Thursday, October 25, 2007

Soldering Tips: Use of a graphite pencil in pick soldering

I got this from this article:

Another tip is to use a pencil for a solder pick. I learned
this trick from Belgian master goldsmith Evert de Graeve, when
he taught the Advanced Goldsmithing class at the Revere
Academy in 1986. Shave back the wood of the pencil leaving
only the graphite, about an inch and a half long. A hard
pencil is preferable. When you heat the solder snippets touch
one with the pencil tip just as the solder melts and it will
stick to the tip. Place the snippet (now a sphere) on your
fluxed piece where you wish it to be, and it will stick there.
The difference between this and a metal solder pick is that
the solder can not melt onto the graphite pencil tip, it is
only suspended there until it is touched to another surface.
It requires a bit of practice and patience to perfect the use
of the pencil soldering pick but it is a very useful tool. The
solder sphere has to be picked up by the graphite just as it
goes molten, or else it won't adhere to the tip. Using this
technique you won't have the trouble which often plagues
beginners, of getting the soldering pick itself welded to the
item being soldered. The wood of the pencil might burn a bit if
it isn't shaved back far enough, and the graphite will brake
if it is dropped, but I haven't had a metal solder pick in my
studio during the 15 years since taking Evert's class. I
promptly discarded them all when I got back to my bench.

Happy soldering to all,
Michael David Sturlin, jewelry artist msturlin AT
Michael Sturlin Studio, Scottsdale Arizona USA


Laura said...

Thank you for sharing!

I was researching what kind of pick I should buy to start my first soldering project when I came across this! I will give this a shot first I think. It certainly makes sense!

Thank you again! It is appreciated!



Swati Nigam said...

Hey Laura, I'm glad this was of help to you. Do show me your first soldering project :-).

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