Other Projects Completed With Just Hard Solder
Sterling Silver Ring with over 100 pieces, size 6, with copper, brass, and sterling silver tubes. It also has coral, turquoise, and azurite tubes inlaid in to two sides. For more photos and construction information click on either photo.
By Don Norris
Large necklace piece similar to the ring above. A hollow box with copper, brass and silver tubes. This piece may be inlaid with stones later.
By the way this piece was made over 20 years ago, and has not been polished since. Please check out the other photo to see that the solder joints are still completly invisable. Even after all these years of laying aroung the shop this piece still looks as though it was cast as a solid piece, not a box.
By Don Norris
Click on Photos For More Photos and Construction Informaion.
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Hard Solder Challenge 2

I was discussing the hard solder challenge with some students in my Loveland Classroom and I decided to show them something about hard solder that I just could not do with using the step method or with all medium or all easy. I was also answering the questions posted to a Newsgroup. Here is the post:

"Ah, the voice of reason and good sense. Thank you. What a relief to read your post. As a silver
fabricator I find the idea of using just one solder temp when you have 3, ridiculous. You not only
are risking the metal but also your valuable time in making a piece. It's a hat trick. Yeah it can be
done. But why? For bragging rights? For ego?  I don't have time to dork around with it. I need to
produce, not play with metal to see how far I can go before I cook my work or lose all the work
I've done before as it slides off."

First of using hard solder is no hat trick, even my beginning students use only hard solder for every solder joint on their first ring with over 20 solder joints. No hat trick just learning to use the torch. What is ridiculous is to think every thing will slide off or you will cook your work. Only too much heat in the wrong place can do that.

But why? Believe me it is not bragging rights, and not ego. You see, using only hard solder is easier to do than using the three solders. That is what most people who have not tried it, just can not understand. Here are my reasons for using only hard solder for all solder joints.

1. Hard solder actually becomes easier and quicker to use  than the "step" method. No hat trick, just controlling your torch, all my students can do that easily with in the first 30 minutes of learning to light a torch. This includes junior high age students.

2. Hard solder does not pit as medium and easy do. ( I will soon be putting up some photos of the three. I have to get some of the easy and medium first. I have used any for nearly 20 years.

3. Hard solder polishes just like sterling, wears just like sterling, and tarnishes just like sterling, unlike easy and medium that begin to oxidize, tarnish faster than sterling. If you like unsightly darkened solder lines then use easy and medium.

4. Hard solder will not undercut as easy and medium solder will. I have had many repair jobs come in (when I did repairs for about 5 years) with solder lines on polished surfaces that were polish in to unsightly grooves. They tarnished, began to show, so they were polished and repolished to the point that the solder joints began to undercut, the solder eaten away. Then the sides of the sterling begin to get buffed and the result is a rounded groove where the joint is.

5. There are only three solder grades, some time in every piece you make, multi joints must be made with the same solder. All I am trying to teach is the more joints you make with hard solder the easier it is to do the piece. As soon as you begin to use medium or easy, you make it harder do make the next solder joint with out something bad happening.  Doesn't this just make sense. If you use hard solder for nearly or all solder joints, it is actually easier to control the temperature of the piece and not harder.

6. The real proof that using only hard solder is easier to use, all my students use the $10.00 propane torch to learn with. Then as they sell jewelry and make a good profit, they can pay for a better torch.

7. It just makes pretty  and better silver jewelry, with the whole piece polished to a high polish, even the solder joints.

8. Faster to use, which means to most fabricators, more profit! I teach my students they do not have time to dork around using three solders. I the time it takes to decide which one to use where, they can have it soldered and finished.

9. If a piece gets ran over by a car, the poor slob that must repair it, will not have fall completely apart as he, or she, heats it up. The piece will be easier to repair! That's a  good thing, for the person doing the repairs and the customer!

Part One Of Hard Solder Challenge 2

I have given 9 good reasons to only use hard solder for every solder joint. Your challenge is to email me with three good reasons to use the step method. And I will not accept: not being able to use the torch, (controlling the heat), or I was taught that way, so I am going to keep doing that way, or even worse: I have taught it that way for years and I am going to continue to teach it that way. None of which are good reasons to me. Just three good reasons, that is all I ask!

This challenge is not to see if you are good enough to reproduce these challenges! The challenge is can these pieces even be done using the "step" method. No not just using medium and easy for the last two solder joints. I challenge any one to reproduce the piece below by using hard solder for the first solder joint, and then medium for the next, and then easy for the rest. You can use any torch you wish.

The Hard Solder Challenge 2, Part 2
Not too hard to do. The challenge is:
1. Solder a square "loop" of 20 gauge wire on to a 26 gauge sheet.
2. Solder on an 18 gauge wire standing straight up.
3. Solder on a 14 gauge round wire standing straight up.
4. Solder on an 18 gauge copper round wire standing straight up.
5. Solder on a piece of brass, in this case it was a piece of brass tubing.
6. That is a total of six (6) solder joints. The challenge is to use the step method. Use hard for two, medium for two and easy for two.
7. Oh, with out using a bunch of third hands, binding wire (which I also never use, and never teach to use)

No Hat Trick, just hard solder and just torch control. I just
1. Soldered on the 20 gauge round wire loop by holding it in place with tweezers.
2. Then with it standing alone held by the hard solder, I soldered on the 18 gauge wire,
3. Then with nothing holding up the first two pieces, I soldered on the 14 gauge round wire.
4. Then the copper 18 gauge round wire.
5. Then the brass tube, all hard solder. (By the way lots of flux is the answer to soldering brass on to silver.)
6. I did not worry about the neatness of the joints, because with hard solder, they can be completely cleaned up and polished quickly and easily.
7. The entire piece was completed in about 5 minutes, even though I was teaching as I did it.
Once again, not a hat trick, not ego, just proving to my students that using only hard solder is easier to use than the step method, and better, and more profitable.
Then I guess we should put this in to perspective too!
All these solder joints were done on a piece smaller than 1 x 1 inch, with all joints done with hard solder and about 1/8 inch away from each other. No magic, no nothing but using hard solder which made it easy!

By the way, I am not selling this, not stamping it, not putting it to a strength test ( I will trust that all these joints will break at about 70,000 psi which is mostly after the silver sheet breaks!), I just going to keep it in my shop and here to shut up all those people that have never tried to use only hard solder, but keep saying it can not be done.

If  your one of those people and want to become a better silversmith, make better jewelry, and more profit I really want you to check out my Beginning Silversmithing class. I will help you not only to use only hard solder but how to use a torch.

I forgot to mention it was done with this $10.00 torch!

If an egotistical idiot like me can use this torch to solder those close solder joints, then even the most accomplished silver fabricator could easily take up the challenge with an expensive torch using easy, medium and hard solder, right?
If you are a Beginner or interested in beginning silversmithing do not fall for this dogma of using three grades of solder, and that you must immediately purchase hundreds of dollars of tools and torches. E-Mail me and I will send you the first four lessons of my Online Beginning Silversmithing Class. It will give you a complete list of tools and supplies, and lesson four will teach you to use a torch (even the cheap $10.00 torch) good enough to use only hard solder. Some thing that just seems to escape accomplished silver fabricators.
Email me for the first four lessons, free, with no obligations!
I believe that Lesson 4 will teach you to use a torch so good that you will be better than most silversmiths! And, that is over the internet, via email and photos on my main web site!
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