Things You'll Need
- Sterling silver
- Pickling solution
- Slow cooker
- Paste solder for all nonferrous metals
- Soldering iron
With its cool-toned glow and appealing sheen, sterling silver is a nice complement to the sunny golden hue of brass. Both metals are commonly used in jewelry as well as in assorted decorative and functional objects. Though brass is considerably less valuable than sterling silver, there are no rules against combining the two metals in one project. In fact, doing so can result in a surprisingly beautiful creation. Using the right solder and equipment, it is possible to combine sterling silver with brass in any of your metal-based projects.
Place the sterling silver and brass pieces you plan to solder in a warm pickling solution. Note that pickle is an acidic solution used to clean metal before and after soldering. Pour the pickle into an electric slow cooker set on low to keep the solution warm. Steep the silver and brass pieces in the pickle for five to 10 minutes. Remove the metal pieces from the pickle and dry them thoroughly with a towel.
Arrange the sterling silver and brass pieces in the manner in which you want them to be permanently joined with solder. Use clamps, clothespins or string to hold the pieces of sterling silver and brass in place, if necessary.
Choose a paste solder that works with nonferrous metals. Nonferrous metals don’t contain iron, including silver and brass. Keep in mind that these solders create silver-colored joints. Select a paste solder that contains a flux agent. Flux is a borax-based substance that helps solder to flow with ease.
Apply paste solder to the portions of the metal pieces you want to join. Use a paintbrush to distribute the paste solder where you want it. Some paste solders come in easy-to-use syringes.
Plug in the soldering iron. Allow it to heat for several minutes.
Position the tip of the soldering iron against the paste solder. Slowly heat the solder until it melts into position. Use the tip of the soldering iron to pull the solder along seams as needed. Note that how much solder you need and how you will distribute it depend on the nature and size of the object you are creating. For example, if you are linking a silver chain link to a brass one, you will only need to heat a small dab of solder; if you are joining a long silver rectangle to a brass one, you may need to draw a line of solder along the seam of the two rectangles.
Pull the soldering iron away from the solder after it has melted in place. Unplug the soldering iron. Let the solder solidify and cool.
Submerge the joined pieces of silver and brass in the pickle solution once more to clean them. Let them soak for five to 10 minutes. Remove them, rinse them in cool water and dry them with a towel.
Use paste solders in a well-ventilated area, as they can release toxic fumes if they are overheated. Wear a protective mask to avoid inhaling any toxic fumes while soldering. Heat paste solder slowly. Overheating the paste solder will deplete its flux before the solder is able to flow.
- "Complete Metalsmith: Professional Edition"; Tim McCreight; 2004
- Engineering Materials: Non-Ferrous Metals
- antique brass kettle image by Alx from Fotolia.com