A few solder questions...

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mahoak
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A few solder questions...

Post by mahoak » Sat Mar 31, 2018 10:55 pm

These may sound a bit strange questions but here it goes:

I am looking to get some lead free and flux free solder with silver mixed in it in order to melt and use for a bit of fancy inlay between gaps in wooden flooring. Would I be able to get this type of solder?

Also, what is the best way to melt the solder in bulk? I.e. melt 500g or more of solder and pour it in the gap/hole. Would it be able to put the solder in a pan and then melt it on the stove's gas burner? Or does it need more heat than that?
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Re: A few solder questions...

Post by Kev888 » Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:56 pm

Sounds rather unusual - are the cracks in strangely occult patterns? :-)

But (ignoring the question of why) would the molten solder not blacken or burn the wooden flooring, and/or run straight through the gaps to become a fire risk for stuff below?

That aside, you can get proper silver solders of various alloys with good levels of silver (say 55%) but that is quite costly and even the softer kinds need heating to brazing temperatures to melt properly - say 650c to 850c. I use it for joining stainless steel, and the stainless needs to be glowing orange before the solder melts properly; I've not actually tried, but would be very surprised if it worked in a normal pan/hob scenario.

There is also soft solder available which is loaded with silver, usually fine stuff for electronics work. It is really just silver-bearing solder, as the percentage of silver is pretty low, I've seen 0.8% to 5% for instance (though it is sometimes naughtily sold as silver solder). It is still pretty costly compared to standard lead-free solders, but would at least melt reasonably easily (around 300c) - not something I've tried, but there is a fair chance that a decent hob couldn't melt it.
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Re: A few solder questions...

Post by Rorschach » Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:35 am

Any solder containing a useful quantity of silver will melt at too high a temperature for you to do without special equipment, when you pour it onto wood it will scorch and possibly spit if there is any moisture in the wood. For doing what you suggest you need a super low melting point alloy. There are some which can even be melted in boiling water.

Solder will not really be suitable. Also, why lead free? If it is not coming into contact with food, lead won't matter.
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Re: A few solder questions...

Post by mahoak » Mon Apr 02, 2018 12:22 am

TBH pouring slder in the wood gaps to fill them and then sanding and smoothing it was suggested to me. The reason for it being lead free is because, apparently, sanding lead is not a pleasant job and rather unhealthy. However it sounds like using solder is not a good idea after all. In which case any ideas on what sort of allow I may be able to use?
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Re: A few solder questions...

Post by Rorschach » Mon Apr 02, 2018 7:25 am

Sanding lead isn't great for you true, but it takes a long time for it build up in your system. A one off job done carefully is unlikely to cause problems. Filing and burnishing would produce far less dust and be easier to clean up.

Roses metal is a low melting point alloy, not sure how hard it is though. Look for low melt alloys, lots of info on google, you will want something hard but with a melting point of sub 200 C I would think. Bismuth based alloys are usually very low melt.
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Re: A few solder questions...

Post by Kev888 » Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:06 am

You haven't mentioned the context, but could solid (and perhaps flexible) metal be inlaid?

If this were filling something like the normal expansion gaps in a floor, then it could also be worth considering what will happen if/when the timber expands and contracts.
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Re: A few solder questions...

Post by Bob225 » Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:34 pm

A picture would help greatly.

Solder will be too soft, sif silver solder No.39 is expensive - £90 a kg
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Re: A few solder questions...

Post by Dave54 » Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:46 pm

I know you can load epoxy resin with metal powder.
Example of resin supplier here
http://www.easycomposites.co.uk/#!/resi ... poxy-resin
There's metal powder on the site too
http://www.easycomposites.co.uk/#!/resi ... al-powders
There are other suppliers, but that's the first I came across.
I've not tried it, but I remember reading about something similar being used for inlays.
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Re: A few solder questions...

Post by mahoak » Mon Apr 02, 2018 9:44 pm

Ah yes, sorry I forgot to mention the context. Basically I have just had an extension built at the front of the house and the original front wall was knocked down. The living room is already covered in engineered oak flooring which runs vertical to the front wall. The end of it which is now exposed is also jagged (i.e. one board sticks out more or less than the next). So the new area will be laid in the same engineered oak flooring but that means that the two parts of flooring will meet along their narrow sides. So there will be a seam where they meet. I thought to create a feature by leaving a 50mm gap and filling it with a different type of material. But it sounds like using epoxy resin might be my best bet in this case?
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Re: A few solder questions...

Post by Kev888 » Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:30 pm

Heh, 50mm is a chasm compared to what I'd imagined as a floorboard gap!

Silver/lead (or substitute) etc isn't going to be a good answer IMO. Silver 'coloured' maybe (like stainless or aluminium strip) though perhaps brass may sit better with oak.

In that scenario though, my own feeling would be more timber. Very much down to personal taste, but a strip matched to the new flooring yet laid with the grain at 90degrees may be a subtle yet sufficient contrast, or for more of a feature maybe with a couple of narrow darker strips set within (or maybe either side of) it. Something like that anyway.
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Re: A few solder questions...

Post by Rorschach » Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:41 am

50mm! yeah definitely don't want to use solder or any molten metal for that matter. I was imagining maybe 5mm or so to fill some knot holes type thing.

I wouldn't even suggest epoxy, getting a flat smooth finish will be hard and it will show scratches badly after a while.
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Re: A few solder questions...

Post by Dave54 » Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:50 am

As said it's too much to fill.
If I wanted a contrast like that I'd put timber in with a slightly lower surface, and top it with a brass (or brushed stainless) strip.
Whatever you do is going to get scratched up though over time.
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Re: A few solder questions...

Post by Bob225 » Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:37 pm

In all honest if your having the same flooring just transition (tie in or weave) it in to the existing flooring, as the rough edge will all be cuts and will look odd unless you route out the timber for a threshold strip/flat bar
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Re: A few solder questions...

Post by mahoak » Tue Apr 03, 2018 1:50 pm

Thank you guys. Looks like wood is the way forward in that case. I was hoping to avoid using wood because the guy who laid the existing flooring glued it all together so I will have to somehow cut the edge of it to make it straight. I do have a Festool plunge saw so that might do the job and then near the walls I will have to use a multitool I suppose.
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Re: A few solder questions...

Post by Timllfixit » Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:25 pm

You can get something called "Woods metal" which is liguid at below the boiling point of water. I think it's a pewter type alloy,(so does contain lead) but not sure how shiny it would be. That wouldn't damage the floor though.
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