soldering steel to silver?

Blacksmithing | Jewelry | Welding

is it possible to silver solder steel to silver.???


bigfootnampa's picture

YES.

YES.


marilyn's picture

Yes, but the steel has to

Yes, but the steel has to get pretty hot. Are you thinking about decorative items or things like pin and earring findings?

 

marilyn


feorge's picture

thought i had done it but my

thought i had done it but my apprentice kid who is bac from college, he is studying metallurgy in rolla mo.,swears it hand wrought lovehand wrought lovecan't be done...
i thought maybe at one point i had special solder or flux...but not sure anymore...

rings like this one...


warren's picture

Wording

George, maybe the wording of "solder" is being in correctly used. The temperature that hard silver solder is melted at "brazing" temperatures.

www Metalrecipes -- heat and beat to the desired shape, repeat as necessary.
warren


marilyn's picture

I think that Warren has

I think that Warren has analyzed it correctly. We use the term hard soldering and just soldering but it is really brazing. That might be what confused the kid. 

 

marilyn 


Rich Waugh's picture

I've soldered silver and

I've soldered silver and steel using hard silver solder and soft lead/tin solder, both. Good results either way, but the hard solder is, of course, much stronger. I don't know what his metallurgy classes are telling him, but I know empirically it can be done just fine.

For silver soldering I use Battern's Self-PIckling Liquid Flux and for soft soldering I usually use either sal ammoniac or dilute hydrochloric acid.

Now, fusion welding of silver and steel might be an entirely different thing. Particularly using sterling or coin silver, as the copper in the alloy would cause dramatic intergrannular dissociation in the steel at fusion temps.

Rich


visitor's picture

proly not a good idea to use

proly not a good idea to use a self pickling flux on steel. or any acid for that matter.


Rich Waugh's picture

Really, why would you

Really, why would you suggest that? The standard flux for soldering steel is either dilute hydrochloric acid or sal ammoniac (ammonium chloride, a mild acid). Acids are, by nature, reducing agents and the purpose of a flux is, among other things, to dissolve oxides, i.e. reduce them back to their non-oxidized form so they will form bonds with the solder. Sorry, your advice doesn't make sense to me in light of the chemistries involved.

If you have a better method I'd be delighted to learn of it - what do YOU use for flux when soldering steel?


visitor's picture

i have never soldered steel.

i have never soldered steel. i use a self pickling flux when isolder silver jewelry and i was always told that steel would contaminate the flux. causing a poor bond. im not a pro and always learning so if i have offended you with my ignorance, im sorry.


Rich Waugh's picture

I'm not offended at all - I

I'm not offended at all - I only want to keep the record accurate, as there are large numbers of people who access this website to get information and we like it to be as accurate as possible. Whenever I spot anything that doesn't square with what I know works or is "correct" (so to speak - I'm not the ultimate authority by any means), I either try to set things straight or get further information to clarify the issue. Hopefully, we all benefit this way and I fget to learn new things as well. :-)

Rich


bigfootnampa's picture

"i was always told that

"i was always told that steel would contaminate the flux. causing a poor bond."

Steel (or iron) does sometimes cause problems when you are working with gold or silver. What happens is that minute quantities of iron can form very low melting point alloys with the non ferrous metals and burn its way through your work when you try to hard solder. I think the problem is somewhat less scary than it is often portrayed but it can be troublesome. Be aware of it and take reasonable precautions and you are not likely to have much trouble.


silverpounder's picture

Steel soldering

You are right, that silver( jewelry solder) is brazing. Well technichally yes, no matter what you call it. I have (silver)soldered steel gunsights with a gold AND silver face. That make a nice sight. its perfect, with just boron or Battern's flux. It works steel to steel, with lead/tin solder with a hydrocloric acid flux. do not use excess heat! spotlessly clean! I found this site looking for a way to do thin sheet, BUT with 95/5 tin solder. That stuff just wont flow on steel, Ive tried every thing I know with not even a bit of luck. I need to make a non-toxic item with steel. Its not easy to do with tin solder. But use acid core repair solder and Hcl acid with a small brush: Steel --tin cans are easy! Also toxic, guess we cant make everything perfect! P.S.--Burn cans first! They are coated!


colin duncan's picture

soldering steel

Indeed, think of it as brazing. From the guys I know who do steel bike frames, a low melt "easy" or "extra Easy" and compatible flux (flouride - I think!) The low melt filler metal affects the temper of the bike tube steel less.

I have silver soldered mixed base metals, a sort of metal matrix composite, including steel, to silver for years. the flux tends to use up quicker on steel and the steel will react with the flux at too high a temperature, just like overheating when brazing. The best results have been acheived with 'easy' paste solder. This allows the silver solder to 'tin' the metal surfaces soon as it reaches melt point. Even better an industrial silver solder - however you may not feel happy about a non jewellery solder - some industrials have cadmium and other nasties alloyed in, dental supplier can do a low melt cadmiun free.

Apologies in advance for any variance from fact here - only a self taught knowledge of metallurgy, but loads of practical experience!


Ross's picture

Hi, I’m new. My name is

Hi,

I’m new. My name is Ross. I hope I’m getting this comment in the right thread.

I’ve had good results using small chips of 650 (65%) silver solder and borax flux sandwiched between the silver and steel. I apply the heat to the back side of the steel only. When the steel approaches a medium orange color, the solder/braze melts and flows very evenly. Since the flame is not directed at the actual join, there is very little oxidation. I’ve used this method for copper & steel and silver & steel with very predictable results. Be aware though that the silver braze will flow where ever the steel is clean and coated with flux. Controlling the flow must be done by blocking the areas where you don’t want braze material.


visitor's picture

soldering steel to silver?

You can use "white out" or liquid ocher as a resist to keep the solder off of places you want to keep clean.


Stefani's picture

White out

I have used white out before. It does work well especially when working on small items.


Rich Waugh's picture

Excellent information and

Excellent information and welcome to ArtMetal, Ross!

Rich


crquack's picture

I have been thinking of

I have been thinking of trying this. You give me courage. As a matter of interest how big are your pieces, particularly how thick is the steel piece?

crquack


Ross's picture

Thanks for the welcome

Thanks for the welcome Rich… Nothing like just jumping, huh?

[You can use "white out" or liquid ocher as a resist to keep the solder off of places you want to keep clean.]

Wow, I’ve heard of a few different handy resists, but never white out. I’ll have to give it a try.


marilyn's picture

Use the water based White

Use the water based White Out not the solvent based which produces fumes when heated that are not good for us.

 

marilyn 


visitor's picture

[I have been thinking of

[I have been thinking of trying this. You give me courage. As a matter of interest how big are your pieces, particularly how thick is the steel piece?]

I typically work on approx. 1" round or square rosette pieces. The steel is ¼”, sometimes 1/8. I use around .030” copper or silver. I would imagine that different thicknesses would be workable as well. Keeping the heat source behind the steel should allow you to go pretty light on the silver. I tried it first in a gas forge, but the heat was not as manageable. Acetylene seems to work most effectively. MAPS might do well if your flame is sufficiently focused.

I use nips to cut off very short pieces of braze wire, position them in borax paste on the steel and let it dry… then position the top piece. Cleaning can be a challenge because of the two different metals.

Good luck with it.


Scavenger's picture

Hi, I just joined this very

Hi,

I just joined this very interesting and informative forum. In reading the post about joining steel to silver I learned a couple different methods about the process. I will offer one more method that has worked almost flawlessly for me in the past. Both steel and silver must be clean and oxide free. After a total cleaning, preheat the steel to about 500-700 degrees F. Then apply a thin coating of a flux made by JW Harris called Stay-Silv Black. There are other high temp fluxes that work very well, and can be found doing a web search.

The reason I use the Stay-Silv Black is because for some reason this is the high temp product carried by most local welders supply stores. The container states that it has a working range of 1100 deg F to 1800 deg F. The flux is a bit more caustic than most normal fluxes, so please take all needed safety precautions.

I have seen very experienced people braze steel with silver and other non-ferrous metals on much thicker steel than I have been able to master. I do all right until the steel thickness starts creeping beyond 3/8" thick. At that point I have a problem with the flux getting over heated and becoming ineffective. I hope the above information will help someone.


Rich Waugh's picture

Welcome to ArtMetal! Thanks

Welcome to ArtMetal!

Thanks for passing on that bit of information. It's always nice to know another way to do something.