How to use a solder pick
When it comes to soldering jewellery, using a soldering pick can really speed up the process. It might seem a little difficult the first try or two, but it’s super easy to get the hang of if you know a few little tricks.
Solder does not stick easily to your titanium solder pick. It sticks to the flux on your solder pick, but only if the flux is at the right temperature.
When flux is cold – it’s hard like glass
When hot – it’s liquid like water
When it’s in between, it’s like honey – honey is not only yummy, but it’s also sticky, and sticky is very helpful here.
When you want to pick up the solder, you need the flux on your pick to be warm and sticky.
When you’re ready to place your solder on a join, you need the flux on your pick to be liquid like water (hot – so it releases the solder easily), and you’ll want the flux on your join to be sticky so the solder transfers easily from the pick to the join.
It sounds like a lot to think about, I know. But a few practice runs, and you’ll find it all happens naturally.
Using a solder pick to solder jewellery
Make sure you have flux on your solder pick. You can see the glossy finish on the pick to left. This is coated in flux. Simply apply flux to the pick and heat (I’ll usually repeat this a couple of times with a new solder pick).
Flux is sticky when it’s warm. Having flux on the solder pick makes it much easier to pick up the solder.
Place the pick just behind a small pallion of solder on your soldering surface. I usually place mine about 1cm or so behind my solder.
In case you were wondering, I’m using hard charcoal here. The soft stuff doesn’t last long enough for my liking! But I do also love Solderite pads for soldering on.
Heat the solder until it melts and turns into a ball. As you’re doing this, you’re also heating the pick behind the solder.
Heating this way helps ensure the flux on the pick gets warm and sticky too.
When the solder balls up, remove the flame immediately and scoop forwards with the solder pick to attach the solder to the pick.
It’s important to remove the heat from the solder before scooping, otherwise we just mush our solder into our soldering surface.
When transferring the solder from the pick to the join, you’ll want to get the flux on the join sticky with a little heat, then heat the pick to release the solder as you touch it to the join.
Don’t heat the solder directly though, aim the flame just behind the solder on the pick. If we aim the flame at the solder, we could overheat it and overheating solder again and again, increases its melting temperature and makes soldering more difficult.
Give pick soldering a try, and let me know in the comments below how you get on! I hope you’ll love it just as much as I do!
If you want to learn more about soldering in general, check out this blog post: CLICK HERE
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