February 19, 2019 / How To

How to Pick Solder in the Jewelry Studio

Learn to pick solder! This is one of the 3 standard techniques that every jeweler should know. This method protects fragile pieces when soldering. ...

If you have a small piece or want a precise join without a lot of solder flowing, learn to pick solder. Pick soldering minimizes solder messes and heat on your jewelry piece to prevent melting disasters. Add this skill to your bench resume today.

I pick solder jump rings, earring posts, chain links, and any other fragile findings. This is a great technique to learn and one that will really help with delicate pieces. There are three main soldering techniques and each one has its place. Learn the best method to choose for each soldering job.

Standard Soldering

Standard soldering
Standard soldering

Flux and then place the solder underneath or on top of the join itself and then heat until the solder flows up.

This is the basic way to solder that is most widely used for different kinds of jewelry pieces.

 Sweat Soldering Jewelry

Two-step heating process. First, flux and melt the solder onto the first piece of metal then pickle and quench it. Second, place the 1st piece of metal (solder side down) onto the second piece of metal that you'd like to solder it to. Heat both pieces until the solder flows and joins the two metals together.

Sweat soldering is ideal for joining an embellishment to flat metal sheet or other jobs where you don't want the solder to be visible on the jewelry piece.

Sweat soldering
Sweat Soldering

Pick Soldering

Pick soldering
Pick soldering

Heat the piece of solder until it melts into a ball, pick it up using your soldering pick, place the ball of solder on your join and heat it until the solder flows.

Pick soldering is ideal for delicate pieces that you could overheat or melt all together.

Understanding Pick Soldering

Since the melting of the solder is done off to the side, this process keeps the majority of the heat off the finding itself. Because the heat is directed away from the metal, this is an excellent soldering technique for fragile pieces. When you pick up the ball of solder and move it to your piece, keep the heat on that ball of solder the entire time. That keeps the solder from cooling down and once you place it on the join, you don't need to heat up the material too much before the solder flows.

Steps to Pick Soldering

At the bottom of this post, you'll find a video that will show you the process overview. However, there are a few steps I'd like to cover with you first:

Step 1: Be sure that your metals are thoroughly clean of all oil, dirt, and grime. A light wiping using an 800 grit sandpaper at the soldering points will work just fine, however, refrain from touching the areas once they've been sanded clean. Body oil from your fingerprints can interfere with solder flow.

Step 2: The pieces being soldered must fit together tightly. It's imperative that they touch or you won't get a secure, soldered connection at the join.

Tip: Since flux acts as it's own barrier, use a small paintbrush to dab the flux directly on the join prior to soldering.

Step 3: Keep the heat on the ball of solder after you pick it up with the soldering pick, then lightly heat the metal around it so that the solder will flow quickly.

Step 4: Use the smallest torch tip or flame size that you can. That pinpoints the heat more onto the ball of solder rather than the delicate findings that you may be working with.

Pick soldering will work with almost any type of jewelry solder whether its pallion chips, wire or sheet. When the solder melts, regardless of the shape it started in, it will ball up. Keep in mind that you'll still want to use the appropriate amount of solder so clean-up is at a minimum during the finishing process.

Watch the video below, to see pick soldering in action!

Read the articles below for additional soldering tips, tricks, and instructions!

5 Steps to Start Silver Soldering

3 Torch Tips for Soldering Jewelry

6 Steps to Soldering Earring Posts

Fancy Jewelry Wires: Shaping & Soldering Wire Links

Soldering Half Round Wire & Pattern Wire For Rings

Got questions? Email our studio coordinator Erica Stice at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you. Sorry, studio support is not available by phone. Emails only, please.

Written By: Erica Stice
Erica is the former Studio Coordinator at Halstead. She spent 14 years with the company across a variety of departments but fell in love with metalsmithing. Erica's top tip for new metalsmiths is: "Practice! Be patient with yourself and have fun with it. Don't be afraid to ask questions. All of us at Halstead enjoy helping people whether it's questions on products or technical help in the studio. We're here for you."

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