Stainless steel wire is often used to create mesh, shelving and other furniture. It is also commonly used to hang pictures, photographs and other household items. Some people make sculptures, mobiles and jewellery from this type of wire. To permanently join stainless steel wire, you must solder it together.
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Things you need
- Charcoal block
- Binding wire
Clean the stainless steel wire where you plan to solder. Check the stainless steel for grease, grime and oxidation. Sand off any oxidation with 220-grit wet/dry sandpaper. Remove all grease and grime by wiping it with a rag dampened with acetone. Remove the dirt and grime from sanding and the acetone residue with dish soap and water.
Check that the seam you plan to solder abuts; solder does not fill gaps, so the ends of the stainless steel wire that you plan to solder must be flush. Adjust the stainless steel so that there are no gaps in the stainless steel wire where you want to solder. Sand the ends with a 220-grit or other course sandpaper until the ends are flush, if necessary. If gravity alone will not hold the stainless steel wire flush, use a third hand, a clamp, binding wire or another tool to secure the stainless steel while you solder.
Place the stainless steel wire on a charcoal block or other fire safe work surface. Charcoal blocks work well because they radiate heat and make soldering faster and easier.
Paint the seam of the stainless steel wire you plan to solder with flux to prevent oxidation. Use a paint brush dedicated to flux to paint the seam.
Put a small amount of solder under the seam you plan to solder.
Heat the stainless steel wire evenly until the stainless steel wire turns cherry red, indicating it has reached the soldering temperature. Do not heat the solder with your torch directly or the solder will melt without sealing the seam. Draw the flame of your torch along the seam of the stainless steel wire to direct the solder once the metal is red hot.
Allow the stainless steel wire to cool to room temperature after you have finished soldering.
Tips and warnings
- Use as little solder as possible. Excess solder will spread over the stainless steel wire and will not add strength to the soldered seam. Excess solder will result in additional work when fabricating.
- Observe the flux as you heat the stainless steel wire up to the soldering temperature with your torch; the flux will begin to boil as the stainless steel wire reaches the soldering temperature.
- Always work in a well-ventilated space when soldering.
- Use fire safety precautions when using a torch.
- Solder on a fire safe work surface.
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- "Metalsmithing"; Robert Ebendorf, Michael Jerry and Thomas Markusen; 1973
- "Form Emphasis for Metalsmiths"; Heikki Seppä; 1978
- "Jewellery Concepts and Technology"; Oppi Untracht; 1982
- "The Complete Book of Jewelry Making"; Carles Codina; 2006