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Thread: Soldering a heavy sterling silver ring

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Ashbourne, Derbyshire
    Posts
    5

    Default Soldering a heavy sterling silver ring

    Can someone please advise me as I'm having no success at all getting the solder to run when soldering the joint on a 7mm x 2.5mm ring using medium solder.
    So far I've tried remaking the joint to ensure it is a tight fit.
    Between each soldering attempt I've cleaned up the ring using a small pink sanding disc, wire wool and ultrasonic cleaning.
    I've also put the strip of solder in the ultrasonic cleaner in case it is dirty.
    I've tried using both easy-flo flux paste and Klein liquid flux.
    I've supported the ring in tweezers, lay it on a soldering brick and also on a charcoal block.
    I was initially using a small butane hand torch but in case it wasn't getting enough heat into the ring I bought a propane cylinder so that I could setup the Sievert soldering torch that I'd previously bought.
    With every attempt I've made the solder just sits on the joint andwon't run, it doesn't even all up, so the ring makes yet another visit to the pickle pot before cleaning it again. I'm heating up the sides of the ring and/or the underside of the joint but nothing seems to work and I just don't know what I'm doing wrong.
    If anyone can give meant tips I'd be very grateful because I'm running out of ideas.
    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    373

    Default

    Hi Ruth, is it possible that your pickle solution has accidentally become contaminated with something? Also, is it possible you might have gotten the strip of solder accidentally mixed up with silver wire?
    I'd also try changing the flux for Auroflux or the borax dish & cone as it may well be the wrong type of flux you're using. A quick google search on the fluxes you mentioned (as I'd never heard of them before) the first one doesn't make any mention of use on silver (that I could see anyway) & the Klein one I couldn't find at all
    Last edited by Keia; 23-02-2016 at 09:25 PM.
    Sian Williamson

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Cardiff
    Posts
    988

    Default

    I suspect Sian is right and your flux is used for other metals. I still find my borax cone and dish (add a little water to the dish then grind the cone into it until you have a white solution you can paint over the join) my favourite flux for silver. Hopefully that'll sort your problems
    Last edited by LydiaNiz; 23-02-2016 at 09:54 PM. Reason: put wrong name

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Central London
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    Default

    Dear Ruth,

    Both Sian and Lydia have hit upon the fact that your flux is probably unsuitable for use with medium solder. I have noted over the years that many members, including myself no longer use medium silver solder, as it is the most likely to be troublesome.

    So for this job, I would use hard solder with borax, or Auflux/Auroflux. Alternatively you can use easy solder, with Easyflo flux, but this might re-melt if the ring needs further stages of soldering.

    The next problem is that if a tiny gap opens when heating the ring, the the solder will refuse to fill it. This has been talked about earlier in the week here: http://www.cooksongold.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7742

    However, I would first set the ring aside and just verify as suggested by Sian, that what you are using as solder is not a strip of sterling. So snip a few pieces and try to melt them onto scrap. Dennis.
    Last edited by Dennis; 23-02-2016 at 10:23 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    4

    Default

    I had a similarly frustrating time with my very first bezel attempt. I just could not get the solder to run to solder the bezel to the backing plate.
    Turned out to be simply a case of not enough heat due to faulty gear. Got my gear replaced and BINGO!!

    Maybe you are just not quite using your new gear right and need to get in closer with the flame to get more heat.
    Last edited by Vixen; 24-02-2016 at 02:07 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Exeter, Devon
    Posts
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    I use hard solder for just about everything as a first solder joint on an item then go to easy for any subsequent solders. My guess is that it isnt getting hot enough, I use a builders torch, the ones that they use for water pipes. It roars a bit but does the job. If you have a go in the semi dark you can see if the item is red hot or not, you can usually see if the two ends are going apart during the heating process too. I make quite a few chunky rings and my normal torch wasnt getting the rings hot enough.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Ashbourne, Derbyshire
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    Default

    Thank you all for your input.
    I don't think that I've got my solder mixed up with silver strip but fair point to make and also the point about medium solder being particularly troublesome.
    I will however get some either borax or Auflux as you suggest and my pickling solution may well be contaminated so I will make fresh. Is there a way to tell if you need to renew your pickling solution? And also as I was cleaning the each before each attempt with wire wool and then putting it in an ultrasonic cleaner wouldn't that remove any contamination from the flux?
    I'm new to jewellery making but am from an engineering background and trying to teach myself silversmithing but sometimes I find soldering things easy to do and other times, like this one, I just can't make it happen. I will continue trying your suggestions and see how I get on.
    Thanks to you all.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Surrey, England
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    Ruth, do not put items in ultrasonic before soldering as this will coat the clean surfaces and stop good solder flow. The best way to clean soldering surfaces is to file or scrape them, removing the top layer of metal, then flux the surface. I would also suggest that you scrape the surface of your solder before cutting pallions, dip the pallions in the flux before attaching them to the solder joint, and pickle the item after soldering. I use a borax cone and dish for my flux. An ultrasonic cleaner is meant to remove greasy compounds after polishing.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Manchester
    Posts
    632

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    Ruth, you've already had some very good advice. I echo Dennis' point about medium solder being problematic; it does flow, but it often seems to do so very reluctantly.

    One clue to how things are going during soldering is the colour of the metal. If you're going to be using hard solder on your enormous ring then you're going to have to get the whole ring glowing dull orange before the solder will flow; that's not easy to achieve on such a big ring and impossible with a small handheld torch. Get your joint nice and flush, the edges clean and well fluxed, get the fluxed pallion to sit across the joint whilst making good contact, surround the ring closely with fire bricks, and go all over it systematically, starting opposite the join, with a big strong flame. The solder should flow once the whole ring gets up to the necessary temperature.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Cardiff
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    988

    Default

    The main thing is, that solder brand seems to be for brazing alloys or electronic soldering, not silver

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