If you do much soldering, it is a good idea to have solder in different melting temperatures. I use Sheet Solder as opposed to Wire Solder, it is just easier for me to work with. Today I will get a little “technical” and show you how I go about using the different solders and how I keep them separated from each other. Sometimes numbers are a little confusing to follow, so bear with me.
The most common Silver Solders come in:
Easy with a melting temperature of approx. 1,325°F
Medium with a melting temperature of approx. 1,360°F
Hard with a melting temperature of approx. 1,450°F
I use all three of these in different situations. For the majority of the silver soldering I do, I like to use Medium Solder, unless I have a lot of soldering operations to do. If I have a lot of soldering to do to a piece, I will start soldering with Hard Solder, then move to Medium Solder. I also use Hard Solder to size rings, if I am sure the ring has not been sized before. I seldom use Easy Solder unless there has been a lot of soldering on the piece before I solder on it, to ensure I do not melt the existing solder in the piece leaving solder lines of having the piece fall apart.
I have found the lower the melting temperature, the more alloys are in the solder and the easier it is to see the solder seam when finished, it is a bit darker in color. The reason I like to work with Medium more than Hard is that Hard solder is closer to the melting temperature of Sterling Silver. Some sterling has a solidus melting temperature of 1475°F, just 25°F higher than the melting temp of Hard Solder (Solidus is the temperature at which a metal starts to melt) and a liquidus flow point of 1640°F. (Liquidus is the temperature at which it is fully melted) I use a Mini Torch to solder with which allows me to control the heat pretty easy.
Now how do I go about keeping my solders separated from one another? I have tried different colored Permanent Markers (Green-Easy, Black-Medium, Red Hard) and that works ok, but sometimes it wears off. What I like to do is use a Split Mandrel with sandpaper in my Foredom and sand the back of the sheet solder.
After I have the back sanded, I take a sharpened scribe and scratch a series of small “EZ”, “M”, or “H” marks to identify the solder. As I use the solder, there is always more identifying letters.
I only “clip” off the solder as I am using it. If I am doing a lot of soldering, I will clip off a bunch of pieces in different sizes, but for the most part I cut off only the pieces I am using at the time. I use a pair of Lindstroms Semi-Flush Cutters or Straight Sheers to cut my solder.
I hope all the numbers and solders weren’t too confusing. I don’t like to throw a bunch of numbers out there because I know sometimes stuff like that will make my eyes glaze over and I start thinking about my shopping list or chores I need to do.
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