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Soldering 16.5 rebar tie wire


soleil

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Hello,

I'm using a Benzomatic butane torch and making jewelry with rebar tie wire which is carbon steel wire according to the website. I've made several oval loops and want to join the two ends together. The ends have been filled down so they meet end to end and I've used steel wool to make sure the ends are clean. I've tried using Batterns flux for silver, gold & Platinum and Oatey flux No. 5. Then for solder I've tried Bernomatic solid wire solder !00% lead free and just the regular silver solder that I have in soft, medium and hard (used the soft and medium).  I've tried placing the solder on top of the joint and also in between. I heat and heat and it does look like it goes sort of liquid but then with more heat it balls up instead of flowing into the joint.

Do I need a different flux or solder? Is my torch not hot enough?  I have no idea if this wire has been annealed either as I own another type I haven't tried yet that is annealed.

Also does this wire need to go into a pickling solution after the water? I've been doing that but wondering if it was necessary with this type of wire.

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Welcome soleil. first thing to do is add your general location to your profile. It may well make a difference depending on where you are on this planet as to what information is relative at least product wise. I'm not familiar with the wire you use, others may be. I was used to using "black burned" rebar tie wire when I was steel fixing and I've never attempted to solder it. Interesting use though! I'm sure one of the more learned members will be along shortly to offer some advice.....I'll stick arround and learn something.:D

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Smoggy,

Thanks I've updated my location. I've been pouring over the internet the last few days trying to figure out how to make this work. I'll go find what I've started and post a photo which may help explain what I'm trying to make.

Shown is the tie wire, the loops and the last photo of the medium solder. I'm using a charcoal block to solder.  The other solder that I have that is lead free comes in a coil that I snip off.  I can also get Stay Clean flux locally but only a 16 oz size which is more then I want. I'm told by the store that it should work for what i want to do but don't want to spend more money on another type if it doesn't work. Also wondering if I should try the paste flux/solder version like this:  http://etsy.me/1qpsAfr 

With the low Canadian dollar I'm trying to avoid buying from the USA where possible and may see if I find something like this in Canada.

 

 

 

rebar tie wire.jpg

loops.jpg

Wire Loops 2.jpg

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Thomas,

It is going to be a necklace eventually so I don't want the loops falling off the chain or if the person wraps it around to make it shorter it won't fall apart.

Thanks, I've been having a feeling that the flux is the issue. I have hard solder so I'll try that with a new flux. The Oatey flux I've tried says it's not for stainless steel so I'm thinking that is my problem also even though I'm using carbon steel.  Do you think the Stay Clean flux will work?  The store that sells it tells me it's:  a suitable flux for soldering steel and most other metals. Or I'll go my local Home Depot and see what I can find there.

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Try cleaning with a little hydocloric acid in dilute solution then use : 

Stay Brite® Kit

Description: Stay Brite Lead-free Solder Kit

Use for all metals with the exception of aluminum. Low temperature solder excellent for many HVAC connections.

- See more at: http://www.harrisproductsgroup.com/en/Products/Alloys/Soldering/Lead-Free-Solders/Stay-Brite-Kit.aspx#sthash.HFwK1PtS.dpuf

This is 460 deg F Solder with its own flux.  Some knife makers use it to solder guards of their knives.  

My own experience with jewelry solders on steel is when I get hot enough to solder I've burned off the flux and contaminated the joint.

Kits are currently available at some hardware&big box home centers as well as many welding suppliers.

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Charlotte,

Thanks, I can get the stay clean flux locally so maybe I'll just go that route and try the hard solder I have already. Yes I have to apply a fair bit of heat and the flux bubbles up etc. so I may be contaminating the joint as well.

I have Sparex solution already in a glass dish so I'll just put the loops in there and use an old toothbrush to really make sure it's clean.

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turbo7,

No I'm not maybe that is another reason it's not working. I'm researching that now. Thanks. Hoping I can do that with my torch as I don't have a soldering iron. Also I don't have tinning solder but I do have the softer coiled version that I can try it with.

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I am not familiar with your kind of torch but the flame of torches can be oxidizing neutral or reducing. If it is oxidizing it may be difficult to solder. If there is no requirement on strength it is easy to use tin based solder. You do not need a soldering iron. A kitchen range is quite OK. Use an old frying pan preferably of aluminium, since tin does not stick to it. Lay your ring flat and heat until the solder becomes fluid. Soldered joints need to be thin. It is best to file the end with a slant so the surfaces are larger than the wire sross section. The ends in your pic looks as they are rounded. That will not work well with solder.

I have not done this myself but my first attempt to do it would be to make sure the ends mate. pull a thin file (or sand paper) between them to make sure they are clean, lay them in the frying pan and  hold the end of self fluxing eletronic solder wire to he joint. After a short while the solder will run into the joint and the ring can be lifted out to cool down.  

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I'm not familiar with your wire however 'traditional' flux for the soldering of steel was/is spirits of salts which I that I believe you call muratic acid? or some Zink (battery outer casing) (Zink/carbon) dissolved  in(hydrocloric) acid.

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Ammonium chloride or spirits of salt tends to give unpleasant gasses so it is not very popular today. If the electric solder does not work as it is, I would use the zink/hydrochloric acid  flux. It is adviceadble to use zink in excess so the acid is consumed. That keeps the corrosion down. This flux is nothing but chloride of zink in water.

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Look into Force 44 it is a low temp silver solder used in gunsmithing. It melts in the 400°f range.

Depending on how big those rings are they would be a perfect candidate for resistance welding. We welded wire at the display company I worked at with a machine that was like a spot welder but it clamped, then pushed the wire together as it heated up. With that method there is no flux or other color to deal with. 

What about a small tipped gas torch and fuse the ends? Or brazing them? If you know someone with a TIG that would be a quick zap with the torch.

 

Is your wire getting red hot with the silver solder? Some silver solders are pretty high temp to get flowing.

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You've all be very helpful thank you. I went to my local Home Depot and explained what I was trying to do. The man said I would need to use an acetylene torch with a copper brazing rod which they sold or he recommended using a Mapp/Oxy set up which they sold there but I if I buy a new torch I want something with a finer tip.  I know it can be done with a butane torch as the women I bought a similar steel wire from online (hers is a 14 gauge so thicker) told me she is using a butane torch not even as nice as mine with a silver solder paste and it works. So I'm seeing if I can get a silver solder paste here in Canada or buy one from the USA.  I did try the 14 gauge and almost got it to work. I can get the Stay Clean flux locally so think I may just buy that (especially if it works for silver too) and see if that works.  If not I'll go the paste route or get creative and figure out how to design without soldering the links.

Just found out my local supply shop has a Stay clean kit in stock with both solder and flux so I'll buy that and hope it works.

Yes at times my wire does get red hot in spots with the silver solder.

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There is a sweet spot with silver solder. Too cold and it just beads, just right it flows like water, too hot and it will not flow and bead up. Where I used to work I would flux the item, then warm it up slowly while scratching it with the solder. After the flux had turned to goo it was time to start testing with the solder. Eventually a small bead would form and with a couple of more swipes with the torch it would just flow into the joint. It all depends on the solder you buy as to what temp it flows, so work up to it slower than faster. The stuff we had at work would flow just as it was reaching a very dull reddish/black. The main thing was to heat it up slowly.

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Biggundoctor,

Thanks for the tip. The solder I was trying to use was soft, medium and hard and the store where I bought it from said it's a high temp solder and they didn't think it would work with Batterns flux I was using and the Oatey paste flux I had. I went and bought the Stay Brite kit which was expensive. They sold 16 oz of flux for the price of the kit but then the only separate solder they sold came in a big bundle of $200. The kit came with a 1/2 oz flux and 1/2 oz solder. Hoping to try it out tomorrow. I'm a bit nervous as I'm hoping it will work.  I've gone and filed down the solder that balled up from previous attempts and one of the links broke again so will try to solder that with the new stuff.

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I tried the Stay Brite kit and I'm having the same problem. I get the initial melting and then it balls up again and never flows into the joint. For now I'm taking a rest from this as I've spent too much time on it and I'm getting frustrated. Maybe it's my technique working with steel but if I go to silver or non tarnishing brass I have no problems at all. My sister is convinced she can figure it out so I'll let her try it and see what happens. I'm frustrated I bought this Stay Brite kit as I had this feeling it may not work.

In the meantime I'm going to brainstorm designs that don't require soldering at all.

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6 hours ago, turbo7 said:

How much soldering have you done Soleil?

You are aware that you should be aiming to heat the ring with the torch and that the workpiece in turn should melt the solder?...the beading up and no flow sounds suspiciously like you are heating and melting the solder with the flame and expecting it to flow into a cold joint.

It may be helpful to remember that the solder will flow towards the hottest point...

...and that each time you remelt the solder it will be at a slightly higher melting point...very useful for multiple joints on the same piece.

Alan

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turbo7,

With steel I have no experience soldering. With sterling silver a few years. I keep going back to working with sterling silver to avoid frustration.

Alan Evan,

Thank you for the tips. Yes I'm heating the entire ring first and moving in a circular motion but it's possible I'm not heating it enough. I'm fluxing where the two pieces meet and laying the piece of solder on top of it and placing this on a charcoal block. I also tried placing the oval ring in a third arm and working that way.  My sister give it a try as she is also familiar with sterling silver soldering and got 2 to work kind of but getting it to slightly melt and spreading with tweezers.

Maybe the steel senses that I'm frustrated. ^_^

I'm also constantly watching videos online but have yet to find one with someone soldering steel wire.   I've contacted the store I bought it from to see if they can help me out. 

Thinking I may just make a video of what I'm doing and put it here and on you tube to see if someone can shed light on what I'm doing wrong.

My new brainwave is to just create steel wire designs that avoid soldering for now.

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You should not need to heat the entire ring but just make sure it is the heat of the ring metal that melts the solder and not the direct heat of the flame.

I am unfamiliar with the brand names of the solders you are using. But I get the impression they are hard/silver solders rather than tin/lead soft solders.

Have you cleaned all the black mill scale away from the joint area before you start?

Have you tried Borax for the flux? For silver soldering most metals I generally use a proprietary flux by Johnson Matthey called Easy-flo.That covers the temperature ranges of the hallmark-able silver and gold solders and also the industrial Easy-flow silver solder. It was more convenient than the old borax cone and ceramic dish but has much the same effect.

For your rings I would either scoop out a spot in the charcoal block just below the joint so that the flame could get all around it, or hang the joint over the edge of a block for the same heat access reasons. If you are using panels of solder rather than in stick form, warm the joint first and wait until the flux has stopped bubbling and has turned to molten glass before applying the panel.  I used tweezers but I see in some old books they used a fine pointed stylus. Play the flame on the underside of the joint away from the solder panel.

As said by others above, the joint must be good. Solder is not a gap filler. It gets pulled into a hot joint like water and capillary attraction.

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To me it almost sounds like your over heating the joint. My soldering/brazing has all been HVAC related, but when I started out I had trouble soldering. I was overheating the joint and the solder would ball up and run out like you described. Not enough solder or dirt/oxidation would produce the same results. Also when joining dissimilar metals, a solder or braze rod high in silver content was required. Brazing rod is a better gap filler than solder. Just some food for thought.

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