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What do you use for a solder wick?


#1

My instructor in class used a very very fine woven copper wire.
Maybe 40 -60 gauge wires were used to weave it. I can not find this
wire anywhere. It works so well. I have bought the smallest I can
find locally which is electrical wired 16 gauge, it does not do the
job. If anyone know what I am looking for I will be glad to order it
online to get it, but if not…

What do you use to pull solder out of places it does not need to be
in?

Thanks so much.
Angela Hampton
p.s. Instructor is retired now. I don’t think I can contact him.


#2

Angela Hampton, Sounds like a common item in the electronics
industry, sometimes called desoldering braid or wick. Your local
Radio Shack store should have it. The Radio shack item number is
64-2090.

John
The Jewelry Equipment Dr.


#3

Angela,

The copper woven wire is called, solder wick. Try Radio Shack or
most Electronic shops will carry it. If you can’t find it, let me
know. I have some that I can give you. Email me off line.

Veva Bailey


#4

Radio Shack comes to mind, or any electronic/parts supply house.
It’s called solder wick and does wonders with soft solder as used in
plumbing and electrical devices.


#5

Thank you to everyone that responded. My husband just went by radio
shack and picked a roll up for me. just $3.99 +tax. :o)


#6

After using Soder Wick for years, I tried some of the Radio Shack
variety and just did,'t like it. I’m back to Chemtronix.


#7

Hi Angela,

I use Chemtronix Soder Wick Desoldering Braid. It comes fluxed with
a soft solder flux which burns off very cleanly. I first burn off the
"factory flux" and then coat the bejusus out of it with paste flux.
Works great and saved my bacon many times.

http://tinyurl.com/2d9w2ee

Andy


#8
I use Chemtronix Soder Wick Desoldering Braid. [snip] Works great
and saved my bacon many times. 

I never heard of this for hard solder. I’d love to hear a
description of when and how one would use this.

Noel


#9

How does it work and is it used a lot in jewelry making. I’ve never
heard of it before.

Lynn


#10

I haven’t heard this product before and I want to learn more about
soldering so what do you use desoldering braid for. Please some one
explain this for me, I learn a lot from everyone on Orchid thank you.

Anna


#11

How/when does it work?

I first learned of solder wick when I was in lst semester at TIJT.
We were learning to solder. Learning being the opperative word in
the previous sentence. When too much was used and a mess was made,
we used it to absorb the excess. I needed it this week, to clean out
the head of a ring where I am resetting an small emerald. The repair
that was done on before me allowed a puddle of solder to fill the
base of it. Light can not interact properly with it to match the
color of the emerad above it. Those little things, I can’t stand, so
a simple wicking of the solder will pull it out.

I keep a 2-3 inch piece in a pair of cross lock tweezers at all
times. When there is a slight uh oh. I heat the solder to flowing put
the wick on the very edge of the liquid and it pulls it out.

I will be working on another ring on Monday that I have pulled three
he ads to replace. The amount of solder that was holding them in
really became evident, as I pulled them. The excess flowed into
recesses of the band they were sitting in. The wick will pull it out
to make the clean up so much easier.

I don’t know that I explained it well enough to understand. I am so
thankful though for this group that helped me to find where I could
buy it locally.

Happy Labor Day!
Angela Hampton


#12

Hi Lynn,

How does it work and is it used a lot in jewelry making. I've
never heard of it before. 

Solder wick (also called solder mop) has been around forever.
Jewelers used to make their own–some still do-- from very fine
copper wires braided, woven or twisted together.

The principles behind the use of solder wick (solder braid,
de-soldering braid, solder mop) rely on and exploit the basic
tendencies of molten solder (soft, lead or tin based circuit board
type solders or the brazing compounds that jewelers and metalsmiths
call " solders"):

-solder follows the heat
-solder flows capillarily
-finer, more delicate structures heat up more quickly than larger
objects.

Should you get an overabundance of solder–a flood- the solder wick
can really help.

Most if not all solder wicks are made of very fine copper wires.
Solder likes to flow on clean copper and copper heats up nicely. I
use Chemtronix brand. (I have bought and tried Radio Shack’s brand
but, for whatever reason, it just doesn’t perform well for me.)
“Soder Wick” (note the absence of the “l”) comes in a variety of
widths, some prefluxed some not. Not all are available.

I use : Size #4 60-4-5 which is a pre-fluxed flat braid.

I also use another brand: “Techspray” #4 1823-5F For all I know,
Chemtronics and Techspray may simply repackage their product for
Radio Shack but, as I said, it doesn’t work the same for me.

The first thing I do is clip off about an inch of braid and hold it
in a small pair of cross-locks and then gently burn off the “factory
flux”, which is a soft solder flux. Try not to scorch the copper
braid. (Not all solder wick comes prefluxed. Sometime you can find it
without any flux at all.)

Remember: the idea here is to make the solder wick as appetizing to
the molten solder as possible.

Solder enjoys clean, hot metal with lots of nooks and crannies to
wick up through. To this end, once the factory flux is burned off, I
heavily flux the braid with a good paste flux, melting and refluxing
several times until I can look through the glassy molten flux at
clean flux covered copper.

Using solder wick is not as easy as it sounds. Like so many things
in metalsmithing it is like a dance. If you are comfortable with pick
or free-hand soldering it is much easier because I hold the
tweezer/braid in one hand and the torch in the other as I would a
pick. I am a righty and manipulate the solder wick with my dominant,
right hand–torch in my left.

I bring the piece with the solder flood up to temp with the torch –
having the solder wick at the ready, right next to the solder I wish
to remove and pre-heated. Once the solder melts and begins to flow I
touch the fluxed wick to the solder pool (or spill) and heat the two
together. The solder wick, composed of fine copper, heats a bit more
than the object that has the solder flood on it and once the solder
flows onto the braid it finds the little “highways” between the wires
and wicks up–as long as the heat of the torch directs it. Depending
on the situation, I sometimes move the wick around in the molten
pool, mopping up the solder. When the braid is saturated, stop for a
minute and clip off the saturated end, reflux and start anew.

The final thing to remember is to remove the wick from the piece
while solder is still molten. Otherwise it will be soldered to your
piece and will have to be removed.

I have used solder wick to reveal surfaces and textures that have
been obscured by too much solder and to de-clog and crisp up corners
and filagree areas in which solder has accumulated. The unfortunate
thing is that, in my experience, you still have to deal with a
"solder stain" where a thin film of solder has alloyed into the
parent metal… But the bulk of the flood is gone.

Hope that helps,
Take care, Andy


#13

Anna, desoldering wick (braid) is used for removing soft solder that
is used mostly for circuit boards, in electronics assembly.

I use Stay-Brite silver solder when I repair small wires, jump
rings, pin backs on metal costume jewelry, pewter and pot metal. I use
a soldering iron, not a torch. Stay-Brite solder melts at about 438
degrees F.

Veva


#14

I believe solder wicks are used for removing soft solder when
dismantling and repairing electronic components. They also use
’solder suckers’, a type of hyperdemic syringe in reverse. Assembly
and re-soldering electronics is easier and better using new soft
solder. Plumbers may use wicks for removing silver brazing alloy but
I see them cutting out and throwing old fittings and not bothering
with wasting time re-using them.

Only once in my early years of jewelery making did I wish for a
solder wick, way back when I was learning the evils of extra-easy
silver solder when used inappropriately. That is the solder would
flow onto surrounding surfaces and refuse to fill the joint, and I
tried to remedy it by adding more solder thus ending up with a huge
blob in the wrong place!! A doomed project best started again from
scratch.

Now the only occasion I can think of for using a wick is to remove
lead solder from a gold or silver item, but even then there is risk
of causing the lead to alloy with the gold or silver. There are
better ways that don’t need heat.

Alastair


#15
How does it work and is it used a lot in jewelry making. I've
never heard of it before. 

One of the interesting things about Orchid is that no matter how
much experience you have, now and then something comes up that you
find new. I’ve used solder wick now and then in electronics
desoldering for over 35 years, but must admit that I never got in the
habit of using it for hard solders like silver or gold solders.
Perhaps because all I every happened to have was the radio shack
version, which Andy C. says doesn’t work so well. If I ever tried
it, it must have been a failure that I’ve forgotten. For that matter,
this thread is the first time I’ve ever heard of it’s being used
practically or with any regularity by jewelers working precious
metals and higher temp solder/braze materials. That might suggest
that the answer to the first part of the above question (is it used a
lot) is perhaps no. From my experience, this is not in wide use for
jewelry soldering or desoldering. But perhaps this is an oversight
I’ll have to correct. Most jewelers I know or teachers I’ve known
suggest that a large part of the skill in soldering is learning to
control the flow, and amount of solder used, so you simply don’t have
large pools of excess solder needing to be cleaned up. And
traditionally, excess solder is removed mechanically, by abrasives,
files, etc. As Andy note, using solder wick removes the bulk of the
solder, but not the final solder layer that can discolor the surface,
so even with solder wick, for a complete fix, you still need to go
back to mechanical means. And I’d expect that with some of the higher
melting solders, a copper braid in the molten solder would quickly
start to diffuse into the solder, making more of a mess than it was
trying to fix. But that’s a guess. Perhaps I’ve been overlooking a
useful tool all these years… It certainly is true that the stuff is
not generally marketed for use outside of the low melting
tin/lead/etc family of solders such as used in electronics.

So if you’ve not heard of it before, don’t consider this a sign that
you’re lacking in or education because I’m guessing
you’ve got lots of company. Nevertheless, perhaps it’s an idea that
should get wider attention. There are many methods we now use
routinely that at one time were also things other jewelers had not
yet heard of…

Peter Rowe


#16

Radio shacks have it for about 2 bucks a spool however electrical
supply houses also carry it online…It is common…rer