I’ve bought some stainless binding wire for pattern welding
steel, basically it doesn’t stick to the other steel in the forge
welding process. If it could be used with precious metals that would
be awesome.

Can you put the stainless wire in the pickle? If you can, I could
see an advantage in that.

Regards Charles A.

Solder will stick to stainless much better than iron binding wire. If
you get solder on your stainless wire it’ll be a problem. Have fun
and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

Well, stainless steel binding wire can go into the pickle, and
iron wire cannot. 

Thanks for that Jay :slight_smile: CIA

I would recommend black iron binding as it is softer and easier to
bend I only ever use #8 or sometimes much thicker florists black iron
wire for silversmithing.

I find the thin wire will not stand the heat and burns out quickly.
Because #8 is thick means it does not need to be tightened so much to
hold the join or components together.

Indeed I always ensure that the join holds its self together
perfectly prior to soldering, the binding wire should only be to
maintain the contact of the join during the soldering with minimal
tension. Stainless has the added disadvantage, as it is ‘clean’ ie.
it has no oxide on its surface therefore solder is more likely adhere
and run than with the black oxide coated iron wire.

Try not to let solder contact and run along binding wire so it is
joined to the silver. If you do, then do not put it in the pickle.
When the work has cooled cut the wire and grasp an end with a pair of
fine round nosed pliers and coil the wire round the tapers. If that
does not work file off any solder and wire that is joined to the work
piece. Only then put the work in the pickle.

David Cruickshank (Australia)

Another thing I do for bigger work is to take a couple of meters of
#8 black iron binding wire, double it and with a hook in a hand drill
I twist it to a twist of 3 to 4 turn per 10mm. Extremely useful for
all sorts of applications, the twist helps to stop solder running up
the wire and the twist is easier to remove should you be unfortunate
to solder the wire to the work piece. Still do not like SS despite
what everyone else says. Probably turning into a GOM!

David Cruickshank (Australia)

Another advantage to stainless steel wire is if yo happen to solder
it to your piece most of the time you can just pull it off as it is
stronger then the solder. It will leave a mark in the solder but you
just reheat the solder joint so it flows. Been using it for over
40years now.

Thanks for everyone’s response to my question. I do agree that the
iron wire would be easier to use, which is one reason I was asking. I
was surprised to hear that solder sticks to stainless wire more
readily than to iron. I’m not certain which metal I used in the past
(it was provided during the course), but the solder did stick to it,
and it was a bear to clean up. Hence, my reluctance to use it

Linda in central FL

I am with the black iron because it is a lot "softer"a nd thus makes
binding things easier. You can dissolve it in sulphuric acid as well
soif it does get stuck to your work it is easier to remove.

Nick Royall

crust-i-fy your new shiny stainless binding wire. …
torch / quench it several times and let the oxides build up.
no, it’s no longer shiny, but it 's not as likely to stick either.