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10 Good Reasons To Use Hard Solder

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Taogem
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« on: November 01, 2008, 08:47:14 pm »

Medican Man sent me this link.

The importance of using hard solder.

Colorado Academy of Silversmithing and Art Metal

Don Norris method of soldering is his own and sometimes is critized for using this system.
However, he  taught this method for over 30 years now, and have not had any student, both beginners and experienced Silversmiths, that did not learn this method and begin using it for their jewelry making.

He uses only Hard Solder for every solder joint and this goes against the
traditional method of using Hard, Medium and Easy solder.

He also uses a less than $20.00 propane torch for most my teaching, and recommemd it for his beginning students.

Ten Good Reasons

1. Hard solder actually becomes easier and quicker to use  than the "step" method. No hat trick, just controlling your torch, all my students can do that easily with in the first 30 minutes of learning to light a torch. This includes junior high age students. By using only hard solder there is no reason to ever have to "tie" your pieces together with "bailing wire", oops, I mean "binding wire". I have not used it in 25 years, and can not imagine a sitution that would require it. Hard solder will hold every thing in place while soldering. Saves time, more profit. In the same time it takes to try to tie something in place you can have it soldered.


2. Because hard solder polishes and ages just like sterling silver, you can use a lot of it to fill gaps, so there is no need to waste time getting every solder joint to fit just perfect. This insures that the  customer gets a quality piece that takes less time  to make, so more profit!


3. Hard solder polishes just like sterling, wears just like sterling, and tarnishes just like sterling, unlike easy and medium that begin to oxidize, tarnish faster than sterling. If you like unsightly darkened solder lines then use easy and medium.

4. Hard solder will not undercut as easy and medium solder will. I have had many repair jobs come in (when I did repairs for about 5 years) with solder lines on polished surfaces that were polish in to unsightly grooves. They tarnished, began to show, so they were polished and repolished to the point that the solder joints began to undercut, the solder eaten away. Then the sides of the sterling begin to get buffed and the result is a rounded groove where the joint is.


5. There are only three solder grades, some time in every piece you make, multi joints must be made with the same solder. All I am trying to teach is the more joints you make with hard solder the easier it is to do the piece. As soon as you begin to use medium or easy, you make it harder do make the next solder joint with out something bad happening.  Doesn't this just make sense. If you use hard solder for nearly or all solder joints, it is actually easier to control the temperature of the piece and not harder.

6. The real proof that using only hard solder is easier to use, all my students use the $10.00 propane torch to learn with. Then as they sell jewelry and make a good profit, they can pay for a better torch.


7. Hard solder does not pit as medium and easy do

8. Faster to use, which means to most fabricators, more profit! I teach my students they do not have time to dork around using three solders. In the time it takes to decide which one to use where, they can have it soldered and finished.


9. If a piece gets ran over by a car, the poor slob that must repair it, will not have fall completely apart as he, or she, heats it up. The piece will be easier to repair! That's a  good thing, for the person doing the repairs and the customer!

10. Hard solder makes stronger solder joints. If you want to know why joint the Silversmithing List and ask. The answer is simple and will makes sense to you. See test below.
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MedicineMan
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« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2008, 06:39:58 am »

George,

This was the way I was taught by a Silversmith/Artist named Jimmie Burnett, I worked with Jimmie from 1975 to 1978 and then off and on as friends after that. I do use softer solders on occassion, but not much. I also use binding wire when needed. I remained close friends with Jimmie until she passed away a couple years ago. Having spend time over the years with Jimmie and sharing art and silverwork with her, I can honestly say that once torch control is learned, hard solder to me is just too easy. It will walk anywhere you need it to, remains supper strong, and polishes great. Having repaired pieces that have med and soft solder on them, I can tell you its pucker time, hoping it all stays together.

Hope this article gives some food for thought, and remember there is really no right or wrong way... learning a process is half the fun...and anytime someone says "YOU CAN'T",
along comes someone to show you "YOU CAN".
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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2011, 11:15:41 pm »



I was actually looking for answers to something else when I discovered this.  I am going to try it and see how it goes~
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2011, 09:17:30 am »

I've always used only medium solder for everything and never used binding wire. As you make a solder join the act of heating the solder to its melting point boils off the lowest melting alloy -zinc- and the melting point of that solder joint has stepped up to the next level. I'm not sure if it goes all the way up to the hard solder level in one melting, though.
Bob
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2011, 02:34:07 pm »

and I have had a few lessons from a successful Tucson jeweler who always uses only soft.



go figure?     

I guess the right way for you is your way. . .
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2011, 07:41:50 pm »

Until I took my jewelry class I only ever used easy solder paste.  Using chips is a whole new learning experience for me so I figure I might as well experiment across the board and see what I like best.  I like the idea of the solder being as close to the material being soldered in composition as possible although for the most part, my applications are such that, if I am careful, it doesn't really make that much of a difference.

My big pet peeve is having to use silver solder for copper and brass; especially copper.  I don't like the color contrast!
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2011, 08:25:35 pm »

I am definitely sold on getting rid of my easy solder.  I was going to order hard solder on Monday and maybe i will order more than i originally planned.

I totally agree with the following part of #5 "As soon as you begin to use medium or easy, you make it harder do make the next solder joint with out something bad happening."  I have often melted my bezel joint made with medium solder, when soldering my bezel to the sterling backing with easy solder.  This has always really ticked me off, as the bezel was joined with higher temp solder that has been raised even higher by soldering.  The soldering of the lower temp easy solder will go past the temp of the "raised" medium soldered bezel and melt the bezel joint.

The issue of discolored easy solder joints has been bothering me and i was thinking of changing my soldering from medium - easy to hard - medium.  After reading this post and finding out that medium also discolors, I will be trying to do some hard - hard soldering.

I have also encountered the problem of pitting in my easy solder joins.  If hard solder can get rid of the pits, that is so much better.  I have to go back and sand/grind down the joins which is a waste of time and it also allows an opportunity to screw up something else while doing the extra clean up.

So there are several ways to do things, as usual.  I will try to move to hard - hard soldering and hard - medium soldering when necessary.  I will keep my easy solder, for use only when necessary.  So i am still learning how to solder.

Mark
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« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2011, 12:37:23 pm »

I want to use easy wire solder and have none.  If anyone wants to trade I have lots of hard solder, sheet and paste.

Please let me know.
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« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2011, 02:31:27 pm »

Until I took my jewelry class I only ever used easy solder paste.  Using chips is a whole new learning experience for me so I figure I might as well experiment across the board and see what I like best.  I like the idea of the solder being as close to the material being soldered in composition as possible although for the most part, my applications are such that, if I am careful, it doesn't really make that much of a difference.

My big pet peeve is having to use silver solder for copper and brass; especially copper.  I don't like the color contrast!

Have you ever heard of 'phosco'?  It is a product that plumbers use on copper and brass.  It is not silver colored but it works like silver soldering.  I can not say that it is copper color but it is much closer than silver.
I remember getting thin flat sticks in packages branded "turbo torch"  the sticks are around 14" long and do not require flux!  Just clean surface and proper torch heat.  About the time the copper starts to glow the phosco should flow in and around the joint.  At the time when I was using this material regularly it was much cheaper than hard silver solder. 
Might want to check some out.  I would have to look at home to see if I still have some, I could send you a piece to test and see what you think...
email me and let me know :)
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« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2011, 06:24:01 pm »

I also noticed on Monsterslayer.com that they had some solder that was for copper & brass.  I am about ready to get some solder & I am going to start with the hard.  That is as soon as I can decide which way to buy it since there is more than one form of it!  hairy1
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« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2012, 08:30:30 pm »

My big pet peeve is having to use silver solder for copper and brass; especially copper.  I don't like the color contrast!
Reviving another old thread......


I read an article that called for putting your copper piece with silver solder into contaminated pickle and letting it plate the silver solder joint.
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« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2012, 09:02:25 am »

Just my two cents: I use medium or hard on most everything, except jump rings and for them I use easy.

I bought some brass solder from Rio Grande and found it really difficult to work with. I was trying to solder bronze pieces back together and the bronze would glow BRIGHT yellow orange, but the dang solder would just sit there and laugh at me. I was afraid I was going to actually melt the bronze (maybe I did, and the pieces may have fused). I don't know if I was using the wrong flux, but there was no indication that you should use anything different than for silver and gold. I tried dandy flux and liquid flux, neither worked well. I had to grind solder paillons off where they attached to the piece but never flowed. It seemed like it oxidized regardless of the flux and that kept it from flowing. I had to try 4 or 5 times to get one thing to solder.

I also tried bronze brazing rod, but it really needed a oxy boost; I was just using Mapp. It never would melt.

I, too, long for a yellow-colored solder. I'm going to do a search for "phosco".

Re: contaminated pickle, thanks! I'll give it a try. By the way, if you don't want your pickle contaminated, if you put hydrogen peroxide in it after you've inadvertently put some iron in, it will rejuvenate it.

Debbie K
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« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2012, 09:37:13 am »

Have you ever used Wolverine Ultra Flux?   Best I ever used for silver gold and copper bronze.



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« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2012, 03:20:12 pm »

I haven't used Wolverine Ultra-flux. Is it a jeweler's supply flux or a propane/gas type flux and is it liquid or paste? Right now, I'm using Engelhard Ultra-flux, a paste. Where might we find the Wolverine flux?

Thanks in advance,

Debbie K
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« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2012, 05:08:19 pm »

It is a paste info PFD here

www.silvaloy.com/techsheets.php/wjt-td-Ultra Flux.pdf

I found a guy in quartzite that had it but ran out and could not find any so i bought a case from the manufacturer.

I have extra 1/4 lb jars  will sell for $4 plus shipping
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« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2013, 09:12:28 am »

Or you could start using Argentium Sterling Silver [which was not invented when these fellows got into silversmithing], but many 'older' jewelers who have tried Argentium have 'converted' to Argentium and say they wish it had been around 30 years ago when they started.

They love that it fuses beautifully and easily [so NO solder to slide around and no solder to clean off], also it doesn't get firescale [huge bonus for many] and it is VERY HIGHLY TARNISH RESISTANT because if the fact that it also contains germanium.  I'd say tarnish proof, but that's not what the Argentium people say so I'll back off.

It's more ductile, can be worked longer [for forging etc.] between annealing, but when heat hardened it's way harder than regular sterling.  It's whiter than sterling, balls into a gorgeous mercury like ball, and takes a patina beautifully and evenly. 

For more info check it out  http://www.argentiumsilver.com/
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« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2013, 05:04:49 pm »

Carol:

Just curious; have you actually ever soldered Argentium, or "fused" it? Have you soldered sterling, and how does it compare?

The only thing I know about Argentium is that it doesn't cast well, and since I do alot of casting, I know I won't invest in Argentium grain. But the sheet might be another matter, if it works well.

Debbie K
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« Reply #17 on: June 06, 2013, 06:26:56 pm »

Carol:

Just curious; have you actually ever soldered Argentium, or "fused" it? Have you soldered sterling, and how does it compare?

The only thing I know about Argentium is that it doesn't cast well, and since I do alot of casting, I know I won't invest in Argentium grain. But the sheet might be another matter, if it works well.

Debbie K

Hi Debbie,
I have both soldered and fused Argentium sheets as well as wire.
I have also soldered sterling silver.
Attached is my first Argentium Sterling Bead.  I'm showing it to you because it's both fused and soldered. This is not my design, it's a variation on one I did from DVD I got from Ronda Coryell on Argentium. My beads are a little 'simpler'.
The short explanation is - I basically cut two Argentium discs and dapped them.  Then I polished the discs a bit and applied diluted My-T-Flux [the yellow liquid flux you can get from RioGrande.
Then made the wire decorations and dap them. 
Then you make a jump ring and fuse it for the hole on either bead half.  After you've fused the ring and fused it to the bead half you cut out the hole with a jewelers saw[to coincide with the leather cord or whatever you're going to string it on.
Then you place any dapped wire decorations onto the 'face down' domes and arranged them so they would line up.  As you can see, I didn't do a perfect job but this was my first try at it, and I wear it all the time and get tons of compliments, flawed as it is.

Anyway, you let the decorations dry and then you can actually lift the bead halfs up carefully and put them together [before fusing] by handling them carefully, and you can gently shove the wires a little to fix alignment issues.
Then you put the two halves together, and Ronda fuses them.  At this stage I was too afraid to screw it up and my bead halves didn't fit as perfectly together as they should for fusing so I chickened out and sat some tiny pieces of medium solder on one half and put the other half on top and soldered the two halves together. 
In her DVD Ronda goes into more sanding etc to make it fit perfectly, as well, she adds tiny granules to the design, but I wanted a plainer look so I didn't do them.

The biggest difference I've found between the two is 'courage'.  When you solder sterling, you gently bring the whole piece up to temperature and very gently get the solder to flow.  With Argentium it's almost the opposite.  You briefly bring the whole piece up to temperature but then you go straight in with a lot of heat and watch for the flame to turn red and for the My-T-Flux to go clear and then look for a sort of 'dancing water droplet' effect, and when that happens you're done.....back off.
Ronda's DVDs are not inexpensive but  since there are not a lot of ways to learn about Argentium, I decided to take the plunge.

Cynthia Eid has done a lot of work with Argentium too and she's won all sorts of awards and she wrote this FAQ which I've also found very helpful. http://www.cynthiaeid.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=39&Itemid=91

I hope this helps.

Re expenses, other than buying the Argentium sheet or wire, and the My-T-Flux and if you're soldering use Argentium solder so it doesn't tarnish [as silver solder definitely will],   I can't think of any other expenses. 
Re casting, I bought some Delft Sand and [when I get some courage] I'm gonna try sand casting with Argentium.  At least it will give me a way to use some scrap.  If it doesn't work, I can always send whatever I produce to Rio for recycling.


* P1020190.JPG (43.85 KB, 480x360 - viewed 10 times.)

* P1020189.JPG (42.73 KB, 480x360 - viewed 11 times.)
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Carol M
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« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2013, 06:40:36 pm »

Carol:

Just got off of Ganoksin (if you haven't found that forum, check it out, it's great!) reading about casting Argentium, and soldering and fusing. The main problem with casting is that it needs to be done in a reducing atmosphere (special equipment or graphite or boric acid on top the metal, parted occasionally to see if the metal has melted). I suspect that people used to working with Sterling have made two major mistakes: one, they overheat the Argentium due to not being able to see the metal or heating it until it is the right color for Sterling) and two, they probably quench it like it was Sterling and make it crack.

I like the tarnish that develops on sterling, and when I don't want it I depletion gild it. I see the attraction of the Argentium, especially in the hardness aspect for making rings or bracelets that you don't want to distort. But the hardness would also make it more difficult to set stones, both in settings and bezels. They say that it isn't really case-hardened, just harder than sterling, but setting stones is difficult enough for me already.

A lady I know is interested in working with it, so I'll probably give it a try in the next few months and I'll let you guys know how I like it. Thanks for your reply and sharing your experience with it.

Debbie K
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« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2013, 09:13:25 pm »

Sounds like a plan, Debbie.

I can't comment on casting Argentium, as I haven't given it a try, but that's a tiny part of my world.

I'm more interested in general silversmithing with Argentium, and that's where it really 'shines'. 
I hate tarnish, and I hate firescale, so for me it's a win, win.

Good luck when you give it a try though. 
I'd love to hear how you make out.
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« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2013, 06:41:59 pm »

Argentium is not a good alloy for casting, but United Precious Metals has developed some other sterling alloys that also contain  germanium so are also tarnish resistant  like argentium but cast and work more like sterling.
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« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2013, 10:33:37 pm »

Argentium is not a good alloy for casting, but United Precious Metals has developed some other sterling alloys that also contain  germanium so are also tarnish resistant  like argentium but cast and work more like sterling.

I'd be interested in knowing what it's called, if you know.  Also any links to casting info about it.
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« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2013, 10:43:32 pm »

Argentium is not a good alloy for casting, but United Precious Metals has developed some other sterling alloys that also contain  germanium so are also tarnish resistant  like argentium but cast and work more like sterling.

I just had a look at the Rio Grande website because I saw that there was a 5 star review of the Argentium 935 Sterling Casting Grains.

Check it out.   http://www.riogrande.com/Product/Argentium-935-Silver-Casting-Grain/103635?Pos=14#BVRRWidgetID

Maybe, like working with Argentium 935 generally, you just have to work with it a bit to realize the differences from regular 925 Sterling.
Haven't tried it yet, but I'm prepared to 'give it a go' one day when I get through all the other things I'm trying to teach myself about these hobbies.
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« Reply #23 on: July 03, 2014, 06:23:35 am »

I find a couple of things troubling in that article. First, joints MUST fit perfectly for a good solder joint. If not, the solder will actually release gases at the joint. That's what causes pitting at the joints. 

Secondly, when solder is heated and flowed, some of the alloy is burnt off making that joint 'a little' harder when reheated for additional soldering. It is all about heat control. That's why some people can use the same grade of solder on multiple joints.
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« Reply #24 on: November 15, 2018, 07:48:38 pm »

George - I've done this before in the past but have found that my bezel will sometime open up or separate when soldering other parts of the piece.  Am I doing something wrong or is there a way to over come this problem when using all hard solder?

Thanks for the help!
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« Reply #25 on: November 15, 2018, 10:20:14 pm »

I am not the absolute expert, but the one and only thing I can think would be happening is that your getting the piece to hot, and maybe to hot to fast.

I have never used the hotter acetylene, only propane which burns a bit cooler.  So the hotter acetylene, and or just getting the piece to hot with what ever gas your using would be a guess.

I may have been a little overly cautious when I soldered, but I liked to bring the piece up to the solders melting point slowly..  Moving the torch slowly around the outside of the piece, letting the solder chips sitting on the interior, melt and be drawn under the tape and to the outside towards the torch's heat.  And all the time, keeping the flame somewhat away from the bezel joint..

Although I see plenty of videos where they just point and melt, so what do I know ! 

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« Reply #26 on: November 16, 2018, 10:09:25 am »

I use the keep propane, Home DePot plumbers, torch so nothing too hot for me either.  I also try and do the slow heat-up - usually starting underneath till the flu turn clear/disappears before moving up top.  Getting the bezel too hot is the only thing I can think of that might be happening as I also use the "swirl" method to get the solder to flow.  Like I said, it doesn't happen a lot but it just happen again a couple of weeks ago so it was on my mind.
Thanks for the help,
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« Reply #27 on: November 16, 2018, 11:30:42 am »

Like I said, it doesn't happen a lot but it just happen again a couple of weeks ago so it was on my mind.
Thanks for the help,

I think it can happen to anyone at any time Robert..
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