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Cleverwerx soldering set


#1

Dear Orchid, I wanted to write and tell you about a product that I
was introduced to recently from Cleverwerx. Karen Christians is the
producer of a set of soldering tools made out of titanium that I
have just fallen in love with, The minute I got them I noticed the
light weight of these tools, a direct result of the titanium and was
assured that solder wouldn’t stick to them and they would be my last
purchase of soldering tools I would need to make. They are pricey, I
paid $152 for a soldering pick, a pair of soldering tweezers and a
cross lock tweezer plus $7 shipping and handling. Now I had never
thought of spending that much on those soldering tools and I can ill
afford to piss my money away on tools that will not perform. But I
make a living from my tools so they are very important to me and
these are a promised, I love them. They have made my soldering bench
less cluttered because I no longer have to search 5 pairs of
tweezers to find the one that picks anything up. I don’t have to
have a set of tweezers and picks for the different metals I use,
silver, white gold and yellow gold because the solders will not
adhere to the titanium. I have used them for a month now with all
three metals and wouldn’t go back at any price. Here is a link to get
to Cleverwerx, usual disclaimer, I don’t get anything from Cleverwerx
except good tools for the asking price.

http://www.ganoksin.com/ftp/Cleverwerx-soldering-set.pdf

Sam Patania, Tucson
www.silverhuntress.com
www.bahti.com


#2
light weight of these tools, a direct result of the titanium and
was assured that solder wouldn't stick to them 

Titanium soldering picks are excellent and readily available. I do
NOT want to do Karen out of any business, but for those who may be on
a tighter budget, titanium solder picks can be had a little more
cheaply. Mine cost me about 7 UKP and is comprised of a titanium pick
screwed into a plastic handle (which obviously doesn’t conduct heat).
I think it’s made by Pepe (if I remember rightly). It looks less
substantial than Karen’s titanium pick but still does the business
without solder sticking to it.

Helen
UK
http://hillsgems.co.uk


#3

I am sure the set of titanium designed tools by Karen are excellent
as are most of her suggestions, but the source I use to obtain
titanium soldering picks is either free, or cost very little. I
obtain used titanium wire from used bicycle wheel spokes. These are
available at a neighborhood shop and usually obtained free or cost
little.

Hope this helps those on a tight budget.

J. Dule


#4

Helen,

Thanks for your feedback. I welcome anyone who has a question, for
it helps me to help you.

I understand that my titanium products are pricey. However, before I
launched into this project, I tested many grades of titanium, how
they performed under heat, durability, etc. True, the titanium picks
will do the job of rolling solder off onto your piece, but when you
have to apply pressure at the same time, my pick does two jobs at
once.

After many uses, the weak grade of titanium (and there are about 7
grades) slowly began to break down from constant heating. Yes, 7UKP
is inexpensive, until you have to buy the next one and the shipping
involved. What I set out to do was to build a soldering set out of a
quality high grade material that you will purchase once in your life
time.

After running Metalwerx for so many years, I watched closely what
"professionals’ "intermediate’ and “beginning” students would do to
their tools. I have had the original set of my titanium tools since
1992. This represented quality and it represented how my work should
be…quality.

My tools and anything that will go up on my website are those which
honor our profession and the time we put in making our work. If you
purchase something and you don’t like it, the piece is either
replaced or the item refunded. It’s as simple as that.

The soldering tools work and they work consistently. I’ve had great
feedback from the samples I have already sold from very satisfied
customers who started to use them in their work and said “finally,
somebody who cares”. I care about this industry and seek to raise the
bar of the awareness of what we do, so we can all continue to make a
living at what we love. My mission at Cleverwerx is simply to honor
that process and offer the best tools possible.

If you are interested, I can send you one to try out. If you like
it, pay me. If you don’t send it back. It’s that easy. Email me off
line if you like.

Karen Christians
Cleverwerx


#5

Hi Gang,

A source of titanium for picks may be as close as your local bicycle
repair shop. Folks who ride competitively or like top of the line
stuff usually have bikes with titanium spokes. Occasionally these
get damaged & need to be replaced. Even if damaged, there’s usually
enough that can be salvaged to make a soldering pick. Stop at the
hardware store on the way home & pick up a wooden dowel for the
handle. I suppose you could use a section of wooden pencil for the
handle as well if you can get the lead out.

Dave


#6

agreed- i have Ti tweezers that cost me 10 bucks, a pick that cost
4.85 and even a clamp and weight that cost only 12.00 (the clamp
works as a weight in soldering too) the total is a far cry from what
I consider exorbitant pricing-$152.00 is WAY steep in my opinion when
the same can be had with some research and good vendors…I know some
will insist that the more you pay for a tool the better it is…
Titanium is titanium… nothing sticks to whatever grade of it you
have…rer


#7

Hi Karen,

True, the titanium picks will do the job of rolling solder off onto
your piece, but when you have to apply pressure at the same time,
my pick does two jobs at once. 

You’re absolutely right. Mine won’t stand up to any pressure that I
sometimes ask it to do. It just bends!

I’m glad I said something. Usually it’s a case of me cringing and
wishing I’d not said anything, but now you’ve given me food for
thought regarding your product and I am very interested to try it. I
notice that it didn’t have a handle made of an insulating material.
Does it sometimes get too hot or is that not a problem?

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk


#8

A friend acquired some titanium bicycle spokes from a bike shop.
they make great soldering picks. I think they were from a racing bike
and had been damaged somehow, so had to be replaced. Just a thought!
Vive le tour de France!

Jane Walker
www.australiannaturalgemjewellery.com.au


#9

Dave,

My husband is an avid cyclist and titanium spokes are not the first
choice. The choice for spokes are either steel or carbon steel. I
tried to do just this, thinking that this would be a cost effective
option. It’s not.

http://www.bikeparts.com/search_results.asp?id=BPC105947

Here is one seller. I don’t know what the grade of titanium is. I
know they are round and you have to spend $78 for 14 of them. This
could work, or could be the same stuff you get in a cheaper pick.

Spokes are round. My soldering pick is flat with a twisted end. This
allows you to pick it up easier. If this is a better option for you,
then by all means, use a bicycle shop. I have asked around six local
bike shops and none of them carry titanium spokes, or have used ones.

Carbon steel is the choice du-jour for cyclists.

Karen Christians
Cleverwerx

Whose husband is out today on a 200km bike ride…for fun. This is
the man who rode from Boston - Montreal - Boston in 86 hours.


#10

True, solder will not stick to titanium. I am not disagreeing with
that. What I am making a case for is the grade stock of titanium
which is thicker and which will hold up to heat consistently.

I purchased a titanium crosslock tweezer from another distributor
for $25. It is a lesser grade than the one I am selling and it curled
back when heated up.

I am also working with US fabricators which are more pricey due to
labor costs and the price of titanium, like copper, which has shot up
in price. These are not made overseas, they are made here, in the
good ole USA, and it allows me to put money back into our economy. I
know everyone thinks that I am crazy, who would purchase a tool that
costs that much. Who would pay for a workshop at Metalwerx or a
Masters Symposium fee at Revere. Because they both stand for
something of value and I wouldn’t offer anything unless I do two
things. I guarentee my quality and refund or return without
question.

The $152 pricing is for several products, not just one. I have that
same $4.85 pick which simply didn’t last. The pick I have and does,
forever.

Your argument is exactly the same as I hear from people at a craft
show. Good lord. How on earth could somebody charge $2500 for a pair
of earrings with a few stones and some metal that exceeds the price
of the materials.

I’m not Rio Grande, or Gesswein or Pepe or Contenti. I don’t buy
things in the thousands. I’m just one person, with one business, just
like you who works with the vendor, flies to the vendor in
California, emails back and forth, website to be built, bookkeepers
to pay, etc. It’s called business, and that is what I am in,
business.

Please, by all means, purchase the $4.85 titanium pick if it suits
you. Buy the $12 tweezer if it works for you. And if I can help you
find that lower price one, I’ll be happy to steer you in that
direction.

Some people like to drive a simple car because it suits them. Some
people like to drive a higher end car because it suits them. I’m only
advocating that you have a choice. If I didn’t stand behind what I
believe, if I don’t serve my customers, then it is my responsibility
to make them satisfied.

karen
Cleverwerx


#11

And you also might wish to consider a pick that I, at least, consider
superior to titanium. Tungsten. Titanium may be non stick, but it’s
also possible to ignite the sharp tip if you get it hot enough. While
this isn’t likely a problem with most silver soldering or even most
gold soldering, if you’re doing anything with platinum or palladium,
it’s easy to get a pick hot enough to flare up. Not fun. Plus, most
titanium picks are rather large diameter rods (in part to help
prevent igniting them). Tungsten, by contrast, simply won’t burn at
any temp you can get it to with normal soldering, and it’s almost as
resistant to solder sticking to it. Plus, it’s easy and cheap. Any
welding supply shop has Tungsten rods in a variety of diameters for
use as TIG welding electrodes. Usually a dollar or two each.

Cheers
Peter


#12

Dear Karen, Thank you for your explanation of the process you went
through in developing your line of titanium tools. It was polite and
to the point. I have to tell you; that’s class.

Thanks,
Bobbie
Bobbie Horn


#13

Peter

Being one of the last US manufacturers of Titanium Solder Piks both
the wooden handled and the Aluminum kind, I can tell you that you are
right about Tungsten as it seems to last much longer than Titanium.
It can be used at higher temperatures too for e,g Platinum.

Another choice for the Professionals are tools with Ceramic tips.

There are cross lock tweezers and probes available with Ceramic
tips.

Like the Diamond Tip Drills you really need the working ends of the
tools to be of Good Titanium, Tungsten or Ceramic. If you see most of
the picks are either wood handle or Alluminum. The Ceramic cross lock
tweezers are made with regular stainless steel body.

Then again it depends on the individual if you are going to use
these all the time and also never loosing them they are worth paying
more.

That why we have BMW’s, KIA’s and now Smart cars.

Regards Kenneth.
Karat46
46 Jewelry supply New York.


#14

Tungsten is another metal which has gone up in price. I am looking
at fabricating a similar set in tungsten, but the sheet price for the
size stock I like is expensive.

Tungsten for welding contains 5% thorium. Thorium is used to coat
tungsten wire used in electronic equipment, improving the electron
emission of heated cathodes. I don’t know how this will react with
silver solder or with pickle.

I’ve used tungsten picks before from suppliers and found that silver
solder would melt onto the pick. Maybe it wasn’t pure tungsten, but
again it’s the consistent and repetitive heating. However, you are
right, I haven’t fully explored this yet and I will give it a try. My
husband has some in stock as he owns a tig welder. The width of the
welding stock is wider than the thin rod you get from jewelry
suppliers.

I do know that tungsten for welding rod it is a consummable and that
there are 6 inch rods and which can be ground down. I do know that
you cannot put any pressure on the rod itself. It also oxidizes
easily. Tungsten is a very brittle metal, excellent for welding, but
for a six inch piece for continuous use, I will have to do more
research.

Thanks Peter. I’ll look into this.

-k


#15

Helen,

This is a problem I have had with all picks. The stock is so thin
that it won’t stand up to any pressure. You want to have one pick in
one hand to transfer solder and then apply pressure if needed. The
one for Cleverwerx will do just that. Same with the crosslocks, they
will stand up to pressure, they will never distort.

You won’t need any insulating material because titanium is a poor
conductor of heat. Its flat construction and then the twist at the
end, allows you to lift the pick up quickly from a flat surface. It
won’t roll either.

Thanks for asking. Your questions are all good ones and it makes me
stay on my toes to make a good product.

Best,

Karen Christians
Cleverwerx


#16
Tungsten, by contrast, simply won't burn at any temp you can get it
to with normal soldering, and it's almost as resistant to solder
sticking to it. Plus, it's easy and cheap. Any welding supply shop
has Tungsten rods in a variety of diameters for use as TIG welding
electrodes. Usually a dollar or two each. 

I have no trouble getting silver solder to flow on tungsten TIG
electrodes if they are well fluxed. So I find them less than useful
for silver soldering or gold soldering. Maybe it is my use of paste
flux? Also Tungsten is a much better heat conductor than titanium so
you definitely need to put the tungsten into some kind of handle
that is not so good at conducting heat. But for platinum work they do
a much better job than titanium or any other material I have tried.

Regards,
Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#17

I have tried many different types and styles (and prices) of solder
picks over the years. The very best I have found is a plain number
two (or harder) wood and graphite pencil. Burn the wood back about 20
to 25mm, break loose and clean the charcoal off with a dry rag or
paper towel so that 15 to 20mm of the graphite is exposed and sharpen
the tip with a draftsman’s pencil sharpener (a round canister shaped
device with a fixed round file in the center, available anywhere that
carries drafting supplies). Clean the tip with the fiber cleaner in
the top of the sharpener, heat the tip and pick up a small flake of
dried firecoat (2mm square?) from around your firecoat jar, melt it
onto the tip and it’s ready to use. Too much firecoat and it sticks
too much (you can either drag the tip on your solder block while
applying heat to wipe off the excess, or swirl three or four times
in the sharpener to redress the tip), not enough and it won’t stick
at all. The firecoat also acts as a flux on your solder, helping to
keep it clean, and the hotter it is the less it sticks. I find it
works best when the pencil is about four or five inches long overall,
with about 15mm of graphite exposed. With a little care, a good four
inch long pencil can last for years.

You must use good quality genuine wood and graphite pencils (I use
Mirado No. 2.5f Premium Cedar pencils by Papermate, 12 for about $8 -
I’ve used two pencils in 7 years, both kinda short, but still in
service). There are many pencils that look like wood but are made of
some sort of plastic or have a low grade of graphite that breaks too
easily. These will not work.

Dave


#18
I don't buy things in the thousands. I'm just one person, with one
business, just like you 

Give 'em hell, Karen. Anybody who wants to work with a bicycle spoke
stuck in an old pencil is certainly welcome to do so. For my
purposes both the pick (which I don’t use anyway) and the tweezers
are gigantic, but that’s a nice set of tools. I suspect that you can
bring your costs down as the line evolves… As is so often stated
right here on Orchid, “Good tools aren’t cheap”. What is it? “You
buy good tools once and cheap ones 3 times.” Or something like that.
It’s much more difficult to bring a good, unique quality tool set to
the market that a piece of jewelry… Nice job…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#19
I have no trouble getting silver solder to flow on tungsten TIG
electrodes if they are well fluxed. So I find them less than
useful for silver soldering or gold soldering. Maybe it is my use
of paste flux? 

True enough on all points. The paste fluxes in particular will do
this much more than, say, Batterns, or boric acid by itself. I didn’t
mention that I prepare the picks by heating the tips bright orange
while still clean of any flux, so they get a good thick oxide layer,
which helps repel the solder some. Even so, they do take to solder
more than titanium does. However, even titanium will now and then
find itself tinned too, so for me it’s a minor distinction. Plus,
I’m not always averse to having a little solder tinning. I find it
makes some types of joints a little easier, especially very delicate
joins needing very tiny amounts of solder, where sometimes you can
simply wick a little of what’s already stuck to the pick instead of
getting more. Because the tungsten is pretty cheap, I have several
picks with color coded handles, so contaminating a solder joint with
the wrong class of metal isn’t a problem. And it’s just a moments
work to sand one clean and reheat to oxidize when I need to use a
different solder on a given pick.

Also Tungsten is a much better heat conductor than titanium so you
definitely need to put the tungsten into some kind of handle that
is not so good at conducting heat. 

True. But wood dowels make that easy, and I find the larger diameter
of a handle makes the picks more comfortable to use anyway. A bit of
nail polish or something to color code the handle also makes the
pickes easy to find on my sometimes rather “busy” bench [[ “hey
Peter. Dontcha mean cluttered as hell?”]] {{Oh, OK. Yeah… Um. :slight_smile:
}} So well, maybe those of you better organized don’t need the more
visible color coding. But I like it.

But for platinum work they do a much better job than titanium or
any other material I have tried. 

And that’s probably the deciding factor for me too. Since I do work
with platinum and now, palladium, I hate grabbing a pick and finding
that it happens to be a material unsuited to the metal I’m working
with and it’s temperature range. Tungsten is fine with any of them,
so no mixups. If I were still working with only silver, I’d probably
still be using just old pieces of coat hanger wire…

Oh, and Jim. that extrusion patterned metal on the web site you sent
us to is just amazing. Awsome, dude. Are you guys selling the raw
material, or just finished product?

Cheers
Peter


#20
Tungsten for welding contains 5% thorium. Thorium is used to coat
tungsten wire used in electronic equipment, improving the electron
emission of heated cathodes. I don't know how this will react with
silver solder or with pickle. 

I’ve never noticed any adverse effects, though i’ve not especially
looked. Among other things, I don’t use my solder picks in the
pickle, so that’s unknown. I’m not suggesting tungsten for anything
but the high temp operations, ie solder picks, since that’s all I use
them for. It might work for other things, but it’s main advantage is
simply that it won’t flare up unexpectedly and burn, like titanium
can do with a thin rod or sharp point, if you get it hot enough (and
platinum work is hot enough).

I've used tungsten picks before from suppliers and found that
silver solder would melt onto the pick. Maybe it wasn't pure
tungsten, but again it's the consistent and repetitive heating. 

You’re right, it will, if fluxed. I’ve never especially minded this
when in moderation, and by not getting flux on the pick, plus
oxidizing it first, it’s not a problem. Any solder that does flow
onto the pick is not contaminated by the pick, so far as i can tell.
I just figure occasionally needing to dress the tip is a small price
to pay for a pick that will withstand the temps I need to use it
with, and once comfortable with it for one use, I tend to just use
them for all soldering.

However, you are right, I haven't fully explored this yet and I
will give it a try. My husband has some in stock as he owns a tig
welder. The width of the welding stock is wider than the thin rod
you get from jewelry suppliers. 

yes, you can get the tig rods in a number of weights, from very thin
delicate wires, to rather heavy (1/8th inch or so). Lots of options.

I do know that tungsten for welding rod it is a consummable and
that there are 6 inch rods and which can be ground down. I do know
that you cannot put any pressure on the rod itself. 

That depends on the size rod, and what you consider pressure. If
you’re doing large holloware and need to force a rim into position,
this might be too much, but I don’t know. My own work with tungsten
picks is all “jewelry scale”, and I’m not in the habit of needing to
wrestle the metal around with the soldering pick. Modest pressure
seems fine. I’ve never had one snap or bend while in use.

It also oxidizes easily. 

Which I encourage deliberately, is it limits solder flowing onto the
pick.

Tungsten is a very brittle metal, excellent for welding, but for a
six inch piece for continuous use, I will have to do more research. 

As I said, though it’s described as brittle, I’ve had no problems
with the things breaking, at least not in use for soldering. There
was one I snapped while using it, inserted in the cross hole of a
stuck hammer handpiece tip, to try and wrench the tip off the hammer.
That, needless to say, was more than it could stand. Two of the old
steel busch burs I also tried, also snapped off, before the third one
did the trick…

Thanks Peter. I'll look into this. 

You’re welcome. Hope you like em.

Cheers
Peter