I've been designing some simple circuits in my attempts to learn more, and I think I am ready to start building some small things. I am curious: what do you prefer for desoldering? I'm leaning toward buying some wicking braid, but I wanted some alternate opinions.
I use a desoldering pump most often, but wicking braid is also useful sometimes. Applying some non-corrosive flux and some extra solder can help with stubborn connections.
I've used everything from temp. regulated vacuum desoldering stations to prying resistors off circuit boards with a precision screwdriver while holding a soldering iron under the circuit board. The former method costly and the latter a little tricky, I would recommend a desoldering device that consists of a hollow soldering tip on a spring loaded plunger. It plugs in like a soldering iron and allows you to lock the plunger down while you put the tip on the solder joint, melt the solder, push a button on the side of the plunger and , wa la, solder is sucked up into the thing to await its release at your leisure. When ready to emty it can be taken apart and the cylinder cleaned. A little mineral oil applied to the inside of the cylinder makes for easy future cleaning.
Both solder braid and the desoldering pump are useful where needed. But, to remove multi-leaded components like ICs the only best way is to use Chipquik. Chipquik is so good that if needed you can re-use the IC or component.There is no danger of lifitng a foil trace also. If you need to know how to use it here is a short video. The DigiKey part number is SMD1-ND. The kit will remove many dozens of ICs.
See the video here ---> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kyaz4Zrd78