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Soldering Other Metals

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#1 browne92



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Posted 15 May 2018 - 11:22 AM

It was asked if other metals could be incorporated into stained glass work in another thread, but it was long ago so I decided to start a new one.
Yes, you can solder just about anything, but there are exceptions.  The real question is, can it be done with standard stained glass soldering equipment and supplies.  So I ran a test.  I tinned several different materials using these:
Weller 40W iron, Glastar flux, Kester 60/40 solid core solder .040" diameter.
And the results:
From left to right: mild steel, plated steel, stainless steel, brass, bearing bronze.
The brass and bronze should come as no shock with their high copper content, but the stainless was a pleasant surprise.
I'll admit I'd wished I had a bit more power on the larger diameters, but with patience, was able to get it done with just 40 watts.  And the relatively weak flux used in stained glass made me alter my method.  Usually, I flux the parts before applying heat.  To get this to work, I had to apply heat until the solder would melt when touching the work piece, then apply flux, then more heat and solder.  If you were going to do a lot of this work, I would recommend getting something like Harris Stay-Clean flux.  Same chemicals as the Glastar, just a higher concentration of them.
If your usual method of soldering stained glass is by loading the iron with solder and bringing to the piece, you'll need to do things a little different.  Wet the iron tip with solder to enhance heat transfer, then heat the piece until IT melts the solder, not the iron.
There are special solders and fluxes for aluminum, but I don't have any to try.  I also didn't have any silver plate to try.
The largest obstacle will be not knowing what you're trying to solder.  Reach into someone's scrap pile and pull out a piece of oil impregnated bronze and you'll have a fight on your hands that you'll never win. 
Let me know if there are any other metals you'd like me to try.

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