Not all soldering is the same
Soldering common metals like copper, iron, and so on can be fairly basic and boring. It is done in much the same way and the only variety you get is if you use a soldering iron on one occasion, a soldering station on another, and then a soldering gun on a third.
Soldering precious metals is another thing altogether and you should have the confidence as well as a steady hand when working with these costly metals. To find out if you can solder silver just continue to read our article. It has the information you need.
Can I solder silver with a solder gun?
Yes and no. Yes, silver can be joined together by a soldering iron. But that iron needs to be able to produce the high heat silver needs to be joined together. Here are some iron options available to you:
- Butane powered soldering iron- these have the power and the heat to make silver come together and stay firmly in place
- Old school soldering iron- the lower wattage models will not work on silver. They just do not produce the heat. You will need at least a 40-watt iron or a dual wattage model to get the job done
- MAPP Irons- these burn MAPP gas and they produce a hotter heat than a butane iron will give you. This option makes soldering silver faster and easier. Just make sure to wear protective gear when using them
One tip, when you choose a soldering iron, make sure it will fit your hand and not be too heavy. If you cannot handle the iron, you will mess up your project and need to redo your work.
Tools needed for soldering silver
As with any project, you will need to have the right tools assembled before you start working. Every job goes easier when you use the right tools. Here is a list to help you find those when you are working on silver:
|#1.||Soldering board||This needs to be heat safe and you can use a charcoal soldering board, fire brick, or even stainless steel kiln shelves|
|#2.||Sterling silver||20 gauge sterling silver wire is good depending on your project. You can buy it by weight or the foot.|
|#3.||Silver solder & Flux||A silver solder paste has both mixed together and can save you some money. It comes in 1/2 tubes and you do not need to use a lot at one time.|
|#4.||Soldering iron||You know your choices already. Pick the one that is best for you and the job|
|#5.||Fire coat||Made from Boric Acid & Denatured Alcohol and you need to coat the silver to stop burns from taking place.|
|#6.||Lighter or matches||These work with the fire coat. A striker is needed to start your gas soldering iron.|
|#7.||Tweezers||Because fingers just aren’t small enough to hold the silver piece and pliers are too bulky|
|#8.||Silver prep||This cleans the oxidation when you are finished soldering|
|#9.||Steel block & hammer||These tools help you shape your silver|
How to solder silver
Now that you have your tools ready it is time to do the actual solder work.
- Place your solder surface in its position- a charcoal block is good as the soldering won’t work if the surface or the atmosphere take away too much heat
- Cut the silver solder to the length you need- do not use lead solder as it just won’t work and it is very hard to remove from the silver items you are working on. The silver solder comes in many forms
- Start your soldering iron- make sure it can produce the right amount of heat before you get started. You will want a flat chisel tip to conduct more heat to the metal. Silver does conduct heat away from the point of contact
- Apply the flux- you can use the mixture mentioned above but regular flux will also handle the task well. Brazing flux is good for silver as well
- Start a fan- you will need to be in a well-ventilated area as silver solder releases cadmium, a harmful gas that can cause health issues if inhaled.
- Grab your tweezers- or you can use copper tongs. The latter holds up to heat a lot better than tweezers do
- Heat your silver prep- it needs to be dissolved in hot water and it should be ready for when you finish soldering
- Place a pot of water nearby- this will help clean the silver when you are done
Solder the silver
Just like any soldering task, clean the solder, then apply the flux. Next, position the silver solder where you want to join the silver pieces together and heat with your soldering iron.
When you are done, dip the item into the water then immediately place it into the silver prep. After that, let the item cool a bit and then rinse it off in water again. And you are done. You can admire your handiwork or inspect it to see if everything went as planned.
One tip, you do not need to apply the flame directly onto the solder. Heat the item you want to fix or make and that way the solder should melt smoothly and flow where you want it to flow.
Some final words
Working with silver or other precious metals is delicate work. One mistake can cost you a lot of money. Throughout the process, make sure to have a little patience and take your time. Working carefully helps you avoid mistakes and wasted work.
Once you are done, the reward for your hard work is easy to see. You should have a fine piece of silver sitting in front of you, waiting to be sold or given to someone special.
Soldering silver is a work of art that takes expertise and a lot of skill. But that is made easier by assembling the right tools in the beginning.