silver soldering soft overlays
After reading the poll about who is engraving what, and noticing that there is a large percentage of western engravers out there, I thought I would pose a question. When soldering soft overlays on silver, ie. copper , jewelers bronze, etc. which method works best for you?, and which solder do you use? I am interested because I just returned from a large show in Las Vegas and a large percentage of the overlays were soldered, some of them very fine and thin. I was wondering if they were pre-tinned , or just how it was done. I know the more experienced engravers have some tried and true methods , and was hoping that they would share. Thanks for hosting this fine forum.
The method your looking for is called sweat soldering.
This is done with silver solder that come in 6 grades for Jewellers.
You will only be concerned with about 4 of them. The lower the melting
the redder the solder, the higher the whiter.
If you solder a copper or brass overlay, make life easier and use
either easy or extra easy. If it's a silver overlay on silver you want to
use med. to high. High has the best color match and that is what
your concerned about. This type of soldering lends itself to using
wire solder but you can use sheet. Coat everything in boric acid and
alcohol mixture. Use handy flux from Handy and Harmon. Your torch
is best a oxygen and natural gas type with a broad tip. That is not
written in stone because everybody has the favorite torch.
Get some sparex to pickle the piece. Remember the more copper that
goes into a pickle, will also come out on your piece. So keep a clean one
for silver only.
Pick up a book on safety rules and read it. Guaranteed if you don't, you'll
be sorry, and wiser the hard way.
I do not usually tin a peice of silver using this methods. Rather I
get everything of to flow temp and put a peice of solder at the side and it
will run into the gap because of the law of capilary action.
Oh boy! That stuff make my head hurt.
Last edited by jimzim75; 12-09-2006 at 09:13 PM.
I never get tired of talking, joking, arguing, discussing, a subject that holds our attention most of the day. Engraving.
Hand Engraving Canada ~-~-~-www.handengravingcanada.com
We build our production 4 piece buckle sets, as well as the rest of the production line of silver - using easy and medium grades of silver brazing wire. Medium to put together the first/front parts and easy to attach the findings.
Custom or one of a kind work may involve up to 5 different grades in one piece, but that is pretty rare.
Overlays are "tinned" using wire or sheet solder, depending on the size/shape of the overlay. Sometimes we'll tin a sheet of metal and then cut the overlays out of it, most times we just (carefully) tin them after being cut to shape.
IT or eutectic grade is used if the piece is to be ultimately hard fire enameled.
Brian can you recomend a source for silver buckle blanks?
"In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm and three or more is a congress".--John Adams
I solder mostly small gold flowers on sterling and I have had fair sucess using easy silver solder paste such as you get from indian jewelers supply. I also have tinned the gold before cutting out the figures. They both work the trick is to get the just right amount so you don't have an exess of solder to remove. Ken
Gentlemen, Thank you for the information and the time it took to reply. I have copied it to my reference material and will use it . B_H
I will tell you the way I do soldering as best I can. I dont tin anything. I just flux the pieces, lay my findings, one at a time, on the front of the buckle, and get everything to the right temperature. I then touch the solder to the joint and the solder will draw right under the finding. I have a homemade holder I use to keep the findings from floating away until they are "stuck". I also use only the easy flow solder to put on all of the findings as well as the rope edge and the hardware on the buckle back. At one time I used the various melts, but a friend (Johnny Wyerts) showed me you could use one melt and it would work fine. I also use this same meathod with I use the soft solders. I know there is lots of debate about ways to solder, I would look at all the different ideas out there, try them and do what works best for you. Please holler if I can help in anyway.
Hello buckle makers,
I know that all of you have never heard of me, I was making buckles for the PRCA and many of the amateur rodeo Asscociations and High school Asscociations back in the 80`s and 90`s while riding bulls in the PRCA and PBR. I was self taught but was fortunate to spend some time at Brian Marshalls shop while I was healing from a near death bad bull riding wreck and he was healing from a near death car wreck. Brian also built most of the silver saddle trim for my dad back in the 70`s. I am going to Reno to test drive all the new equipment so that I can get back into the trade, I have not touched an engraver for close to years, hope to meet you all there. My take on soldering,
If you are soldering overlays, the best way in my opinion is to lay small chips of solder, cut from wire along the sides of the the piece you are soldering. Like Brian said, if you are going to add pieces as you go, start with the high melting solder first and then work your way to the lowest, this way you do not disturb the overlay you already have in place. I find tinning too be combersome and it warps your material and you waste solder. Solder the edges on first with hard solder, beads, rope ect. then solder all the pieces at one time on the face with medium solder and then solder the loop and flap on the back with soft solder, this way nothing moves on you. You can also buy pre tinned brass and 10K filled sheets to cut your overlays out of and this will also help, but I still will add a chip or two just to make sure i get a good bead all the way around the overlay. You do not want any gaps, looks like dung. I also use holders like Caveman, to hold every thing in place. The overlays will try to float as the flux melts. Also the chips will move away from your overlays so you will need a pick to move them back as you bring your piece to temp. Make sure all your chips are in place before you get an area to temp. or you will have a solder spot you will have to remove before you engrave. I prefer to use propane and oxegene with a rosett tip. It is a very soft flame and dose not tend to scale your work. Slow down and bring the whole piece up to temp at one time. Also the more times you resolder the more fire scale you will get, thats why I try to get everything solderd down at one time. Yey, in a perfect world.
Doug Arnew, Austin Tx. Silversmith.
I tin the backs first, clamp, and solder. Is it easier/cleaner to let the piece pull the solder under it?
I usually spend more time with a flat graver cleaning up after, than soldering itself.
All of this brings up a question I came up with earlier today. A previous poster was talking about making buckles and blueing the steel background after attaching the overlays. Makes me wonder if you can solder to material that has already been electroless nickel plated, such as the product sold by Brownell's.