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Cutting Solder Sheet

Thought it would be interesting to find out how everyone likes to
cut their solder sheets. I have been cutting with a pair of
scissors. First I make a number of cuts down one edge of the sheet
several millimeters appart. I then cross cut these to make small
square or rectangular or pallions a few mm by a few mm. I have tried
to use solder cutting pliers, but I have not been very successful
with them. What do others do?

Milt Fischbein
Calgary Canada

I use aviation shears. It’s so much easier to use than wire snips or
scissors, although I don’t know why–leverage, perhaps? they are


Thought it would be interesting to find out how everyone likes to
cut their solder sheets. 

Hello Milt,

I’ve taken to using those cheapo stamped blade scissors they use for
cutting athlete’s tape and such. Big handles for a comfy grip and
they leave a serrated edge on the solder chips which I find makes them
a little easier to move about, pick up on a moist brush, etc. Flux
seems less likely to sheet off them too.

Couple downsides to this are (1) one does dull the scissors over time
(I just toss them and grab a new pair for $4 or whatever) and (2) you
can’t cut super-fine chips 'cause they get mangled by the serrated
scissor blade.

Trevor F.

I use a pair of those cheapo scissors that are supposed to be able
to cut through pennies. Works fine. Important, though, to cut the
solder sheet in one’s cupped hand to trap the paillons that want to
go airborne.

Lee Einer
Dos Manos Jewelry

I use the solder cutting nippers. I don’t like the “curl” that
snips or scissors put in the pallions. My theory is that they don’t
conduct heat as well in the slightly curved shape.

My trick to the nippers is that I use a home made tool to catch the
pallions. It consists of a cube of hardwood about 2" per side glued
to a flat piece of wood for a stable base. Into one top edge of
the cube, I carved a rectangular, flat-bottomed notch the shape and
size of the end of my nippers. I hold the nippers in the notch
while cuttion my pallions. The notch keeps the pallions from flying
everywhere while leaving one hand free to hold the solder sheet.

Howard Woods
It’s 5 am in Eagle Idaho

Instead of using sheet solder I use all wire solder. When I want
something flat or particularly thin I run it through the rolling
mill or forge it with a hammer to the desired thickness. It is easy
to cut that way and tailored to the specific needs of each project.


  I use a pair of those cheapo scissors that are supposed to be
able to cut through pennies. Works fine. Important, though, to cut
the solder sheet in one's cupped hand to trap the paillons that
want to go airborne. 

So I have NEVER been able to master this idea that you can control
the little buggers that fly everywhere…in this muggy heat, I am
always finding (later when I get ready for bed) pallions stuck all
OVER me, in the darned-est places!!

I guess it’s a dexterity thing…

In a former life I was a hairdresser. So I use an old pair of
scissors that are too dull to cut hair, but are wonderful for
cutting pallions. I cut them off into one of those the little
plastic frosting cups that comes in a tube of Pillsbury cinnamon
rolls. Very handy!

Also been meaning to pass along this handy “tool” I found not long
ago while waiting for hubby to find something at AutoZone. It’s a
paint touch-up brush, about the size of a toothpick with a very tiny
soft bristle on one end and you get 3 in a pack for about $2-3.
AWESOME for applying flux to small areas! Just use it, rinse it off
afterwards and it’s good to go for next time. One of those “couldn’t
live without it” objects now always on my bench.

Have a great day everyone :slight_smile: Carol C-W

Thought it would be interesting to find out how everyone likes to
cut their solder sheets. I have been cutting with a pair of

Oddly enough, I use a pair of cutters that came in a cheap gardening
set! It was the smallest of the three pruning shears… they look a
lot like miniature tin snips with straight handles and a spring that
opens them up after each cut. I think I first used them out of
desperation (couldn’t find whatever I had been using at the time),
but after a couple uses, they became my tool of choice.

I cut my solder as you described. My receptacle is an item I
"liberated" from a local restaurant… a plastic three tier holder
for sugar packets and artificial sweeteners. One each for hard,
medium and easy! I try to only cut what I need for immediate use,
especially with gold solder.

I like the idea I saw/read/heard somewhere recently… possibly an
Alan Revere thing?.. of coloring the whole sheet of solder with a
different colored Sharpie marker for each grade. That way you can
discern the grade of individual solder snippets when they’re no
longer attached to the sheet. Apparently the marker burns off
harmlessly without contaminating the soldering job!

All the best,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio
Charlotte, NC (USA)

I use a pair of pliers that are made to cut out the notch in Gucci
style leather straps, it makes it very easy to cut very small bits of

Neil KilBane,

A trick I use when cutting solder chips is to do it inside a large
Ziploc freezer bag. The plastic in these particular bags is nice and
thick and, of course, you can see what you’re doing because they are
clear. With one of the bottom corners nipped off --just a wee bit,
not enough that you’ll have your little chips flying out-- you can
just pour the chips out into your favourite storage container.

Trevor F.

When cutting solder sheet or wire, I actually do it over a large
(legal size) manila file folder, laid open on the bench. It’s rare
that any fly farther than the edges of the folder, and when I’m done
cutting I simply fold the folder and all the solder bits funnel
nicely into the groove, and then into my container. It’s been a real
time (and solder-bit) saver for me.

I’ve used aviation shears, despite their size, to cut solder sheet.
They give me the leverage I need given my limited hand strength.
Wish there were an easier way!

Karen Goeller
Hand-crafted artisan jewelry

I cut sheet solder with my Joyce Chen’s. I’ve also started color
coding my sheet solder as suggested by Alan Revere in metalsmith
Magazine. He suggests coloring the sheet before cutting so if you
have strays you’ll know what type of solder you’ve found. I store my
pallions in small decorative Russell Stover tins (unfortunately, I
have to eat the chocolates first!), a different color tin for each
grade of solder.


I don’t have much experience with this. I use eutectic (silver
solder) that is sold in 1/16" dia. wire (1/2 troy oz.), run it
throught the rolling mill if needed, and just snip off pieces as
needed with a Radio Shack (printed circuit board) ‘nibbling tool’
(catalog # 64-823) catching pieces onto a folded piece of paper,
then pour the pieces off the fold into plastic film container.


I, too, favor the solder nippers, but I’ve found it best not to use
them as intended; the product description says something about
pushing the sheet down to the stop and then snipping, which would
give you an enormous hunk of solder. I just line up the point of
bypass of the jaws with the corner of solder sheet I want to snip,
be it large or small. I’ve easily managed to cut itty-bitty
pallions this way -as wee as about 1/3 mm on a side.

As for catching them, I hold the sheet with just the fingers of my
non-snipping hand so that my palm is under the nippers to catch the
pallions as they fall. More complicated to describe than to do :slight_smile:

I agree with the observation that the curling that results from
shears or scissors makes pallions harder to control, especially if
they’ll be sandwiched between parts that want them to be flat.

Jessee Smith

Karen, I use aviation shears as well. I cut tiny pieces and control
them by keeping my finger just barely touching the solder sheet. I
have seldom cut myself.

Marilyn Smith

I noticed a few people saying they have trouble with small paillons
of solder flying all over the shop. For what it’s worth, there’s a
small tip that’ll prevent that. We’re using snips (or aviator snips
or sheet metal scissors) on solder sheet.

It’s very effective and all the jewellers I know do it … Might be
hard to describe, though.

Having cut several parallel cuts, flatten them (if they’re curled)
with flat pliers. Next we cut across them.

For argument’s sake assume the right hand holds the snips. Well, put
the left index finger tightly against the other side of the snips,
over the soon-to-be-little-squares, and snip away, across the
previous cuts.

The little pieces are prevented from flying everywher by that index
finger and when you gently remove the finger from the side of the
snips, there they are on your finger.

I can do a photie if y’all want.


B r i a n A d a m
e y e g l a s s e s j e w e l l e r y

My  theory is that they don't conduct heat as well in the  slightly
curved shape. 

Heat: if there is enough of it, it makes no difference whether the
shape is curved or not.

Howard Do you have a picture of your home made pallion catching tool
that you can email me.(or post on orchid) It sounds like a great
idea. I usually catch my pallions with my left fore finger. The way
I do it often leads to me cutting the skin off of my finger. I
don’t draw blood, but rather shave the skin off, cut after cut after
solder cut, until my finger starts to get very sensitive. Your
pallion catching tool sounds like it can solve this problem for me.

Calgary Canada

I’ve been reading this thread. Let me ask-What shape or thickness is
ideal at the bench? Perhaps we should look at a supplier solution
besides pre cut 1x1 squares. I can forward ideas to our shop foreman.

One challenge we face in making solders- The very metals that bring
the temperatures down make the sheet brittle. Of course annealing
solder is delicate by definition. Get it right and everybody’s
pleased. Get it too hot and whoops, it’s a puddle!

Plumb platinum solder (which runs very brittle) is sometimes cut
inside an 8"x8" plastic bag, then all the pieces pour out, no
"flyers" sailing out of sight.

Daniel Ballard