Metalwork - Soldering

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Creating jewelry is a much more technical process than most people think. To create certain pieces, we use chemicals, wax, and precious metals or processes such as forging, filing or soldering to create a certain design and effect. We solder almost everyday. It is the process of joining two metals together with a filler. In simple terms, soldering is the process of gluing metals together through heat. Soldering has been around for over 5000 years. There is evidence that the ancient Egyptians knew how to solder gold. The Romans also used soldering and did an impressive job by soldering together approximately 249 miles of lead water pipes, which were able to withstand a 18 ATM. The process of soldering differs from welding, because when you solder, you aren't melting the actual metal of the piece, but instead you melt a separate piece of metal which will then go between the two metals you want to join together. The filler metal (solder) is a mix of different metals and needs to have a lower melting point in order for this process to work.

Lead solder is often used with small electronics because of it's extremely low melting point, but we use silver and gold solder to create our jewelry. Through melting the solder using an open acetylene flame over the joint of the pieces we want to fuse together, we form a permanent bond that will only cracks under extreme pressure. While the solder has a different color when it is applied, it will look identical to the original metal after being polished. An untrained eye cannot detect the solder. In order to solder jewelry, the piece of metal you want to solder needs to be completely clean of coatings, patina, oil etc. The hardest part of soldering is to not overheat the metal, which will destroy the solder and make it unusable. It is also important for the two metals you want to solder to touch, because solder is not supposed to fill gaps, it is just a glue bonding two pieces of metal together. 

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