Soldering Sterling Silver

by Kathy
(Lexington, KY)

I took a class in jewelry making and I learned how to solder.


I set up my own equipment, but my problem is that the solder never seems to flow.

I have the flux and the pickle solution set up.

I've used sheet and liquid solder, but the solder never flows it just burns away. Can you help?

Answers:



See comments below. Thanks so much Kari!

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Try this...
by: Kari

Hi Kathy,

If you've taken a class, you know more than I do. I learned to solder when working at Control Data soldering circuit boards, but now I use it for silver parts when making pearl jewelry.

Try this. Only heat up the jewelry you want soldered and bring the solder to the hot piece. Keep the iron away from the actual solder. If the piece is hot enough, the solder will melt when it touches the heated part.

Hope that makes sense.

Kari


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Thanks
by: Kathy

Thank you Kari I am going to give it a try.

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Sterling solder?
by: Anonymous

You don't solder sterling with a soldering iron. You need to use a torch.

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To anonymous
by: Anonymous

I didn't say I used a soldering iron. I have a torch. Thanks, but no help.


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Heat more
by: Mademoiselle M

It's likely that you don't heat enough (it happens sometimes when I use my hard solder #70+). With silver all of the piece should be very hot for the solder to flow (as opposed to, say, copper), so keep moving your torch all around the piece until the flux turns like glass, then heat in a smaller spot around the joint until solder flows.

HTH

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Problem solved!
by: Anonymous

Thank you for all of the assistance. I finally got the problem solved. I switched solder and for some reason this solder works fine for me. Take care!!

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Soldering Frustrations
by: Kat

I am responding to Mademoiselle M, actually it is a question.

You suggested heating the silver more if one is having problems with the solder not melting.

I have tried heating slowly and more rapidly. My solder just fries and falls off.

I have had 2 quarters of silversmithing but haven't done it in a few years. I am using a propane torch, which I have made a few rings with before.

My solder and all supplies are 4 years old, could that be a problem? Or my torch is adjusted wrong?

Have ordered new solder and flux but it hasn't arrived yet. I am frustrated and desperate.

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Gas
by: Anonymous

Propane's not the hottest gas. You might want to try something a little hotter, like Benzene or map gas. Acetylene would be overkill akin to using a cannon to shoot a sparrow.

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Correction to Comment
by: Anonymous

In the comment about trying a different type of gas, I misspoke; I meant to say Butane, not Benzene. Try using a butane torch. Sorry.

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Starting Anew
by: Kat

I had gotten so frustrated that I put my torch away for a while.

After reading your suggestions I am inspired to try again. Thank you for the nudge.

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Silver Not Melting
by: Anonymous

Just a thought, but I have also had this problem in the past and it seemed to be because my silver was dirty.

Everything needs to be clean. I make sure I flux everything real well first.
Sissy

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Silver Soldering
by: John The Jeweler

Silver needs a high temperature flux or it will evaporate before the silver is hot enough to accept the solder. A paste made with 20 Mule Team Borax and a dab of water works great.
Silver draws heat away very quickly so the entire peace must be hot before the solder will flow.

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Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness
by: Anonymous

I've had difficulty over the years getting solder to flow. The one biggest problem with getting solder to flow is dirt. Your surfaces to solder may look clean but if you've touched them the oils from your hands may be enough to cause the solder to ball and not flow.

The solution for me was to put a small glass dropper bottle of denatured alcohol (other kinds will work) near my soldering station.

Add a drop to surfaces to be soldered and wipe with a Q-Tip then solder as usual.

You should see a marked improvement.

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