Tuesday, July 14, 2009

As promised a few weeks ago, I am posting a tutorial on how to make your own soldering pic. I have been using a maple wood handled home made pic for a few years now and love how it feels in the hand while working, the slight bend in the branch fits so comfy in my hand. I'm fortunate to have both a maple and a cherry tree in my yard (which are nice hard woods to use).

~ First off here are the items that you will need.

1 - twig
1 - 3" casing nail (similar to a finishing nail but thicker & heavier)
3-5 tooth picks (not the round kind but the flat)
Drill and drill bit (the same diameter as your nail head)
optional ..
leather cording
copper piping

~ Start by cutting the branch down to size - the length is totally your decision. The one used in this tut was cut to 6 1/4" long and is an 8mm Dia. I use my jewelers saw with a #4 or #6 blade which cuts through the branch.
Sand down the end to give it a nice FLAT, smooth end.

~ Using a vice to hold it steady (I use a little scrap of leather in the vice to not mark up the branch) I use my punch to mark the center spot for the drill.

~ Using a drill bit the same size or just slightly larger than the head of your nail head, drill a hole 3/4-1" down the center of the branch...

~ Put your handle aside.
~ Using a file, file your nail tip to a point. This is where you can get as fine or as thick as you like. I like a fairly fine tip so I file mine long and fairly thin. You can always file it further after you have inserted it and used it to see how you like it. (Picture shows actual nail on the right and filed down on the left).

~ Take 4 or 5 of your tooth pics and sand the tapered part down. You want to make them a little thinner so you can use them as a shimmy.
~ Take your nail head and insert it into the hole and gently shimmy the tooth pics around the nail to secure the nail in the hole. This process will hold the "pic" tightly in the hole without any glue. You may want to gently tap the tooth pics down to get a really tight, snug fit. IF your wood cracks or splits due to forcing it, don't fret, stop forcing it .. I have a solution later for this :)
~ take your jewelry saw and gently cut away the tooth pic excess above the handle. This gives you a nice clean finish.

~ On the end of the handle I used my saw and sand paper to make a notch about 1" from the end. This is to secure a piece of leather cording if you want to hang the pic. I sanded down the end for a little design detail.

~ As I mentioned, if you crack you handle while using the tooth pic shimmies I saved my pic by cutting a piece of copper pipe (4mm long) that fit tight over the end of the wood which will prevent the handle from cracking further.
~ voila :)

I hope you enjoy this tut and use your creativity to create your own tools ..

Should you want to purchase a DiBA Cherry Wood hand made soldering pic, you can at my Etsy shop

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Grab a coffee, tea or whatever suits your fancy and take a load off :) This blog is about, all things jewelry and the jewelry biz. Look for daily updates - Business Ideas, Jewelry Tips and Tricks, New Products, Tools, Designers Showcase every Friday (interview with a small business jewelry owner) and much more.
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- Dianne Bassett