I’ve read what I could find here about wire solder vs. sheet. I find the discussions quite interesting, primarily because the most common method of using wire solder is to cut it into snippets the same as sheet. When I first started making jewelry back in the seventies, I went with the prevailing wisdom and used sheet cut into snippets with Batterns’ Flux. I hated the way the snippets would dance around as the flux boiled, but as far as I knew, that was the only way it was done.
A year or two in, I was selling my work at an Indian show, when I had the good fortune to meet and become friends with the late, internationally renowned Navajo silversmith Orville Tsinnie, who showed me what I can only call, for me, the right way to make jewelry. From there on out, I held my torch in my left hand and the wire solder in my right. I use only easy flow solder, and I will solder multiple times on a single piece. For example, one of my buckle designs used 20 or thirty of my handmade leaves, along with perhaps twice that many balls, all attached singly or in multiples, along with several stones in bezels, meaning that I would have to heat the piece a number of times. Again, I did a lot of overlay, frequently of scenes from the Mojave Desert where I grew up; blades of sagebrush in particular were very fine cuts, which would have ruined the entire piece if they filled up with solder. I would usually complete overlay pieces, including buckles, in one soldering, not by first applying solder to the top piece and sweating them together, but by putting top and bottom together and applying solder to the edge and to some of the more open places in the design. As long as it was scrupulously clean and well-fluxed, it worked. The reason I could get away with using only easy flow, I suppose, was because of the slight increase in heat required to melt the solder upon subsequent heating. I really didn’t pay any attention to how many times I had to apply the torch.
I am therefore curious as to why I find no mention of conventional, i.e., non-Indian, jewelers using wire solder in the way I have described. As I start making jewelry once again, the one thing I would change is in diminishing fire scale, because, either as a result of the Prestolite torch I used or the way I soldered, fire scale was a major headache for me.