Monday, 28 January 2013

Process of Soldering in Jewelry Making

1 Borax cone for making flux: 2 strips of hard, medium, and easy solder:3 Argotec mixed with denatured alcohol and painted onto silver before annealing and/or soldering to prevent fire stain.Precious metals are usually joined together by means of a solder that is compatible with the metal. Soldering is carried out with a gas torch, of which there is several possible type available.
Before metal is soldered, it must be perfectly clean, and there should be no signs of oxidization or grease on the surface. In addition, the pieces to be joined should fit as closely together as possible, with no visible gap between them. This is because solder flows by capillary action between close-fitting pieces of metal, and if light is visible between the two pieces, soldering will be difficult. When pieces of gold are to be soldered together, the seam must fit as tightly as possible. If there is a gap of any sort, the solder will run on one side of the seam only - gold solder will never "jump" across a gap, although silver solder may occasionally do so.  

Fluxes Solder needs an agent to help it flow, and this agent is called flux. Different kinds of flux should be used with different types of solder and at different temperatures. It prevents any air that is around the seam being soldered from oxidizing in the heat from the flame, thereby keeping the metal clean enough for the solder to run and make the joint.

Soldering metals 1 Put a little water in the bottom of the dish and grind the flat end of a borax cone until a whitish paste is produced. Borax The most common, general purpose borax comes in a cone, which sits in a ceramic dish.  

Auflux Also a general purpose flux, Auflux is supplied in liquid form. Use a paintbrush to transfer it to the seam.  

Tenacity no. 5 Like Easy fib, this flux comes in powder form and is mixed with water to form a paste. It can withstand much higher temperatures, and it is, therefore, used with metals that require high temperature solders.

Types of solders

For the projects in this book, silver solder has been used on all the metals, apart from gold and platinum.

Silver solder  

Paint the borax paste between the two pieces of metal you want to join.
Silver solder is available in five different grades - enameling, hard, medium, easy, and extra easy and it is supplied in strips about 18 inches long. Enameling this is the solder with the highest melting point, and it requires a temperature of around 1490°, which is close to the melting temperature of standard silver, 16350. For this reason, enameling solder can cause problems. It is, as the name suggests, used on work that is to be enameled, but not normally for other purposes. Enamel fires at temperatures between 1440 – 1800°, so the higher the melting point of the solder, the less likelihood there is that the seam will come apart in the kiln. In practice, however, hard solder usually withstands lower enameling temperatures and can be used instead.  

Hard the strips of hard solder are about 1/4 inch wide. If a piece is to have more than one soldered seam, hard solder is the grade to use first, and if a piece has several seams, it is possible, if you are careful, to use hard solder four or five times before using medium or easy solder.  

Medium this solder is sold in strips approximately 1/16 inch wide. It can be difficult to use because it sometimes seems "sticky" and unwilling to flow easily. It should be used after hard solder but before easy solder.
Easy Strips of easy solder are about Vs inch wide, and the solder melts at about 1240°. It is used for soldering findings, attachments, jump rings, and so on, and it is sometimes used when there is just a single joint on a piece - on a simple ring, for example. 

Quench the piece in pickle and rinse in water.
Extra easy this kind of solder should be used only as a last resort. It has a very low melting point, and it has a rather yellowish gray appearance.  

Gold solder 

There is a separate solder for use with each carat of gold. It is sometimes supplied in little sheets, about 3/4 x 11/4 inches. Each separate carat is available as easy, medium, and hard solder, and it can be obtained in the same colors as the gold you have used - yellow, red, white, and green.

Platinum solder

Solder for platinum is available in hard, medium, easy, and extra easy forms. Platinum is a very strong metal, which can be worked extremely finely while still retaining a strong structure. Heat is applied only to the area to be soldered. A fine, hot flame is recommended for soldering platinum, and tinted goggles are usually worn because the temperatures are higher than those needed for silver or gold.

Other equipment

Soldering chains 1 You need to isolate each link of a chain before soldering. You can do this either by holding the link to be soldered in a "third hand" or by laying the chain out flat on a charcoal block and soldering a few links at a time. Always make sure that the areas to be soldered are not in contact with any other metal.
Keep a pair of insulated tweezers or a titanium soldering stick in your free hand as you solder. If a piece moves or if a paillon of solder becomes dislodged, you can carefully push it back into place. Do not immerse your insulated tweezers in acid, however. Use brass tongs or tweezers to take the metal into and out of the pickle.  

Binding wire is used to hold pieces together so that they can be soldered. Never quench a piece in acid while the binding wire is still in place. Either quenches the article in cold water, remove the wire, and then pickle in hot acid, or remove the binding wire with snips while the piece is still hot, and then quench in the acid.

Soldering metals

Work that is to be soldered is placed either on a charcoal block or on a heat-resistant soldering block. These can be placed directly on the bench, provided they are on some kind of protective metal sheet. A revolving tray, which can be turned around as soldering progresses, is very useful.  

When you are soldering, work in a darkened area. In this way you will be able to see the changing colors of the metal as it is heated. 

Use a piece of binding wire to hold the two pieces you want to join firmly together and twist the wire with flat-nosed pliers to tighten it. Adjust alignment if necessary. Hold the piece in a pair of insulated tweezers and paint the joint with flux before placing the paillons around the area to be joined.
Flux must be applied carefully onto and into the area to be soldered. For example, if you are soldering a ring, the two sides should be sprung apart slightly so that the flux can be applied to each side before being allowed to spring back into place. The appropriate grade and quantity of solder should be cut into tiny paillons and placed in the flux. If the paillons of solder need to be held at an awkward angle for soldering, a little "teepol" or detergent can be added to the flux to help hold the solder in position. If you hammer or roll silver solder before use, you will be able to cut even smaller paillons.  

The work should be heated gently at first. Always play the flame over the whole piece. When soldering silver, the entire article needs to be at soldering temperature before the solder will begin to flow. When soldering gold, concentrate on the area to be soldered to make the solder flow once the entire piece is hot. If you need to "un-solder" a piece, tie the article to a charcoal soldering block with binding wire. Apply flux to the joint to be separated and heat the metal until the solder is about to flow. Then use insulated tweezers to pick up or separate the pieces.

Color changes

It is important to be able to recognize the color changes that occur in different metals so that you will know when the solder is about to flow. The following are guidelines only for the colors of different metals when hard solder will flow:
• Silver- bright cherry red

• 9-carat gold - alarming red
• 18-carat gold - alarmingly bright orange-red.

Soldering chains

It is possible to solder several sections of a chain that has been connected up at the same time. Lay up to four sections flat across the charcoal block so that none of the joints to be soldered touch any other part of the links. Cut up paillons of the solder you will be using and place them in the borax flux, which should not be too wet. Use fine stainless steel tweezers or a fine paintbrush to pick up the paillons. Paint flux through the four joints and lay a paillon of solder across each joint. Solder one section at a time and allow it to air cool or quench it in water before preparing the next four sections to be soldered. Pickle the whole chain when you have finished soldering.

If you want to solder single jump rings between sections of chain, flux and solder each ring individually. Hold the ring in a pair of insulated tweezers so that it stands on its own, with the rest of the chain hanging down from it, or lay the ring on a charcoal block. Place the ring so that the joint is uppermost. Flux and lay a paillon of solder across the top. Only heat the ring you are soldering, by starting at the base of it and bringing the flame to the top and up to the solder. If you just heat the top of the ring around the solder, the solder will melt first and form a ball on one side of the joint, and it is then unlikely that the joint will solder successfully. It will need realigning so that the two sides are touching again, and you will need to reflux before heating and resoldering.

Writer - Jinks McGRATH
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