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Soldering/flux question

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Author Topic: Soldering/flux question  (Read 1325 times)
bigdogpc
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« on: May 26, 2010, 05:43:45 am »

OK, ignorance is not always bliss.  I have ordered the chip silver, hard solder.  I also ordered a liquid flux.  I ordered from Rio Grande in case anyone is curious.  I am ASSUMING I am on the right track.  My efforts to date have been lots of melted wire, one singed beard (I am now beardless in self defence) and a few "OH DARNS" ( yea, right).  I have lugged around a small roll of silver solder that was used to attach carbide tips to steel blanks for about 25 years or so.  I assumed this was silver solder since that is what I was told it was.  I now suspect it is something other than what I need.  I have been using Borax mixed with water to form a paste which I apply lightly.  My torch is Mapp gas, self igniting head.  The question:  Have I been using the wrong solder and flux?  Thanks.
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hulagrub
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« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2010, 06:40:01 am »

bigdog, I don't think the industrial type stick solder is appropiate for silverworking. I used that back in the 70's for the plumbing on government housing, and it seemed like it had a higher temperature rate than the solder for smithing.
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thewrightthings
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« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2010, 07:33:11 am »

Bigdog, The Rio solder is a good start, but you may also want to get some med. and soft, as well.  The borax mix is good, as is the Rio flux.  Does the torch have a small enough flame?  Judging by the missing beard, I might guess, "NO".  Also, while MAPP gas works, I prefer acetylene or A0, or PO.
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« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2010, 08:42:36 am »

Most of the generic silver solders from that era and before had cadmium as a component to aid in the flow of the solder. Technically, the process of silver soldering is called brazing in the welding industry and silver soldering in the jewelry industry so you will see it listed as brazing rod. Molten cadmium fumes are poisionous and cause nerve damage. As a result, today it is a very uncommon component in silver solder.
I prefer the borax/water mix with a little ethyl (denatured) alcohol added as a flux because you can coat the whole piece  and prevent (or at least minimize) most of the oxidation and fire scale as you are heating the piece. I only use medium solder in all of my work. Each time you heat solder it vaporizes the zinc (another component added to silver solder to make it flow better at a lower temperature) and as a result that solder join's melting point shifts upward towards the next higher type of solder.
I've heard that a product called Firescoff is touted to be a great flux but it is very expensive to use.
A torch with a broad flame is very difficult to use without melting small cross section metal such as bezel strips. A high temperature burning flame (acetylene is one of the highest temperature flames) with a small size flame allows better heat control of where the flame is aimed. I use an oxy/acetylene unit with the Smith torch setup. This system is more expensive than most of the cannister torches but the results are far better. If you can afford this unit you will only have to buy your torch once.
Bob
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« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2010, 10:51:12 am »

Bob, About what is your ratio of water to borax? And then the alcohol to it?
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« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2010, 11:15:43 pm »

Dave,
I mix the borax paste with hot water in a baby food jar and shake it up. I strive  for a mixture that is like a light cream (like for your coffee). If it is the small baby food jar I add about two teaspoons of ethyl alcohol (denatured alcohol). I don't use rubbing alcohol (methyl alcohol) because the fumes are toxic. I cut the handle off a small artists paint  brush so that it will barely fit into the jar with the lid on (so it doesn'y get contaminated and I can always find it). As the mixture drys out over time I remix more water and alcohol into it.
When I'm getting ready to solder my piece I coat the whole surface with the paste and heat it gently until the paste dries out. As you are heating the paste if it shrinks into wet puddles real quickly this is an indication that the piece is not clean and it possibly has some oils on it. Here I rewash the piece, recoat it and reheat it. You are striving for a continuous white coating where ever you have applied the paste. When the paste is dry I then apply the solder pallion at the points that I want to join. By drying out the paste it keeps the solder from jumping around.
Bob
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« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2010, 11:24:25 pm »

I forgot to add that I use the denatured alcohol for a lot of the cleaning steps in silver jewelry making as well as a solvent  to remove any dop wax left on my cabs, OH, and as a fuel for my alcohol lamp that I use as a heat source for all of my dopping activities. It is a rather innocous solvent to use around the shop  for many uses. I rather like the smell of vodka as I am working! Denatured alcohl is ethyl (drinking kind) alcohol with a small bit of methyl alcohol added to make it undrinkable (poisonous). You can get a gallon of it at the hardware for a few dollars.
Bob
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« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2010, 05:41:32 am »

Bob, a big Thanks!
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« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2010, 07:16:35 am »

Lord Lord Bob... I can see me now. Kinda like Justin Wilson the Cooking Cajun.
Remember he used to have a big jug of wine sitting on the counter? And he would pour a little in the pot and take a little sip for himself at same time.
I will get a big bottle of Vodka and set down on my workbench. Put a little in my flux and a little in my glass and see which one of us lasts the longest.
I will call myself The Jewel of Russia:) LOLOL when I am conscious that is:)
...All day long I'd bidi-bidi-bum...........
Good stuff Bob.. thanks for the tips:)
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hulagrub
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« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2010, 10:06:40 am »

Geez Sara, You are such a hoot! Need to call you Cherokeeowl.
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« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2010, 04:52:58 pm »

I can see me now. Kinda like Justin Wilson the Cooking Cajun.

Too funny !  saved4
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« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2010, 05:21:30 pm »


Sara...The Cooking Cajun? I think I remember him. You are a hoot fer shur. Stop .. your killing me.  I get to laughing so hard I ...... another time.

This soldering is quite complicated.  If I wanted to save all these posts to use for reference, how would be the best way?

TOG  (I guess this is going to stick as my moniker Sara)
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« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2010, 05:32:29 pm »

lets see,,,,,,, both alcohols evaporate at different temperatures so we boil off the one and have the other left. mmmmmm
Dont try this at home kids.  lol
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« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2010, 09:41:05 pm »

LOL MIchael:)

Can you copy and paste into word to save the posts you want to keep TOG?
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« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2010, 03:12:08 pm »

Yes you can.  All you do is left click and run a block of what you want, right click  and copy and then right click and paste it into a word document.  Really simple.

I do it the other way around when I'm writing a tutorial.  I do it in Word first, edit it to my satisfaction then cut and paste.
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« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2010, 10:06:17 am »


Thats what I have been doing but I thought there might be a quicker way.

TOG  needcoffee
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1dave
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« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2013, 08:48:17 am »

OK, ignorance is not always bliss.  I have ordered the chip silver, hard solder.  I also ordered a liquid flux.  I ordered from Rio Grande in case anyone is curious.  I am ASSUMING I am on the right track.  My efforts to date have been lots of melted wire, one singed beard (I am now beardless in self defence) and a few "OH DARNS" ( yea, right).  I have lugged around a small roll of silver solder that was used to attach carbide tips to steel blanks for about 25 years or so.  I assumed this was silver solder since that is what I was told it was.  I now suspect it is something other than what I need.  I have been using Borax mixed with water to form a paste which I apply lightly.  My torch is Mapp gas, self igniting head.  The question:  Have I been using the wrong solder and flux?  Thanks.

All my stuff was boxed up 30-40 years ago.
I just broke it out to start again, found all my solder, started with the hard solder and melted my sterling while the "hard solder" square never even rounded on the corners!
Turns out I have 7 packets of German Silver bezel labeled as hard solder.
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« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2013, 09:50:41 am »

I have lugged around a small roll of silver solder that was used to attach carbide tips to steel blanks for about 25 years or so.

I have been told that solder that has sat around for over a year may not flow like newer solder.
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« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2013, 03:25:27 pm »

The problem with using silver solder from years past is that it contains Cadmium. Due to the hazardous nature of cadmium fumes generated while soldering OSHA has banned its use in silver solder. Cadmium fumes cause nerve damage when they are inhaled. I would suggest using new silver solder. I don't know of any way to determine if the old solder that someone has contains Cadmium (it was used to make the solder flow better) unless it has the original packaging which might show the ingredients.
Bob
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« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2013, 03:26:32 pm »

I have lugged around a small roll of silver solder that was used to attach carbide tips to steel blanks for about 25 years or so.

I have been told that solder that has sat around for over a year may not flow like newer solder.

If solder sits around long enough, there will be problems with the solder flowing because the solder has formed a layer of oxides, like tarnish on silver. This must be removed be removed by sanding lightly before the solder will flow properly. Once the oxides are removed, the solder will flow like when it was new.   ...Teddy
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« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2013, 12:34:49 pm »

I have some solder that is several years old and have had no problem. I don't cut a bunch of pallions of solder in advance and keep a piece of steel wool handy on my soldering table to clean the solder up before I use it. Have not had any contamination problems with my pickle either.....
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« Reply #21 on: December 28, 2013, 04:55:17 pm »

How about handy flux that's gone kinda dry whats the fix for this ?


been looking for an answer on this one for awhile now.
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« Reply #22 on: December 28, 2013, 06:12:31 pm »

How about handy flux that's gone kinda dry whats the fix for this ?


been looking for an answer on this one for awhile now.

I dilute mine with water when it dries out................Add water mix well and slop it on................Here in NM it dries out quite quickly because of the low humidity............and I leave the top off wen I'm burning silver...............
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Mlou
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« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2014, 06:12:40 pm »

I use boric acid in denatured alcohol as a firecoat, and liquid flux , one of the yellow or greenish yellow clear liquid fluxes right at the seam and on the bits of solder. Batterns or My-T-Flux, my current favorite. The boric acid keeps evaporating, and I have to add more to the container. I use no water in it. It makes a nice thin, frosty white film that melts well to protect the metal from oxygen.
-M'lou
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« Reply #24 on: February 13, 2014, 06:57:44 am »

I think I have tried every kind of flux for slier in order to prevent the dreaded 'firescale" on the piece I was working on in silver. I have used Firescoff, alcohol/borax, Prip's flux, Cupronil, Batten's yellow flux, and a ouple of others.I now use a product called Stay-Silv. It comes in a white paste formula for soldering non-ferrous metalsand also a black flux for soldering ferrous metals. The white solder has a working temperature range of 800 to 1600 degrees F. The black flux has a working temperature of 800 to 1800 degrees F.

If the piece I am working on is larger than 1 inchish, I will first coat the piece with Prip's flux by coating the entire piece and gently warming to burn off the water and leave a protective coating over the entire piece. I then use the white paste flux (stay-Silv) at the joint I am soldering.

Unless you have a lot of money to waste, stay away from Fire-scoff. Prip's flux will do the same thing and you can make it yourself. I don't have the formula in front of me, but I can dig it out if anyone wants it.

Please do not use Stay-BRIGHT flux instead of Stay-Silv flux. Stay-Bright is used for low temperature soldering at 475 degrees and will not work for high temperature soldering.

In any soldering operations, everything must be clean, clean, clean. Bobby1's tip about using denatured alcohol ios "right on".
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