Is your Third Hand Ruining Your Soldering?

by jeanettecaines on July 11, 2015

For some of you, the answer is yes! Here’s why:

Third hands (or arms) are made of steel which has a much higher melting point than the jewelry metals, silver, gold, brass, and copper. That’s a good thing or it wouldn’t be helpful in holding elements while we solder. However, third hands act as a heat sink meaning they can draw a lot of heat away from your piece and into themselves. Often, when solder refuses to flow properly it is because of the third arm drawing away too much heat from your soldering seam. You can use this feature to your advantage –for example, you can protect a previously soldered seam from reflow by clamping the third arm over it – but you need to know how to position the third arm properly when you do need your solder to flow unimpeded. The key concept is to position the third hand as far away as possible from your soldering seam. Here are a few examples:












































That’s all there is to it! So, be mindful of where you place your third hand and it will never again ruin your solder flow.

To learn more about how to always solder successfully, please take a look at my book Soldering Demystified.

You can also join me this August for Soldering Demystified Boot Camp.

Happy Soldering!


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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

jeanettecaines April 8, 2019 at 7:55 am

Glad you enjoyed it!

Tom April 8, 2019 at 6:12 am

Simply brilliant. Thank you!!

Willie Ryan August 10, 2018 at 1:55 pm

This is really a great helpful post! Thank you for posting.

Katy Radcliff March 6, 2018 at 4:43 am

Yes, it is very important to do things in a professional way and with proper method as you also specified in your blog. It is also true that many non-professionals positions the third hand in a wrong way as shown in figure.
So, thanks for this informative post. Looking for more useful blog related to soldering. Keep it up!!!

John October 16, 2016 at 12:33 am

The pics definitely help here. Thank you for sharing. Learn something today.

Neeta June 12, 2016 at 2:25 pm

Wow, that was a simple and effective way of showing what wrong we are doing and how small changes can make a difference in our overall quality of soldering some stuff.

Thanks so much !

Paulg May 24, 2016 at 5:55 am

Wonderful advice and a wonderful book. It’s a treasure of how to solder simple and complex pieces.

Anne Bellissimo May 23, 2016 at 11:53 pm

The pics are very helpful! Thanks for posting.

Brian Saynor May 23, 2016 at 11:46 pm

No matter how many years of being a maker. It’s always good to see proper method.
Sometimes fall into bad habits.
All the best

jeanettecaines May 23, 2016 at 10:19 pm

Thanks, Kat! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

Kat May 23, 2016 at 2:20 pm

Jeannette’s book is a treaure of information on soldering. I love it. Its been a really big help in understanding the process of soldering. Recommend it to anyone wanting to improve their skills.

jeanettecaines July 18, 2015 at 8:01 pm

Hi Brenda
The main reason soldering is so intimidating is there is a lack of understanding of how the process actually works.I’ve seen this for years with my students, which is what led me to write my book.I detail (with lots of close up pictures)exactly what makes your solder flow and what prevents it from flowing. You will learn everything you need to know to succeed at soldering, and nothing breeds confidence like success.You won’t be disappointed.
Happy Soldering!

Brenda muntz July 14, 2015 at 9:20 pm

thx for the advice. I am so intimidated by soldering. Can your book help with my fears?

jeanettecaines July 14, 2015 at 2:47 pm

I hope it is helpful!

Regina July 14, 2015 at 2:46 pm

This is something I had not considered! Thank you for the direction & information.

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