|Silver soldering [message #32057] Thu, 04 August 2011 15:07 UTC
I am in need of advice about how to approach a repair for a silver piece. I ordered a design in silver, unpolished. I wanted to do the polishing myself, since there are hidden areas that would need to be hand polished anyway. I got a message from Shapeways QA detailing some problems with bubbles in the details. This is an important project that is already far behind schedule, so there is no way I could order it again. I accepted the part hoping it could be fixed by a jeweler or myself.|
Removing the nodules was not easy, and it took several hours of gentle Dremeling and hand sanding to flatten the surfaces without taking down the details. I noticed a soldering repair where one of the petals touches the center sphere. Unfortunately it had been soldered off-center, and when the piece cooled there was a lot of tension that was actually strong enough to bend the whole thing like a banana. Just holding the piece in my hand to sand it was enough to break that connection. At first I was not that bothered since I saw it as an opportunity to straighten the thing out. Below you see the petals and sphere sanded and ready to be bonded with correct alignment.
I took it to a jeweler, and to my surprise she said they can't fix it! They may not want to take the risk of melting the piece, but obviously the people who made it are able to make repairs. I made an attempt myself using a propane torch, but I was not happy with how it was going and I really don't want to damage it further. I have experience brazing copper and aluminum, but this was not reacting the way I expect. The flux burned away and the metal tarnished before the solder got to melting temp.
Are there any silver-smithing Shapers out there who have any advise on how to do this? I'd like to use a lower-temp "soft" solder. Can I use silver electrical solder? I know it's not as strong, but I don't have any specialized materials or equipment and the piece will not be worn so it doesn't have to be bulletproof.
Can anyone help me?
Aaron - 40westdesigns.com/blog