Silver-Filled Fabrication Metals Quick Reference

Learn about special considerations for working with silver-filled fabrication metal, from soldering to finishing.

Last edited: 10/30/2019

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Rio Grande carries 1/10 silver-filled fabrication metals, made with .925 sterling. We find that the additional thickness better serves fabrication techniques such as cutting, forming, polishing. Rio Grande offers single-clad sheet as well as round, half-round, and square wire. Wire is available in both dead-soft and 1/2-hard tempers.

Soldering

Be sure to use silver solders when soldering silver-filled metals, and avoid using  hard solder. Coat your piece with barrier flux to prevent fire scale. All the regular fluxes that help solder flow will work fine: My-T-Flux, Handy Flux and Jel-flux. For pickle, use Rio Pickle or PickleIt. It might not remove the stubborn pink stuff from the brass, but it will clean the silver very nicely. Sanding or rubber wheels work well to remove the pink from the brass. PS: Balling up the ends of the wire is not a good idea. It's difficult to do (the silver melts first, then the brass) and it looks pretty bad.

Forming & Stamping

Stamping works great on silver-filled metal, and general forming is easy to do because the layers don't separate. But take care not to do too much—anything that appears unintentional cannot be sanded out because you will expose the brass. Annealing is the same as annealing silver: heat it to a dull red (using a barrier flux such as Cupronil or Firescoff to prevent firescale), then let it cool for a second or two and quench in water.

Hallmarks & Quality Stamps

THe FTC has not approved any quality mark for silver-filled metal. The best course of action would be to omit making any quality mark (at least until a legal agreement is issued by the FTC around what a proper mark should be).

Finishing & Polishing

Finish silver-filled metal as little as possible. Tumbling in steel shot is a great way to put a shine on silver-filled pieces, because it's a non-abrasive finishing technique, and there is no chance of removing the silver layer. Keep in mind, though, that steel shot can't remove scratches. Conventional polishing with abrasives should be avoided if possible. Using sandpaper, rubber wheels, polishing compounds, etc., removes silver and may expose the underlying brass. Oxidizing is okay, because silver-filled metal will oxidize just like sterling. Black Max or Liver of Sulfur both work great.

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Preventing Tarnish

Silver-filled meal will tarnish just like normal sterling. All the same preventative measures can be used: anti-tarnish strips, Tarnish Shield, lacquer, etc.

Safety Concerns

There are no safety concerns with silver-filled materials. They comply with California Prop 65.

Fabrication & Findings Options

  • In fabrication metals, we stock round, half-round, square, twist-pattern, and full-bead wire and single- and double-clad sheet. There is no casting grain, as it would produce an alloy similar to silver solder. We're always open to customer requests, so if you have one, let us know! We'll look into getting it.
  • In findings, we have many pre-fabricated pieces and are always looking to expand oru selection so be sure to let us know what you'd most like to see.

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