Tool Time Tuesday – Marking your Solder

Tool Time Tuesday … on Wednesday. At least I got it in before the week is up.

Last week I was reading on one of my forums about solder and identifying which is which, particularly once you have already cut your sheet into little pieces. One of the things I learned very early on is to color code my solder with a colored sharpie. Sharpies won’t make your solder dirty and it burns off cleanly when it is used.

Solder comes in different melting points, which we will save for another Tool Time Tuesday Post. The most common Solder temperatures are labeled Hard, Medium and Easy. I prefer to use sheet solder that I cut into small pallions or pieces. You can also buy solder in paste and wire form. Today, though, I am going to address how I identify my solder sheet.


Here I have 3 pieces of sheet solder. As you can see, I have already been working on these as far as cutting them up. Why don’t I just cut all the sheet into little pieces from the get go? Well, if you have a dirty surface, including oxidation, then your solder won’t flow. Based on that logic, if your solder is dirty, it won’t flow. when I am not using my solder it is stored in a plastic zip-lock type of bag. If it happens to get dirty (just look at my easy and medium) then I can clean it off with a green scrubby, or pumice, or steel wool and then cut it up and use it. I typically cut a little more than I need at the time and leave the rest on the sheet.

You can see that I have not added any color to the Easy solder. I have colored my Medium Red and currently my Hard is Black. I used to do it with blue, but someone took my blue sharpie. The reason for doing this is that when I find little pieces of solder on my soldering surface or table top, I can easily identify it because of the color.

To cut my little pallions I work with my metal shears or snips and make cuts similar to how we used to make grass skirts when we were kids. You can see that the metal curls around. It is rather difficult to cut when it is like this.

So I typically straighten it out a little bit with my flat nose pliers. Then, I hold my finger over the ends while I cut across the top to make little squares. If you don’t hold your finger over the ends then you will have little pieces of solder flying everywhere. But at least they will be color coded so you can easily figure out what they are.

This is what my hard solder looks like when I have finished. Notice the little pieces that didn’t make it into the little cup. But again, since they are colored, I know exactly what they are.

Here are my easy and medium solders ready to go. I keep these covered when I am not using them to help keep some of the oxidation at bay.

Now, these are just my coloring choices. There isn’t any set rule for what to color them. So just remember what colors you use and you will be good to go, until you visit another friend that uses a different color scheme.

In Other News

Thank you to all that have responded to my call for Studio/Artist Feature. I am very excited to get that underway. If you would like to be featured just shoot me an email and I will send you a list of questions.

I also found out about another big thing that I will be working on in the next few months that will probably change some of the direction of my work. I will be sharing some of that in the next couple of weeks as we find out more information.

6 thoughts on “Tool Time Tuesday – Marking your Solder

  1. Rina

    I color all the solder we use in our studio, hard/red, medium/green, easy/blue. Colored both sides so no matter which way it comes up we know. I do the same with any wire. And because, like you say the stuff flies all over the place when snipped, I cut inside a big baggie.

  2. Tracy

    Y’know, Melissa, I’ve heard this before but I’ve never done it. I write what it is all over my sheet but I don’t colour it. Good idea. And I even know where my blue Sharpie is! 🙂

  3. Jill

    Melissa, thanks as always for your very useful advice. I’m curious as to why you prefer the sheet solder rather than the paste or wire. I’m a novice solderer and would love to hear more about the pros and cons of solder. Thanks!


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