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March 24, 2019, 05:59:09 pm
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Cleaning up solder between small openings

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Author Topic: Cleaning up solder between small openings  (Read 404 times)
GregHiller
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« on: September 24, 2015, 09:46:30 am »

Have a look at this piece. Made with some opal triplets I created from 'starts' I picked up in Spencer Idaho on my visit there a few weeks ago.  Also some small faceted garnets in it. 

Iím reasonably happy with the piece, except for one thing. 
Iíve always had problems cleaning up silver settings that I create.  Iíve learned how to us the silicone sanding discs and other equipment to clean up the open accessible areas, but when there are small gaps (say Ĺ to ľ inch) between elements of the design I have real problems.  Iíve tried the little radial sander thingys (below photo) but they never seem to take things off very fast or smoothly.  Iíve tried small silicone sanding devices without much luck either. 
It seems to me like sand blasting, if it could be finely directed to just the right spot might be a good option.  In these cases Iím not necessarily looking to get a high polish in these crevasses, just a uniform finish.  Anyone have ideas on this?  Suggested equipment? 


* sander.jpg (13.66 KB, 187x207 - viewed 114 times.)

* opal and garnet pendant.jpg (414.14 KB, 1058x1280 - viewed 14 times.)
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Steve
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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2015, 12:38:28 pm »

Tumble polishing with ceramic medium would do the trick.  This also would 'work harden' your pieces................
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Debbie K
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« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2015, 03:45:39 pm »

Steve:

How do you get around the problem of the stones? If you tumble it before you put the stones in, you work harden it and have difficulty setting the stones. If you tumble and then anneal it, you have to polish it all over again.

I always try to do my cleanup by hand and then set my stones. I started using a flat graver if I get a little too much solder or get it where it shouldn't be. I know the real answer is just getting better at soldering, but at my age it might not ever happen. I did improve after I got my little Orca torch, but I still have problems.

Debbie K
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hulagrub
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« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2015, 04:46:48 pm »

Well Debbie, tough question. Those little spots can drive you crazy. Other than learning where to place your solder and focus your flame. Anyway, I have had some luck with using finishing nails in my flexshaft. I have shaped them into dull points and rounded ends and polished them. You can sometimes get them into tight areas, where the 3m discs don't reach. Try different shapes and customize them to your needs. Just chuck them into your flex shaft and try and smooth out that solder!
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Steve
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« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2015, 06:29:08 pm »

Steve:

How do you get around the problem of the stones? If you tumble it before you put the stones in, you work harden it and have difficulty setting the stones. If you tumble and then anneal it, you have to polish it all over again.

I always try to do my cleanup by hand and then set my stones. I started using a flat graver if I get a little too much solder or get it where it shouldn't be. I know the real answer is just getting better at soldering, but at my age it might not ever happen. I did improve after I got my little Orca torch, but I still have problems.

Debbie K

Yes, before the stones are mounted.  If you are using commercial bezel tape, than it is pure silver, not sterling, so it is still easy to form around the stone.  If you are using sterling as a bezel tape, then it will be work hardened and will take some effort and persistence until you get what you want.

Pretty much we're dealing with fire scale and I haven't found a fool proof way around it.  There is stuff out there that is suppose to eliminate it but I've never found it to totally work. I prefer the tumble polish method for intricate multi level/depth pieces.  It takes time and 2 different grits (I don't do it myself-I have friend that polishes his castings with two vibrating bowl type thingies...............)

The other alternate that works is to texture (or not) the surfaces where the scale is and then oxidize the silver to add a patina.  It all depends on your design concept latitudes.
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« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2015, 07:29:43 pm »

Dave and Steve:

Thanks for the answers. Interestingly enough, I never had trouble with firescale when I used my old Bernzamatic torch with propane. I find that the Orca, even though it's wonderful for soldering tiny things, gives me LOTS of firescale, and I believe it's the air that makes for the problem. The Orca uses atmospheric air by it's nozzle/tip design. I also had trouble with firescale with natural gas and oxygen and oxy-acetylene.

I used my propane Bernzamatic for more than thirty years without ever having a problem with firescale. But, I solder so much better with the Orca; practically no excess or unmelted solder and much better flow, so I'll put up with the firescale. And it's so nice to not have to heat up the entire piece, also.

Debbie K
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« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2015, 10:53:44 am »

Debbie K:  I started silver work using the propane Bernz many moons ago.  I now use a Uniweld air/acetylene set up.  Even with the Bernz I was still getting fire scale, although is was not as pronounced.  The fire scale is the copper in the sterling rising to the surface and somewhat oxidizing.  There's not much that can be done about that.  Even with Argentium Sterling there is still a bit of fire scale from what ever alloy they are using to make it sterling.  Even when it's 'silver'colored there is a slight covering over the silver.  I know, I've worked that type of sterling, though mostly while working with a friend who uses it exclusively for his castings.
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« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2015, 03:50:25 pm »

Steve:

I guess the firescale was so light that I didn't notice it and it polished out easily, unlike when I use the Orca. I still use the Bernzamatic for big and heavy pieces and to melt, and it will always have a place in my heart!

Debbie K
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GregHiller
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« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2015, 09:23:02 am »

>finishing nails in my flexshaft<

Interesting idea.  I'm just trying to get a consistent finish in these areas, so maybe that will work. 

I suppose tumble polishing would work (as many people I AM using fine silver for the bezels), but I'm usually too impatient to finish a piece that way.  I work in Argentium, so the material I'm trying to remove is just the excess solder. 
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