How to Use and Easily Identify Your Silver Solders

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.

Solder ID Header

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.

Solder

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.

Solder ID (1) Solder ID (2) Solder ID (4)

 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.

Solder ID (5) Solder ID (6) Solder ID (7)

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.

As always, thanks for stopping by and Thank All Of You who have contributed to the website and Facebook via comments, emails, and Voicemail. You are making this community successful!

Now go dazzle someone with your talent and enthusiasm!

Doug

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2 Responses to How to Use and Easily Identify Your Silver Solders

  1. Lisa Anderson October 5, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

    Thanks for the organizational tip! -and I’m going to have to finally break down and spring for those Lindstrom cutters. Even the mid-priced ones just seem to get dull too fast.

  2. JewelryMonk October 6, 2014 at 6:11 am #

    Lisa, I have tried a lot of the other lower and mid priced ones, and I like these so much better. If you take care of them and don’t cut things you shouldn’t, they will last for years and years.