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How to solder with shaky hands.

Hi folks, I met charles lewton brain many years ago when he was doing workshops in Australia, on fold forming. I qualified with a degree in jewellery design in Sydney in 1989…so i am an elder folk now. My master trainer was Alan Place, silversmith extrordinaire.

I have now a diagnosed neurological disability, FND or functional neuro disorder – similar to Cerebral Palsy

PS. I forgot to finish!! (laugh)

Hi! (wave!)

nice to meet you!


I am so sorry to hear of your diagnosis. I have developed Essential Tremor in both my hands and head. Some days it’s worse than others. My docs have ruled out Parkinson’s and Cerebral Palsy. Mine is due to age and genetics. My grandmother had the same issues. My former husband who was a very good professional jeweler also had Essential Tremor. Other jewelers would look on in amazement when he would work with shaky hands. Like him I have learned to time applying solder, set stones etc. between the twitches. Essential tremor - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic. I hope that your disease doesn’t progress at a rapid rate and that you can find a way to work around it.
Wishing you all the best.

Jo…Like you, age leaves me a bit less steady than I was when I started making jewelry. I have been looking for arm rest solutions that I can apply to my soldering bench. I have even thought about rebuilding it to be more like a European U shaped bench rather than a straight bench like I have now. Any thoughts that you or others have about removable, adjustable or permanent arm rests would be appreciated. Thanks…Rob

Hi Jo, I also inherited tremor from my father. Katherine Hepburn also had it later in life. I was officially diagnosed when I had cancer and was shaking so badly after chemo to the point where they were worried about Parkinsons. I already knew what it was because my father had it, but I went through the tests with the neurologist. He ended up confirming essential tremor. He then said that he could prescribe a drug that mimics alcohol in the brain, at which point I replied “No thanks, I got this”. Fortunately I don’t have the genetic switch that predisposes one to alcoholism/drug addiction, so a drink a day keeps the shakes away. Mostly. I don’t know if alcohol would help–mine hasn’t gotten to the head shake yet. Point soldering has always been beyond me so I’ve developed a variety of jigs and stratagems for handling delicate operations. It’s interesting that we are all dealt a genetic hand at birth where some cards don’t manifest until much later in life. Arthritis also springs to mind. Best regards,

I try to keep my somewhat controversial (shouldn’t be, but are) ideas about diet out of discussions where they don’t necessarily belong, but I got curious and looked at one of my go-to sites for nutrition info,, regarding onfo on essential tremor. There is a search box at that page where you can type in “essential tremor.” Evidently a dietary chemical, harmane, prevalent in meats, is related to the risk of developing essential tremor. The harmane is even absorbed in the mouth, so you don’t even have to digest it for it to appear in the blood stream. You would have to research this for yourself, but if I read it right, the tremor can lessen or disappear if there is no harmane in the body. So you could try eliminating meats or all animal protein to see if this improved an essential tremor. I don’t see any mention of this in the conventional medical sites on line, but that doesn’t surprise me, since most doctors are pretty ignorant of the influence of nutrition in general.

Royjohn- Thanks for the info and the link. You sent me down a rabbit hole. I come from a family that is pretty evenly divided between scientists and artists so I love a good medical mystery. From what I have gathered Although they have yet to find a single gene that causes this, it appears that the main driver of Essential Tremor is genetics and the bodies’ inability to process Harmane properly. Unsurprising to me men seem to consume meat more than women. Meat is Not Essential Tremor’s Best Friend (Especially if You’re a Guy) - Neuravive - Sperling Neurosurgery Associates. Sadly eliminating all meats or animal products can lead to other health issues. Particularly severely low B12 levels. I am not a big meat eater so because of that, and an immune disease I have to inject myself regularly with B12. Gah! I HATE needles. Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment.

Royjon and Joe, When I wonder whether nutritional or other lifestyle advice is legitimate, I go the NIH (National Institutes of Health) to see if they have studied it…always with legitimate scientific models and not funded by corporations that have an interest in the outcome. Here is a link to a NIH study showing a positive correlation with essential tremor and harmane in the blood. Blood Harmane, Blood Lead, and Severity of Hand Tremor: Evidence of Additive Effects - PMC Vera

I’ll try to keep this short as it is perhaps somewhat off topic for this list. I follow Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. Michael Greger’s diet prescriptions. Fuhrman has a short list of recommended supplements you will need if you go “Nutritarian” (his coined word for a whole foods, plant based, almost no animal products and no refined oils diet). Yes, you need a B-12 supplement, then maybe kelp for iodine if you don’t use much salt, Vit K2, a little DHA, some Vit D because of aging and not getting enough sun. I don’t think there has been a double blinded study on the harmane issue, but there is research showing levels of harmane are correlated with increasing tremor. Showing that age or genetics is a factor in essential tremor (correlated with its frequency) does not indicate that high harmane levels are not necessary for essential tremor to manifest. I’ve looked at a lot of the nutritional evidence and tend to believe most things are caused or influenced heavily by diet. Others can believe or rationalize any way they want.

Vera- Science is complicated which can be so frustrating because most humans want a simple answer. I too read the NIH study. I usually go to it along with other scientific and medical studies as my first choice of information. I always try to gather my information from as many sources as possible. When I still can’t sort things out as clearly as I want to I call my smarty pants scientist brother and ask him. The reply I get from him is …" Do you want the technical answer?" When I reply “yes” sometimes the answer I get is “Well f**k if I know.”


NIH studies are not always reliable. That’s actually true of all research studies in the field of nutrition. 95% of the USDA committee members have financial ties with food/pharmaceutical industries. 75% of FDA’s drug review budget is funded by pharmaceutical companies. Clinical trials have no incentive to look at side effects because they are designed to sell a drug when it’s a pharmaceutical company that’s funding them. Infinite numbers of confounding variables combined with perverse incentives can result in pharma getting whatever outcome they want. But who else is going to fund the research? Research is expensive and without any promise of pay off --thus the research that gets done is that which gets funded. Commercial institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution. It’s the best way to ensure their survival and growth.

Upton Sinclair said:
“It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it.”

Jo, I love your brother! vera


I love the way Bobby White slides his tweezers into a slit at the side/ back of his bench pin, to hold items with tension, when soldering…he is able to utilize his pin/ bench top for stabilizing his pick hand, and everything is at eye level…it seems like a very comfortable setup…will attempt to learn this skill…


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…will attempt to learn this skill…

Are you going to learn how to twirl a file like that too? :slightly_smiling_face:

Awesome. Thanks for posting it.