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Thread: Silver nuggets/balls

  1. #1
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    Jul 2020
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    Default Silver nuggets/balls

    Hello,

    I've been melting down some scrap silver to make balls/nuggets that I flatten out slightly.

    I bought a charcoal block which I thought would help with this and it does work much better than using my other soldering blocks.

    I've melted a fair amount - say 3 grams (at a time) just to give you an idea. The domed top of the ball is smooth and flattens out nicely but on the bottom surface, there are lots of little air holes which cannot be filed away (I've filed and filed but they don't go). Is this normal for the method I'm using or does anyone know something I don't? ). I know the air holes kind of add a bit of character but I'd prefer a smooth surface on both sides.

    I don't do casting at the moment mainly because I don't have a mammoth torch and wouldn't be able to keep a massive butane bottle in the house. However, I sort of wondered if you would still get air holes if you cast some pebbles?

    Thanks in advance for anyone willing to entertain my seemingly simple questions.

    Lou x

  2. #2
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    It might be better if you make a smooth hollow in your charcoal, using a slow ball burr, or a round ended scraper, and heat it in that.
    When the metal has set, but the flux is still liquid, turn the ball over and briefly heat the other side until it is smooth too. Dennis.

  3. #3
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    Jul 2017
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    It's possible that you're hearing for too long, or maybe your scrap has a lot of solder in it and this is causing the pitting? For pieces that I'm going to hammer flat of around 3g I just use my ordinary soldering block, once I've whacked it a bit flatter I rub the surfaces on a sanding stick - but I have to say I've never encountered holes as you're describing, just the rough underside from using a solder block.

  4. #4
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    It's sterling, it will pit when you ball it up. Adding some fine silver scrap if you have it will help - the higher the silver content, the fewer holes, lumps and bumps. It also helps a lot to add some flux - I find a liquid like auflux works well for this.

    Fine (999) doesn't pit at all, and the same applies to Argentium.

  5. #5
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    Jul 2020
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    Thanks Dennis, I don't think I have those tools but I think I know what you're saying to do. Will give it a go. What do you mean when the flux is still liquid? I saw a you tube video saying to flux the charcoal but I didn't really find that helpful.

  6. #6
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    Thank you. It's not massive holes but like you say the underneath is has a rough side from the soldering block and when I sand it down, there are ever so tiny little pits. I am rolling the pebbles out afterwards so I will try hammering the top bit to see if this helps. Thank you.

  7. #7
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    Thanks George, funnily enough I tried adding a bit of scrap fine silver that (offcuts from bezels) but it was only a bit. Yeah, I have been researching silver nuggets and can see these little tiny pits in other people's work too. I guess it wouldn't happen if you were to use fine silver like you say or sterling silver clay. Will try using more flux and see what happens.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loulou View Post
    Thanks Dennis, I don't think I have those tools but I think I know what you're saying to do. Will give it a go. What do you mean when the flux is still liquid? I saw a you tube video saying to flux the charcoal but I didn't really find that helpful.
    You add flux to help the metal to melt and prevent oxides from forming. However if you allow the metal to cool too much afterwards, before trying to remove it, it will be stuck to the charcoal because cold flux is hard and glasslike.

  9. #9
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    Jul 2017
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    I use scrap silver a lot because I'm never going to amount enough to send it in for refining, and I love to make blobs and use them. For me, melting them on an ordinary soldering block does the job, I give them a few good whacks between two bench blocks with my heaviest hammer and then spend a few minutes (probably about 10 or 15 minutes each side) rubbing them smooth. I let them cool completely before removing them because then they take cone away more cleanly than if I take them off before then. Just keep experimenting until you find what works for you.

  10. #10
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    Jul 2020
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    Thanks for your advice.

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