How to Use a Soldering Pick

If you are new to soldering, or still a little hesitant in your soldering skills, a Soldering Pick is something you will want to get used to and learn how to use. In soldering there are many uses for a soldering pick, from moving or holding pieces that are being soldered to adding or holding solder in its place during soldering. I like to use a Titanium Soldering Pick to solder with because the solder does not stick to it as easily as a steel pick, or even a tungsten pick from what I have experienced. I use my soldering pick every time I solder to add solder to the joint I am soldering.

Soldering Pick Header

In silver soldering, I like to use Handy Flux for my soldering. The purpose of flux in soldering is to dissolve of the oxides on the metal surface and act as an oxygen barrier by coating the metal, preventing its oxidation. I keep my flux in a re-purposed baby food jar and the lid seals tightly and keeps the flux moist. I like it to be the consistency of oatmeal for the lack of a better example. I keep a stainless steel or sterling silver wire in the jar of flux as an applicator.

Soldering Pick (1) Soldering Pick (2)

Soldering Pick (3)

In this example, I am soldering a small silver ring together. I have filed the ends flat and flush with a #6 Equaling Needle File, cleaned the piece before soldering, and now am applying the flux with the wire applicator.

Soldering Pick (4) Soldering Pick (5)

Soldering Pick (6)

After the solder joint is completely covered in flux, I like to do is dip the very end of my soldering pick in my flux so that it has just a small bit of solder on the end of the pick, then I can pick up my solder with the flux, which acts like a magnet, and add the solder to the soldering joint I am working on. I can apply the solder to the piece and hold it or move it around with the pick while applying the heat.

Soldering Pick (7) Soldering Pick (8)

Soldering Pick (9) Soldering Pick (10)

Now I apply the heat to the solder joint with my Mini Torch
, watching closely so that the solder stays where I want it, right on top of the seam to be soldered. Pay attention because as the flux gets hot, it has a tendency to boil and bubble, which can move the solder or even make the solder fall off of the piece. Use your soldering pick to hold the solder in place.

Soldering Pick (11) Soldering Pick (12)

There you have it, the solder flowed exactly where I wanted it to with the help of my soldering pick.

Soldering Pick (13)

In soldering, your pick should be your best “friend”, making you look like a champ!

Thanks again for stopping by and as always, if you find value in this content, or if you like to keep up to date on the eBook, tutorials, podcast, and video lessons coming soon, make sure to Subscribe to this Blog Via Email (link in the upper right corner at www.JewelryMonk.com)

As always, I look forward to your feedback:

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Either way, I and others are here to help you hone your skills as a jeweler and as a member of the JewelryMonk Community.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Now go make friends with your soldering pick.

Doug

 

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23 Responses to How to Use a Soldering Pick

  1. Stephanie October 3, 2014 at 7:30 am #

    Great tutorial, Doug!

    • JewelryMonk October 3, 2014 at 7:31 am #

      Thanks Stephanie.

  2. Lisa Anderson October 4, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    Thank you for this. I need to begin taking more advantage of my solder pick!

    • JewelryMonk October 4, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

      Lisa, you are welcome. The more you use it, the more it will become second nature. Keep it up.

  3. LindaS October 5, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    I just recently learned how to use the solder pick as a heat sink and metal support when soldering a gold basket setting. Prop the setting in a soldering block, place pick along side, behind of the prong and touch just above the prong join. Keeps the prong above the solder pick from heating up.

    • JewelryMonk October 5, 2014 at 9:37 am #

      Thats awesome. A pick can and will be your best friend in soldering.

  4. CAS March 3, 2015 at 10:13 am #

    I just tried to use my soldering pic for the first time, it was a disaster. Working with small chains, jump rings, spring rings, and not much space to keep from burning the small spring in side the spring ring because of the proximity of the spring ring and jump ring I am trying to solder close…ugh!

    Working with oxy-acetylene using a very small tip with no luck, thought about switching to my acetylene only with my smallest tip.

    I have walked away from the project to clear my thinking for a bit and do a little research how to use my solder pic. I have more chains, but need to try to understand what I did wrong using the pic. Your feedback would be welcomed and appreciated.

    Thank you,
    CAS

    • JewelryMonk March 4, 2015 at 6:12 am #

      There are a couple of products out there that you can use as a heat sink to protect the spring portion, both in a paste and a gel. I would use handy flux and a small flame with easy solder. Don’t use a super “hot” flame, (really pointy) or you might melt the jump ring. Aim the flame away from the spring portion.
      Doug

      • CAS, March 4, 2015 at 7:34 am #

        Thanks for the tip…after I sent the question I tried again to solder a new spring ring on. Had better luck this time…using Handy flux, easy solder, also had my smallest tip away from the ring and just acetylene. Lost half the interior spring. I will look for paste you mentioned to put on the ring and never give up!!!

        Thank you,
        CAS

        • JewelryMonk March 5, 2015 at 9:10 am #

          Glad you had better luck. You can also try to submerge the spring part in a dish of water.

          • CAS March 7, 2015 at 7:14 am #

            P.S. after our communication of my problem, went to my local supply shop and found a product called “heat shield”, used it and am wondering why in all the time I have been working with precious metals never heard of it. What ever the composition is…stuff works great. Did 3 springs as directed when finish we

          • CAS March 7, 2015 at 7:16 am #

            P.S. after our communication of my problem, went to my local supply shop and found a product called “heat shield”, used it and am wondering why in all the time I have been working with precious metals never heard of it.

            What ever the composition is…stuff works great. Did 3 springs as directed when finished all three worked perfectly.

            Thanks,
            CAS

  5. JewelryMonk March 7, 2015 at 8:20 am #

    Glad to hear that. Great!

  6. Gillian December 4, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    Very well explained! The pics are great too 🙂

    • Doug Napier December 4, 2015 at 9:16 am #

      Thank you Gillian.

  7. Joanne April 10, 2016 at 10:26 am #

    Can I use paste and solder purchased at the local hardware store?

    • Doug Napier April 10, 2016 at 4:45 pm #

      Does your hardware store sell precious metal solders? I wouldn’t use any of the lead based solders. Not sure if they sell brazing flux as well. Never checked. I would stick with jewelry supply stores.
      Doug

  8. Nancy King Cornett May 13, 2016 at 6:43 pm #

    My soldering pick is finally becoming my friend, little by little. FYI, Amazon is out of stock on the #6 file in your link and doesn’t know when it will be back in stock.
    A couple of questions – what do you do with the piece of wire you use to apply flux in between sessions. I tried sticking one down in the jar flux seemed to get all over the wire and the flux started turning colors. Then I tried leaving it next top/on top, whatever. But if I didn’t stop and clean it well it became hard as a rock and also left little flux crumbs all over the drawer.

    Question 2: I was wondering if I could make an applicator from a little piece of plastic (like a broken disposable fork handle or a slice of plastic card) Seems like it would work without having strange reactions with the flux and be easier to wipe down cleanly than wire.

    • Doug Napier May 14, 2016 at 9:07 am #

      Thank you for letting me know about the link, I will check into that. I use a piece of silver wire just long enough to fit into the baby food jar with the lid closed. I only use about 1/2 inch of flux in the jar though so it doesn’t make a big mess. You could use plastic if you wanted to.

  9. Betsy Murphy Adomkaitis August 1, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

    Hi, I just read your article on solder picks. It was helpful, thanx. I will now buy a titanium (the one you said, I believe) but Rio has 3. One is .5mm; .7mm; and 1mm. I have no idea how to go about choosing. I just started up with jewelry making in November. The last time was in the 80s when things seemed so uncomplicated.
    Do you have any thoughts on which to start with? I’m still afraid of the torch noise (eek) but once I get going, I’ll be fine. Besides, my husband always helps my neurotisism (sp?)
    Any help is appreciated.
    Thanx,
    Betsy

    • Doug Napier August 1, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

      Betsy, glad it was helpful. Soldering is something that seems a bit scary at first, but the more you do it, the more you will get comfortable with it. Pretty soon it will be like a comfortable pair of shoes.
      As far as the pick, I like to use the thinner picks… 0.5mm works for me. The one from the article (pick) is from Amazon and works good too.
      Hope this helps.
      Doug

  10. Coco . October 16, 2016 at 10:51 am #

    Thank you so much for a very helpful post! I do have a question: Do you find a straight or cross-lock soldering tweezer easiest to use? Thanks again.

    • Doug Napier October 16, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

      Coco, I use them both. For fine detailed soldering, I use straight tweezers, they are a bit shorter and I have more control. For larger applications, I use the cross lock tweezers with the fiber pads, similar to these: TWEEZERS
      Take care.
      Doug