I repaired a silver bracelet yesterday for a friend and once again it reminded me that engineering is in our DNA, it is part of us.
The reason that I have the various bits and pieces needed for silver soldering is not because of some random arts and crafts desire. It is not a hobby or anything that I particularly enjoy doing. I have the kit because I needed, at some stage, to solder some silver and how hard could it be?
So on Sunday I set about finding the appropriate tools, which had conveniently found their way to the furthest reaches of their respective locations. Having assembled the required kit in the kitchen I clamped the vacuum vice to the work top, it ejected itself so I swore at it and installed it again. This routine continued for the duration of the task as one would expect.
Next up was trying to flux a joint so small that I needed an eye glass to see it. Much frustration later an assembled joint lay awaiting the heat. Of course the torch that I use for jewellery won’t light from a lighter so I had to dig out the standard blow torch as a ‘pilot light’. The first time that I got to flux melting point the vice popped again dropping the new silver and eliciting more obscenities.
Second time lucky, the heat softened the tiny scrap of silver as it fluttered in the stream of gas looking like it was destined to fly off. In the briefest of moments the metal softened and adhered to the joint before being drawn in to fill the gap. As I removed the heat the fluidity of the new silver disappeared instantly and the new joint was made.
For all of the swearing and annoyance the point when you win, when you make the material do what you want, is worth it. That is why we are engineers, because of the pleasure of making the physical world do our bidding.