FIG. 1 - File any
corrosion from the top of the soldering iron or gun.
FIG. 2 - The shape
of the tip on the soldering iron or gun is important.
FIG. 3 - Apply a thin,
even coat of solder to the tip of the soldering iron or gun. This is called
FIG. 4 - Keep a cleaning
pad or piece of steel wool handy for cleaning the point during soldering.
FIG. 5 - Crossed nails
in a scrap wood block make a good soldering tool holder.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A
- There are many types of soldering pencils,
guns and irons that are adequate for home use. Most home-use soldering
tools are heated electrically. There are soldering tips that can be
used with your propane torch. There is even a small refillable butane
gas-powered soldering tool.
- The proper soldering tool depends on your
project. The propane torch is for jobs requiring a high heat source
like sweating copper fittings. The gun is for soldering tasks requiring
a little more control of the amount of heat and where it is going, such
as joining wires, while the pencil is for intricate soldering jobs requiring
even less heat but more control, like circuit-board repairs.
- Before soldering with any pencil, gun
or iron, be sure the tip is thoroughly cleaned. Use a light or medium
file to remove any corrosion that is built up on the tip of the soldering
point (Fig. 1). The tip of a soldering tool should be clean at all times.
- Clean the tip after each use to eliminate
much of the need for filing the tip.
- The shape of the tip of a soldering tool
is also important. The modified chisel tip as illustrated in Fig. 2
is ideal for most soldering jobs.
- The tip of the soldering tool should be
small enough to reach into tight places but blunt enough to ensure that
heat is transmitted all the way down to the point.
- Before beginning the soldering job, apply
a thin, even coat of solder to all sides of the tip. This coating process
is referred to as "tinning" (Fig. 3). Tinning should be done
frequently while you are soldering.
- To apply an even coat of solder on all
sides of the tip of the pencil, gun or iron, hold a length of core-type
solder against the hot tip. With the solder against the tip, rotate
the soldering tool so all sides of the tip are covered evenly.
- Always be sure your soldering tool is
at maximum heat. You cannot get a proper soldering job with a pencil,
gun or iron that does not melt the solder quickly.
- Also, be sure the material you are soldering
is completely clean. Dirt, grease or any foreign matter limits the holding
power of solder. Any material to be soldered should be scraped, sanded
or treated with a soldering flux before you apply the solder.
- Always do your soldering on a flat, even
surface. For safety, it is best to work on a fireproof surface.
- A kitchen-type cleaning pad or a piece
of steel wool is a handy cleaning device for the point of your soldering
tool while you are soldering (Fig. 4). This pad or piece of steel wool
can be stapled or tacked to the work surface where you are soldering.
An occasional wipe across the cleaning pad keeps the point clean at
- Tack two crossed finish nails into a scrap
piece of wood to make an ideal holder for your soldering pencil or iron
(Fig. 5). These nails keep the pencil or iron off the flat surface,
hold it in place and keep the point of the pencil or iron clean while
you are doing the job.
- Always apply heat with the point of the
soldering tool held flat against the metal to be soldered. Do not try
to transmit heat with only the tipthe tip is for shaping or forming.
- Keep the soldering point hot at all times.
If either the solder or the metal to which the solder is applied is
not kept hot enough, you will get a poor soldering joint.
- Although solder is also sold in a solid
bar, core-type solder is most commonly used. One type of solder has
a rosin core while the other has an acid core.
- Always use a rosin-core solder (this has
a rosin flux in the center) for soldering electrical wiring and metals
like tin and copper.
- Use an acid-core solder (this has an acid
flux in the center) for soldering more difficult metals, such as galvanized
iron. When you use an acid-core solder, the surface to which the solder
is applied should be washed after each soldering to remove the corrosive
effect of the acid.
- A special type of solder is required for
soldering stainless steel.