Identifying easily soldered metals and related issues.

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by RJSoftware, Feb 19, 2017.

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  1. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    #1 RJSoftware, Feb 19, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017
    Hello all.

    I know this subject has been covered before but not sure we are in full agreement as to what the issues are.

    I believe that I am dealing with inferior metals and that there may be some different combined elements not apparent to naked untrained eyes as to ease in soldering.

    But this issue really goes all over the place. I think it's beginning to drive me bonkers.

    Stuff that looks like brass. Smells like brass. Taste like brass BUT don't solder well.

    Or is it that most solder I get these days is lead free.

    Sometimes, some steel I get will solder with some types of solder other times not. I have allot of unlabeled solders some softer than others. I think most are lead free and in fact I can't even recall having an older leaded solder in a while but I may still have some. I got a big pile of rolls. Some labeled some not.

    I got a large drawer with different scrap metal, scrap clocks for making parts. I got steel/iron stock too. Rods plates blah blah blah...

    The thing is it's becoming ridiculous to start off with some project to find that what one thinks would be easy solder job turns into nope. No go.

    Ok, so I use a magnet to identify ferrous.
    I also know to grind steel to identify carbon. (sparks = carbon).

    To solder
    I shine up, grind flats to join parts. Heat both sides and present the solder.
    I usually get away with no flux. But I have flux.

    Most times brass to brass is easy though some fake brass has fooled me.
    I usually can get away with no flux. A good joint weeps inside and not cold looking. Ok.
    But I really get screwed up when I cross over iron/steel to brass etc.

    Some of the lead free seems to work better at much higher temp. But fiddling too much can ruin the job.
    I try always to use low temp.

    I think I need better organization AND identification (metals and fluxes).

    Any methods you guys use to find the desirable (works well) scrap you may have?
    RJ
     
  2. David S

    David S Registered User
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    Yikes I have soldered stuff for 60 years.. I guess I will have to think about this thread a bit more.

    David
     
  3. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    Hey David.

    Maybe you are more certain of the metals you have that they are what they are. Or maybe I'm still doing it wrong.

    For instance, I cannot solder the following.

    High carbon steel (typically pivot wire).
    A typical nail. Not sure what most are made of.
    A typical coat hanger wire.

    I know there are fancy fluxes and solders that I see on youtube that enable even soldering of aluminum.

    I am wondering also if there is a mechanics book that might help as to identification and process to solder. Something more detailed including fluxes, expected heat range etc.

    RJ
     
  4. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    Are you referring only to lead solder or otherwise known as soft solder?
     
  5. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    Not all "soft" solders contain lead. The criterion is the melting temperature. I usually prefer leaded solders, and/or silver-bearing solders.

    For more, see Solder 101.
     
  6. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    That is why I said soft solder in addition to lead.
    Silver solder is actually hard solder unless it is part of the makeup of soft solder. ie; 40/60 silver/lead.
     
  7. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    Hey Bangster. I forgot about the soldering 101 thread. Have you had good luck using "Solder-it" to join dissimilar metals such as brass to steel or other?
    Do you know what kinds of materials it can do?

    One thing I see in your thread that I was doing wrong was trying to silver solder with propane pencil torch. As you say it needs an oxygen system. That does clear up a bit. The joints I had been making with silver solder looked cold.

    What metals have you run into that would not solder? I assume I can't solder high carbon spring steel. But maybe just doing it wrong.

    RJ

     
  8. Jerry Kieffer

    Jerry Kieffer Registered User
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    RJ
    Soft soldering is mainly restricted to Steel, Brass, Copper and Bronze. It can not be oil impregnated such as some bearing stock. The surface should be freshly cleaned and roughed up with course emery cloth or bead blasted or whatever.
    From this point, to assure success, you NEED TO APPLY A LIBERAL AMOUT OF PROPER FLUX as well as a heat source that will bring the temperature of the material up to and exceed melting point of the solder. Cleaning, heat source and fluxing are the main sources of failure.

    Jerry Kieffer
     
  9. BLKBEARD

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  10. David S

    David S Registered User
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    Ok RJ I tested some of the metals you suggested: coat hanger (cleaned varnish off), common 1" finish nail, brass strip, copper wire.

    Unfortunately I cannot identify the flux. It is not corrosive. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but I have had this for years in the same tin can. It took if from work where we did nothing but soldering printed wiring card components. I have left it on copper pwcs for years with no interaction. It comes off easily with alcohol.

    The solder I used for this experiment is just 60/40 EE solder and the brown flux was also used. My electric go to iron is a weller with a medium tip and soldered the copper wire to the coat hanger with that. Also twisted some nails together and soldered them with the same iron. The brass strip was soldered with the pencil torch.

    However the wire solder I mostly use is in the picture on the far left. We had a Japanese company come over to repair some products and brought bought those spools with them.

    With the pencil torches I am sure I could also silver braze (hard solder) those 1 inch nails together.

    Oh one other thing that I found very helpful is the "mat" that I use to place the parts to be soldered on. It has a very low thermal mass, poor conductor of heat, so doesn't act like a heat sink.

    Weller iron.jpg pencil torches.jpg Solders and flux.jpg nails flux electronic solder.jpg brass to coat hanger brown flux ee solder micro torch.jpg

    David
     
  11. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    Hey David. Appreciate your efforts. Can't tell from pics but are the joints solid, can they easily bust off as a cold joint would do?
    Sometimes it can look like it's soldered but in reality the solder is just formed around the object. I'm sure you know this but have to verify.

    RJ
     
  12. David S

    David S Registered User
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    RJ my camera doesn't do real close well. but yes if you can blow them up you can see where the solder has formed a fillet and completely surrounds and wets both parts. I think most folks have issues with not getting the parts hot enough and the flux working before applying the solder. The solder should melt when touching the parts.

    Having said this, Solder alone is not a great mechanical joint. Butt joints are poor, peel not great. Sweat joints between concentric parts are good as are joints in shear. Where possible I try to make a mechanical joint before soldering.

    The nails while fully soldered.. perhaps with excess to show that it has flowed and adhered.. can be taken apart fairly easy because solder is simply not all that strong as a "glue".

    David
     
  13. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    Ok, see this is exactly what I am talking about. You have nails composed of some form of steel that does not solder well. Else you would not have been able to pull them apart. (that is if I understood you correctly).

    As Bangster's thread about soldering points out that the bond is thin and has nothing to do with the excess. My point is that even if you did a good soldering by sweat joint but the metal resist then it matters not.

    What I wonder about all of this is what metals work best with soldering as I would like to obtain stock that is assured to work with common flux and soft solder.

    We need all sorts of low temp stuff and work with scraps to form pieces to complete projects.

    Did your steel to brass one work well? Can you grip both items with pliers and twist without the joint giving?

    Have you tested all of the above in same manner (pliers and twisting)?

    A good joint really grips and does not give or break free.

    RJ




     
  14. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    #14 bangster, Feb 20, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2017
    RJ: i haven't tried to keep track of metals I couldn't solder, because I'm generally confronted with metals I can.
    haven't experimented enough with Solder-It to have a meaningful opinion.

    Everbody: Jerry mentions an important point that everybody needs to heed. For solder to adhere, it needs to be melted by the heat in the thing being soldered.
    The purpose of the torch, iron, gun, whatever, is to HEAT THE METAL to solder-melting temp, not to melt the solder. A good practice is to apply the heat to a spot away from the joint being soldered, and allow the heat to creep over to the joint so's it will liquify the solder.
     
  15. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    The oil impregnated is really a strange thing to me. I'll read up on it sometime but I imagine it to be some kind of porous metal where oil molecules are somehow fired into the surface.

    I could look up but like to hear from you guys. How about carbon steel, just it just need a special flux and maybe hard (silver)solder?

    Seems to be some differing opinions on when oxygen is needed as in Bangsters thread states silversolder needs an oxy system.

    As to the cleaning I always do that. But perhaps I have been short on the flux and proper heat.

    Thing is I'm never really sure what metal I am dealing with.

    I guess I can cut to the chase on this and ask what kind of steel and flux is best to work with for soldering to brass or steel?

    I just want to order the proper stock. Brass I got. It's the steel and flux for it that I am having difficulty with.

    RJ

     
  16. David S

    David S Registered User
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    RJ I think you may be referring more to welding. Like spot welding, were a good joint will pull and separate base metal. Solder is different. In the joint I showed with a brass strip wrapped partially around the coat hanger the solder has melted nicely and flowed and is adhering nicely to the brass and steel rod. However I could indeed peel it apart and you would see where the solder originally adhered to the brass, but in that mode the joint is not very strong. Lead/tin solder is not as strong as the base metals. It is not like welding.

    Now if I had sweat soldered a slip fit brass tube to the coat hanger it would be very difficult to pull them apart since the joint would be in shear.

    When you want to know that types of metals that are good for soldering. Brass, copper, tin plate, some steels like the coat hanger and common nails, with the right solder and flux some stainless steels.

    But I think it is more important to study the design of the joint and the stresses that it will receive when selecting the metals.

    David

    David
     
  17. David S

    David S Registered User
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    RJ do you have a particular application in mind that could help us?

    You mention silver brazing needs oxygen. In my experience that is simply not true...depending on the size of the components to be joined with hard solder. Those pencil butane torches that I showed are indeed able to silver braze small parts.

    One of the issues with silver brazing is that the high temperature can have other affects on the metals to me joined.

    David
     
  18. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    I gotten silver solder to melt and adhere with a propane torch but seemed still like a sloppy cold joint. But things get mixed up as I don't remember the ratio of the silver solder. Seems like it has to be heated allot hotter as in "red hot" to start working.

    I'm almost sure your not correct on the soldering joint not being stronger than you describe. Put it this way, it should be a p.i.t.a to try to separate them. You literally have to tear a good solder joint apart to get it to break mechanically. A poor solder joint (cold) separates and the solder looks like a mold that fit over the object. It may have some stick to it, but not serious stick.

    Take a piece of brass, shine it up and then tin that surface. Then try to remove the tinning with pliers or even a knife. It does not come off easy. Brass is easy to solder (or at least most brass. Some brass might not even be real or same brass as we are use to).

    As to applications, just general repairs. Just trying to master what works and what don't.

    RJ
     
  19. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    I think the thread that started this was to solder a brass sleeve onto a couple of pieces of steel to join them. It is much like soldering copper pipe connectors, where the connector (sleeve) is heated, and the heat draws the solder into the joint, making it almost invisible, not needing any excess. The flux is important as are the cleanliness of the materials.
     
  20. David S

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    Ok RJ all I can say if you can blow up my pics that I sent you will see that the solder has flowed nicely, made fillets etc. My purpose was to show that solder can be flowed nicely on to coat hanger wire. The type of joint that I show with the brass is very secure. I still have it. However lead / tin solder is not as strong as brass or the steel. So if I try and peel away the joint I will be able to get it apart. Same as if I join two copper wires well with no mechanical joint. They will simply come apart albeit with some force. But not as strong as welded.

    If you have a particular joint type that is small, I can show you how I would make a silver brazed one with the small butane torches.

    I am very familiar with cold solder joints, I have to repair many of them over the years.

    I can even send what I have done to you and have you inspect them.

    However once again if you have a particular application that you have in mind, lets discuss how we would approach it.

    David

    - - - Updated - - -

    Yes for sure. I tried to mention a brass tube on the steel coat hanger as an example of that type of sweat joint.

    David
     
  21. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    Well, kinda yes kinda no. It's been a re-occurring thing. Things are so varied and even agreement on what a cold joint verses a good joint is by identification of how well the join holds.

    I'm pretty sure, (if I have not lost my faculties) that a good joint is where the solder seeps in as you describe but also is incredibly strong as compared to a cold joint. Where the solder has to tear to release with a physical action (no heat). A significant sign of a cold joint is the solder forms like a mold to the object and release with some struggle. But pops loose or the object slides out.

    For instance a French clock where somebody soldered a hammer wire (presumably steel) (definitely not brass) to a brass bushing on hammer arbor. Messing around with it I find it's one of those won't stick to steel situations. But probably should have been a friction fit but forgoing that. (Sometimes it's just nice to solder).

    I would have done the job much easier if I replaced the steel rod with steel rod that would solder or known what solder flux combo should have been used. This would be steel to brass.

    But these kinds of situations seem to happen more and more to me...

    RJ

     
  22. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    Hey David. Appreciate your patients with me. Just trying to understand. Below is copy of what you said about the nails joined. "Can be taken apart easily". So this I think was a cold joint, yes/no?
    RJ

     
  23. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User
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    Scuffing up the surface with emery cloth will also help the solder adhere by giving it something to key into.
    A MAPP GAS Turbo Torch will give you a much hotter flame than a propane torch, but it's a wide flame for small work. I don't have a micro-torch, so I use my Oxy-Acetylene torch with my smallest tip.

    you can also Braze with the Turbo Torch, but it's a much slower process, as your pushing the limits of the torch.

    I'll order up a micro-torch this week, and maybe a pencil torch. I hadn't seen the pencil torches before.

    More tools as I transition from bigger work to wee little clock parts.
     
  24. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    #24 bangster, Feb 21, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2017
    I don't think that's right. Silver brazing, if I understand what you mean, doesn't need "oxygen"; but what it does need is a higher temperature than a pencil torch can provide. I've tried silver brazing with one of those upright "high temp" hand-held torches, and it wouldn't heat the target enough to accept the brazing.

    People often misunderstand "silver solder", since it can mean two things: (1) a soft solder with a certain amount with silver in the alloy; (2) a hard solder with an alloy of silver with copper or brass. Silver brazing with the latter requires heating the target to near red heat. Pencil torch ain't gonna do it.

    Is what I think.
     
  25. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    Just to add another dimension to the enigma here is a video on SSF-6 soldering. Seems like it can do allot and definitely not cold joints. But I wonder what is the difference here.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2wYgQtPg4g


    RJ
     
  26. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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  27. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    Doesn't sound like soldering nails or brass. Otherwise he has all the principles down to pat.
     
  28. wow

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    Just read thread. Thanks, RJ, for starting thread. I have learned much.
    I was taught to solder by my dad many years ago. For the soldering jobs I do in clock repair, his method has served me well. I use a solder that has lead and silver in it, and probably some tin. I bought a large roll of it many years ago and the % of each is no longer readable on the end of the spool. The thing he taught me that has been most critical was he cleaning process. He said that the two metals must be filed or sanded with emery cloth to the point where they shine, and there are no foreign materials on them. Then he said the iron, whether pencil or gun type must be clean. He said the tip of the gun must be filed with a small file and all old solder and other materials removed completely. Next, the metals must be cleansed with liquid flux and "tinted" , he called it, with a thin coat of silver bearing solder. Then the joint is made and heated to the point where the solder on each piece melts together and then stop. Do not use too much heat. That final joining process is done, in most cases, with the iron, but with two large or thick pieces, a pencil torch provides better heat to both pieces.
    I realize this is very simple, but every step is important and has worked for me for many years, creating nice smooth joints that can be hidden using a small wire wheel brush in a Dremel.
     
  29. David S

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    Ok this is for RJ and Bangster. Seems like I have been vindicated and that you can silver braze (hard solder) with a butane micro torch. No oxygen required. Yes he was using silver rings.

    I took a couple more of the 1" finish nails cleaned the ends with emery like I always do, fluxed with borax and fixtured them on my solder block, cut off a small piece of silver solder and brazed the heads together with the small butane pencil torch I showed previously. This was a tiny piece of solder, but still too much as you can see. Then I secured one end of the two nails and grabbed the other and bent it in a semi circle to test the joint.




    I highly recommend a proper solder block as also pointed out in the video. I prefer the honeycomb style since it is full of through holes and I can use them to pass wire through to secure small parts in alignment. The first picture shows each nail being held down and in line with a wire on each. I started out using fire brick but it absorbed way too much heat. I still use it as a base for the honeycomb solder block.

    nail heads silver brazed fixtured.jpg nail heads silver brazed.jpg nail heads silver brazed and bent.jpg

    David
     
  30. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User
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    Sure seems plenty strong for a butt joint, one of the weakest most difficult types of joints.

    Good job, good example of whats possible.
     
  31. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    The solder he's using in the video is not the high temp solder needed for brazing. For that, you need a lot more heat than you'll get with a propane or butane torch alone. You need oxy to get high enough temperatures to melt it.
    Here's a thread that opened my eyes to the difference.
     
  32. David S

    David S Registered User
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    Yes and thank you. I was going to mention this in the thread "Broken Strike Wire, need advice", but thought that it would kick up to much of a crap storm. As you can see I used way too much solder. The first piece I cut, I dropped it and couldn't find it, so just for demo went with a bit more. Its what is in the joint that counts.

    Also I have three types of silver solder hard, medium and easy. Not sure what this was, but the melting temps aren't all that far apart. I have silver brazed small brass parts, but have to be very careful since small section brass can melt easily.

    If using typical small butane torches, I can't recommend a proper soldering block enough. I makes a huge difference in my experience. They are not expensive.

    David
     
  33. David S

    David S Registered User
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    Shutterbug I think we need a reset here. In the last video RJ posted a link to the jewellery guy was indeed using hard solder. In the demo that I just show with two common nails the solder melting point would have been between 1325F and 1425F depending on which one I selected. This was done using thin paste of borax flux and a butane pencil torch, with either medium or hard silver solder.

    David
     
  34. roughbarked

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    #34 roughbarked, Feb 21, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2017
    It is all different and a lot of experience helps. I've done a lot of work with propane torches for silver and gold soldering as well as soft soldering with various mixes of solder on various metals, micro-torch using oxy and LPG for jewellery to watch and clock parts and even spectacle frame repair, oxy-acetylene work for welding and brazing, not to mention using MIG and TIG. There are times when you may use a soldering iron, there are times when you may use a something odd such as a nail as a soldering tip. It does all depend on the job.

    You do always need some type of block to work on.

    Don't be afraid, just remember the core principles.

    I found this video on brazing versus soft solder. It is a bit long, just over an hour. So I haven't watched all of it.
     
  35. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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  36. shutterbug

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    I don't believe he was using high temp solder, David. He did not have the heat source close to the work, which would be needed for a high heat application. I used to do soldering on eyeglass frames, and we used a gold and/or silver solder that we heated with an electric heating device. The temperature needed was not as high as what I needed for the repair in the linked thread. That solder/brazing material needed oxygen to get to melting point, and even then it took awhile. I'm pretty sure the jeweler was using something like what we used then.
     
  37. Jerry Kieffer

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    RJ
    Considering the number of posts with various opinions including my own, I would suggest that you go to a local welding supply shop, model engineering show , and or the model building at any gas and steam show and solicit instruction.

    Jerry Kieffer
     
  38. David S

    David S Registered User
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    Shutterbug the only reason that I am carrying on these posts is to let folks here know that for SMALL parts they can indeed silver solder i.e. hard solder, silver brazing whatever with an an inexpensive small butane torch.

    I went through your post several times and it appears that you used Safety Silv 45. They quote it as having a liquidus temperature of 1370F. The common silver solders that I use have a melting point between 1325 and 1425F, so I feel we can agree that you and I are using the same type of silver solder. I purchased some of mine from a jewellery supply store since the local welding shop stuff was too large.

    The demonstration with the head to head nails was silver soldered with the butane torch on a soldering block.

    I feel that in your case the mass of the parts were so large that a small butane torch simply couldn't get the part up to temperature due to the losses. For large projects I have the oxy propane / mapp kit similar to the one you purchased.

    David
     
  39. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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  40. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    OK, David ... perhaps you are right. I did not use a soldering block, so may have been losing heat. I'll have to get one and experiment ;)
     
  41. ClipClock

    ClipClock Registered User
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    I too use a butane torch for small silver soldering jobs DavidS. Its fine for most of the work I come across with clocks.

    I think, however, all torches are not equal, its worth spending just a *little* more for a decent one. I have two, they look the same, but only one is actually capable of getting stuff hot enough

    I also use a proper mat to avoid heat loss

    I do Silversmithing as a hobby, its come in very handy :)
     
  42. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    It's interesting how I always learn here, no matter how well I think I know the subject.
    Definitely going to get a soldering block. I like the wires can stick in the honeycomb idea too.

    Now, next question is can high carbon spring steel be soldered?
    If no wonder why not..!

    RJ
     
  43. David S

    David S Registered User
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    RJ I don't know alot about all the types of steels. However if bandsaw blades are high carbon then I silver solder them. My old Black and Decker drill powered band saw uses blades that are not standard so I have to cut longer ones, make a scarf joint, place in jig, flux with borax and silver brazed them together. Just replaced the one I did a couple of years ago, due to missing teeth.

    I don't recall having tried soft soldering spring steel.

    David
     
  44. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    It can be done but I wouldn't put it back in the bandsaw.
     
  45. nsc5

    nsc5 Registered User

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    Definitely Not! The bandsaw is one of the safest big power tools out there if handled properly but a improperly repaired blade would be too exciting for me to use.

    I do a fair amount of woodworking and bought a adjustable jig to make blade repair easier although fortunately I haven't had to use it much. My Minimax 24 (made by Centauro) seems to be very easy on blades and the only one I had some trouble with was a 1.5" width blade I used for resawing and it may have been the work rather than the blade. A big part of brazing, soldering, welding etc. is having clamps or jigs as necessary to properly hold the pieces so that you only need to focus on a proper application of heat and bonding material without having to simultaneously keep parts in proper alignment.
     
  46. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    David. You can still count to 10 right? (joke :) )
    Bandsaws give me the heebee geebees.
    RJ

     
  47. David S

    David S Registered User
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    Table saws give me the heebee geebees. I have this geared down quite a bit for metal work, so it doesn't seem as threatening.

    David
     
  48. David S

    David S Registered User
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    Clipclock do you use Borax or one of the other fluxes for silver?

    David
     
  49. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    Had to use bandsaws quite often on electrical jobs. To cut large conduit/pipes. We held them by hand and use to get crafty with them on the ladder or scaffold. But I agree with you tables saws do the same too.

    RJ
     
  50. nsc5

    nsc5 Registered User

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    When bandsaws "kick back" a work piece they kick it down to the table instead of back at the user like a table saw. One place where I used to buy hardwood had a huge dent in the metal wall from a kickback from a careless user of their Unisaw. The machine I have that does scare me is my shaper, those big cutters make an evil noise at speed and when I bought it the salesperson reminded me in the old days when a salesperson wanted to talk to the shaper operator in a furniture factory he just asked to speak to stubby :)
     

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